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6 Bits of the Totally Awesome ’80s That Need To Be in X-MEN: APOCALYPSE

Although the Uncanny X-Men may have debuted back in 1963, without a doubt, their golden age was actually during the 1980’s. Back in the sixties, Jack Kirby’s and Stan Lee’s team couldn’t compete sales-wise with their other, more popular creations like Spider-Man, Thor and the Fantastic Four. In 1970, due to sales not matching the rest of the Marvel line, the book was quietly cancelled. In 1975, probably just in an effort to keep the copyright secure, the team was revived with an almost totally new cast, including modern mainstays like Wolverine and Storm. Although it was very well received by fans, it wasn’t an instant hit by any means. But as the decade neared its end, the creative team of writer Chris Claremont and artist John Byrne had raised the profile of the book significantly. As the seventies came to a close, X-Men was Marvel’s most buzzed about book, and very soon, the sales would match the buzz.

By 1980, the X-Men creative team of Claremont and Byrne were on fire, and most of that year was spent building towards The Dark Phoenix Saga, which remain’s book’s signature storyline some thirty years on. After the Phonenix saga was over, They capped off the year (and their creative partnership) with Days of Future Past. The comic might not ever have as good a creative year as that one again, but the work was done — X-Men had gone from just another Marvel team like the Defenders to Marvel’s premiere book, and the rest of the decade, they owned comicdom.

The massive success of Uncanny X-Men in the ’80s led to many things we now take for granted as comics fans; for example, the concept of franchising teams began when X-Men spun off into other titles like  New Mutants, X-Factor and Excalibur. Of course, the comic book success story of the 1980s led to the Jim Lee adjective-less X-Men title of the early ’90s which sold millions of copies, which itself then led to the cartoon show of the early ’90s, which made the team a household word to millions of kids who never picked up a comic book in their lives.

With  X-Men: Apocalypse to ve set in the team’s comic book heyday of the ’80s, here are six distinctly 1980s things from the X-Men comics I’d like to see incorporated into the movie.

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#1. Comic Book Inspired Costumes

I’m not one of those fans who has a major beef with the X-Men movies due to their lack of “comic accurate” costumes. (there are some fans who are really hung up on that to this day.) The simple reason why it has never bothered me is this: unlike characters like Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man, the X-Men have had constantly evolving costumes. They don’t have that one identifiable, iconic look like the other heroes I just mentioned. (With the notable exception of Wolverine; would be nice to see him use the mask at least once.)

Take Cyclops as an example; in fifty years, he’s had something like fourteen different looks, and that’s not even counting one-off costumes. The only common denominator in Cyclops’ looks is that he’s always a skinny white dude with red glasses and a visor. When adapting something as complicated (and convoluted) as an ongoing superhero saga that’s had literally decades of stories, you gotta pick and choose which parts are essential to that character’s visual iconography. With characters who have had as many different costumes over the years as the X-Men have, just what counts as essential to their looks comes down to a handful of things.

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Having said that, we’re in another era now, where movie audiences have shown they have no problem with colorful costumes. (Hi there, Avengers.) Add to that, that the 1980s was a time known for, shall we say, extreme fashion choices, and you have the perfect opportunity to introduce some of the more comic booky elements to the looks of the characters. At this point you can have, at the very least, outfits inspired from that 1980s era of the comics, if not directly lifted from them… after all, I’m not so sure we need to see Scott Summers in blue tights with bright yellow underwear on the outside anytime soon. But if there is one character I need to see in their exact comic book accurate look from the period, it would be the lady who is our second entry on this list…

#2. Badass Mohawk Storm

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To this day, I still love the Bryan Singer X-Men films, especially X2. But there is no denying that while the X-Men movies excelled at casting with people like Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart and Ian Mckellen… Halle Berry as Storm was an enormous miscast. Even her best moments, which probably come in the second X-Men movie, are just her showing off her power set in cool ways and just not talking. Because whenever she does open her mouth, it’s like “Ohhh…right. You are very much NOT from Africa, aren’t you?” Chris Claremont’s Storm was one of the best developed characters of his entire sixteen year X-Men run, the den mother of the group who was never ashamed of her mutancy or wanted to be “normal”, and could switch from kindly mother figure to fierce weather goddess in the blink of an eye.

With X-Men: Apocalypse being set in the ’80s, you have the perfect excuse to recast Storm (once again, Lupita Nyong’o really needs this part) and to do her right, and make her more like her comic book counterpart. A perfect way of using a visual cue to let everyone know this ain’t your mama’s Storm is to use her punk rock inspired look, which she used during a  seminal part of the ’80s run, during which she became leader of the team over Cyclops and embraced a leather mama bad ass look, complete with mohawk. This look is so beloved by fans that recently she started wearing it again. So c’mon Fox. Make that one happen.

#3. Mr. Sinister

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Over the course of seven X-Men films, we’ve seen a lot of the X-Men’s major villains covered in some capacity. Unfortunately, a lot of the X-Men’s biggest foes from the eighties heyday probably wouldn’t work so well on the big screen for a variety of reasons; the Brood are pretty much a knock off of the xenomorphs from Alien, Loki and the Asgardians are kinda tied up elsewhere, and Arcade and his giant pinball Murderworld? Yeah, just no. Mojo and Mojoworld are distinct possibility, but we just introduced the concept of time-travel to the movie-verse. We might wanna hold off a little bit before we get into alternate dimensions with corpulent yellow skinned monsters who run everything like one giant reality television show. At least for the immediate future.

Having said that, the other major X-Men villain introduced in the ’80s besides Apocalypse was Mr. Sinister. A kind of mad scientist figure, obsessed with playing God with the powerful bloodlines in the mutant gene pool and creating the ultimate mutant. With the comic book versions of Mr. Sinister, a/k/a Nathaniel Essex, having close ties to not only Cyclops and Jean Grey, but also Apocalypse himself (who in the comics gave Sinister his abilities) now would be the perfect time to introduce him. He has a memorable look that would translate well into movies if done right. Well, the white skin and red eyes at least; you might wanna ditch the weird tassley things he wears that make him look like a carnival dancer in Rio. Just sayin’.

#4. Rachel Summers

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After killing off Jean Grey in 1980, Chris Claremont then spent a lot of the rest of the decade finding ways to replace her with other similarly powerful redheads to stand in for her. First there was Madelyne Pryor, Jean’s clone who would end up marrying Cylops and having his child (who grows up to become Cable, fyi). Second came Rachel Summers, the daughter of Scott and Jean from an alternate future, who would take her dead mother’s name and powers as the second Phoenix. Rachel became a member of the team in the mid-80s, before taking off to England with Kitty Pryde and Nightcrawler and forming Excalibur.

My only problem with introducing Rachel at this point is that she might be one character too many; X-men: Apocalypse will feature young Xavier, Magneto, Mystique, and Beast, and almost certainly Wolverine as well. Add to that Cyclops, Jean, Storm, Gambit and maybe Nightcrawler, and that’s enough characters for one movie. It could be fun seeing Rachel making some sort of cameo though, maybe doing something to help ensure her own parents meet as youngsters so she can be born in the future. I know, I know, how very Back to the Future. But since that movie is a seminal eighties film, why not make a nod to it?

#5. ’80s Style Marketing

Here’s where Fox can really embrace the ’80s aesthetic of the brand. With the movie set in the ’80s, let’s see things like the classic X-Men comic book logo at the beginning of the movie…you know, this one:

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And also, how about some classic X-Men covers from the era recreated as movie posters? The ones below are just some examples of classic X-Men covers that could be re-created with the actors and fans would go ape-shit for them. Some characters would have to be exchanged for others, but that’s ok. Just like with the costumes, with the movie being set in period, this would be the perfect time to take advantage of that opportunity in creating some very cool marketing ideas for the film. The marketing guys at Fox missed a huge opportunity to make at least one poster for X-Men: Days of Future Past into a recreation of this iconic image… doing a retro comic book themed marketing campaign for Apocalypse could be incredible, and a great way for the franchise to fully and finally embrace its comic book roots.

6. A Dazzler Cameo

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Ok, so for a lot of people the mutant pop star who can turn sound into light, better known as the Dazzler, with her roller disco look, is the epitome of the 1970’s, not the ’80s. But Dazzler actually made her first appearance in late 1979, just as the Disco craze was breathing its last breath. For the first few years of her own comic series, Dazzler was a throwback to a fad that was very much over. At some point during the mid ’80s however, Dazzler ditched the roller disco skates and the Kiss style face paint for an Olivia Newton-John aerobics Let’s Get Physical look, with a dash of early Madonna/Cyndi Lauper thrown in for good measure. If Dazzler makes a cameo in X-Men: Apocalypse, I want to see that version of the character make a cameo; maybe seeing the team at a Dazzler show or something would suffice for me. Last April 1st, Bryan Singer tweeted Lady Gaga would play Dazzler in Days of Future Past; turned out to be an April Fool’s joke, but I for one would love to see that happen for real for the next movie.

 

Who are you hoping to see in X-Men: Apocalypse? Let us know in the comments below.

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28 comments

  • Agree with most of your ideas, especially casting choices. One minor quibble with your characterization of Scott Summers being, “always a skinny white dude with red glasses and a visor.” Right after that you show 14 pictures of Cyclops and he’s huge and ripped in almost every one of them.

  • I have been reading and loving the X-Comics since the 80s, and I love everything 80s (comics, films, TV series,  music, clothing, hair), so this film has me excited.
    Chris Claremont’s run of the X-Books was the best the X-Universe has ever been…the characters were relatable, had complexity, and depth. He had tough and capable female characters. The social commentary was fascinating. It was so brilliant and creative and original. 
    I agree with Eric Diaz, the 80s were the best for the X-Men, and yes, they should have used the cover to Uncanny X-Men #141 as the poster. I hope he does not think Halle Berry was the only actor to be miscast in these movies, because there is miscasting all throughout the films. To me, the only ones they did justice to in casting were the two actors for Xavier and Magneto, Wolverine (even though he is too tall and is often not scary, mean and murderous enough) Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat, Cyclops, Nightcrawler, and Mystique.   

    Some of my wish list for this and other X-Films with elements of the 80s X-Comics…apologize for the obscenely long post :

    DAZZLER :  They cannot have an 80s-style X-Film without Dazzler in some capacity. She screams 80s. Someone mentioned her celebrity angle…that would be something different for the films to explore. They could adapt elements from the Marvel Graphic Novel “Dazzler : The Movie”, in which Dazzler goes to Hollywood, makes a film, then has her singing reputation/chance of film stardom destroyed when she is outed as a mutant. She eventually joins the X-Men some time after that.
    Lady Gaga as Dazzler ?!  HELL. NO. Just no. That would be a complete disaster. You need someone who can actually act. 
    I think  Olivia Thirlby  (Judge Cassandra Anderson in the film “Dredd”) would be a perfect choice. She has talent, looks like her,  and already has the short hair ! (They could dye it blonde, she is actually brunette in real life)

    RACHEL SUMMERS/GREY :  It was an insult to the character that she was not included in the “Days of Future Past” movie. Her very first appearance was from that two-issue story arc for f*** sake ! She was the one who time-displaced Kate Pryde (older Kitty) back in time ! Aaarrgghh, dammit. 

    She was always a strong character, she went through so much mental and physical torture in her alternate future Earth, but survived and persevered despite all that. Plus, her punk, spiked red ‘Hound’ costume is definitely 80s badass.

    They can adapt her as being dark and tormented by being forced, through mentally manipulative drugs, to be a “Hound” that tracked down mutants to be slaughtered in the future of her alternate timeline…and trying to prevent her dystopian nightmare future from travelling to the past, but ending up in the wrong past and joining the X-Men. 
    But they may not want to utilize time travel in an X-Film again so soon, and it would have to be changed to some other alternate future, since the DOFP one has been adapted already. Maybe they can change it into the future that Cable grew up in ?

    CABLE :   Having a film with Apocalypse but no Cable is just wrong. They could adapt this : In the X-Factor comics, Nathan Christopher Charles Summers, the son of Cyclops who is an infant, is infected with the Techno-Organic virus by Apocalypse. A time-traveling  member of the Askani (a cult led by future Rachel Summers) offers to take baby Cable into the future to save his life, as in the present he would die. He is saved in that future and raised a freedom fighter who takes on the tyrannical regime of Apocalypse, who rules with an iron fist. Eventually he’s also a time-traveler who comes back to the present older and more battle-hardened, and leads the New Mutants into becoming X-Force.
    That could set up the X-Force film that is in the works…

    ARCHANGEL : Like in the X-Factor (the original five X-team version) comics, they could have Warren lose his wings, be suicidal as a result, and have Apocalypse give him his new ones and brainwash him into becoming his Horseman, Death. But then they would also have to have the other three : War, Famine, Pestilence.

    MR SINISTER :  He should be included, as he worked for Apocalypse. The could even set him up for another film down the line adapting “Mutant Massacre”, with his mutant Marauders (Sabretooth, Scalphunter, Arclight, Vertigo, Riptide, Harpoon, Scrambler, Blockbuster) hunting down and murdering a large number of the Morlocks, the disfigured outcast mutants living in the sewers. The Morlocks were a sometimes-ally of the X-Men. Before that, they could show Storm (when she became darker and more badass, leading to Punk Mohawk Storm)  winning leadership of them from Callisto by killing her in a fight. (the Morlock Healer brought Callisto back to life right after, of course)

    Could also include Madelyne Pryor, who was a clone of Jean Grey, created by Sinister, for she and Cyclops to breed the ultimate mutant (Cable) . That could lead into “Inferno”, with Madelyne learning the truth of her existence and attempting to bring Limbo (a dimension of demons, ruled at times by the New Mutant/X-Man Magik) to Earth. 
      
    THE REAVERS :   These were a team of cyborgs criminals comprised of :  Lady Deathstrike, Donald Pierce (former Hellfire Club member),  Skullbuster, Bonebreaker, Pretty Boy, and three former Hellfire Club goons). They all hated Wolvie. They were defeated by the X-Men, who took over their Australian Outback headquarters. 
    Alot of surreal cybernetic weirdness you can do with these characters…and like Claremont put in the comics, tons of opportunities to reference 80s film series like The Terminator, Robocop, and Mad Max. 

  • Good picks all but with one caveat while I too grew up with that amazing 70s-80s run of X-Men I can do without the mullet sporting Longshot. Please comic gods do not allow that terd of a character to make a movie appearance… ever.

  • I know Rogue won’t appear in Apocalypse(maybe) because of the movie’s timeline and making her a teen ager in the early 2000’s…BUT classic 80’s ROGUE lived up to her name sake,ROGUE until the movies came out and ruined her character…but anyway, 80’s young Rogue was a complete bat shit crazy badass, tom boy who would punch anyone in the face if they rubbed her the wrong way(well not anyone) but she was REAL and didn’t take no shit from anyone she was tough….that’s the rogue I would love to see on screen overall (90’s rogue style, grown up and sexy but still wild and brash (MARVEL ENTERTAINMENT would direct rogue like this on screen I doubt FOX would,since they LOVE wolverine so much, and all the other characters were diminished for him…….My actress picks for ROGUE in the current timeline would be Jamie pressly or Angelina Jolie(Gia years) since they have the qualities of ROGUE  already maybe they could translate that to screen…Anna just doesn’t do it for me irrespective of the writing done by FOX and directed by Bryan Singer…..MARVEL would do a BETTER xmen in my opinion since they are becoming better at doing their own work

  • Rachel would definitely fit in an Apocalypse movie with Mr. Sinister. 
    Storm got the mohawk after winning the leader role of the Morlocks by combat. I can see this as also being a part of an Apocalypse movie. 
    If they do replace Jackman’s Wolverine, they need to find a very hairy short bodybuilder type actor, he is suppose to be 5′-3″ tall after all.

  • Dazzler NEEDS to be in a film but I’m happy she hasn’t been so far because there is NO WAY Singer would’ve gotten her right. Lady GaGa? No.
    Dazz has a fresh character perspective, the celebrity angle and her incredible powers that would look great on film.

  • None of this would make me unhappy. Rachel Summers is a favorite – although navigating the whole Summers-Grey family tree can be pretty painful. 
    Because I’m a masochist : 
    Cyclops has two time traveling children – one (Cable) with Jean Grey’s clone, raised in the future by Cyclops and Jean Grey inhabiting the bodies of genetically manipulated descendants, and then fostered by the cult started by the future version of his daughter who never existed now. 
    That daughter (Rachel Grey/Summers) being from an alternate future, where he married the Phoenix impersonating Jean Grey (thanks, retcons!). 
    And then, Nate Grey, an alternate reality sort of version of Cable who psychically resurrected the clone of Jean Grey who was Cable’s mother, had a weird incestuous thing going on with her until she was possessed/replaced by yet another alternate reality Jean Grey. 
    How’d I do?

  • Cable, cable, cable, cable, cable and oh cable. Isn’t it about time x men started introducing other bad ass mutants to take over from jackman. 

  • I am very much up for all of these things!  I love Dazzler, Mr. Sinister, and also Apocalypse (but I think I can safely assume he’ll be there).  I’d like to see Cable, but they may not want to go into all that clone business, or have any more time travel after this movie.

  • Honestly, I would love to see Dazzler on screen.  Otherwise, any of the original New Mutants or original Alpha Flight, even for a moment, would make me very happy.

  • Too bad the costumes will never happen. I just don’t understand why they won’t put them in their costumes.

    Literally every other superhero/es but the X-Men gets to look like their comic counterpart. It really pisses me off.