Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

X-TRA – Jay and Miles Overthink X-Men: Apocalypse

In which we release a mid-week bonus episode and generally spoil the hell out of X-Men: Apocalypse!

This episode comes courtesy of our rad Patreon subscribers. If you want to join their ranks and help keep us on the air and ad-free–and unlock more cool stuff–you can do that right here!



  1. (This comment does not contain spoilers)
    Why did you not talk about Caliban? Caliban was amazing. The design, the acting, his role in the movie, seemed like a perfect adaptation of comics Caliban. What did you guys think?

    1. I’m mixed on this. I loved Tómas Lemarquis’s performance, and the look was a cool realistic-ish take on Caliban’s design. Personality-wise, I think the twitchiness and weird intensity were spot-on. For me, though, the comics version of the character has always been defined by his earnestness, whether it’s his concern for his friends, his frustration at being unable to save his fellow Morlocks, or his desperation for a way to transcend his weakness. The movie incarnation seemed more dispassionate and mercenary. Still – a cool take, and a very appropriate use of the character’s powers.

      1. I really liked the take on Caliban. It was unexpected. Having him appear as this kind of information broker who tries to act indifferent to things but also wants to know everything about who’s going where was great.

  2. I will comment on the age thing, I read that as the film series incorporating a bit of the whole “comic time” aspect, where characters age inconsistently, and even issues that are set very definitively in a certain decade or time are still canon, even though they should have occurred 30, 40, 50 years ago, and the character is supposed to be in their 20s or 30s. While it could be read as just a movie-type “suspension of disbelief” thing, it felt to me much more deliberate, as a wink and nod to the comics (despite the fact that Singer ignores other aspects of the comics, like, as you mentioned, how Scott’s parents were alive and his dad was not a Swinging 70s Space Pirate).

    I was disappointed, re: Phoenix that they’ve never said the “Fire and Life Incarnate” line. They’ve teased/shown it three times, but never used the line, and the Phoenix line is a big signal that they’re intent on doing it right.

    I totally got the impression of the Nightcrawler-as-Mystique’s-son tease, because when watching the fight-club scene you could tell who she was going to save and who she was going to leave behind, just based on subtle body language and reaction cues. Perhaps I was reading too much, but I totally saw it there.

    As for Apocalypse, my personal opinion is really it shouldn’t been done in one movie. I know X-men isn’t the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but my dream series would be to have three movies completely unrelated to Apocalypse, except with a stinger that shows a proxy for Apocalypse gathering the first three horsemen. Then a Fourth movie which has the plot being the full “Everyone coming together to stop Apocalypse from returning” ending with them failing, and a stinger which finally shows Apocalypse himself gathering the final Horseman.

    Also, as an aside, I wonder if Alex actually completed his degree in this version. If not I hope he gets brought back to life in the next movie, but no one recognizes it and the only thing we ever see is him walking on stage to get his degree.

  3. I went to see Apocalypse for exactly 2 reasons: Sophie Turner as Jean, and the designs for Storm and Jubilee. And while the lack of Jubilee was disappointing, her 5 minutes of screen time were great, and holy shit were Storm and Jean awesome. And I was pleasantly surprised by basically everyone else, as well. I do wish Magneto weren’t centered as much, and the Wolverine bit was completely unnecessary, but I totally agree that it’s a really uneven movie with a bunch of great X-Men bits.

    Aside from the Phoenix part of Jean’s big finale scene, I also *loved* that it was framed very much with her as the main character and a genuine threat to Apocalypse. It wasn’t her being pushed into it or being taken over by her power, but her claiming that power for herself. And it felt like it was shot the same way one would shoot a male hero’s “getting back in the fight” scene, with Xavier as the Obi-Wan to her Luke rather than her saving a love interest or protector.

    While I did really enjoy the movie, I mostly came out of it wishing that it had opened with the training scene, and I’d gotten two hours of the new team learning how to work together.

    To the Magneto’s family as obviously marked for death: I’d completely forgotten about the other part of Magneto’s backstory, and it’s still *really* clear that his wife and daughter are going to die, just on the basis of action movie tropes.

    1. What I really loved about Jean in the final fight pre-Phoenix is that she was contributing in a specific way until the end where through Xavier’s encouragement she takes center stage and blows Apocalypse away. Beforehand the other X-Men are doing the heavy lifting while she stays in the back because she doesn’t feel like she can do anything. But she does the support roles like being the team walkie-talkie/homing beacon and crashing the jet when it’s besieged by horsemen.

      But when Apocalypse is beating everyone to a pulp and shrugging off all the heavy hitters you have this the sudden urge of “Put Jean in! Now’s the time!” And because of her connection with Charles she realizes that too.

      And I also like how it didn’t fully confirm that she was in control of her powers, leaving an air of uncertainty for future movies. Just because she was finally willing to cut loose doesn’t mean she was in complete control of it. Her big fear the whole movie was that using her powers might end up killing someone. In the end that’s exactly what happened; she just didn’t mind killing Apocalypse.

  4. If I could control where the franchise goes I would take it to Genosha. I think it’s a perfect opportunity to really tie the mutant issues to the “real world” in a new way that could work very well cinematically.

    Also: Less focus on flashy villainy and more on actual human dynamics and storytelling. And having to deal with the horrid politics of an entire country would certainly force some good teamwork. And there’s still the Press Gang for some good fight scenes that again, would work really well in a movie setting.

    Also: I want Quicksilver to prepare for another one of his elaborate scenes with a song (from the ’90s, I guess), only to have Wipeout of the Press Gang gesture at him right as it starts and shut the whole thing down.

    1. Oh, that would be a great scene for Quicksilver! That scene was great but I think everyone agrees it was a remake of the previous movie. Teasing it like that and making fun of it would be awesome! I really like the idea of Genosha too. I think the next movie needs it, after a super villain like Apocalypse.

  5. Before talking about my thoughts on the movie, I just wanted to remind that Jean and Mistique actually talk to each other (and it’s not about a man!!!). And, it’s really nice that Storm has another woman as a role model, too.
    X-Men: Apocalypse was awesome but I feel it missed some opportunities: they might’ve made a connection between Mistique and Nightcrawler. Maybe, revealing she really is his mother and that she spent the last ten years looking for him, after she found out his father, Azazel, was dead (and those tears in that scene, in DoFP, would have a whole other meaning). They could even have explained why Mistique rescued Logan in the last movie, which is she wanted his help to find Kurt or give him to Stryker in exchange of her son (Nightcrawler already had a connection to Stryker in X2). That would bring Mistique closer to her version in the comics and could create some future tension between her and Logan. Or with Xavier, when he’d found out what she did. Also, I think they could’ve change the Alkali Lake scene and made a battle in the mall with the kids. The main purpose of that scene in Stryker’s base was to push the kids into action and make them part of the team, so they could’ve done that without sacrificing the mall scenes, I guess. A scene with the Sentinel at the mall, just like the first episode of the animated series, would be perfect! A part of the movie that is essencial to the X-Men mythos is the destruction of the mansion. They made it even better than any time it exploded in the comics!

  6. I’ve read comments in other forums and sites I frequent from people who thought Sophie Turner wasn’t good in the movie, isn’t good in general, and was a weak point in the movie, It’s completely baffling to me. All I can do is simply discount the opinions from these people and remember to not take what they say to heart about anything else.

    1. They’re completly wrong. She played Jean perfectly. I’ve heard people say she wasn’t good because she wasn’t hot enough to play Jean (a seventen years old character, for god’s sake)! I think there’s a lot of bias because of her role in game of Thrones, too.

    2. I think a lot of the unfair criticisms of Sophie as an actress stem from the fact that her two biggest roles have relied HEAVILY on subtlety, so much so that you can easily miss what’s happening if you take everything at face value. Plus, where Game of Thrones is concerned Sansa is frequently cited as being the most frustrating character as the audience has been waiting for six seasons for her to not be the series doormat (signs that might be happening this season but too early to tell).

  7. Hey! I just watched Apocalypse yesterday and haven’t had any X-bros with whom to geek out over it yet, so this X-tra is perfect! Thanks, Patreon!

    I agreed with almost all of our dear X-perts points, though I will say I appreciated Fassbender’s performance as Magneto the Dad, Magneto the Sad, and Magneto the Resigned to Villainy. After the [spoiler] scene, Fassbender played Magneto as a man who’d given up on everything. That worked for me.

    I kept thinking about a quote from an older podcast episode—one of the New Mutants ones, wherein it sucks to be Headmaster Magneto (Episode 56 maybe?). I think it was Jay who mentioned how, every time Magneto tries to be a good guy by Charles Xavier’s standards, it all falls apart when something bad happens to the people he’s trying to protect. His arc in this movie fell hard into that category for me. It felt less like Xavier/Magneto/Mystique having the same argument yet again than “I tried it your way—I really did. I gave it everything I had, and things still fell apart. I’m tired. I don’t care anymore. This guy wants to destroy the world? Sure, why not. I’m already a villain in the eyes of the world anyway.”

    It’s not a perfect story, and I’ll agree with Jay that the second plot of the kids coming into their own is a better (and underdeveloped) movie. I just appreciated Fassbender’s acting is all.

    Speaking of that second plot, [SPOILERS AHOY!] way to go, Jean! Way to embrace the Phoenix within! (Also way to go, Charles, for not suppressing Jean’s terrifying potential with your psychic blocks that subconsciously caused her to fear her powers, which in turn caused her to try to bury those powers for years only for them to explode in a fiery crime against mutantkind that I like to call “X-Men: The Last Stand”—but this is mostly JEAN’s moment, so I’m only gonna give you so much credit, there, Chuck.)

    Having said that, this movie almost made me appreciate X3—ALMOST. As much as I wish I’d never watched The Last Stand, I can admit, begrudgingly, that resenting it for so many years did help me enjoy Apocalypse that much more, if for no other reason than for how satisfying it felt to see Jean’s Phoenix powers done RIGHT.

    My other big thought: Did anyone else find the moment between Logan and Jean all kinds of creepy? Jean’s a teenager when she first meets Wolverine in the Weapon X bunker. The fact that his older self STILL has a crush on her at the end of DoFP just highlights how much of an age gap there is between the two (and, no, I’m not giving him a break on this because of his plot-related amnesia). Also, the whole Wolverine scene felt as awkward and unwelcome in this movie as a naked feral man showing up on one’s honeymoon.

    Last thought: Tremendous love for the new X-Kids. I’d watch a TV series starring Turner’s Jean Grey, Shipp’s Storm, Sheridan’s Cyclops, Smit-McPhee’s Nightcrawler, and Condor’s Jubilee any day (even if it involved Jubilee turning into a vampire to explain why she’s still a teenager in the original movie timeline), especially since TV is usually a better media for the smaller, character-focused stories I’d like to see for these versions of these characters.

    TL;DR: I liked it.

  8. My favourite part of the podcast was how long it took two x-veterans to work out which “original five costumes” they were talking about.

  9. Oh man, as soon as Magneto came on with his idyllic life and job and whatnot, I turned to my husband and asked if he were also three days from retirement. Also, I really feel like Jean should just have a rubber stamp with the words, “Because I’m a telepath, dipshit!” and save herself the time and effort in actually talking to people.

  10. That is interesting to hear Jay talk unedited. Like miles sounds the same regardless of if he is edited or not. I can understand why Jay says they think before they speak a lot

  11. I’ve seen this movie twice, and I think it might be my favorite X-Men movie. It’s not the objectively best made of the franchise and this film has a ton of issues, but I’ve never had so much fun watching an X-Men flick.

    The Weapon X scene: it is absolutely shoehorned in because Wolverine needs to be in every movie (grumble) but after reflecting on it I’m actually in awe of what they managed to do here. Wolverine, rightly, has been criticized as being given the spotlight way too much throughout this series of movies, and now we have an X-Men film taking time out for a cameo story that unarguably should be all about Logan.

    Yet they managed to do that story, inject the X-Men into the plot, and not ruin either. Wolverine still gets to run around independently slicing people up, and the new X-Men get to show that they are resourceful and a team even if they are very green at this point. It’s a condensing of film continuity the likes of which I’ve never seen before. It might stumble a bit as I think Weapon X works best in full bore horror genre, breaking out of containment tubes, Logan naked and covered and blood, the whole thing much darker, but for what it is I think it works.

    I am super excited about the new kids to the point where when this movie was over I right away wanted the next one with the new core 5 being the stars, especially for Sophie Turner as Jean who I think was a perfect portrayal. I totally get where they were going with her interpretation.

    Here you have a teenage girl who is not only being constantly bombarded with the thoughts and emotions of others but living in daily fear that her powers could go out of control and seriously hurt people. In my past I have personally dealt with extreme anxiety, OCD, and depression all at the same time. It is exhausting no matter how “well” you are handling it. So much mental and emotional energy is spent just getting through the day it is very easy to come across as flat and disconnected from everyone else because you just aren’t capable of that at the time, and people who aren’t aware of what you’re dealing with can easily misinterpret you as being intentionally standoffish or simply not caring.

    I saw all of that reflected in Jean and her struggle to keep a lid on things and how draining it was for her. And despite that she was an essential member of the team, already proficient in her telepathy in ways the original trilogy Jean could only dream of. And I think it did highlight the contrast between this version of Jean and Xavier’s relationship vs. the original. Where the original Xavier forced Jean to button up and thus neither come into her powers nor fully mature as a person, this version of Xavier is really trying to encourage her to embrace her power and open up, as scary as that is, and we can already see a pronounced difference between the two iterations.

    And that final fight…Oh my God…I think you could say that they got to Phoenix a little too quickly (in the same vein as Magneto it was also weird how no one comments on what Jean did after the fact), but if you’re going to do it you need to go all the way, and boy did they. When Jean started walking on air…goosebumps…and the entire theater was in a quiet hush. And when she “let’s go” I had a big dumb grin on my face for the rest of the fight. And once the credits started rolling the girl next to me immediately turned to her boyfriend and started asking about Jean and the Phoenix.

    This is a big mess of a movie, but I have never been more optimistic about where the franchise could go before now.

    1. Also, I firmly believe that Singer set the movie in 1983 specifically so he could use Metallica’s “Four Horseman” in the movie.

  12. I’ve seen people say the Alkali Lake scene is completely useless and that it just happens because of Wolverine, but that’s really not true. They have the kids Scott and Kurt (that had just arrived at the school) and Jean (who doubted her abilities), and need to put them in action. What better way to do that than force them into it. Otherwise it would be just some adults dragging these kids into battle! This seems to be the main plot of the movie, that’s often overlooked by the audience: the fact that Xavier doesn’t want to make his students become X-Men, but have to face the fact that he needs to. That’s the whole point with Moira being in the movie, so that Xavier could express his realization that he can’t shield the ones he love from the world, he needs to prepare them! That scene also helps to establish the next villain; it helps the heroes with armor and transport (since the mansion was destroyed) and gives time to Apocalypse, so he’ll set up the stage for the main battle. So it baffles me that some people are saying the scene in Styker’s base is just because of Wolverine!

    1. You make a good point. I think the reason some, myself included, feel it’s unnecessary is that you could put Jean, Scott, and Kurt into this situation without dragging in Striker and Wolverine. It’s what was needed to happen for the kids arc, but it was a pretty clumsy way to do it. Striker’s copters showed up within a minute of the mansion blowing up. How did he know? What was his intent beyond ‘capture mutants because they’re bad’?

      It was fun watching Wolverine murderize people, but it felt like a comedian stretching themselves way too thin to get to a punch line.

      1. I agree with the clumsiness of the scene. It really feels unnecessary to add another character (Stryker) to the movie that wouldn’t add anything to the movie, by itself. The scene is important but it could’ve been handled differently. I’d love if they’d made it a continuation of the scene in the mall. How awesome would it be if the kids were attacked by a Sentinel, at the mall, just like the first episode of the animated series?!? I think it would feel much more organic,they wouldn’t have to cut those scenes and it’d be a wonderful fan service!

    2. Yeah I totally agree with this, and I enjoyed having him as a deus ex machina.

      Magneto’s story felt way more egregiously unnecessary, especially since it was just repeating character beats from previous movies.

  13. Non-sequitur, if this was unedited you guys have such a talent for podcasting. I was editing my first ever podcast last night, I could fill up an hour of “Umm” and awkward silence as my partner and I shuffle through our script.

  14. I really liked this rundown of the film. I agreed with most of it, and found several things very insightful. I think the biggest takeaway for me was the amount of time wasted on things that should have been spent on the kids. The Weapon X section is the best example, but I think if you look at the film there are lots of little places where the screenwriter/director wanted to be clever, that really should have been time invested in the X-men characters (like the Return of the Jedi scene, meta and kind of funny, but not really beneficial to character development).

    For me personally, I liked the film just fine. I really liked Jean the most. My biggest revelation was mostly something that I don’t think the films get right often enough, that the casual destruction of this film really brought to a head for me, and that’s the theme of the X-men.

    I was watching the Wolverine and the X-men animated series the next day and the intro starts with armed soldiers chasing down mutant toddlers, teddy bear in hand and all. This persistent feeling of danger and persecution that the X-men ‘choose’ to rise above is a key theme to nail in anything X-men (for me at least), and I don’t think the movies do it. The humans are more often than not pretty reasonable. Erik’s family wasn’t hunted down, they were killed by accident while humans were trying to peacefully apprehend a notorious mass murderer. In the comics Nightcrawler is introduced with villagers hunting him down. In the movie he’s put in some kind of criminal underground. Yes, these are humans being bad, but the movie portrays them as bad people to begin with, not common people with extreme prejudices.

    On the flip side, mutants attack world leaders, destroy major landmarks, drop sports stadiums on the White House lawn, and in this movie destroy most of the world’s major cities. This kind of world-scale destruction is pretty uncommon in the X comics as I remember it (I’m a child of the 90’s X-men just getting back into it). In the movies humans have ‘every’ reason to be terrified of mutants, much more so than they are.

    But the mutants live relatively unmolested in the overly safe feeling utopia of Xavier’s mansion. Nightcrawler goes to the movies undisguised. The only humans who are a threat are the extremist supervillain types, usually portrayed as outsiders (Striker and Trask).

    For me the movies feel best when they get the themes of persecution right. Erik’s past, Striker’s attack on the mansion, the future apocalypse of DoFP. I hope that’s a stronger theme in the future along with more focus on team dynamics and cooperation as noted in this overthinking. 🙂

  15. Loved hearing this!

    I have to say that I really enjoyed X-Men: Apocalypse quite a bit. I’ll admit they did cram quite a bit into the movie– I mean, Stryker’s appearance made me go, “WAIT WHAT,” but at least it was explained in the dialogue (Moira called him, more or less). Yet I didn’t think it was such a mess. Everything fit together in the end and all the major stuff got resolved.

    Like you guys, I was also very happy with most of the characterizations in the film– just about everyone did a really good job (I was really feeling for Magneto in the recreation of the Magda/Anya period of his life). I actually was really fond of the way Apocalypse was portrayed. I feel like Singer and Kinberg really latched onto one of Louise Simonson’s ideas for the character in X-Factor: the idea that some people view him as a god. Apocalypse talks to all the mutants he meets like he’s come to save them… a sort of dark “Messiah.” The way he talks to some of them, particularly Magneto and Storm, is like hearing a father talk to a perplexed (Storm) or grieving (Magneto) child. He’s strangely faux benevolent, which I think is what Simonson had in mind for him– he’s a bad guy who THINKS he has the best interest of his people at heart. I think it’s rather telling how, when physically attacked by Caliban, he makes no effort to fight back; he even still refers to Caliban afterward as someone he wants to help and save. The comics version of Apocalypse probably would have had a harsher reaction.

    What did bug me a bit, though, was that there were a number of scenes where his Horsemen are just kind of standing around while he’s the only one doing the talking. I get that he’s the main event and that the Horsemen are being somewhat mind-controlled, but I can’t help but compare it to “Captain America: Civil War,” which managed to give all of its characters several chances to shine and show off their personalities (and how they interact with each other) while simultaneously making sure no one hogged the spotlight too much. This is a pet peeve of mine in the X-Men films: there’s always at least one character whose powers are important and widely featured, but gets few to no character moments (Blink and even the much-hyped Bishop in DoFP, Mystique before First Class, Lady Deathstrike in X2, Sabretooth in X-Men, etc.). Also, I do wish they’d gone all the way with Archangel and given him blue skin in the “makeover scene”!

    Still, the characters who did get more of a spotlight were mostly pretty great. Aside from the ones you already mentioned, I really enjoyed Caliban’s reinvention. Personality-wise, he’s quite different from the original, but the actor sells it really, really well. As fond as I am of the classic version, it makes a lot more sense for Caliban to refer to himself in the third person if he’s a total egomaniac. Also, and this may sound like a strange compliment, but I really liked how effectively Olivia Munn conveyed the physicality of her scenes as Psylocke. Those grunts and yells and whatnot in the battle scenes were pretty convincing! She didn’t get a whole lot of dialogue in the film, but Munn did well with what she was given.

  16. I think the Havok dying point was really uneeded. They could and still can just say, they were adopted and mention their parents deaths. Maybe Im just dying for a movie version of Corsair. Also I swear, Storm in New Mutants is so they can do a take on the Magik Mini Series

  17. This movie is… it’s not good. Objectively, as a movie, it might be the worst in the main series (so not counting Origins)?

    But as a collection of fan pleasing moments, it’s pretty damn enjoyable. It’s also the closest the series has ever been to what I think cinematic X-Men should be. Basically everything you said – an ensemble movie, a team movie, etc.

    Lastly… I’m Polish. I’m pretty sure the early scenes with Magneto are bad anyway (as you said, Magda and Nina are superdead from the first scene onwards), but in Poland they play as slapstick farce. Nevermind the pronunciation – Polish is very difficult and I’m sure everyone did their best – but the dialogue is really bad. And then there’s the idyllic vision of a factory worker in 80s Poland living in a forest villa…

    Generally I think XMA is a movie that’s funny when it’s supposed to be serious, and boring whent it’s supposed to be riveting (e.g. the Quicksilver scene is way too long), but the Sadneto part of the story is especially off the mark.
    Makes me wonder how audiences in Egypt regarded the Cairo scenes…

    1. I don’t know jack about ancient Egypt but there was nothing really wrong that I noticed with the Arabic other than that the lines were uttered with the ease of someone that had learned arabic for a movie, rather than a native speaker, but Ororo herself isn’t a native speaker of Arabic so it wasn’t a huge deal to me since she was speaking well enough to sound like somebody who knew what she was saying and could be easily understood(the extra that Apocalypse killed in that alley scene was a little worse.) I can’t speak about the accent that Shipp was doing when she was speaking English.

      Also I don’t know Cairo streets well but I’m assuming, if Apocalypse is anything like other Hollywood movies set in the Middle East, they would have shot it in Jordan Morocco if not a generic Hollywood set that is used to represent like 20 different countries so I doubt it’s visually accurate (just quickly googling I can’t find info about where those scenes were shot.)
      Mostly all the stuff that directly dealt with Apocalypse’s origin and that cult that was supposedly raising him was really rushed and confusing to the point that I can’t tell if I should be bothered about it.

      1. (just quickly googling I can’t find info about where those scenes were shot.)

        Oh it looks like it was Montreal.

  18. Does Jean Grey asking Mystique about how she felt on the lawn of the White House that day count as passing the Bechdel test?

      1. Cool! I wasn’t sure, since it was kind of a group conversation. Not sure of the Bechdel constraints.

  19. Who would win the X-Universe version of Project Runway: X-Men:Apocalypse craft night and modeling vs the Hellfire club battle costumes?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *