Sixteen long years have passed since Fox introduced moviegoers to the live-action incarnation of Marvel’s mutants, and the X-Men franchise has continued to persist, spanning a total of nine films to date. Last year was an especially critical year for the series, as Deadpool marked the first R-rated entry and quickly became the most successful installment to date. Earning an impressive $783 million against a production budget of just $58 million, Deadpool may have marked a new high point for the X-Men films, but it was too soon followed by what many consider one of the franchise’s weakest efforts.
Coming just three months later, X-Men: Apocalypse opened up the possibilities for what stories future films may tackle, but fans and critics alike seemed underwhelmed by what Apocalypse itself had to offer. Although the film was the fourth to be directed by fan-favorite filmmaker Bryan Singer (X2: X-Men United, X-Men: Days of Future Past), it was quickly deemed the least compelling of his contributions to the series for a number of reasons. The studio’s plan of screening Apocalypse for critics weeks prior to its release (presumably to develop word-of-mouth for the film) essentially backfired in a big, bad way.