Neglected Nemeses: Apocalypse
It’s been while since we’ve seen a Neglected Nemeses, but I’m back and this time around I’m highlighting one of the biggest bad-asses in the Marvel Universe; a being that has been the bane of the mighty X-Men on many occasions. The one and only Apocalypse. Few rogues have ever been able to have such a lasting effect on the X-Men like Apocalypse and I think that most fans would agree: it’s time for this baddy to make his big screen debut.
While wondering the harsh deserts of ancient Egypt, a group of nomads came across an abandoned infant. The child was grey-skinned and rather freakish in appearance, but the nomads took the lost child, who had been abandoned by the settlers of Akkaba and named him En Sabah Nur, or “The First One,” and taught him the skills needed to be strong in order to survive the desolate surroundings. The idea of “only the strong survive” was ingrained into his mind, becoming the basis of his destruction later on in life. As an adult, En Sabah Nur was captured and enslaved by the forces of Ozymandias. Not willing to be anyone’s slave, he became a rebel and fought against his captors and was eventually killed. However, his mutant powers revived him and seeing himself as strong and blessed, he used the newly discovered technology of Rama Tut, he destroyed the Egyptian rulers around him.
Through the years, En Sabah Nur used this technology to regenerate and become stronger with ever re-awaking he experienced. He also traveled around the world, appearing to many different civilizations as their God of Death, striking fear into those he visited. In his travels, he came across an alien ship that had been abandoned by the alien race the Celestials. He made it his life’s mission to retrieve the technology to make the ship functional and unlock the secrets of the technology, which he found that in Nathan Summers. The two had many battles, with Summers nearly killing Apocalypse, but was saved by Ozymandias who took him back to the Celestial’s ship. En Sabah Nur had been infected by Summers’ techno-organic virus, which actually transformed him into a stronger being and allowed for him to interface with the Celestial ship he so desired.
Fast-forward to the 19th century, when Charles Darwin was pitching his ideas of ”Survival of the Fittest” to find an English geneticist named Nathaniel Essex. Apocalypse, attempting to find underlings to serve him, earned the allegiance of Essex, who had foreseen the increasing number of mutants in the future, and turned him into the being now known as Mister Sinister. Sinister was soon defeated by the time-lost Cyclops and Phoenix.
More recently, Apocalypse was mysteriously awakened by the arrival of Cable, the son of Cyclops. Once awake, Apocalypse turned his attention once again to Cyclops and the X-Force team. Having created his own team, the Alliance of Evil, he felt his chances of mutant domination were great. Once the Alliance was defeated, he then turned to his Horsemen of the Apocalypse in order to further his beliefs. In the melee of the battle, Angel, a member of the X-Force, was captured and turned into the Horseman of Death. Angel eventually defected and was replaced by Caliban.
After ditching his Horsemen, Apocalypse turned to the Dark Riders, also known as Riders of the Storm. He, along with his riders became the target of Stryfe, a clone of Cable who was raised by Apocalypse in an alternate future where the ancient being had risen to power. Later, Stryfe would leave a dying Apocalypse on the moon, where he was confronted by the Dark Riders and left for dead. Through the years, Apocalypse returned to his Four Horsemen idea, transforming many marvel characters into his slaves, including the Hulk, Wolverine, Deathbird and Caliban.
He also encountered a faction of the Skrulls, who were in the process of investigating mutations in their own race. Apocalypse led this faction of Skrulls and formed what he would call “The Twelve,” a group of mutants from which he would absorb powers, giving him the ability to recreate the world in his image. Many of “The Twelve” were X-Men who had been assembled to oppose Apocalypse. During this process, Apocalypse accidentally merged with Cyclops instead of Nate Grey, whom Apocalypse preferred. Due to the over-whelming power of Cyclops’ involvement, Apocalypse rejected the power and was forced to abandon his plan, and seemingly left the body of Cyclops dead. In order to save Cyclops’ body, Phoenix and Cable left the X-Men and traveled to Egypt, where they found and fought an amalgamation of Cyclops and Apocalypse. During the battle, Phoenix was able to physically rip Apocalypse from the body of Cyclops, while Cable destroyed the essence of Apocalypse with his telepathic powers.
Naturally, Apocalypse did not die and he once again assembled his Horsemen, which included Gazer, Sunfire, Polaris and Gambit, who had sought Apocalypse out in order to become a mole for the X-Men but had become twisted by the vengeful being. With his powers once again at their zenith, Apocalypse attacked the X-Men at their mansion which had become more or less a refugee camp after the events of M-Day. However, Apocalypse and his Horsemen were forced to retreat when the X-Men and the Avengers rose against him. Apocalypse attempted to seek his death by his own hand, but was resurrected by the Celestials who took him to face his judgement.
Needless to say, Apocalypse could provide for an action film of epic proportions and when added to the success of the X-Men film franchise, you could have yourself a film that could appeal to many audiences. There are numerous story arcs and character groups to choose from, so technically speaking, fitting this into the current movie-verse would not be as hard to do as some other villains in the X-Men mythos. As I mention in the Neglected Nemeses: Mr. Sinister article, the addition of Sinister, the time-line issues of the current films could be fixed rather easily in one film. A sequel to that film could include Apocalypse, bringing about one of the most popular X-Men story lines to date.
One thing that has been missing in the current X-Men films, save for a few scenes in The Last Stand and the polarizing First Class, is the inclusion of team-up battles with X-Men, where the entire team joins together to take down their enemies, something that Joss Whedon nailed with The Avengers. A villain like Apocalypse would pretty require for a team-up to happen, including some of the foes that the X-Men have previously faced, and I don’t think fans would have a problem with something like this happening in a film. Between the two baddies, Sinister and Apocalypse, you have potential of creating one of the best CBM’s to date, assuming you have the correct script and director involved.
It would be difficult to have an actual actor portray this character, as it could come across as quite cheesy if done wrong. So, I think the best option would be to utilize motion cap technology, essentially what they did with Mark Ruffalo in Avengers, to create the on-screen version. This would allow for a larger, more impressive villain to appear on screen. As for a voice actor, I can think of none other than the incomparable Clancy Brown to handle this character. Not only can he create a menacing voice, but he is damn good at what he does. You could add a bit of modification to is voice, but I don’t think much is needed. Brown is one of, if not the best voice-over artists out there and would be the man to bring this character the justice he deserves.