Eight years before Iron Man, when Marvel’s interconnected movie universe was just a studio’s daydream, there was X-Men. In many ways we have Bryan Singer to thank for establishing the success of today’s superhero blockbusters. Singer grounded his mutant world in realism and heart, proving that movies based on crime-fighting, cape-wearing people with funky abilities can have social, political, and emotional relevance; something fans have known for decades, but the general public remained mostly unaware of. (Ew, comics? Comics are for nerds!)
Singer also proved these movies have staying power. Sixteen years and nine films later, the X-Men franchise is still chugging along, except they’re no longer the biggest superheroes on the block.
So, after all that time and competing against countless other caped crusaders, does X-Men: Apocalypse have anything worthwhile left to say? Kinda.
Part of it depends on your point of view. Given the staggering 48% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the critics sure don’t think so. (For reference, previous films Days of Future Past, First Class, and X2: X-Men United scored a respective 91%, 87%, and 86% with critics. Yeouch.)
Audience scores are better — a respectable, if not stellar, 74%, certainly enough of a difference to highlight the viewing priorities between both camps. Having said that, it’s still less than Future Past (92%), First Class(87%), and X2 (85%).
Me? It’s no miracle of cinema on its own standing, it doesn’t match the heights of creative ingenuity and thematic pathos we’ve come to associate with Singer’s entries in the franchise, but it’s fine. Good, in fact! Nothing revolutionary, but a solid, enjoyable, smart middle ground that presents its ideas and characters clearly.
If Civil War is the masterpiece and Batman v Superman the godawful mess, then Apocalypse is the perfectly okay one.
So why did critics and some fans hate it so? Where’d this apathy, even vitriol, come from?
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