The film was announced by Singer in December 2013, with Kinberg, Dougherty, and Harris attached to develop the story. Casting began in October 2014, while principal photography commenced in April 2015 in Montreal and ended in August of the same year. X-Men: Apocalypse premiered in London on May 9, 2016, and was released in North America on May 27 in 3D and 2D, and in IMAX 3D in select international markets. It received mixed reviews from critics, with praise directed at the action sequences and performances, while criticism was focused on the story, characters and themes, which were considered tired and dated. A sequel titled X-Men: Dark Phoenix is set for release on November 2, 2018.
En Sabah Nur, a powerful mutant believed to be the first of his kind, rules ancient Egypt until he is betrayed by his worshippers, who entomb him alive. His four lieutenants die preserving him. Awakening in 1983, he believes humanity has lost its way without his presence. Aiming to destroy and remake the world, he recruits Cairo pickpocket Ororo Munroe, who can control the weather, and upgrades her power.
In East Berlin, shape-shifting mutant Raven investigates an underground fight club and discovers mutant champion Angel, who possesses large feathered wings on his back, and Kurt Wagner, who can teleport. Raven rescues Kurt and requests black marketeer Caliban to transport him to America. En Sabah Nur recruits Caliban's enforcer, Psylocke, who leads him to Angel. En Sabah Nur enhances both of their powers, transforming Angel's wings into metal.
Alex Summers discovers that his younger brother Scott is manifesting a mutation for shooting optic beams. Alex takes Scott to Professor Charles Xavier's educational institute in Westchester County, New York, hoping that Xavier and Hank McCoy will teach him to control his abilities. Scott meets the telepathic and telekinetic Jean Grey, and the two develop an attraction. Raven brings Kurt to the institute. En Sabah Nur's powers cause disturbances around the world, leading Xavier and Alex to consult with CIA agent Moira MacTaggert, who has been researching the legend of Nur.
In Communist Poland, the metal-controlling mutant Erik Lehnsherr lives with his wife and their young daughter, Nina. When En Sabah Nur's resurrection causes a worldwide earthquake, he uses his powers to save a coworker, prompting the militia to capture him. When they accidentally kill Erik's family, he retaliates by executing them. En Sabah Nur later approaches the devastated Erik and takes him to Auschwitz, where Erik's power first manifested. Persuaded by En Sabah's philosophy, Erik's powers are enhanced and he destroys the camp, joining En Sabah Nur. En Sabah Nur remotely accesses Cerebro, a brainwave-amplifying device Xavier uses to locate mutants and forces the telepathic Xavier to make the global superpowers launch their entire nuclear arsenals into space to prevent interference with En Sabah Nur's plan. He and his new Four Horsemen arrive at the mansion and kidnap Xavier. Attempting to stop them, Alex accidentally causes an explosion that destroys the mansion. Peter Maximoff, having realized that he is Erik's biological son and hoping that Xavier can help to find him, arrives just in time; he uses his super-speed to evacuate the students and teachers before the explosion destroys the building, but fails to save Alex ,who gets killed in the process. Colonel William Stryker's forces subsequently capture Hank, Raven, Peter, and Moira, and take them to a military facility for interrogation. Scott, Jean, and Kurt follow covertly, and liberate their comrades using Stryker's mind-controlled and brainwashed experiment Weapon X, whose memories Jean partially restores.
At En Sabah Nur's behest, Erik uses his powers to control the Earth's magnetic poles, causing destruction across the planet. Sabah Nur plans to transfer his consciousness into Xavier's body, and use Xavier's power to enslave every person on Earth. Xavier secretly sends a telepathic distress call to Jean, and the others travel to Cairo to battle Sabah Nur and his horsemen. They rescue Xavier, but he loses his hair as the process nears completion. Angel is defeated, and Erik and Ororo are persuaded to turn on En Sabah Nur and, with the help of Scott, they keep him occupied physically while Xavier fights him telepathically in the astral plane. Finally, Xavier encourages Jean to unleash the full extent of her powers, incinerating En Sabah Nur, killing him for good, while Psylocke escapes. Xavier and Moira rekindle their relationship. Erik and Jean help reconstruct the school, but Erik refuses Xavier's offer to stay and help teach. Peter decides not to tell Erik yet that he is Erik's son. Using confiscated Sentinels, Hank and Raven train new X-Men recruits: Scott, Jean, Ororo, Kurt, and Peter.
In a post-credits scene, men in black suits visit the Weapon X facility to retrieve data on Stryker's mutant research, including an X-ray and a blood sample marked "Weapon X", on behalf of the Essex Corporation.James McAvoy as Professor Charles Xavier
A mutant pacifist and the world's most powerful telepath, who is the founder of Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters and leads the team of powerful skilled mutant known as the X-Men, in order to protect the humankind and battle against the deadly enemy within. McAvoy shaved his head for the role.
Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto
A mutant Auschwitz survivor with the ability to control magnetic fields and manipulate metal, who was once Xavier's closest ally and best friend until his belief that mankind and mutantkind would never coexist led to their separation. He is globally infamous for attempting to assassinate U.S. President Richard Nixon on live broadcast 10 years prior. Bill Milner appears in archival footage as a Young Erik.
Jennifer Lawrence as Raven / Mystique
A mutant with shapeshifting abilities, globally renowned for saving Nixon's life 10 years prior. She is also Xavier's once closest ally and his adopted sister. Lawrence said, "she hears about what happened to Erik and she wants to seek him out and help him."
Oscar Isaac as En Sabah Nur / Apocalypse
Born in ancient times, and presumably the world's first mutant, he has a variety of destructive superhuman abilities, including telekinesis, cyberpathy, teleportation, and the ability to augment other mutants' abilities. Isaac described Apocalypse as the "creative-slash-destructive force of the Earth." He added, "When things start to go awry, or when things seem like they're not moving towards evolution, [Apocalypse] destroys those civilizations." Isaac had to go through extensive makeup and prosthetics applications, and wore high-heeled boots to appear taller and a 40-pound suit. The full costume, which Isaac described as "basically doing Kabuki theater", was uncomfortable, particularly in the humid environment of the outdoor scenes, which forced Isaac to go to a cooling tent between takes. Apocalypse's previous old-form (seen at the beginning of the film) was played by Berdj Garabedian, a 70-year-old Canadian real estate agent in his first credited film role.
Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy / Beast
A mutant with leonine attributes, prehensile feet and superhuman physical abilities. Hank acts as a teacher in Xavier's school and he builds inventions for troubled students. He also built the X-Jet.
Rose Byrne as Moira MacTaggert
A CIA agent who first met and fell in love with Xavier in X-Men: First Class
, where he wiped portions of her memories of him and the X-Men at the end. Simon Kinberg said they are "essentially, strangers" when they meet in this film.
Evan Peters as Peter Maximoff / Quicksilver
A mutant who can move, think, and perceive at supersonic speeds, and the son of Magneto. Describing the relationship between Quicksilver and Magneto, Peters stated, "I have learned that he's my father at this point and I am trying to ... I don’t know what I can say. I'm trying to ... Yeah. It's like an adoptive child or any kind of child who has a strange father trying to ... He knows who he is now so he is trying to find him. He's been searching for him. It's been 10 years and he hasn't found him and then something happens."
Tye Sheridan as Scott Summers / Cyclops
A mutant who fires destructive optic beams and wears a visor or sunglasses to stabilize and contain them, and who is the younger brother of Havok. Sheridan describes Cyclops as "angry and a bit lost." He added, "He's now learning about being a mutant and trying to handle his powers."
Sophie Turner as Jean Grey
A mutant who is scared of her telepathic and telekinetic power, and one of Charles Xavier's most prized students. Turner states that she was cast in the film because of the "dark side" of her character Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones
. She compared Jean to Sansa and described being an outcast in the human world, who struggles with her power and gift, the same way Sansa, who wanted to live a normal life, felt. Turner learned archery in preparation for the role.
Olivia Munn as Psylocke
A mutant with telepathic, telekinetic and psionic abilities. Her abilities also include projecting purple psychic energy, usually into the form of an energy blade that can burn through metal. Munn described Psylocke as "very lethal, very powerful and very strong." She practiced sword fighting in preparation for the role.
Kodi Smit-McPhee as Kurt Wagner / Nightcrawler
A German teleporting mutant and one of Charles Xavier's new students. Singer said Nightcrawler is a source of comic relief.
Alexandra Shipp as Ororo Munroe / Storm
A young mutant orphan who can control weather. Storm is discovered by Apocalypse in Cairo. Shipp shaved her head partially, and sported a Mohawk for the role.
Lucas Till as Alex Summers / Havok
A mutant who has the ability to absorb energy and release it with destructive force from his body, and the older brother of Cyclops.
Josh Helman as Colonel William Stryker
A military officer who hates mutants and has, in the ten years since Days of Future Past
, been developing his own plans for resolving "the mutant problem”.
Ben Hardy as Angel
A mutant with bird-like feathered wings, gaining metallic wings which can also be used as razor sharp projectiles as a result, similar to his Archangel counterpart in the comics. Hardy practiced indoor skydiving in preparation for his role.
Lana Condor as Jubilee
A mutant student at Charles's school who has the ability to create psionic energy plasmoids. Discussing her first day on X-Men: Apocalypse
, Condor says: "I was very new and it was my first role. I'd never been on a set before or in front of a camera, so I didn't know what to expect. The first day we shot scenes in an 80s-themed mall with hundreds of extras in 80s gear, plus crew and cameras. It was surreal." She also discussed the character of Jubilee and how she became the mutant: "It's a lot easier when you have the costume, as that helps bring everything to life. She has her iconic yellow jacket, which is a staple. It's very bold and confident, like her. A lot of her costumes are super 80s. I also listened to music from the 80s and that helped."
Tómas Lemarquis portrays Caliban, a mutant with the ability to sense and track other mutants. Wrestler "Giant" Gustav Claude Ouimet plays The Blob, Angel's opponent in an underground fight club. Monique Ganderton portrays En Sabah Nur's lieutenant, Death.
Hugh Jackman makes an uncredited appearance as Logan / Wolverine, in his Weapon X form. In that same scene, director Bryan Singer cameos as a guard with a machine gun who is killed by Wolverine as he attempts to escape the complex. X-Men co-creator Stan Lee and his wife Joan B. Lee make a cameo appearance together, as bystanders witnessing the launch of nuclear missiles worldwide; this was Joan's last film before her death the following year. Željko Ivanek cameos as a Pentagon scientist. Alison Blaire / Dazzler makes a brief cameo appearance on a record album which Jean and Scott are shown holding at a music store, a scene not in the theatrical film, but was available in the home video release.
Archive footage was used of Caleb Landry Jones as Sean Cassidy / Banshee, journalist Jessica Savitch and actors Leslie Parrish and Michael Forest (the latter two appearing in footage with dialogue from the 1967 Star Trek episode "Who Mourns for Adonais?").
The film was announced by Bryan Singer in December 2013 via Twitter, before Days of Future Past was released to theaters. In the same month, Simon Kinberg, Dan Harris, and Michael Dougherty were revealed by Singer to be attached to work on the film's story. According to Singer, the film would focus on the origin of the mutants, and features the younger versions of Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Storm. Singer also said that he was considering Gambit and a younger version of Nightcrawler to appear. According to Kinberg, it would take place in 1983, and completes a trilogy that began with 2011's X-Men: First Class. In September 2014, 20th Century Fox officially announced that Singer would direct the film. Singer has called the film "kind of a conclusion of six X-Men films, yet a potential rebirth of younger, newer characters" and the "true birth of the X-Men".
Singer said that Apocalypse is the main focus of the film. Kinberg said that the younger versions of Scott Summers, Storm, and Jean Grey appearing in the film are "as much a part of the film as the main cast". He described Summers as "not yet the squeaky-clean leader", Storm as a "troubled character who is going down the wrong path in life", and Grey as "complex, interesting and not fully mature." Kinberg also said that the film delivers on the dramatic story and emotion of the last two films and that it acts like the culmination of the main characters portrayed by Lawrence, McAvoy, Fassbender and Hoult. Kinberg said First Class, Days of Future Past, and Apocalypse formed a trilogy about Mystique, explaining, "She starts in First Class entirely on Charles’ side, ends up following Erik, and we then find her in Days of Future Past and she’s on her own because Erik is gone. She’s on her own side in that movie but is drawn toward Charles by the end of the film and shoots Erik. Then in Apocalypse she comes back to Charles. There’s a full circle narrative over the span of this little trilogy that is about Mystique from beginning with Charles in the mansion and ending with Charles in the mansion, but not as the same timid little girl we met in First Class." Kinberg was paid $8 million for writing the script, the same amount he received for X-Men: Days of Future Past. The plot was partially inspired by the 1986 X-Men story arc "The Fall of the Mutants".
In October 2014, casting for X-Men: Apocalypse began. In November, Singer confirmed that Oscar Isaac would portray Apocalypse. In January 2015, Singer announced that Alexandra Shipp, Sophie Turner, and Tye Sheridan would portray young Storm, Jean, and Cyclops, respectively. The same month, Kinberg confirmed that Rose Byrne would reprise her role as Moira MacTaggert in the film. In February, Kodi Smit-McPhee was cast as Nightcrawler and Ben Hardy was cast in an unspecified role. In March, Singer announced that Lana Condor was cast as Jubilation Lee. In April, Singer confirmed that Hardy would portray Angel, Olivia Munn would portray Psylocke, and Lucas Till would return as Havok. In May, Singer announced that the mutant Caliban would appear in the film. In July, Hoult revealed on Conan that Josh Helman would return as William Stryker. In April 2016, Hugh Jackman confirmed that he would make a cameo appearance as Wolverine.
Principal photography commenced on April 27, 2015, in Montreal, Canada. In late August, the first-unit production for the film wrapped. Additional filming took place in January 2016.
Australia-based Rising Sun Pictures provided, as it did for X-Men: Days of Future Past, the effects for Quicksilver's time-stopping, quick motion effects in the mansion rescue scene, and also other effects, including when Cyclops splits Professor Xavier's favorite tree in half. Aerial footage of snow-capped mountains as Stryker traveled in his helicopter to the secret base was provided by SmartDrones of St. Albert, Alberta, Canada.
On March 2, 2015, it was announced that John Ottman, who composed the scores for X2 and X-Men: Days of Future Past, would return to write and compose the score for Apocalypse. On May 20, 2016, the official soundtrack was released as a digital download. In addition to Ottman's score, the film features a remix of the second movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's seventh symphony entitled "Beethoven Havok" and two songs contemporary to the film's 1983 setting, "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" by Eurythmics and "The Four Horsemen" by Metallica.
In July 2015, Singer, Lee, Hugh Jackman and cast-members McAvoy, Fassbender, Lawrence, Isaac, Hoult, Munn, Peters, Smit-McPhee, Turner, Sheridan, Shipp, Condor, Till and Hardy gave a presentation at the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con International, together with the release of the film's first teaser poster, featuring En Sabah Nur and a wreckage of the X-Mansion. Footage from the film was screened.
In October 2015, Mars Chocolate partnered with 20th Century Fox for the marketing of the film, using M&M chocolates in their promotional materials. The deal included retail displays and special packaging markings, TV and cinema commercials, and social media posts featuring M&M's characters mixed with elements of the X-Men. The first image of M&M candies wearing Storm and Magneto costumes was released on the day of the announcement.
In December 2015, Kia Motors collaborated with 20th Century Fox to create a custom Kia Sportage to promote the film. Designed after Mystique, the car was revealed at the 2016 Australian Open. It is Kia's second "X-Car" project after the Kia Sorento customized for the home media release of Days of Future Past and the 2015 Australian Open. A trailer released in the same month received criticism from Rajan Zed, a United States-based Hindu cleric, who stated that the part where Apocalypse claims himself to have been called "Krishna" was an offense to the Hindu religion, and demanded that Singer remove all references to Krishna from the trailer, and the film itself. The references to Krishna were removed from the film's final cut. On January 4, 2016, Kia Motors released the first promo video of the car, featuring Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal.
Concerning the character Apocalypse, the director Bryan Singer has said,
The way I describe him the most, the best is he to me is the God of the Old Testament and all that comes with that. If there isn’t the order and the worship then I’ll open up the Earth and swallow you whole, and that was the God of the Old Testament. I started from there and when Oscar and I met we began discussing, since he isn’t really God, he’s the first mutant perhaps, but he’s not God necessarily, he’s imbued with certain unique powers. Some of them may or may not be from this Earth, we don’t know.
In April 2016, Coldwell Banker partnered with 20th Century Fox to list the X-Mansion for $75 million. The fictional listing included a video tour of the mansion and stories of the home from the perspective of characters such as Charles Xavier and Scott Summers. The fake property was listed by agent Kala V. Rhomedren, an anagram for Raven Darkholme. That same month, Fox released a faux TV show called "In the Footsteps of..." narrated by George Takei which is inspired by the classic TV series In Search of... that focus on En Sabah Nur's origins. In May 2016, Fox released a faux TV Commercial for the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters with Lana Condor as Jubilee. They also released a video voiced mail message a week later and a faux TV show called Fables of the Flush & Fabulous with Robin Leach which is inspired by Leach's show Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.
Billboards in Los Angeles and New York City promoting the film garnered controversy for showing an image of Apocalypse choking Mystique, with critics saying the ad advocates violence against women. Among those opposed to the material was actress Rose McGowan, who told The Hollywood Reporter "There is a major problem when the men and women at 20th Century Fox think casual violence against women is the way to market a film. There is no context in the ad, just a woman getting strangled. The fact that no one flagged this is offensive and frankly, stupid." In apologizing for the billboard, Fox said it intended to remove the image from circulation.
X-Men: Apocalypse had its world premiere in London on May 9, 2016. The film was released in 20,796 screens across 76 international markets on May 18, 2016, one week before its North American debut. Apocalypse was issued both 3D and 2D formats, and in IMAX 3D in select international markets, using the DMR process. It opened in Korea on May 25 and in China on June 3. It was released in Japan on August 11.
The film was released by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment on digital download on September 9, 2016, and on DVD, Blu-ray, 3D Blu-Ray and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray on October 4, 2016. The film topped the national home video sales charts for the week ending on October 9, 2016.
X-Men: Apocalypse grossed $155.4 million in the U.S. and Canada and $388.5 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $543.9 million against a budget of $178 million. The film is the fourth-highest-grossing film in the X-Men series (without adjusting for inflation), behind Deadpool, Logan and X-Men: Days of Future Past. It made 27% less than Days of Future Past.
X-Men: Apocalypse opened in the United States on May 27, 2016 alongside Alice Through the Looking Glass and was projected to gross around $80 million from 4,150 theaters in its opening weekend, and up to $100 million over the four-day Memorial Day weekend. It made $8.2 million from Thursday previews at 3,565 theaters (better than its predecessor at $8.1 million). On its opening day it earned $26.4 million (including previews), the fourth-lowest opening day amount of the franchise. In its opening weekend, it grossed $65.8 million. Over the four-day Memorial weekend it earned $79.8 million, including $9 million from 480 premium large format screens and $19 million from RealD screens. In its second weekend the film grossed $22.3 million (a drop of 66.1%), finishing second at the box office behind Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.
Elsewhere, X-Men: Apocalypse was released one week before the United States in 76 markets, and grossed $101.5 million from 20,796 screens over the May 18 weekend. It debuted at No. 1 in 71 of those markets, with IMAX contributing $5 million from 246 screens in 57 markets, while RealD took in $18.4 million. It broke opening records for Fox in the Philippines ($4.9 million), India ($3.4 million), Indonesia ($3.1 million), Singapore ($2.8 million), Thailand ($2.7 million) and Colombia ($1.9 million), and had the biggest opening in the X-Men franchise in 33 markets, including Russia ($6.5 million). Its top openings were the United Kingdom ($10.5 million), Mexico ($8.6 million), Brazil ($6.6 million), Russia ($6.5 million) and France ($5.9 million). It opened in China on June 3 and brought in $59 million, the second-largest Fox opening in China and $20 million more than Days of Future Past. It opened next in Japan on August 11.
X-Men: Apocalypse received mixed reviews from critics with 48% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and an average rating of 5.6/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Overloaded action and a cliched villain take the focus away from otherwise strong performers and resonant themes, making X-Men: Apocalypse a middling chapter of the venerable superhero franchise." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 52 out of 100,.
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of The A.V. Club commented, "Much of what makes 'X-Men: Apocalypse' legitimately interesting also makes it frustrating and lopsided, since Singer and screenwriter-producer Simon Kinberg remain committed to the structure of an overlong comic-book blockbuster, complete with a climax in which the world has to be saved using as many different colors of energy beam as possible." Mike Ryan of Uproxx disparaged the film's story as redundant and stale, arguing "I get it: Life is hard for mutants. We all get it. It’s literally the only thing mutants ever seem to talk about. It is odd that other superheroes seem to get to have some fun, but never the X-Men. Here we are, 16 years later, and everyone involved is still sad. It feels repetitive." Scott Mendelson of Forbes wrote, "X-Men: Apocalypse is the kind of weightless, soulless trifle of a bore that makes comic book superhero movies look bad and makes me not look forward to the next installment." Helen O'Hara of Empire criticized the performances of the main cast and stated that the film felt "messier and heavier than Days of Future Past".
On the other hand Mick LaSalle from the San Francisco Chronicle gave the film a positive review, calling it "a thinking person's action movie" and complimenting its high stakes. Richard Roeper called the film "a visual feast" and lauded its ensemble cast. Even the hardcore geeks who like to get their Comic-Con on might be feeling a little superhero fatigue right about now. Still. You owe it to yourself to see Quicksilver do his thing.
In May 2016, Simon Kinberg said the next X-Men film would be set in the 1990s. He separately said the post-credits scene mentioning the Essex Corporation was related to Logan, and that it could have ties to Gambit as well as the following X-Men film. Bryan Singer said he would be interested in having the villain Proteus in an X-Men film. He also said he will be stepping away from the franchise but could envision returning to it at a later date in some capacity. In February 2017, Sophie Turner said production on the next film would begin soon. On April 22, 2017, 20th Century Fox announced that the film's sequel, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, is scheduled for release on November 2, 2018. In June 2017, it was announced that Kinberg had signed on as director and that Lawrence, Fassbender, McAvoy, Hoult, Shipp, Turner, Sheridan, Smit-McPhee, and Peters would all be reprising their roles.