Captain America: Civil War may be grabbing the headlines right now (and you can read our collection of Easter Egg wants here), but we’re also only a few weeks away from the release of X-Men: Apocalypse. And if it’s anywhere near as good as the last two X-Men films, Marvel Studios will have some serious competition on its hands, from, erm, those other Marvel properties controlled by 20th Century Fox. Then again, ’tis the season of superheroes vs. superheroes, so perhaps that’s only appropriate.
The point is that there’s a lot to be excited about this month beyond Civil War, and I for one have huge hopes for this latest X-Men installment — for the film, the franchise, and the whole effort’s reach beyond gaming. Here are five specific things I’m looking to see.
The Actual Oscar Isaac
The news that Oscar Isaac, one of the hottest new(-ish) actors in Hollywood lately, would be stepping in to play the role of the villain Apocalypse was a big deal. This is already a franchise oozing with star power, and grabbing a big time up-and-comer for the titular role seemed essential. However, depictions of Isaac’s character in the trailers have been disappointing to say the least. In this account of some addresses made by director Bryan Singer, Singer appeared to feel the need to defend his version of Apocalypse. But in doing so he painted a picture of a character that was essentially invented with effects and built on top of a performance by Isaac. Perhaps that’s what we ought to expect for a character like this, but it’ll be a bummer of what we see in the film barely resembles the actor. Isaac is too good to waste on a pseudo-motion capture role.
A Clear Path Forward
For all their popularity, the recent X-Men films have been criticized by some for playing with time a little too much. X-Men: First Class reset the franchise in the past and seemed to do so primarily to inject a new cast with fresher, trendier faces. Then X-Men: Days Of Future Past had its cake and ate it too, depicting multiple timelines so that both casts of the same characters (young and old) could share the screen. Both films worked well, but with this new one set to take place in the ’80s, in between the two timelines, everything’s starting to feel hopelessly jumbled. So here’s hoping for a clear, logical path forward stemming from the end of X-Men: Apocalypse, rather than an ambiguous one that could be picked up any which way. This series needs a sense of direction.
Appropriate Star Treatment
One list of major questions heading into the release of this film included perhaps the most interesting one the studio is facing: is this Jennifer Lawrence’s franchise now? By all accounts it probably ought to be. She’s the biggest actress working, she’s finally out from the shadow of the Hunger Games trilogy, and she’s already converted a lot of casual X-Men fans to Mystique enthusiasts. She’s the biggest draw. That said, I’d hope to see the studio resist that draw and at least give characters like James McAvoy’s Charles Xavier and Michael Fassbender’s Magneto equal time. No one’s saying Lawrence’s role should be tamped down. She’s terrific in the part, and in general. But I’m a little worried Singer and Co. might forget who the “main” X-Men are, so to speak.
Some Gaming Love For The Cast
The X-Men films have actually led to very little in the way of mainstream gaming. However, the games we have seen have focused almost exclusively on Hugh Jackman, largely ignoring the rest of the supremely capable cast. X-Men Origins: Wolverine is considered to be one of the better superhero games to come out in the last decade, and an X-Men slot reel featured here even shows a handful of major characters, but only one likeness! It’s an engaging game for a fan of the films or comics as popular characters take their places on a slot reel to be matched up with each spin (with real cash rewards). But while Wolverine looks distinctly like Jackman, the rest seem to be drawn merely based on comic descriptions. Given how far this cast has come together it would be great to see a major game follow the release, and for that game to feature the real actors and actresses.
Some Career Love For Ms. Turner
There are some exciting newcomers to the franchise in X-Men: Apocalypse, including Isaac and Olivia Munn. But Sophie Turner (best known for playing Sansa on Game Of Thrones) may be the most interesting new cast member, because while she’s well known she’s not quite an A-list star just yet. As is always the case with a major role, reactions were mixed when Turner won the role of a young Jean Grey, but I for one think it’s a bold, fascinating decision. Hers may not be the most fun character on Game Of Thrones, but Turner does a terrific job as Sansa and I’m looking for this to be a role that catapults her to a major career.
Based on the recent efforts in the franchise, this is going to be another sprawling and impressive film. But we’ll find out in a few weeks’ time if it can satisfy these and other specific hopes from fans.
This is a guest post by Seattle-based freelance writer Rick Cranston, a film obsessive who can’t wait to see ‘Captain America: Civil War’ and ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ (among others!).