Meet the mutants
We've come a long way since the first X-Men movie. Where there was once a small group of mutants, there's now a huge sprawl of 'em. The ninth film in the franchise X-Men: Apocalypse boasts Professor X's gang (better known as the X-Men), the villainous Apocalypse and his crew, along with a whole other separate set of mutants hovering on the outskirts of the action. And then, of course, there's the human characters caught up in the battle. X-Men: Apocalypse picks up ten years after the climactic events of Days of Future Past, and includes many familiar faces from the previous two movies. Just to make things even more complex, we're also getting several recognisable characters played by new actors. Confused? Don't be. This movie is what director Bryan Singer calls the real birth of the X-Men. So why not get acquainted with them?
James McAvoy as Charles Xavier/Professor X
Professor X carries on in his role as mentor, guiding the newest students of his academy and teaching them to hone their mutant abilities. "I think Charles's greatest power is his empathy," James McAvoy says, "and his ability to teach well because of that." When we last saw him he was talking Mystique down from wiping out Trask. In the decade between the films he's overcome his former addictions and become an optimistic figure to the X-Men. But he won't stay that way for long. Xavier will don the iconic bald look of the character toward the end of the film. McAvoy let slip that Xavier's hair falls out due to something "horrible and painful" that happens to him. So while he'll share the same shiny bonce, he won't become the same version played by Patrick Stewart. Whatever it is that McAvoy is referencing it's going to turn the hopeful Charles into a "hardened" Xavier.
Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto
Since Magneto's last incident - you know, when he took control of the Sentinels in an attempt to kill the president - he's gone into hiding. Over the ten years that have lapsed since, he's taken a swift turn into a rather normal lifestyle. He has a wife and child, for starters, and works in a factory. More importantly: he's given up using his powers and lives as a human. "Physically he’s sort of toiling and laboring, and in a way it’s a form of penance," Fassbender says of Magneto's sudden life change, "But, you know, things catch up to him." Fassbender made a lasting impression as the young Magneto in First Class and Days of Future Past, where we followed his story from hopeful X-Man to powerful antagonist. As the actor says, this is Magneto we're talking about, a megalomaniac hooked on power so it's not long before he succumbs to the darkside. Apocalypse finds Erik at a "low ebb" and recruits him into his gang of minions known as the Four Horsemen. After that? We're going to see a more extreme version of Magneto than ever before.
Jennifer Lawrence as Raven Darkholme/Mystique
Saving the President didn't just create harmony between humans and mutants, it transformed Raven into a civil rights activist of sorts. Her ability to masquerade as anyone on the planet has made it easy for her to infiltrate darker corners of the globe in her quest to free enslaved mutants. It's through her efforts that we'll meet young versions of popular characters such as Nightcrawler. That's a massive shift for the blue-skinned trickster, who typically sides with Magneto onscreen. Even in the comics she seldom comes to help the X-Men - and when she does it's more often than not a trap. But, as the trailers lead us to believe, she's had a change of heart telling the youngest X-Men that she's "here to fight." Her do-gooding hasn't helped to mend the bridges between herself and Charles though. Once friends, then enemies, there's still a fair amount of strife separating the pair. "There's a conflict between Raven and Charles," producer Simon Kinberg reveals, "because Charles is living in kind of a blissful world that often the rich do, and it's going well for him. Raven sees a darker world, a world that is not yet fixed. "
Oscar Isaac as El Sabah Nur/Apocalypse
If you stuck around for the Days of Future Past end credits, you've already had your first taste of Apocalypse. He's also known as El Sabah Nur, and oh yeah: he's the first ever mutant. We haven't heard from him until now because he's lain dormant for centuries. One of his mutant skills is apparently the ability to never die. Once awakened from his latest slumber, he embarks on a mission to rectify all the problems riddling the planet, which he thinks is a bit of a mess. "He is the creative-slash-destructive force of this earth," Isaac says. "When things start to go awry, or when things seem like they’re not moving towards evolution, he destroys those civilizations.” Bryan Singer even describes him as the God from the Old Testament. His plan to destroy modern civilisation involves bringing together four mutants to do his bidding; Magneto, Storm, Psylocke and Angel. They're referred to as the Four Horsemen and aren't quite their normal selves when under his wing. One "benefit" - well, to him anyway - of Apocalypse's abilities is that he can control other mutants, so they're not exactly there because they agree with his plan.
Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy/Beast
Hank McCoy is a terrific scientist. He's also a bit foolhardy at times. He jerry-rigged a dodgy serum and wound up enhancing his own mutation, instead of suppressing it. Still, he learned to live with it and continues to support other mutants coming to grips with their own abilities. Unlike the last outing, where he was Xavier's minder, Hank now works alongside him to nurture the students at the school. He steps up into a more active mentor role, taking the young Scott Summers under his wing. According to Hoult, Hank "still believes that the world kind of needs the X-Men, and that even though there’s peace between humans and mutants at this point, he senses trouble and has kind of been... preparing for the worst. He’s hoping for the best and having fun teaching I think.” Part of his curriculum involves crafting bigger and badder gadgets for the new X-Men, along with a brand new X-Jet.
Sophie Turner as Jean Grey
Game of Thrones' Sophie Turner steps into the role of Jean Grey, taking over from Famke Janssen. Well, kinda. See, this version of Jean is like none we've never witnessed before. Because the movie is set in the 1980s, she's a teenager on the cusp of realising just how powerful she truly is. It's only when Xavier welcomes her into his school does she start to realise that potential. As an incredibly powerful mutant, with telepathy and telekinesis in her arsenal, Jean struggles with how to live a normal life. Turner target="_blank">calls her "isolated and insecure and very alienated" because of that immense power. While she's different to Janssen's version, there's a strong chance we'll see the dark side of Jean Grey that Xavier kept trapped in her mind: The Phoenix.
Olivia Munn as Betsy Braddock/Psylocke
Psylocke cropped up in The Last Stand for what was really just a background cameo. She didn't get to do anything meaty like hog the best bit of a Superbowl trailer. That's all set to change now as her new incarnation plays a major role in Apocalypse's maniacal scheme. One of his Four Horsemen, in fact. Her origins are rather complex - like most Marvel comic book characters - and so we won't find out what transforms Betsy Braddock into Psylocke. On the page she started as the sister to Captain Britain (yep - Cap's British equivalent) and underwent tonnes of changes, eventually body-swapping with an alien and adopting more abilities. She also wields a formidable 'psychic knife' that's included in Olivia Munn's onscreen repertoire. Munn's Instagram throughout the shoot has turned into an archive of sorts, chronicling her dedication to making Psylocke believable. She doesn't do them all, but a lot of Psylocke's stunts are performed by Munn.
Tye Sheridan as Scott Summers/Cyclops
Of all the X-Men to show up in the movies, Scott Summers has always been a little misunderstood. What one person might describe as aloof charm, another might call the very essence of douchebaggery. The thing about Scott is that he's had it tough from the start, way before anyone called him Cyclops, and it's that Scott we're set to meet, played by Tye Sheridan. He's a newbie to the X-Men along with Jean and Nightcrawler. Even though he's totally blind when he lands at Xavier's school, he won't start out donning the iconic Ray-Bans that Cyclops is known for. His arrival is more about introducing an "angry" and "lost" young man, according to Sheridan, who's struggling to find his place in the world. We'll probably see the first sparks between him and Jean, too.
Alexandra Shipp as Ororo Munroe/Storm
Storm's on-screen journey ended with her death at the hands of the Sentinels.... until Wolverine undid everything in Days of Future Past and she was revived! We're not seeing any more from Halle Berry in Apocalypse, as this fan favorite is getting the reboot treatment. Alexandra Shipp takes the part of baby Storm - aka Ororo Munroe - another unlucky mutant roped into Apocalypse's quartet of dangerous minions. And for the first time it looks like we'll be getting Storm's origin tale, albeit with a bit of a twist. In the original comic timeline Storm's parents die when she's a child, leaving her alone to figure out her mutant self on the streets of Cairo, until Xavier turns up and saves her. The movie plans to switch him out for Apocalypse. "She’s in survival mode," Shipp explains, "so when she meets Apocalypse, she’s hit this revelation where she’s been struggling to feel like she belongs somewhere."
Kodi Smit-McPhee as Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler
Alan Cumming stole the show in X-2 as the teleporting mutant known as Nightcrawler, and now Kodi Smit-McPhee plays him as a teen. Now that we're headed back in time to the 1980s we'll be meeting Kurt Wagner as a fresh-faced newcomer to the X-Men. The actor describes his on-screen self as a "more vulnerable, swashbuckling, joyous, random personality", which certainly lines up better with the prankster side of Wagner showcased in the early comics. Like the rest of the newbies, he won't start out bursting with confidence. It's during his experiences dealing with Apocalypse that Nightcrawler transforms into a braver, more assured hero.
Rose Byrne as Moira MacTaggert
Good ol' Moira returns to help the X-Men. She became an ally during First Class then skipped out on Days of Future Past, partly because she was obsessively studying up on the history of mutants. Despite playing a massively important role in the formation of the X-Men, when she interacts with the mutants again in Apocalypse she won't know who they are. She had her mind wiped, remember? Nevertheless, it looks as though she will once more provide the gang with tons of necessary intel. Oh yeah, she's still CIA by the way. Her knowledge of Apocalypse is pretty extensive, as the first trailer proves when she fills in Xavier and Havok on the big bad's complex history. Speaking of the Prof, her return will stir up familiar romantic feelings between the pair once more.
Evan Peters as Peter Maximoff/Quicksilver
Quicksilver totally stole Days of Future Past with his frantic kitchen scene, and he returns as a fully-fledged member of the X-Men. He gets his own nifty outfit and even takes part in a major scene against Apocalypse. It's still unknown whether he'll become seduced by the darkside - you know, because of his father. That takes us nicely to the biggest question surrounding the young Maximoff: will the movie address his parentage? Before carrying on, we'd like to issue a major SPOILER WARNING! Still here? Okay. Quicksilver's dad in the comics is Magneto, and the previous movie made a sneaky reference to it. According to Peters the cat's been let out of the bag: he is Son of Magneto. So, while we can keep our fingers crossed for some father-son banter, one thing we can look forward to with certainty is another crazy speedster scene. “There’s one sequence that took one and a half months to shoot for three minutes of film,” Singer says. “Evan worked more days on this movie than any other actor because of this one sequence.”
Lana Condor as Jubilation Lee/Jubilee
It's rare that actors who play comic book characters look like their print counterparts, but Condor was selected for her distinct appearance that's very similar to the comic version of Jubilee. A self-described "mallrat" who shoots fireballs from her palms, she's good friends with Jean Grey, Scott Summers and Kurt Wagner, and has been a student at Xavier's school for nearly a decade when we meet her. "She has a very '80s pop fun feel to her," producer Simon Kinberg says, "she's not a particularly dark or brooding character, and we talk about the fact that she's from Beverly Hills and likes to play video games." That's not all. Those spectacular powers of hers will make an appearance. Condor calls them the "fire-plasmoid, electricity type." Her role isn't particularly big, yet seeing as she is a part of the expanding X-Men universe we might see more of her in the future.
Lucas Till as Alex Summers/Havok
Having Havok back is cool and all, 'cause he's got some of the showiest abilities out of all the young mutants - the training montage in First Class would be utterly naff without his fiery displays of power - but his return in Apocalypse made fans punch the air for another reason entirely. For the first time ever Alex Summers appears onscreen with brother Scott - aka Cyclops. Will we see the siblings fight side-by-side? It'd be a great payoff for fans, but we won't know for sure until the film arrives. Considering there's a decent age difference between the two brothers there's a strong possibility Alex will take on more of a mentor role. He's definitely adopting more responsibility at the school; as we know he joins Xavier on a mission to visit Moira MacTaggert.
Ben Hardy as Warren Worthington III/Angel
Angel appeared in the The Last Stand, with feathered wings and a hankering to do good. This version of him is totally different. For starters, he's played by Ben Hardy as opposed to Ben Foster and he now serves as one of Apocalypse's Four Horsemen. This take on the character is in line with the comics where the ancient mutant manipulates the feather-y, good-guy Angel and genetically alters him into the mechanical Archangel. His techno-organic wings allow him to fly at super-human speeds and also double up as deadly weapons that fire poisoned darts.
Josh Helman as William Stryker
Another human character returning to the fold is General William Stryker. The last we saw of him, it was actually Mystique in disguise helping Wolverine out of Potomac Lake, so his fate was left up in the air. Bryan Singer posted a snap of Josh Helman alongside Rose Byrne during production, and with our powers of deduction we've worked out the following: Stryker and MacTaggert appear together in a scene. Or, at least, someone who looks like Stryker does. The legit Stryker is still alive, according to Helman, and continuing the work abandoned by Bolivar Trask. Whether he's restarting the Sentinel scheme in secret, or sowing the seeds for the Weapon X program, it's safe to say that he's not working alongside the X-Men.
Tomas Lemarquis as Caliban
Caliban's a bit of a wheeler-dealer. He's one of those shadowy, gruff types who has a lot of sway behind-the-scenes (a bit like the Wizard of Oz). He's the leader of the Morlocks - a gang of underground mutants - who possesses the power to locate other mutants. Think of him like a living, breathing Cerebro. Psylocke works as his bodyguard prior to the start of the movie, and we know at some point he encounters Apocalypse. If you keep your eyes peeled during the trailer there's a brief shot of the Ancient One and Caliban in his subterranean lair. "Caliban’s bald and has funky eyes,” Singer says of the Morlock. “He’s a great character. Really cool.”