If his name didn’t clue you in, Apocalypse — the eponymous villain in the forthcoming X-Men: Apocalypse — will be big trouble for Marvel’s merry band of mutants when he takes to the screen in 2016. How big? New details from Bryan Singer’s script have emerged, giving us the tiniest of glimpses.
[If you’re psyched like we are about Apocalypse being the next X-Men villain, check out our hopes for which other X-Men and X-Villains will show up in X-Men: Apocalypse!]
Monday saw the release of the “treatment” — a prose rendition of the final screenplay — for X-Men: Apocalypse, the eagerly-awaited follow-up to this year’s smash hit, X-Men: Days of Future Past. Singer posted a snapshot of part of the first page of the treatment, not giving away too much in the way of info, but just enough to whet appetites.
Just what’s contained in that snippet? Enough to know that Apocalypse will be wrecking shop from the very first shot. We could pull only fragments of sentences from Singer’s picture, but we could pick out the words “coil with smoke,” “The Nile is streaked with,” “sprawling battle,” and — most importantly — “The Four Horsemen.”
Comic fans will recognize the Horsemen as heralds of the Apocalypse, and they will likely appear in the next X-Men movie – along with all of the other characters we hope will be in there – just as they do in the Bible: War, Famine, Pestilence, and Death. Compared to Apocalypse, though, they’ll be pushovers.
So, just who is this Apocalypse character, and why should the X-Men be quaking in their boots?
Apocalypse is also known as En Sabah Nur, or “The First One,” a signifier of his status as the first super-powered mutant on Earth. He’s been around since the days of Ancient Egypt, where he wrecked shop by overthrowing a pharaoh or two, all the while gathering powerful technologies under his banner.
As far as Apocalypse’s power set, it’s second to none. Marvel’s own encyclopedia entry on Apocalypse says that “the full extent of [Apocalypse’s] powers remain to be seen.” In the comics, we’ve seen Apocalypse controlling his own body on a molecular level, altering his own density, and mimicking metals and armors. He also teleports, grows to gargantuan size, flies, and shapeshifts.
Oh, he’s also shown himself to be stronger than the Hulk. Yeah, that Hulk.
As if all that weren’t enough, Apocalypse has not only the Four Horsemen — each terrifying in their own right — but the Clan Akkaba at his back. Clan Akkaba is a cultish group that formed around Apocalypse back in Egypt and has guarded his legacy ever since, making sure the world is safe for him as he hibernates and occasionally waking him in their times of need.
You may have noticed that we’ve mentioned Ancient Egypt a couple of times, and that’s important, as it ties into another critical fact about Apocalypse: the X-Men’s next villain is essentially immortal. Apocalypse regenerates due in part to his own powers, but also with the help of some futuristic technology he’s gotten access to.
And what is it Apocalypse wants? Marvel editor Bob Harras described Apocalypse’s goals as lofty, but noted that the way he’s willing to go about achieving them means trouble for the X-Men and anyone who gets in his way.
“He came with a clear-cut agenda: ‘survival of the fittest.’ He didn’t care if you were a mutant—if you were weak, you would be destroyed,” Harras told Comic Book Resources back in 2009. “He was merciless, but his philosophy was easy to grasp and it fit in with the harder edge of evolution which is part and parcel of the mutant story. Isn’t that what humans fear about mutants? That they are the next step? Now, we had given mutants something new to fear: a character who would judge them on their genetic worthiness.”
Put another way: whereas the Sentinels from X-Men: Days of Future Past were just mindless drones meant to protect the humans, and whereas Magneto solely wants to ensure the ascension of the mutant race, Apocalypse is willing to burn the whole thing down if he doesn’t deem anyone fit enough.
What’s more, Apocalypse might have more than just the Four Horsemen and Clan Akkaba backing him up. In the comics, Apocalypse has turned a number of the X-Men to his side, including fan-favorite Wolverine. Apocalypse also corrupted the original X-Man Angel, turning him into the blue-skinned, metal-winged Archangel. Even Cyclops wasn’t able to resist and once fell under the sway of Apocalypse.
All this is to say that the X-Men will definitely have their work cut out for them in the summer of 2016, when X-Men: Apocalypse hits the screen. If Singer and crew are able to successfully translate the fearsome, near-omnipotent Apocalypse to the big screen, we could very well end up seeing a supervillain for the ages.
[Lead image: Apocalypse, by Livio Ramondelli.]