In the wake of Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, DC Comics expands its movie universe with an off-kilter episode whose band of unlikely heroes draws upon lesser-known names from the comics, relying on their spunk and (eventual) camaraderie to counterbalance their relative obscurity in a genre captained by the likes of Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, and Wolverine.
“At least we can all agree the third one is always the worst.” That comes from Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), about halfway through X-Men: Apocalypse, as a cadre of young mutants exits a screening of Return of the Jedi – helping to establish the ’80’s setting which rounds out this trilogy’s nostalgic tour of three successive decades. It is also, awkwardly and unfortunately enough, as true of this very film as it was of the original X-Men threequel, the disappointing The Last Stand.
After a dozen films, many of them smashing successes, one of the most legitimate criticisms levelled against the Marvel Cinematic Universe – now entering “Phase Three” in that grand plan known only to comic-book deities and movie-studio moguls – was that the villains were never half as interesting as the protagonists.
With live-action and 3D-rendered sequels and “reimaginings” of classic animated films cropping up left and right, Disney’s latest adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book demonstrates the third time’s the charm indeed – even if it can’t replace the original.