The younger generation must think that X-Men: “Apocalypse” is supposed to foreshadow some kind of end of the world destruction or something, but while that may very well be the case to a certain extent, it’s also, simply, the name of the next X-Men film’s big bad villain. 90’s kids like me know him best from the very well-known, pop culture gem, blue and gold X-Men era animated show, and as the final boss in the 1996 revolutionary crossover videogame, X-Men vs. Street Fighter. He’s a towering, blue and gray, machine-like mutant, who can layeth the smack down on every other puny mutant candy *ss. In short, this guy is trouble. But who IS Apocalypse? Where’d he come from? What can he do? Why does he do it? Well, let me give you the rundown before the next X-Men installment hits tomorrow!
I’ll just be giving you the broad strokes as Apocalypse’ thousands of years of living are bound to contain way too much detail.
Yep, you heard right, thousands of years.
5000 years ago, En Sabah Nur, the one who would later be known as Apocalypse, was born in ancient Egypt. He had gray skin and blue lips – the earliest manifes tations of his genetic mutation. He was the first: the first one to be born with an X-gene, the first and oldest mutant ever.
He was abandoned as a child due to his strange condition but was soon rescued and brought up by Baal, leader of the Sandstormer tribe. These Sandstormers live by a Darwanistic principle – survival of the fittest – a creed that Apocalypse would eventually take on as well.
In fear that En Sabah Nur would soon become a threat, the Pharaoh sends men to destroy him and the Sandstormers. The attack would devastate the tribe and leave En Sabah Nur with his dying father, but in his drying breath, Baal reveals to En the location of advanced technologies he can use to avenge their fallen tribe.
En Sabah Nur attempts to kill the Pharaoh and in the process fills him with so much rage that it triggers his dormant mutant abilities to fully emerge. En Sabah Nur is reborn into Apocalypse.
Apocalypse eventually bonds with the technology from deity-like alien beings called the Celestials, further augmenting his already dominating mutant abilities. With his centuries of being a mutant and his particularly handy alien tech, it’s no wonder Apocalypse would eventually become one of the most powerful, if not THE most powerful mutant ever.
With the kind of kill or be killed environment the Sandstormers instilled in En, and his clear physical and mental dominance over others, Apocalypse values strength. While Magneto believes that mutantkind is the inherently superior race, Apocalypse does not discriminate. He lives by a simple rationale, if you are weak, you will be destroyed, regardless if you’re human or mutant. Only the strongest of the strong deserve to survive in Apocalypse’ world.
The Celestials’ technology allows Apocalypse to stay in suspended animation for long periods of time but every few centuries or so, he would awaken. Lurking in the shadows, he tests civilizations by posing as their deities (or convincing them he was one himself) and inciting war across the world. As with any good villain, Apocalypse’ actions are, to him, of virtuous intention. This destruction is only meant to foster growth, build a stronger, more resilient race, and ensure evolution until such time that man is at a level worthy of his reign.
When he merged with the Celestials’ tech Baal left him, it essentially put Apocalypse at a level past regular mutants (or villains in general for that matter). Apocalypse probably has the most number of abilities any single character has in comic book history!
His most notorious abilities include shape and density shifting which is why on most media appearances he’s seen as this imposing giant robot thing. But his ability to manipulate his body is not only limited to increasing his size to swat his enemies down. He has such mastery over every cell on his body that he can heal his wounds, regenerate limbs, convert any part of his body into weapons or equipment, change his appearance, adapt to any and all environments, teleport, fly, phase through objects, and inversely, harden his body. Basically anything he wants to do with his body, he can do.
On top of that he has your run of the mill super strength, telepathy, telekinesis and technopathy (ability to “converse” with his tech). He also has the ability to absorb energy and launch projectiles. With his inherent mutant ability to stop aging, his regeneration, and the Celestial tech he uses to recover from even more serious injuries, Apocalypse has practically made himself immortal.
I’m not even done yet! He’s so powerful that even his blood can heal other mutants and/or kill humans. And not only is he PHYSICALLY intimidating, he’s also intellectually more advanced than almost anyone. He even uses the sciences he learned from the Celestial technology to alter/augment other mutants or humans. Heck, Apocalypse CREATED Mister Sinister!
Apocalypse is the superpower encyclopedia incarnate. His ridiculously over-powered and wide-ranging skill set is the reason why he can go toe to toe with TEAMS of super-powered individuals and STILL come out on top and why he’s a threat not only to the X-Men but to the entire Marvel Universe!
The Horsemen of Apocalypse
As if Apocalypse on his own wasn’t enough to contend with, he has to go round up, brainwash and supercharge 4 other mutants to do his bidding. They are Apocalypse’s Four Horsemen – you can’t talk about one without the other.
Given the titles Death, Famine, Pestilence and War, these Horsemen serve at Apocalypse pleasure. Some of the more notable heroes to fall in his control and become Horsemen have been Angel, Gambit, Psylocke, Hulk and even Wolverine, but for the movie it looks like it’s going to be Magneto, Psylocke, Storm and Angel.
Overkill is clearly a concept not lost on Apocalypse.
Just how much of this will eventually make it to the big screen this weekend is anybody’s guess. But I’m hoping they leave out some of his more outrageous powers, because, well, full power Apocalypse is ridonculous. But even half-powered, Apocalypse is still a credible threat. Very few other villains in the X-Men lore stack up to and struck fear into the hearts humans and mutants alike than the immortal tyrant, Apocalypse!