Trailer Breakdown: X-Men: Apocalypse

Huh. All these superhero trailers are coming out one on top of another. I miss the old fashioned days when we got a teaser telling us that a trailer was coming out. Kidding, kidding. But this morning we got the latest X-Men movie trailer, X-Men: Apocalypse. It doesn’t appear to be following any one story arc from the comics, but then again, most of the X-Men films haven’t done that. There’s some changes, some faces from the past, some epic stakes. Does it look good? Let’s break down the trailer to see what we can figure out about the overall plot, which mutants are in this one, and any references to the original comics.

A mutant wakes up

We kick things off with a shot that’s out of focus and a bit sideways. It implies someone waking up, so I’m guessing that’s Apocalypse, an incredibly old mutant. He could be seeing one of his followers coming to check on him. He basically has an entire religion and usually a hidden city to himself. He’s a big deal.

Burning wreckage

Now we get a rapid series of disasters. This one could be a ruined future or maybe it’s the actual X Mansion in ruins? Hard to say for sure and it’s less than a second long.

A nuclear explosion

The rapid-fire montage ends with a nuclear explosion. And it reminds me of the one we saw in X-Men: First Class when Sebastian Shaw talked about his plan to start nuclear war so as to give birth to new mutants. It could be a recycled shot but I don’t own First Class so I can’t confirm.

Jean Grey wakes up

Jean Grey snaps awake and shakily says: “I saw the end of the world. I could feel all this… death.” Jean Grey is now played by Sophie “Game of Thrones” Turner. Much younger because this movie is set in the 80s. If you’re not up to date, Jean Grey is psychic but can’t see the future. So if she’s having this vision, she probably inadvertently heard Apocalypse’s thoughts, perhaps when he awoke.

Professor X calms Jean down

Professor X replies: “Jean. It was just a dream.” Uh, what are you doing in her room while she’s sleeping? James McAvoy still has a luscious head of hair. It is kind of amusing to think that this movie takes place about TWENTY YEARS after First Class but Professor X, Havok, Beast, Moira MacTaggert, Magento and others have barely aged a day. I’m taking a stab in the dark here but it looks like there could be Christmas decorations on the window in the background. That’d be an interesting time of year to set things at. End of the year, end of humanity. But you’d think that of anyone out there, Professor X would know that sometimes mutants have psychic flashes, not nightmares.

An old European city

The song “The Hunted” by Snow Ghosts begins to play over the trailer. They’ve made a remixed version they call the Apocalypse version. And we see a city. I wish I knew which one it was. It’s European, I believe. It could be Prague. I just don’t know. Would love it if someone reading this knows and could let us know.

Apocalypse searching for something

Wherever it is, that’s where Apocalypse is, along with Storm (played by Alexandra Shipp now) and he is probably looking for something. Maybe more mutants to be his followers? Hard to say. A voiceover by Oscar Isaacs as Apocalypse begins: “I’ve been called many things over many lifetimes. Ra. Krishna. Yaweh.” I’d wonder if any religious folks would be offended by that idea but then again the whole series is based on evolution, so they probably don’t watch. I do like that Storm has a mohawk, which was her look for a while in the 80s comics. But it’s also kind of weird that she’s one of Apocalypse’s followers. That’s a new idea. He’s almost always had new characters as his minions, though he has in the comics at various times forced the following good guys to be his “Horsemen”: Angel, Hulk, Caliban, Wolverine, Sunfire, Polaris, Gambit, Banshee, and the Sentry. He’s also used a few supervillains. Usually, the heroes have been rescued from his influence. Oh, now that I mention Caliban, that actually could be the guy Apocalypse is going to see here. Caliban can sense other mutants.

Professor X visits the CIA

Professor X and Lucas Till as Havok enter the CIA. I’m glad they’re bringing back Rose Byrne as Moira MacTaggert. Kind of weird that the movies made her a spy instead of a geneticist but Byrne is wonderful and has great chemistry with McAvoy’s Charles Xavier.

Moira MacTaggert has files on Apocalypse

Moira flips open a file and says: “Ever since the world found out about mutants there have been secret societies who see them as some kind of second coming or sign of God.” The files have a lot of Arabs. Apocalypse was born in Egypt thousands of years ago and has formed a religious cult around him that co-opts Egyptian imagery. Or, I suppose it implies that the Egyptian gods are based on Apocalypse’s ideas.

Moira MacTaggert talks to Professor X and Havok

She’s gorgeous.

An ancient Egyptian pyramid

MacTaggert’s voiceover continues: “They believe that tens of thousands of years ago an ancient being was born. The world’s first…” Professor X completes the thought: “…mutant.” Over this we see an Egyptian Pyramid, potentially by the Nile River. It’s probably from thousands of years in the past as a flashback. But who knows? Maybe he’s got a city somewhere in the desert that no one’s ever noticed.

Beast is captured

Apocalypse again: “You are all my children. And you’re lost. Because you follow blind leaders. But I am here now. I’m here for you.” This continues over the next few shots. This appears to be Beast, captured. The background is out of focus but looks like it definitely could be an Egyptian design, if Epcot taught me anything.

Mystique with 80s hair

Don’t worry, 20th Century Fox wants you to know that Jennifer Lawrence is in this one. And does she appear as Mystique in her mutant blue scaly form? Not once in the trailer. I understand that you can get away with this with Mystique since she’s a shapeshifter and Lawrence is a movie star. But I think this choice to only show her without her mutant look, along with a shot of Hank McCoy as human instead of his Beast form, does a thematic disservice to the movie. I think it’s very, very important to show that not every mutant is beautiful and could “pass” for human. By taking the two most prominent mutant-looking characters and showing them as human, I think it works against the ideas behind X-Men.

Kodi Smit-McPhee as Nightcrawler

At least we get to see Nightcrawler, who is perhaps the most inhuman looking X-Man. This time he’s played by Kodi Smit-McPhee. He’s young but still has those self-given tattoos that Alan Cumming’s version had. I guess when Wolverine reset the timeline in the last movie, it made Nightcrawler (and Angel) get born sooner. Or maybe these movies have really never cared too much about continuity from one film to the next.

Lana Condor as Jubilee

We also get this single shot of Lana Condor as Jubilee. She looks 100% accurate and is very appropriate for the 80s setting. Although it’s the same issue as Nightcrawler and Angel. They shouldn’t be born yet since we previously saw them as young kids in the 2000s in previous movies.

Someone climbs a cave

I can’t tell who is in this shot or why it’s included. It kind of looks like it could be Professor X because the person has long hair, but Professor X is wheelchair bound. But it could be a memory or taking place on the psychic plane, I suppose. It’s an explorer of some kind. Perhaps someone uncovers Apocalypse’s resting chamber to kick everything off?

Professor X teaches

Here’s a shot of Professor X teaching. I’ve always been amused that despite Xavier having a massive mansion full of classrooms, he always seems to enjoy teaching in his little reading den. I also question why he’d choose the one room with a spiral staircase. Does he just like to look up at the second floor and think, “One day. One day.”

Magneto is sad

We also see a quick shot of Michael Fassbender as Magneto. He looks depressed. I guess he’ll probably have no mission and join up with Apocalypse? They sort of see eye to eye on mutants being the future. But it also sort of lowers Magneto’s status to be a lackey to another character. There’s no question that Magneto is a fantastic character. And Fassbender is a terrific actor. But having Magneto wedged into every single X-Men movie has also sort of taken away the power that Magneto should have. When used sparingly, he’s THE iconic X-Men enemy (and sometimes ally). But if he’s always hanging around he starts to feel like Jay Leno. “Hey, if you guys need me, I’ll just be hanging out in the lobby!”

Apocalypse unveils himself

Apocalypse unveils himself to whoever he was seeing in that shot in Europe. So far, so good.

Apocalypse confronts Professor X

They edit this to make it seem like the same scene but it’s clearly not. Apocalypse does not have his robe here, the lighting is different and it’s a different room. I suspect he is in Xavier’s mind here. I think that’s Xavier standing over in the distance. Maybe not, but the high-contrast lighting is something they often do to imply events are taking place on the psychic plane.

Ben Hardy as Archangel

Moira says: “Wherever this being was he had four followers he would imbue with power.” And over this, we see Apocalypse’s Four Horsemen, which he always has in the comics. In the movie, it includes Archangel (above, played by Ben Hardy).

Olivia Munn as Psylocke

Psyclocke (Olivia Munn) is next. I think they are using her because she’s a psychic and maybe Apocalypse would need that to invade Xavier’s mind. In the comics, Psylocke is not as powerful but Apocalypse is able to pump up the powers of his Horsemen. While Psylocke is best known for being an Asian ninja lady, she was actually originally a timid, white British lady in the comics. She is the sister of superhero Captain Britain. She joined the X-Men and used to have to wear armor because she wasn’t much of a physical fighter. At one point, the X-Men went through a magic portal to erase their identities from everyone’s minds. When Psylocke emerged, she had switched bodies with an Asian lady named Kwannon. And she stayed that way. Comics!

Magneto joins Apocalypse

So we have Storm, Archangel, Psylocke and number four is… Magneto. Great outfit. Kinda bummed to see him as a lackey, even though I’m sure he’ll be conflicted the whole time.

Lucas Till as Havok

Lucas Till is back as Havok, rocking some Ray Bans and a windbreaker. He says: “Like the four horsemen of the apocalypse. He got that one from the Bible.” Moira counters: “Or the Bible got it from him.” You know, both Havok and Cyclops are in this movie, so I think they’ll HAVE to address that they are brothers. Even though Havok is the younger brother in the comics, here he’d almost be old enough to be Cyclops’ dad.

Professor X uses cerebro

One of the X-Men (Beast?) asks: “What is it?” and Professor X says: “Oh god. He can control… all of us.” I don’t know how Apocalypse can do that. He has shape changing abilities and is virtually immortal but he’s never been able to control mutants. I like that Professor X decided Cerebro needed more LED lights and that that would in no way be distracting when he’s trying to use his mental powers.

Havok and Mystique protect Professor X

Okay, so now we’re in the X Mansion’s basement, where they keep their uniforms and training areas and Cerebro. Mystique is allied with the X-Men for… some reason. And she’s not blue.

Magneto is one of Apocalypse's Horsemen

Here’s one of our first really clear shots of Apocalypse. Not bad. He’s big and blue and kind of weird. It’s fairly accurate. The first image we saw published had him in a strange extreme purple light that truly did make him look like a Power Rangers villain, but this isn’t bad. Why would Apocalypse and his minions be attacking the X-Men at their home? Well, it COULD be to take out the opposition but they’re down in the basement. I think Apocalypse wants access to Cerebro, which can detect mutants. Either to identify a potential army for himself or to somehow control them.

Professor X is grabbed by Magneto

Oh, and there goes Professor X. Maybe he should have considered a wooden or plastic wheelchair since his greatest enemy can control metal. Well, hindsight is 20/20. Digging Havok’s Addidas.

Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy

Here’s a clear shot of Hank McCoy as he tells Mystique: “The world needs the X-Men.” And I really had to say Hank, because he is not Beast here. In the comics, once Hank McCoy botches an experiment, he is STUCK looking like a blue furry creature. But in the movies, I guess he can switch back and forth as he feels like it. I get that the movie wants to show Hoult’s gorgeous face, but I do think it’s a mistake for the character.


Mystique replies: “That’s why I’m here. To fight.” Here’s the X-Men Beast, Jean Grey, Cyclops and Quicksilver along with Mystique and Moira. They are in the X-Jet. Their new outfits? I gotta admit, I preferred the yellow and blue suits from First Class. These are just a take on the black leather from the first few movies. It doesn’t look bad, and it’s tactical, but I think the X-Men exist to inspire hope and overcome prejudice, not to act like tactical ninjas.

Jean Grey, Nightcrawler and Cyclops ready to fight

Ty Sheridan as Cyclops says: “Not all of us can control our powers.” Wherever they are has been WRECKED.

Cyclops unleashes his blast

Mystique tells Cyclops: “Then don’t. This is war.” That’s kind of terrible advice. We see a shot of Cyclops not controlling his force blast. I wonder if he’ll have his visor. He really should. That’s what makes him Cyclops instead of Sunglasses-Man.

Apocalypse grows huge

Apocalypse says: “Everything they’ve built… will FALL! And from the ashes of their world, we’ll build a better one.” And we see this shot of a massive Apocalypse squashing Professor X. While Apocalypse could grow in the comics and very well may in the movie, I suspect this could be taking place on the psychic plane. But that’s just a guess based on the earlier shots.

Quicksilver runs through the mansion

Here’s a quick shot of Quicksilver in action, the only one we see of Evan Peters doing much of anything. It does look cool. he’s racing around the X Mansion so I would not be surprised if this is when Apocalypse attacks and Quicksilver could be defending the children there.

Archangel throws knives

A quick shot of Archangel flying up with his metal wings and shooting some of them like knives.

Storm summons a storm

And Storm causing… a storm.

Magneto throws metal

Magneto doing his thing, tossing metal scraps all over the place. All these shots have the same desolate background so it’s probably from a climactic battle towards the end, but I’m not sure where. Possibly New York because of another shot coming up.

The X-Mansion explodes

Here’s an explosion in the X Mansion with a bunch of digital books flying around. It seems to be happening in slow motion so that’s why I suspect Quicksilver could be running around saving students. I can’t tell who is on the second floor or in the foreground. Most likely not major characters.

Apocalypse against a storm

Our clearest shot of Apocalypse in the trailer. He seems to be summoning some kind of mega storm. I think he looks good!

Apocalypse on the astral plane

And now a shot of Apocalypse with the effect the movies use to show someone looking for mutants with Cerebro. So he very well may get access to it, though I don’t know exactly what use he’d have for it.

Apocalypse attacks Manhattan

This is why I guessed there could be a big fight in New York. We can see the Twin Towers still standing and the sky is bluish grey. Are those explosions or is Storm causing water spouts? Not sure.

Professor X goes dark

Professor X is using Cerebro and his eyes go black. He mutters: “I’ve never felt power like this before.” I guess he could be touching Apocalypse’s mind for the first time and maybe battling him on the psychic plane. Maybe?

James McAvoy as bald Professor X

And then we get the movie title and a quick shot of James McAvoy bald. He either loses his hair really fast or decides it’s time to shave his head bald. The movie will be out Memorial Day, May 30th.

  • William Bruce West

    As I was saying on Twitter, I wonder if they made McAvoy shave his head for his initial audition, as he has a beautifully shaped bald head.

  • Skewed_View

    McAvoy bald looks really cool. Other than that, I’ll take Ninja Turtles 2 over another Bryan Singer X-men movie. I hope I’m wrong, and this movie ends up being good, but I don’t have much faith in it. Especially not after I found DOFP to be pretty disappointing, and mostly boring.

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