20th Century Fox's "X-Men" franchise is showing no signs of slowing down its evolution as a new installment in the long-running comic book series has been announced, almost a full six months before the highly anticipated "X-Men: Days of Future Past" is scheduled to hit theaters.
We definitely know what enemy Charles Xavier's merry band of mutants will be facing in this one, as it's all in the title: "X-Men: Apocalypse," as tweeted by — who else? — Twitter-happy director Bryan Singer himself.
And what an enemy! Apocalypse was created by writer Louise Simonson and artist Walter Simonson and made his debut in "X-Factor" #5 (May 1986), quickly staking his claim as one of the most popular "bad guys" in the "X-Men" universe. Regarded as the 'first mutant,' Apocalypse was born over 5000 years ago in Egypt, where he was left for dead by his tribe due to his gray skin and blue lines running across his lips and face. He was adopted by the Sandstormers, a nomadic band of vicious raiders, who named him En Sabah Nur ('The First One') and taught him their philosophy and practice of Survival of the Fittest.
Apocalypse has a variety of mutant abilities, which were further augmented after he merged with Celestial alien technology. He has complete control over the molecules of his body, which enables him to alter his form as it suits him (such as, say, transforming his arms into wings). He can adapt to any environment and can project and absorb energy, and is capable of 'technopathy,' directly interfacing with his various technologies. He's also immortal and doesn't need to eat or drink.
Oh, and he once killed Dracula, too. Yeah, he's pretty badass.
It's unknown which of the many existing Apocalypse stories the film might be incorporating (if any), though a strong possibility is the "Age of Apocalypse" storyline first published in 1995 which featured an alternate universe in which the villain had conquered most of the world. The "What If?" scenario would seem to fit with the time- and reality-bending setting of next summer's "X-Men: Days of Future Past."
It's also unclear whether the "Apocalypse" film will feature the "original" X-cast (led by Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen) or the "new" X-cast (led by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender), though we have a feeling that will be set up by the closing of "Days of Future Past."
And one thing you can almost guarantee: Hugh Jackman will be in it.
"X-Men: Apocalypse" will hit theaters on May 27, 2016, putting it in-between the as yet unannounced Marvel movie on May 6 and "The Amazing Spider-Man 3" on June 10, according to The Wrap.
"X-Men: Days of Future Past" will be released on May 23, 2014.
See the Cast of 'X-Men: Days of Future Past' at this year's San Diego Comic-Con: