If you’ve ever wondered what a trashcan fire kindled by 178 million dollar bills looked like, look no further than X-Men: Apocalypse. This film follows a fallen pyramid scheme tycoon who escapes his sandy prison to encourage mutants everywhere to live their best lives by killing everybody less powerful than them. With not one, but two all-of-human-history passage-of-time montages (one is CGI!!!! why????), some truly unfortunate costuming decisions, and the least effective usage of Salsa Stark outside of Game of Thrones Season 5, this wonderful, stupid movie is a great way to waste two and a half hours of your fleeting time on this earth. It has everything you could ask for in an X-Men movie: Mohawk Storm, multiple characters screaming CHAAAAAARLES at each other, and Mohawk Storm again. So sit back, relax, and enjoy some reflections on my first and only viewing of the dumbest Marvel movie yet.
If you can relax and enjoy trash, make no mistake: this is the movie for you. X-Men: Apocalypse blends fun action with unearthly levels of narm so effectively that the biggest Dumb Movie Fans among you will be rewatching it for years to come. To help you with this endeavor, here is a drinking game for your rewatches:
- Take 1 drink every time somebody lands a sick one-liner (i.e. “WREAK HAVOK” “UNLEEAAAASH YOUR POWER” “RISE, MY ANGEL!!”)
- Take 1 drink every time you see an unnamed but identifiable Super 80s X-Man in the background of a scene.
- Take 2 drinks for every hilarious decapitation
- Take 3 drinks every time someone cries one lone tear
- Chug the whole thing whenever Apocalypse pulls some unsolicited/god-awful body modification bullshit on somebody on his team
Spoiler Warning: Everything below this image of some totally rad costumes contains spoilers.
The best Fun Yet Real Dumb Movies combine unnecessarily complex special effects with cheesy, awkward dialogue. X-Men: Apocalypse excels at both of these things. Magneto glides around the screen on a poorly hidden wire while earthbending tornadoes at people, shedding single tears and Emoting one-liners. Apocalypse spends most of his screentime delivering softspoken inspirational speeches to downtrodden mutants and absorbing puny mortals into walls and structures a la that one Doctor Who episode we’ve all tried to forget. Every character shouts their feelings over a score that will almost certainly become a popular high school marching band show in two to three years. Plus: explosions!!!
Truly, he is a master of both magnetism and subtlety
For those of you who don’t usually enjoy bad movies, there are still a few things to love about this wonderful garbage film. While it deeply fails to actually give PoC X-Men more than a handful of lines of dialogue (note: three white people in blue makeup does not count, also what happened to Mohawk Storm??? Did she really just hang out on a rock for 90% of this million-year-long movie???), it uses J-Law’s Mystique to pretty great effect as a Boss Lady Role Model that inspires all the baby X-Men.
After essentially saving everybody’s ass during Days of Future Past, people look up to Mystique. People recognize her face. Teens hang posters of her on their walls. One of the best moments in this film — actual best, not fun-dumb best — involved all the X-Teens quietly flipping out about getting to talk to her on the plane before the Final Battle. Show of hands: how many movies can y’all think of where young people, including young men, show deep admiration for a badass woman hero? As remarkable as Mohawk Storm’s Mystique poster was, Cyclops and Nightcrawler reacting to her presence gave me Legitimate Feels.
Consider Mystique’s role in this movie. While some critics pan J-Law’s performance as wooden and emotionless, she’s supposed to act that way — Mystique really doesn’t want any part of this Apocalypse bullshit. She just wants to pull Magneto out of the fire and go back to quietly saving people while refusing to accept praise for it. Guys: Mystique is Wolverine in this movie. She’s a reluctant hero that complains about being on a team while essentially driving everybody around and saving them from imminent doom at every turn. She says she doesn’t need the family of the X-Men, but she sticks around anyway. Like Wolverine, Mystique thinks of herself as an unaffected loner but secretly enjoys knowing she’s a part of something bigger than herself. If J-Law hadn’t evolved into a megastar throughout the course of these three dumb X-Men movies, would Mystique still just be a lady with a strong thirst for disaffected, selfish British dudes? Who knows, but thank god for the Hunger Games franchise.
On the other hand, this movie still isn’t a shining beacon of feminist superhero blockbusters to come. I appreciated that the Phoenix Ex Machina plot devices were kept to a minimum, but every female character outside of J-Law and Salsa Stark were criminally underused.
Mohawk Storm was the biggest disappointment in this movie. While Alexandra Shipp fits the role of Ororo perfectly, she has like, what, five lines? Ten minutes of screentime? Why even cast Mohawk Storm if you’re not really going to use her? (Just kidding; any amount of Mohawk Storm is a net positive in our sad and colorless world). Everybody with any exposure to the X-Men know that Cyclops and Marvel Girl are the biggest drips in the entire franchise’s cannon — why spend so much time on them? (Probably because of the inevitable movie version of the Phoenix Saga, but, eh). From her first moment on screen, Shipp’s Storm steals the movie. I wanted to see more of her internal conflict over Apocalypse’s dumb maniacal plan and less sad teens emotionlessly sniping at each other.
Lana Condor’s Jubilee was also beautifully cast, but poorly used. I wish I had more to say about this, but almost all of her performance was conveyed through body language because Jubilee didn’t get to really do anything. Did we even get her name, or do we just all know who she is?
Munn’s Psylocke looks like she just smelled a fart throughout the entire movie. Also, she demonstrates that even the most beautiful women look god-awful in Psylocke’s unflattering, shitty wide-legged swimsuit. That costume is just awful — awful in the comics, awful IRL, ugh.
I could spend another few paragraphs discussing how Professor X always pulls skeezy shit on women and gets away with it through conveniently-timed calamities, or hashing out Fassbender’s Emoting / ability to cry one lone tear at regular intervals, but considering that those two knuckleheads get 90% of the screentime and are the subject of 90% of all X-Men thinkpieces, I’m skipping on ahead, thank you very much.
Did I enjoy this movie? Definitely. Did my low expectations of X-Men: Apocalypse make me enjoy it more? Probably. Would I ever watch it again? Probably not — if I’m going to waste upwards of two hours on a dumb movie, I’m gonna go with the perfect and beautiful Jupiter Ascending every time. But X-Men: Apocalypse somehow manages to fit a little bit of nice (though probably accidental) subtext about representation into a big dumb superhero movie, thus exposing more dummies to the idea that women are people anybody can admire, which is something I can always get behind.
Either 1/5 crones or 4/5 crones, I can’t really tell.
A few more observations / questions:
- This movie started with a weird “thank you for watching this movie” video from Storm. This does not signal a quality entertainment experience.
- How did they have the budget to splurge on those dumb montages but didn’t have the budget to hire Beast an acting coach?
- Nightcrawler’s hair leapt out of our collective forgotten Myspace memories and into our hearts.
My Chemical X Romance (I know that’s from Powerpuff Girls but w/e)
- Every scene at the Xavier School is a fun game of Spot The Super 80s Child Version of this X-Man.
- Why do dummies in movies like this keep praying to death gods? Death gods do not have your best interests at heart. How do you not realize that you are going to be the Death God’s first sacrifice????
- It really sucks for Salsa that she opened that Prothean Beacon.
- RISE, MY ANGEL [of the music]
- Actual notes I wrote down while watching this movie:
- “Wtf am i watching” — three different times
- “I really need to just accept that I like bad movies and have bad taste” — five minutes from the end
- Psylocke’s boobs are trapped in boob prison; somebody save her from her awful fate
- Did Wolverine just imprint on Salsa like a baby bird? Also, does Wolverine need to creepily imprint on a woman during her youth for her to fall in love with him as an adult? (See also: Mariko).
- Every time Scott opens his mouth I think “scott u little shit” so good job, Tye Sheridan.
- Pizza Dog is only in this movie so they could shoehorn him into the trailer but I’m fine with that. Does he have powers? If so, what are they and if not, why not?
- Moira’s proto-Scully outfits are great.
- It’s nice that they got to use the Thanos Throne Room set from Guardians of the Galaxy again.
- Of course Professor X couldn’t undergo the indignity of losing his hair slowly over a period of time~~
- Charles Xavier is the worst thing to happen to Moira MacTaggert, and also every other woman he knows.
- Sure, he killed untold millions (?) of people, but Apocalypse really did us all a solid by disposing of those nuclear warheads. Well, probably. [Meanwhile, in Shi’ar space…] (I don’t understand the science of blasting nuclear weapons into space but it can’t be good).
- Okay so they just let Magneto walk away at the end of this movie??? Like, he’s wearing a Bad Guy Turtleneck and killed a whole bunch of people of his own volition and everybody’s like lol k bye!!! X-Men, you guys are bad at being good guys.
- Psylocke’s outfit really does look like a bad Modcloth swimsuit.
Who wore it best??
- The only significant action Psylocke takes in this movie was actually Mystique in disguise.
- Magneto molding those mechanical beams into a giant X was so on-the-nose that my eyes rolled out of my head and across the theater so now I don’t have eyes.
- Angel’s mechanical wings look like a weedwhacker when he spins them.
- This happens and I didn’t even notice until like, right now:
Who else couldn’t be more ready for a Dazzler movie??? Anybody else?? Just me then???
- Apocalypse, that’s why you don’t hire
millennialsGen X! Better luck next time!
- GET OUT OF MY HEAD SALSA
~ok bye, that’s all I have for you~
~I lied, here’s another Mohawk Storm for the road~