8 Ways ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ Kicks Ass

Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique is definitely part of it.

Following Captain America: Civil War, which kick-started the summer movies, we now have comic-book movie No. 2 for summer 2016, X-Men: Apocalypse, directed by X-Men specialist Bryan Singer.

While it may not be quite as excellent as Civil War (and, to be honest, any of the other comic-book movies have some big shoes to fill moving forward; Civil War is nearly perfect), Apocalypse is a whole heck of a lot of mutant fun, a worthy addition to the franchise.

The story takes place about 10 years after Days of Future Past, so we are still with the younger versions of Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), Magneto (Michael Fassbender), Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult) and Mystique (Lawrence), while also being introduced to the youthful Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Scott Summers/Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Ororo Munroe/Storm (Alexandra Shipp) and Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee).

Even though they are just students at Xavier’s School for the Gifted, Jean, Scott and Kurt find themselves having to use their still uncontrollable powers to help Charles, Mystique and Hank battle an ancient mutant named Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), who has risen from being trapped for centuries, ready to destroy all the weak humans and take over the world. But Apocalypse doesn’t work alone. He needs mutants by his side, so he recruits four powerful mutants to assist him, and in 1983, those four include Storm, Psylocke (Olivia Munn), Angel (Ben Hardy) – and Magneto, naturally.

With this latest X-Men installment, here are the eight ways it rocked:

1. Mystique

Jennifer-Lawrence-Mystique-X-Men-05192016
CREDIT: 20th Century Fox

When Jennifer Lawrence took over the role in X-Men: First Class, we saw how Raven evolved as Mystique, and how she started to side with Magneto. But then, it all changes in Days of Future Past because Wolverine skews the time line, altering the path these characters take. So, in Apocalypse, Mystique is now a hero to both the human and mutant community. It’s not something she necessarily wants, but she is still fighting for mutant rights – and she is no longer angry at humans. When the shit goes down, she knows she has to whip these new X-Men into shape if they are going to defeat Apocalypse. Think Captain America leading the Avengers. Lawrence has really given this character depth and meaning, and making her the mutant champion, instead of an enemy, just works.

2. Magneto and Charles Xavier

Charles-Xavier
CREDIT: 20th Century Fox

Oh, these two. Always at diametrical odds. they still have enough affection between them to keep them friends. Charles has taken the time between their last encounter to build his school and teach the young mutants to embrace their powers and be true to themselves, and McAvoy continues to play it brilliantly, giving small glimpses of the Patrick Stewart older man he’ll become, but making the role his own. Oh, and we finally find out how he becomes bald (and it’s not just his hair preference).

Magneto
CREDIT: 20th Century Fox

On the flip side, Magneto is still a wanted man for his evil deeds in Days of Future Past but has tried desperately to shed that persona and live a normal life. Without giving anything away, a set of circumstances turns Erik back into his vengeful Magneto once again, now just ripe for the picking by Apocalypse. Fassbender continues to be the most fascinating player in this “new generation,” showing just how tortured Erik really is from all the horrors of his past. That’s why we can never completely hate Magneto for his actions because we’ll always ultimately felt empathy for him – even when he’s tearing up the world.

3. Quicksilver

Quicksilver
CREDIT: 20th Century Fox

Evan Peters simply wins as Quicksilver. Period. There’s no way Age of Ultron’s Aaron Taylor-Johnson had a chance to outdo Peters’ interpretation of the Marvel character, especially after his debut in Days of Future Past, so it’s probably best they killed Taylor-Johnson’s Quicksilver off. In Apocalypse, Peters once again shines as Quicksilver, doing his schtick (and saving a bunch of mutant kids from a bomb blast), stealing every scene he is in – and letting us know he knows he is Magneto’s son. This should be interesting in upcoming X-Men movies.

4. Wolverine

Wolverine
CREDIT: 20th Century Fox

It’s no secret Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine makes an appearance in Apocalypse (because it’s in the trailers), but the way he does it is so completely awesome, you’ll definitely cheer when he shows up. Hint: It does have something to do with Col. William Stryker (Josh Helman) – remember, he’s the government guy who turned Wolverine’s claws into iron.

5. Jean Grey

Jean-Grey
CREDIT: 20th Century Fox

Along with Magneto and Wolverine, Jean Grey has always been one of the most compelling figures in the X-Men universe – the one mutant who truly has enough power to either rule them all or wipe them out. Famke Janssen will always have the credit of being the first Jean and for making an indelible impression, but Turner may have outdone her as the younger version. The Game of Thrones star proves she’s a real badass and has probably the most spectacular scene in the whole film when she takes on Apocalypse. It shows shades of the Dark Phoenix, but one wonders if she’ll become evil now that the time line has been skewed.

6. The Other Newbies

Jean-Grey-Cyclops-Nightcrawler
CREDIT: 20th Century Fox

Sheridan does a nice job as the young Scott, trying to control those laser beam eyes while also falling for the older Jean, while Shipp gives us a whole new take on Storm. Did you know Ororo Munroe was Egyptian? I sure didn’t, but if Halle Berry ever has a chance to play Storm again, Shipp gives her a lot to work with. The standout, though, was Smit-McPhee as the sweet-natured and religious Kurt, with his wide-eyed innocence and willingness to do teenager things. His time line has also been altered (X2 had him under Magneto’s control), so now he is part of the team.

7. Apocalypse and His Gang

Apocalypse
CREDIT: 20th Century Fox

Isaac has the unenviable task of bringing the first mutant ever to life, a brooding bad guy with a ton of prosthetic makeup, but he does a fine job scaring us — and we have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of him. Munn also looks like she has kick-ass fun as Psylocke, a mutant who can produce electric swords and lassos from her hands. Handy trick.

8. Bryan Singer

The director simply understands this X-Men universe backwards and forwards. He helmed the first two originals, with the second X2 standing as one of the best films in the franchise, so there is a comfort level with Apocalypse. The humor and familiarity with the characters remains, even with the new cast members. While the climactic confrontation tends to drag a bit, the final moments are extremely powerful and definitely leaves us wanting more. Let’s hope it’s with same people.

X-Men: Apocalypse opens this Friday.