Pop Culture Happy Hour No. 298: X-Men: Apocalypse and Supervillans


My four-or-five-year tenure buying The Uncanny X-Men faithfully each month had expired by No. 298, cover-dated March 1993. Neither Daoud nor I could identify anyone on the cover with certainty save for Bishop and Gambit.

On this week’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, I join host Linda Holmes and regular panelist Stephen Thompson — and, I am excited to tell you, fellow guest-star Daoud Tyler-Ameen, who sounds and is smarter than any of us — to search or feelings in RE: X-Men: Apocalypse. It’s Bryan Singer’s fourth X-Men movie and third X-Men prequel and second trilogy capper, so no preamble required. I have done the math, and Apocalypse is the second-worst of the six X-Men features. It doesn’t make a lick of sense, even by the relaxed standards of coherence that govern superhero movies, but I didn’t hate it. Anyway, you can listen to the podcast here.

For more of my feelings, please see my NPR review of the film. And for a much longer discussion of do-overs in long-lived franchises, see this essay that I published on The Dissolve last year. I believe that The Dissolve shall, like Jean Grey, rise again.

As is my standard operating procedure, I brought many more clips than our discussion of villainy could accommodate. I’d planned to talk a little about Richard III and MacBeth during my riff on the-miscreant-as-protagonist, but ’twas not to be.

I do wish I had remembered to point out when the conversation came ’round to this topic that one of the rare superhero films wherein the antagonist’s scheme and objective both make sense is X-Men—the first feature, from 2000. Magneto, played by Ian McKellen, aims to end discrimination against mutants by turning all the delegates of the United Nations into mutants. It wouldn’t work, probably, but I get it.

Here’s Lex Luthor’s helpful explanation of his plan to raise property values through genocide in Superman. You know who’s in this and who made it, right?

And here’s Orson Welles as Harry Lime, speculating on how a little skullduggery is good for the advancement of the species from The Third Man, written by Graham Greene and directed by Carol Reed.

I have posters for both of these films hanging in my home.

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