Hello, everyone! I just got finished watching X-Men: Apocalypse. I’m not going to review it, because by now you’ve seen it and have made your own decisions about how good it is or not, whether you’re going to buy it on Blu-Ray or DVD and whether or not the guy playing Apocalypse looks familiar or not (my decisions: good enough for the X-Men franchise, but not good enough to knock Deadpool off the #1 slot, Blu-Ray for the extras, and the guy who played Apocalypse is the same one that played Poe Dameron on “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”).
As I was watching it, I found myself nodding along with Apocalypse and he desire to remake the world. Sure — the whole Darwinian thing was a bit of a put off (those of you who was seen me in real life know where I fall in the whole ‘fit / not fit’ thing), but if we look at how he approaches it…he’s fair. In the movie, he never separates the world into “mutant” or “non-mutant”. He simply goes for “weak” or “strong”. If you can do the job that he sets out for you — in this case, it’s trying to not get crushed by tons and tons of flying debris — you get the privilege to go to sleep in a cozy pile of rubble and do the same thing tomorrow.
"Everything they built will fall and from the ashes of their world we will build a better one!" En Sabah Nur 2016!
Am I losing my mind? Some are going to argue that you can’t lose something you’ve never had. They’re right, but let’s also take another look at what makes En Sabah Nur a lot better than the comic book Apocalypse: he cares.
That’s been the whole crux of the Mutant Struggle in the movies. What we don’t understand, and what we as a society can not control is what we fear. Mutants fill that role completely. What are you going to do with a six-year-old who can bench press a car? I mean, other than make sure she gets that pony she wants. You thing your teenage years were awkward? How about the teenager who knows how awkward it is for you because you can’t stop thinking about it and he can’t stop picking up those thoughts? Erik and Charles are (and the writers of the comics have confirmed this) the Mutant version of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr respectively. Their goals are the same: a place where mutants can exist without fear of persecution. Professor Xavier looks to co-existence and the school. Erik realizes the mutants of the world have no one to rely on but themselves and they must be ready to defend themselves “by any means necessary”.
En Sabah Nur takes it to the extreme for either side. While he could have been a raving megalomaniac (like his earlier comic appearances), and we would have accepted that and moved on to the next scene; we see him taking on a paternalistic approach to The Horsemen he gathers. He doesn’t promise them riches, or suits that cover more than 45% of the body. He simply says:
You are all my children, and you're lost because you follow blind leaders.
How many of us (in this political season, especially) can identify with that statement? The more I watched the movie, the more I listened to how En Sabah Nur talked to his followers, the more I realized that he was perhaps the best person to lead anyone and everyone. He didn’t trade money for votes, he didn’t set up straw men to knock down. What you saw was what you got. How many mutants in that world would have heard that and said: “Hell, yeah!”
And what pulled me back from painting myself blue and heading to Cairo? Other than that I have work Tuesday and my skin is a sensitive sort when it comes to grease paint? This:
[reciting Apocalypse's message to the world] Charles Xavier: This message is for one reason alone: to tell the strongest among you... Apocalypse: Those with the greatest power, this earth will be yours! Charles Xavier: Those with the greatest power...protect those without. That's my message to the world.
There you go. In the end, for all of En Sabah Nur’s posturing about making someone the best, about enhancing their powers — if you fail, you’re nothing. There is no forgiveness, no salvation, no ‘you’ll get them next time, slugger’. You’re tossed overboard and the next one stands up. Even Erik at his worse in this point doesn’t advocate dominance of one over the other — he just wants the world to know that you can push so far before you get pushed into a car. Xavier’s goal of co-existence is reachable, and his dedication to it is utterly saint-like. Don’t forget — Erik was willing to lay low and work with people, even giving himself up to save a friend. Things didn’t go to Hell in the proverbial handbasket until Erik had nothing to lose. Which is when En Sabah Nur came in and seduced Erik to his side. Erik’s sin throughout this whole series isn’t anger…it’s despair.
Ultimately, this particular X-Men film is timely for the upheavals we are facing today. When we are approached with someone who says they have the key to your happiness, who can come in and solve all of your ills — read the fine print. The Devil is not only in the details. He’s the one holding the contract.