The film sees a team of new heroes come together in the 1980s to battle the eponymous Apocalypse. An immortal and almost unfathomably powerful figure from ancient Egypt, the monster once known as En Sabah Nur is presumed to be the world’s first mutant, and has cut a bloody swathe across history.
Boldly, for a film aimed largely at an American audience, Apocalypse paints its central villain as inspiration for a number of religious figures, with Apocalypse himself saying he has “been called many things over many lifetimes — Ra, Krishna, Yahweh”. Another character even says it was his penchant for travelling with four horsemen that possibly inspired the Biblical figures. Under any name, the importance is clear: Apocalypse brings the end times, and the X-Men may be powerless to stand in his way.
Early fears over how Apocalypse would appear can, for now, be set to rest — properly lit and seen in motion, the character looks much better than he did in early static picture reveals. The movie also seems to have nailed his almost limitless power set, which include shape-shifting to giant size, and energy manipulation on a, well, apocalyptic scale.
Apocalypse is the ninth X-Men film produced by 20th Century Fox — if you count two Wolverine movies and next February’s Deadpool. It’s also a direct sequel to 2014’s Days of Future Past, and the first in the new timeline established by that film. As a result of the mini-reboot, much of the cast features recast team members seen in previous movies.
While James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, and Nicholas Hoult return as Professor X, Magneto, Mystique, and Beast, respectively, they’re joined by Alexandra Shipp, replacing Halle Berry as weather-controlling Storm; Tye Sheridan taking over from James Marsden as Cyclops; Game of Thrones’ Sophie Turner as powerful telekinetic Jean Grey, once Famke Janssen; and Ben Hardy as Angel, a character briefly played by Ben Foster in 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand.
Newcomers include Olivia Munn as psychic ninja Psylocke, Lana Condor as plasmoid-generating Jubilee, and Kodi Smit-McPhee as a re-imagined Nightcrawler, not seen in the films since 2003’s X2. World-ending duties fall to Oscar Isaac as Apocalypse.
By this point, the X-Men movies are very much on their own path, taking only the barest of inspirations from the comic book source material. For instance, Storm and Magneto were never Horsemen of Apocalypse, as they appear to become in the film. Still, director Bryan Singer is putting together one of the biggest casts of mutant superheroes ever seen on screen, which should bring the loyal fans on board, while the final shot of the trailer hints at one major mystery of the movie series being answered during the course of the film: how James McAvoy’s Charles Xavier ends up bald, matching Patrick Stewart’s older version of the character.
X-Men: Apocalypse opens in the UK on 19 May 2016.