Thought 'Captain America: Civil War' had your head spinning? Well the latest instalment in this generation's must-see mutant franchise, 'X-Men: Apocalypse', is finally swooping into cinemas across the country today which can mean only one thing – it's high time you took a refresher course in one of the most confusing superhero franchises to date. The X-Men films' storylines not only span over a century but also switch between past, present and future at whim and feature at least two versions (sometimes three) of each character. Confused yet? We thought so.
If you find yourself asking questions such as ‘Is Patrick Stewart or Michael Fassbender in this one?’ or ‘What decade is this again?’ then you’ve come to the right place. Our quick rundown of everything you need to know before you take your seat will leave you feeling so on it that you’ll soon be the appointed X-Men expert in your family.
1. What films are relevant to 'X-Men: Apocalypse'
The previous X-Men films in order of release are:
'X2: X-Men United' (2003)
'X-Men: The Last Stand' (2006)
'X-Men Origins: Wolverine' (2009)
'X-Men: First Class' (2011)
'The Wolverine' (2013)
'X-Men: Days of Future Past' (2014)
While this seems like a lot, don't worry – you don't have to binge-watch all eight movies to understand what's going on in this one, but you can watch this handy recap below to get you up to speed:
The one film you really need to see ahead of the new release is 'X-Men: Days of Future Past', as 'X-Men: Apocalypse' is its direct sequel.
In 'Days of Future Past', the character Wolverine (played by Hugh Jackman) travels back in time to try to change the course of events that have lead to a war between sentinels (mutant-hunting robots designed by humans) and the rest of the world, thus connecting up the older X-Men actors from the early films (think Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen and Halle Berry) with younger versions of themselves (Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy and Jennifer Lawrence). Wolverine successfully completes his mission, changing the course of the future and therefore the events that took place in any of the original trilogy X-Men films.
2. What timeline you're on and what is means for the film
Now that the past has been changed, there’s no longer any reason to worry about what happened in the first trilogy of X-Men films, as the future has now been altered. The new film 'X-Men: Apocalypse' will instead directly follow the timeline set out in 'X-Men: Days of Future Past'.
Taking place 10 years after the events in 'Days of Future Past', 'X-Men: Apocalypse' is set in the 1980s and will focus on the younger versions of the characters we know and love (those played by Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy) and will not involve the older versions of the characters, played by Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart.
3. Who the new guys are
Mutants are the next step in evolution – humans who have developed gifts, talents or superpowers. Now you understand the timelines, you need a quick refresher on who's who.
In 'X-Men: First Class' and 'X-Men: Days of Future Past', you have already met the two leading characters Charles Xavier (nickname Professor X) played by James McAvoy, who can read minds and Erik Lehnsherr (nickname Magneto) played by Michael Fassbender, who can manipulate metal. These two are always at odds and are joined by Raven (nickname Mystique) played by Jennifer Lawrence, a character who can transform into anyone and Hank McCoy (nickname Beast) played by Nicholas Hoult, who has ape-like strength.
In 'X-Men: Days of Future Past', we were also introduced to Peter Maximoff (nickname Quicksilver) played by Evan Peters, who can move at the speed of light (and who, we find out in the latest trailer, is Magneto's son). You can be sure that all of these feature heavily in 'Apocalypse'.
The Newbies (in this timeline)
In the new film we will meet the younger versions of Jean Grey played by Sophie Turner, who is telepathic and telekinetic and Cyclops played by Tye Sheridan, who can shoot red lasers out of his eyes. Both these characters are important for the future of the X-Men as a whole (as they both were future leaders of the X-Men gang in the original trilogy).
The other newbies you really need to know about are Storm (Alexandra Shipp) who can control the weather, Psylocke (Olivia Munn) who can use telekinesis, and Angel (Ben Hardy) who has wings and can fly. These characters are important as they will go on to form part of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the name for the group of bad guys in the new film.
4. Charles and Erik (Professor X and Magneto) and their turbulent relationship
Charles and Erik were once best friends who now stand on opposing sides due to differing views about mutants and mankind. While Erik believes that mankind is dangerous (due to experiences when he was young, shown in 'X-Men: First Class') and thinks mutants should rule over man due to their genetic superiority, Charles believes in the good of people and fights for mutants and mankind to live peacefully side-by-side.
Their differing opinions have lead Charles and Erik to yo-yo between enemies and friends more times than you can count. Theirs is a complicated relationship that will yet again come into play in the new film, when Erik joins the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
5. Who and what Apocalypse is
Apocalypse, or En Sabah Nur (played by Oscar Isaac), is the main bad guy in the new film. A mutant that dates back to Ancient Egypt, he has been in hibernation for thousands of years. Disappointed by the world he finds when he comes out of hibernation, he decides to cleanse mankind and start a new world order.
Apocalypse is the most powerful mutant in existence and is virtually unstoppable and immortal, which will create a major problem for the X-Men. Suffice to say his name is apt, meaning there will be carnage galore in his wake – and if the mutants can't stop him, it will be the end of the world as we know it.
6. What have Wolverine and William Stryker got to do with it all
First off Logan (nickname Wolverine), played by Hugh Jackman, is a mutant that has featured heavily in most of the X-Men films to date. A mutant that possesses animal-like strength and a powerful healing ability that causes him to be immortal, his most defining features are the long metal claws that he can extend at will from his hands. Although he was always a mutant he didn’t always have metal claws, which is where Colonel William Stryker (Josh Helman) comes in. A corrupt government official, Stryker experimented on Wolverine in the original trilogy, infusing his bones with metal in order to make him a lethal government weapon, called Weapon X.
Both Wolverine and William Stryker appear in the new film and you might be forgiven for being terribly confused by what versions you will see. In 'Days of Future Past' Wolverine hadn't been experimented on yet, but in 'Apocalypse' he has his metal claws, which implies he might have entered his Weapon X phase. To make matters even more confusing, the Wolverine we saw in 'Days of Future Past' was actually future Wolverine in past Wolverine's body (WHAT?!), so don't expect him to remember anyone or anything from 'Days of Future Past', as he didn’t actually live it (his future self did). You might want to read all of that again, slowly.
Whatever the case may be, it’s a safe bet that Wolverine and Stryker will have a show down (again) and now you know why.
RIGHT. Got all that? You're officially ready to take on 'Apocalypse'!