The “X-Men” series is at an interesting crossroads. Globally, “X-Men: Days Of Future Past” was the biggest ‘X-Men’ film by a huge margin ($747 million), but it managed to cross the classic team — Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart and Ian Mckellan — with the newer team introduced with “X-Men: First Class.” For all intents and purposes, it was kind of an ‘Avengers’-like team-up of most of the classic characters. But ‘Apocalypse’ is staring down an inevitability: Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy and Jennifer Lawrence’s contracts are up, and while Magneto and Professor X may re-up, it’s pretty clear the world’s highest-paid female movie star is moving on. And then there’s the fact that the upcoming “X-Men: Apocalypse,” which is possibly saying goodbye to its most current version of popular actors, is starting the narrative over yet again: the series is introducing yet another round of new/old characters that haven’t been seen in the ‘First Class’ timeline yet like Cyclops, Storm, Jubilee, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler and more (all played by relatively smaller-name young actors).
While ‘Apocalypse’ boasts bigger and better stakes and a villain played by Oscar Isaac, with no Patrick Stewart, Ian Mckellan, or Hugh Jackman to market (although it’s believed he has a cameo), it’s very possible ‘Apocalypse’ is going to have a very difficult time matching the worldwide gross of its predecessor. What’s more, franchise director Bryan Singer looks to be moving on, so this is his last at bat; the series will have to continue on without him, Lawrence and Jackman (who is hanging up the claws after “Wolverine 3“; so this would be his last ‘X-Men’ appearance).
It’s interesting to see a studio like 20th Century Fox run into this dilemma, but here they are. And braintrust producer Simon Kinberg and co. might be facing an uncomfortable reality: a scenario where side character “Deadpool,” outgrosses all ‘X-Men’ films to date with ‘Apocalypse’ falling far short (this is like “Ant-Man” outgrosssing the ‘Avengers’). These are all what-ifs of course, but not edge case possibilities. Fox is at least not going down without a fight, promising a war with the entire planet at stake in the melodramatic marketing for ‘Apocalypse’ (though one has to wonder where super hero films can go from here when every narrative appears to be some variation on the potential end of times). Can the baton pass of “X-Men: Apocalypse” make the grade in the same way ‘Days Of Future Past’ did? It remains to be seen, but Fox will likely spend nearly the entire budget of a mini-tentpole to ensure it does.
Meanwhile, the new trailer for X-Men: Apocalypse” has arrived and you can watch it below. The film opens on May 27th.