When X-Men: Apocalypse hits theaters on May 27, it might feel very much like a conclusion to the story that was first introduced in 2011's X-Men: First Class, capping off a trilogy that also featured the hit X-Men: Days of Future Past as its centerpiece. Those who've been following the series since First Class will definitely find certain character and story arcs twisting towards an inevitable (but temporary) conclusion, but those who've been tuning in since 2000's X-Men may find even more.
Fandango recently sat down with X-Men: Apocalypse director Bryan Singer for a sprawling conversation about Apocalypse, as well as the five other X-Men films that have dazzled audiences for almost two decades. In Singer's mind, Apocalypse doesn't just wrap up a story that began five years ago — instead it caps off a journey that began long before that.
"To me this is not the end of a trilogy. To me this is the climax of six movies, including X-Men 1, 2 and 3," he says. "It incorporates pieces and homages and reflections back on those previous movies. I don’t call it a sequel or a prequel – I call it an in-betweenquel. It harks upon all of those movies, and because it’s ultimately about the formation of the X-Men, it’s the beginning of endless possibilities with these characters."
Endless possibilities, you say?
We spoke to Singer about some of those possibilities (think outer space-y), as well as what the future may hold for Wolverine, and we'll dole out some of those details as we inch closer to Apocalypse's release. But what it does point to is the fact that while Apocalypse may feel like the end of a six-film series (or "sixology," as Singer calls it), the larger X-universe is just starting to find its groove.
In addition to Apocalypse, Fox is also working on a third Wolverine sequel (now in production), a New Mutants movie, a solo Gambit film and a Deadpool sequel. And that's just on the big screen. On the small screen, they're already hard at work on two X-related shows, Hellfire and Legion, which Singer says will eventually cross over to the bigger budgeted big-screen properties.
"The idea is to do something very new and very different with Legion," he explains. "Since it’s television, you can’t do the same level of visual effects [as a big movie], so you have to find other dramatic ways of telling the story. What’s great about these universes and particularly the X-Men universe is it’s very grounded in its characters and its themes, so even if the tone is different or the show is smaller than a movie, it can still have very strong characters and bring in a supernatural element in a very tasteful and fun way," he says. And when the time is right you can cross over and remind people that they’re part of a bigger universe."
Singer, who in many ways is the godfather of the modern superhero genre, says that the success of films like Deadpool and these upcoming TV shows is what's crucial when it comes to the continuing success of the superhero genre.
"I think the individual characters have to be discovered and exploited for their own kinds of tonality, like Deadpool, which is a good example," Singer explains. "To make lesser known characters relevant to the general public. The X-Men universe is enormously expansive – it’s every bit as large as the remaining Marvel universe or DC universe. It just takes the right hands and right cast to find the story in these characters, whether they’re the famous ones or the lesser known characters. That may make for some event pictures, like Apocalypse, or it’ll lend itself to smaller fare."
When it comes to Apocalypse, the great thing about the movie, according to Singer, is that it both functions as the culmination of six movies, as well as an origin story for people who've never even seen an X-Men movie before.
In fact, it's those people who the director most hopes to see in theaters come May 27.
"I hope that audiences who've never seen an X-Men movie show up with the confidence that they don’t have to have seen any other X-Men movie because this one introduces the universe, introduces the X mansion, introduces the old characters, as well as the new characters, who are all playing characters in their beginnings. So if you’ve never seen an X-Men movie, you will not be lost and you will have a great time. I’m hoping that audience shows up."
We'll have much more with Bryan Singer as we creep closer to the May 27 release of X-Men: Apocalypse. Stay tuned!