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The big story swirling around X-Men: Apocalypse this week was the possible recasting of classic on-screen X-Men heroes Cyclops, Jean Grey and Storm – riffing on screenwriter Simon Kinberg’s comments that the time frame of the upcoming sequel (it’s set in the 1980s) would demand younger versions of the characters we’ve grown accustomed to. With all due respect to Halle Berry, James Marsden and Famke Janssen, enough is enough. The X-Men series has leaned hard on the founding members of Marvel’s mutant team, placing them front and center for multiple X-Men movies. The time has come to move on.
As the prequel movies – both X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past -- taught us, inventive personifications of new mutants (no pun intended) can capture an audience’s imagination and lead to the creation of new fan favorites. (Hello, Quicksilver!) Moving the action to the 1980s allows X-Men: Apocalypse the chance to create fresh X-heroes and villains, and maybe to also breathe new life into beloved X-characters who got a shot at silver-screen stardom but felt a little shortchanged in the long run.
We already know that Professor Xavier (James McAvoy), Magneto (Michael Fassbender), Beast (Nicolas Hoult) and Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) will lead the charge on the next X-Men movie. If we had the ability to stock the shelves for Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Apocalypse, though, here’s who else we’d LOVE to see in the mutant mix.
LegionNot to get too complicated right off the bat, but if you are going to do some version of the Age of Apocalypse storyline, you basically have to have Legion. The trouble is that a lot of backstory would need to be introduced in order to just roll out Legion, and I’m not sure X-Men: Age of Apocalypse is prepared to dig into that much mythology. Essentially, the character of Legion is Charles Xavier’s son, the product of an affair Charles had with an Israeli woman. In the comics, Legion triggers the Age of Apocalypse when he travels back in time with the intention of killing Magneto… his father’s chief adversary. Seeing as how the X-movies have dabbled in time travel (and they have an actor ready to pay Bishop), key elements of the Age of Apocalypse story are available. I’m just not sure if 20th Century Fox, Singer and Kinberg want to jump right back into time travel so soon after Days of Future Past.
CableMore time-travel madness, with obvious ties to upcoming titles in the on-screen X-Men universe. Cable is another time-traveler, the future son of Cyclops and Madelyne Pryor (who was Jean Grey’s clone… creepy). He leads the New Mutants, at one point, and was introduced to be the physical counterpoint to Professor X – a man of action (and guns) who blazed his way through battles. The studio has said that they’d like to develop an X-Force movie, of which Cable would be the expected leader. He also had a run with Deadpool in the comics, and we know the Merc with a Mouth is getting a movie. Cable could be introduced in X-Men: Apocalypse, then further developed in one of the many X-movies coming down the pipe.
NightcrawlerHere’s the first bit of revisionist history on the list, a chance to bring back a character who appeared in a previous X-Men movie, but deserves far more screen time. Bryan Singer perfected the "Bamf" of Kurt Wagner in X2: X-Men United, opening that film with the hero’s stunning infiltration of the White House. But while characters like Iceman, Cyclops and Kitty Pryde keep popping up in the X-Men movies, Nightcrawler never returned for a new adventure. Seeing as how the character got very little back story in X2, let’s bend the rules for Apocalypse and find a way to let young Kurt fight… because Singer sure knows how to use him to great effect.
JuggernautAnother do-over, this time because a fantastic X-Men character was completely mishandled in an on-screen role. Juggernaut is a beast of a villain, an unstoppable force who almost was featured in Days of Future Past (in this fashion). I’m not sure if Apocalypse needs additional villains, what with the as-yet-uncast Apocalypse and Michael Fassbender’s Magneto in the mix. But anything that washes the image of Vinnie Jones’ dreadful Juggernaut out of our memories ("Bitch!") would be appreciated.
GambitGambit kind of has been confirmed for the X-universe… eventually. Channing Tatum said that he essentially was in line to play the character Taylor Kitsch brought to "life" in the forgettable X-Men: Origins – Wolverine. After that, things got confusing. No one knew if Tatum meant in a standalone Gambit film, or as part of the X-Men universe, likely X-Men: Apocalypse. Since then, the actor has even backpedaled slightly, meaning that if Gambit shows up in the next movie, it likely will be a cameo that teases future adventures. At the very least, it’d be great to see Tatum in character, showing us how the card-throwing Cajun will look in the reimagined X-Men films.
The MorlocksNow that we have seen the Sentinels on screen (and not just part of a hokey Danger Room sequence), it time that Fox dabbled into the subterranean world of Chris Claremont and Paul Smith’s Morlocks – a substantial adversarial group to the X-Men who’d fit in PERFECTLY with the 1980s setting of X-Men: Apocalypse. If the Hellfire Club was the right fit for the Bond-ian ‘60s setting of First Class, then the grungy Morlocks and their undergroud existence could bolster the Escape From New York vibe that should exist in Singer’s 1980s-based Apocalypse. Suggesting the existence of the Morlocks gives Fox an opportunity to bring in characters like Caliban and Callisto for later X-movies. And as some of their members have connections to the Horsemen of Apocalypse, finding room for them in the upcoming sequel makes a tone of sense.
AngelWhat a shame, the way founding member Warren Worthington III was mistreated in Brett Ratner’s ill-conceived X-Men: The Last Stand. Essentially a throwaway character, Angel has so much potential as a tragic X-Men figure, and needs to be rewoven into the fabric of this great film franchise. Angel’s relationship with Beast (Nicoals Hoult) could – and should – be a foundation for these new X-Men stories. And those how followed the Age of Apocalypse storyline in the comics know that Angel played a significant role. It could be an heroic, unforgettable screen part… if handled the right way.
JubileePart of the fun of the future segments in Days of Future Past was watching smaller role players like Blink (Bingbing Fan), Bishop (Omar Sy) and Sunspot (Adan Canto) shine briefly in battle. Jubilee is a fan favorite who hasn’t had her moment in the sun yet, popping up in the first three X-Men movies but never getting past snippets of scenes that usually ended up on the cutting room floor. It’d be great to see her surface in X-Men: Apocalypse, showing off her dazzling power to create colorful blasts of pyrotechnic plasma energy from her hands. Her looks, her style and her powers all fit the gaudy, 1980s time frame. Cast a snarky Valley Girl, and Jubilee could have the same breakout success as Quicksilver did in Days of Future Past.
CannonballThis one’s for me. I loved the young members of the New Mutants, and thought their naivety was a terrific counterbalance to the morose gloom of some X-Men stories. Cannonball was a country hick from the coal-mining sticks of Kentucky, who brought a Superman-level of ethics and humanity to his team. His power is simple: He flies super fast, and surrounds himself in a force field while he’s soaring, turning himself into a human cannonball. Simple. But cinematic. And introducing a winning Cannonball in X-Men: Apocalypse could lay the groundwork for a New Mutants spinoff movie, where Fox would be able to roll out characters like Magma and Warlock while moving Sunspot and Warpath over from Days of Future Past. Seeds are being planted. A Cannonball cameo could help them grow.
X-23OK, every list needs an out-of-left-field pick, and X-23 is mine. Hugh Jackman can’t continue to play Wolverine forever (despite his affinity for the character, and his masterful performances in the role). The X-Men brain trust need to come up with a new way to take everything that we like about Logan, but freshen it up for a new series of films. X-23 is a female clone of Wolverine, a killing machine pulled from the Weapon X program that gave Logan his powers. Seeing as how Bryan Singer still kept William Stryker in his Days of Future Past universe, and the Weapon X research remains a big component of the X-Men movie timeline, could we get a new, female hero with Wolverine’s powers who could receive the baton from Jackman and invent a cool, new character? Again, it’s a longshot. But it’s something Singer, Kinberg and the X-Men team might want to consider somewhere down the line.