Is Oscar Isaac taking his X-Men villain in a more “biblical” direction?

Is Oscar Isaac taking his X-Men villain in a more “biblical” direction? May 22, 2015

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Oscar Isaac’s star has been on the rise in recent years.

In addition to lead roles in acclaimed films such as Ex Machina, Inside Llewyn Davis and A Most Violent Year, he will soon have a key role in the next Star Wars movie.

After that, he will play the titular villain in X-Men: Apocalypse, the eighth film in the long-running X-Men series (but only the third film that is still part of the series’ continuity, thanks to all the time-bending in the last film).1

Isaac, speaking to Matthew Sardo on the Monkeys Fighting Robots podcast, recently dropped some hints about his X-Men villain that piqued my interest:

[I’ve been] reading the script a lot and trying to come at it from a — for me — an interesting angle, definitely focusing on the fact that he is the embodiment of the second coming of the judgments of God and that energy going in. We’re playing with that. What we are trying to do is make his philosophy, and what his mission is, one that’s both simple but also holds water, that really makes sense throughout the whole movie. And I think Simon Kinberg and Bryan Singer, we’ve been able to come up with something very cool.

The Hollywood Reporter says this may indicate some changes to the character:

Isaac will play Apocalypse, a character whose comic book incarnation was the first human ever to display the X-gene that makes mutants. Born in Ancient Egypt, he has been revealed to be immortal and has used alien technology to create followers, that he refers to as horsemen (as in the Biblical Horsemen of the Apocalypse), to do his bidding. Despite that terminology, however, the comic book incarnation of the character hasn’t traditionally been closely tied to a religious reading, nor represented the judgment of God.

Friends of mine who know more about the X-Men comics than I do tell me that this analysis seems correct — that Apocalypse isn’t particularly religious in the comics, and Isaac’s take on the character could be a more “biblical” version of the villain.

This amuses me, as one of Isaac’s first movies was an actual bona fide Bible movie, i.e. The Nativity Story, in which Isaac played Joseph the husband of Mary — and did very well in the role, to boot. You can read my interview with him about that here.

If the new X-Men film does explore religious themes, then it’s worth noting that one of its other characters will be Nightcrawler, the Christian who looks like a demon and has the ability to teleport anywhere instantly. So it could be interesting to see if the new film plays Nightcrawler’s beliefs off of Apocalypse’s agenda in any way.2

For what it’s worth, a younger version of Apocalypse was briefly glimpsed, along with his four horseman, in a post-credits scene set thousands of years ago at the end of X-Men: Days of Future Past, though he was played there by Brendan Pedder:

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You can listen to the Monkeys Fighting Robots podcast here:

Update: David Bauer has alerted me to the existence of this interview, in which Isaac mentions the “biblical apocalypse” and says he and the filmmakers are taking their inspiration for the character from Johnny Cash’s ‘The Man Comes Around’:

Here is the Johnny Cash song in question:

1. Okay, the prologues to the two Wolverine movies are still part of the continuity, too.

2. The only other film to feature Nightcrawler so far is X2: X-Men United, which counted Ralph Winter among its producers. Winter, who is openly Christian, co-produced the first four X-Men films.

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