The new “X-Men” prequel series have been divisive, to say the least.
Nobody seems to be able to make up their minds about whether “First Class” or “Days of Future Past” are any good. The same goes for “X-Men: Apocalypse,” the third chapter in the relaunched “X-Men” franchise, which just came out in theatres.
“Apocalypse” falls somewhere in between the last two installments. Sure, it is sort of a mess that sometimes diverges into fan service. However, it is an ultimately enjoyable mess that should be recognised for its lofty ambitions.
Whatever issues it may have, there is one thing “Apocalypse” — and the last three “X-Men” movies in general — have absolutely nailed: Magneto.
Who is Magneto?
Magneto (Michael Fassbender), also known as Erik Lehnsherr, is a Holocaust survivor and mutant, both facts that define his life. Magneto is able to control and manipulate magnetic energy, so basically, if you have any metal on you, you’re in trouble.
Throughout “X-Men” history, Magneto has vacillated between being a hero and being a villain. While his intentions are sometimes good, he is often misguided.
Magneto’s performance is unrivalled
Magneto has been fittingly played by two actors that have starred in Shakespeare plays: first the legendary Ian McKellen, and now Michael Fassbender. While “Apocalypse” features a lot of contemporary actors playing the younger versions of the mutants we were introduced to in the first “X-Men” movie in 2000, Fassbender is the only one who actually feels like he is playing the younger version correctly.
He’s a complex and fascinating character
It is difficult to even call Magneto a villain sometimes, and “Apocalypse” does a better job than the other “X-Men” movies at showing how fragile his psyche is.
There is a scene in this movie in which Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) brings Magneto to Auschwitz to confront his past. Apocalypse is trying to remind Magneto of the evils of mankind, and why the world must be destroyed and started anew.
In a movie that plays mind games and tries to wrestle with characters’ pasts, Magneto is the one character whose past truly haunts his present. He is forever dogged by both childhood trauma and the events of “Days of Future Past,” which caused him to go into hiding. His fear of humanity makes him an incredibly complex character. This is in part thanks to Fassbender’s acting chops, as he shows Magneto’s evil side, while also letting the audience in enough to allow for empathy.
“X-Men: Apocalypse” answers a lot of questions brought up by the previous movies, for example explaining that every mutant is given a responsibility when they are given a power, and that they get to choose to be good or bad. In this movie, Magneto proves how difficult that decision can be.
The movie is goofy, but really shines when it embraces said goofiness, for instance with its deep-voiced, blue villain. However, it is Magneto’s story arc that makes “Apocalypse” more thoughtful and emotional than you might expect.
“X-Men: Apocalypse” is now playing in theatres.
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