X-Men: Apocalypse was a solid entry into the X-Men franchise with stunning visuals, on par performances and a healthy portion of action. While I feel it’s a little better than the 48% score on the TomatoMeter, XMA did posses quite a few flaws and this film definitely fails to live up to its two previous predecessors, X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past. Most of the problems with this film in my opinion, are attributed to flaws in the script and I believe a few re-writes could have made X-Men apocalypse a much better film, especially if the adjustments are made to the antagonist portion of the movie. So here are my thoughts on how this XMA’s script could’ve been re-written for maximum entertainment. (SPOILERS: if you haven’t watched XMA yet, it’s probably smart to revisit this article after you’ve seen the film.)
THE APOCALYPTIC BEGINNING
The opening of XMA takes us to ancient Egypt where El Sabah Nur (Apocalypse) is about to transfer his consciousness to another body. He is then betrayed by his followers and during the performing of this ritual the pyramid he’s in begins to collapse. Apocalypse’s four lieutenants die trying to save him from death and Apocalypse is trapped for Millenia. While this scene is visually stunning and a pretty good intro to the film, I’m going to completely get rid of it. The character of Apocalypse would benefit from an intro built up over time so that we as viewers anxiously anticipate his arrival. Early in XMA Charles Xavier and Havoc are gathering information on disturbances both real and in the Astral plain unknowingly caused by Apocalypse. Professor X and Havoc visit Xavier’s love interest CIA agent Moira MacTaggert who regales them with the legend of Apocalypse. While this scene isn’t as exciting as the opening sequence one could argue that it is more interesting. This scene could be written to include the legend of Apocalypse’s demise and the mystery surrounding the location of his body. MacTaggart will also tell Xavier about the cult that worships Apocalypse and their desire to resurrect him. This cult will play a much more instrumental role in my version of the film and will serve as a better introduction and backstory to the other antagonists, however this won’t be the new beginning to the movie, we’ll get to that part in a moment.
In my opinion the best part of XMA was the story of Magneto. In the decade since DOFP, Erik has been living under an alias in Poland, working in a steel factory, and has managed, despite his past, to find loving acceptance of a wife and daughter, whom he clearly loves as well. After saving a man’s life in the factory where he works by using his magnetic power Erik realizes he’s outed himself as Magneto, he attempts to flee, only to discover his daughter (who is also a mutant) has been abducted. Magneto discovers that local law enforcement has abducted her after being alerted to his identity and abilities by Erik’s co-workers and has brought her to an isolated wilderness location to lure Magneto towards them. In a series of events Mangneto’s wife and daughter are shot with a single arrow and Magneto loses his young family. The only change to these series of events is that they are now the opening scene of the film. Magneto’s arc is arguably the most compelling of the entire X-Men franchise. Not to mention his relationship with Charles Xavier and the performances we are treated to via Fassbender and McAvoy.
THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE
By far the weakest aspect of this film is the involvement of three of the four horsemen of Apocalypse. Angel’s intro in XMA is meh, just ok. Angel injures his wings in a cage match with Nightcrawler and Apocalypse’s subsequent healing of said wings makes Angel a follower. Still we get very little insight into who the character Angel is or why he’s such a beloved X-Men character. Storm and Psylocke’s intros are even worse in XMA. Apocalypse seemingly at random bumps into Storm while she’s using her powers as a distraction to aid her in a robbery and as she’s in danger of being killed by useless thugs Apocalypse saves her. How lucky is this guy? He just wakes up after several thousand years and bumps into Storm ten minutes later and recruits her to his team, seriously? Then Psylocke, a character that fans have been very excited for, is discovered just as haphazardly, when Apocalypse roams into Callaban’s shop searching for Mutants. From there Psylocke is basically a useless character, other than looking like a sexy badass (which she is.) However the film could’ve substituted virtually any random X-Men villain into her place and the story wouldn’t have changed. My version of the events that lead Psylocke, Storm and Angel to Apocalypse would have been very very different.
THE HORSEMEN RECRUIT MAGNETO.
Erik (Magneto) heads back to the factory where he worked to seemingly kill everybody he worked with. The news regarding the murder of the officers who killed Erik’s family has already started to cause a stir and now Erik plans on using his powers for destruction which will most definitely alert the world to his presence. This is where I begin to really shake things up. Just as Magneto begins to destroy the factory he’s interrupted by Storm, Angel and Psylocke. In an epic battle the three brave Mutants attempt to stop Magneto in hopes of luring him away from the scene before military forces arrive and hopefully recruit Magneto to their cause. The full scope of all their powers in their current form is used and the battle is intense and epic. Angels wing are injured by debris thrown by Magneto but as Magneto goes for the kill he’s stopped by passionate pleas from Psylocke and Storm. They inform Magneto that they are part of a cult that seeks to resurrect the great God Apocalypse and cleanse the Earth of humanity. They’ve been looking for Magneto for several years and the events in the factory and the death of his family alerted them to his presence. They tell Magneto that they’ve located the resting place of Apocalypse and need his magnetic power to lift the the steel in the rubble, freeing Apocalypse from his eternal slumber. If Magneto agrees to become the fourth Horsemen they promise him he will attain power through Apocalypse that he only before has dreamed of. Magneto in his current state, filled with rage and mourning his family agrees. Not only will this version of events give us more insight into the characters of Storm, Psylocke and Angel but will give them clear motives and allow each of them to be integral parts of the story and form relationships with each other. This will also treat the viewer to an early burst of action before we spend time setting up the story.
CYCLOPS, NIGHTCRAWLER AND JEAN GREY.
While Psylocke, Angel and Storm’s arcs were ruined. The introductions to the new protagonists were amazing. Cyclops, Jean Grey and Nightcrawler will all enter the film in similar fashion. One major difference is that Nightcrawler will not be fighting Angel in the cage match due to the fact that Angel is already part of the Horsemen. Instead we insert some other random Mutant for him to fight instead just before he is rescued by Mystique. From there similar beats will play out, Mystique will discover information about Eric and will decide to visit Xavier’s school to inform Charles about Erik’s trouble in Poland also bringing along Nightcrawler. The roles of Cyclops, Jean Grey and even Quicksilver will change very little. Mystique and Quicksilvers scene with Magneto at the end of the movie definitely could have been much more exciting if it was given more attention.
From here the other events in the film can play out mostly as normal, only changing to conform for previous adjustments. I believe this alternate version of events will add depth to the characters involved and result in a richer, more entertaining film than what we got. Having emotional attachment to the villains and protagonist will help the film build to a crescendo, instead of restlessly wiggling around in my seat anxiously anticipating the ending. While I found myself bored at the end of the film despite the such a huge spectacular end battle and was frustrated with some of the characters arcs, I still think XMA is worth seeing in Theaters. One shining point from this film is that the introduction of new characters sets up the franchise for future installments better than any X-Men film yet.