I can distinctly remember the very first time I picked up a comic book. It was September, 2007, and I was thirteen years old. For some, this may be considered a little on the late side, but it wasn’t the DC/Marvel hoards that prompted my first visit to the Limited Edition Comics stall in the local indoor market. It was Gerard Way’s Dark Horse ‘Umbrella Academy’ series. Although that series ended in 2013, my love for comic books was born out of my love for Way and his band, My Chemical Romance, so I’m grateful to him and to that series for giving me a passion I have carried with me into adulthood.
Once I’d accustomed myself to the reading style of comic books, the instalments of Umbrella Academy weren’t enough to satisfy me. I went back to that comic book stall and picked up the first comic book with a name I recognised. The X-men. With its many variations and storylines spanning decades, there was no shortage of material, and I fell in love.
This backstory (my origin story, if you will) may seem irrelevant, and largely it is. But I chalk my love of comics up to the wealth of brightly coloured, good vs evil narrative I was exposed to through 1980-1990s X-men. These are themes I identified with most prominently when I went to see X-men: Apocalypse last night. I was blown away, and I didn’t even see it in 3D. (although I’m going to see it in 4DX over the weekend.) Some films are just MADE for 3D, and the action shots in this one are a clear example of that.
I was so in love with it- the colours, the nostalgia, the nods to the core fan base. If it is to be director Brian Singer’s swan song, it’s a fitting tribute to his unique reboot of the franchise, and adequately paves the way for the new, younger cast to take over the characters.
Reading other reviews from so-called critics, I couldn’t help but fear there was a little palm-greasing from The Disney Machine. (Disclaimer: that’s an opinion and not in any way factual, please don’t sue me, corporate lawyer men) Most of the things the critics are dissing Apocalypse for, like predictable story lines and a fairly 2D villain, are pretty standard Marvel Superhero Movie traits, but Civil War and Avengers: Age of Ultron are held above this criticism, apparently.
Not to mention the key fact here- films are for fans, not for critics. Just as we can’t expect film critics to know the complexities of a multi-platform franchise for EVERY film they see, we shouldn’t ignore the complexities of a franchise with THIS much backstory. Apocalypse has given us back some beloved characters that have been woefully neglected in the X-Men franchise of recent years. It’s making X-Men fresh again and bringing in new audiences whilst being meta enough to continue pleasing diehard fans. If I were a PROFESSIONAL CRITIC I’d give it 8/10, but I’m not so I’ll just say this; the critical response to X-Men: Apocalypse has been surprising and, frankly, unjustified. If you liked X-Men: Days of Future Past- go see this film. If you don’t like X-Men and don’t WANT to like X-Men, maybe give it a miss and stick to the predictability of the Disney Machine’s Marvel Movies. At least then you’re guaranteed the story tropes and characterisation you know and are (apparently not) tired of.