20th Century Fox released the official trailer for X-Men: Apocalypse on Thursday, and it is a wild ride. As in every film of the franchise, the heroes must unite to save the world, but where some have focused on mutation and time travel, this one shoots for a more mythic — almost biblical — feel.
The movie tells the story of the first mutant, Apocalypse, who is referred to throughout the trailer as a “god.” The trailer depicts him in ancient Egypt, before he rises to cause havoc in modern times.
The impressive monster declares, “you are all my children, and you’re lost because you follow blind leaders. No more false gods.” Immediately after this, an X-Man explains that “he always had four followers — like the four horsemen of the apocalypse.” This strikingly biblical language fits a fascinating theme in recent years: Hollywood shooting for Bible movies and ancient themes, in very secular films.
Could an X-Men movie possibly be further removed from the scientific focus of the first film, or the futuristic sci-fi of X-Men: Days of Future Past? The franchise is taking a shot in the dark here, and all recent evidence shows it might not be a good decision.
The hyperbole of X-Men villains runs throughout — “Together, we will cleanse the earth, for the strongest,” Apocalypse declares. An X-Man responds, bewildered, “He means to destroy this world, billions of people killed.” It’s the same stock plot, but with a supernatural(?) twist.
Many secular franchises have shot for the mythic feel with biblical language, from Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014) to Gods of Egypt (2016). While these movies impress with CGI and world-building, they often turn off audiences who see them as unbiblical or not compelling. People don’t throw the word “god,” around lightly, even if they don’t believe in one. It’s also confusing what exactly being a “god” entails when the character is still mortal and — in this case — likely scientifically explainable.
Another reason for skepticism is the number of characters. X-Men films usually involve deep character development for a few main characters, while throwing new ones into the mix from time to time. The discipline of carefully crafting some characters while relegating others to a clear second-class status has worked well for the franchise. The trailer for this film, however, features a large host of characters while introducing new, complex ones like Storm and Jean Grey. For this reason, it might struggle like Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) did, with too many dynamic characters and not enough development.
Nevertheless, the trailer is riveting, and X-Men has always been a lucrative franchise. Audiences and critics like the younger generation, which is in full force here. They even added Sophie Turner, well-known for her role on Game of Thrones, as the new Jean Grey, and Alexandra Shipp (Straight Outta Compton (2015) as Storm. Director Bryan Singer also directed the television show House (2004), along with X-Men 2 (2003), and the franchise’s latest hit X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014).