The director of X-Men: Apocalypse has opened up about everything that's supposedly wrong with his title villain.
From the start, supervillain Apocalypse was always going to be a tricky one to bring to the screen -- after all, this is a godlike being with tremendous powers, a blue-skinned one at that, and what often works perfectly well in the comics may simply not transfer as well to the big screen. (See another blue X-Men favorite, Beast, as proof of that. The actors have been great -- the furry costumes, not so much.)
So, with fans highly critical these days of just about anything that doesn't meet their standards, the screen version of Apocalypse played by Oscar Isaac in the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse was almost pre-ordained to get a rough ride. Director Bryan Singer hasn't said much about the topic until now, but during a recent visit by IGN to the editing suite of the film, the director addressed some of the complaints, starting with Apocalypse's voice. In the latest trailer, his voice sounds massive and menacing, but in the first one he sounded like plain old Oscar Isaac, which fans jumped on. Here's Singer:
“[The first X-Men: Apocalypse trailer] was simply Oscar using his normal voice -- which is wonderful; his performance is fantastic -- but that was never the intention. We just needed those words to govern the first teaser. So people thought, ‘Oh, wait, is that going to be his voice during the whole movie?’ It’s like, no, but to tell the story of the first teaser, we needed the voice, and I hadn’t recreated the voice yet."
Singer went on to describe -- in somewhat geeky audiophile terms -- what he's been doing to enhance Isaac's voice:
“What I’m doing is something very unique. It hasn’t been done before. We’re rerecording his entire performance because the suit’s creaky and makes all kinds of noise, you can’t really use any of it anyway. But I want his performance. So he’s being recorded in ADR using a standard Sennheiser microphone, but also with a bass mic to his right cheek and a bass drum mic to his left cheek. These two microphones have the ability to pull vocal range out of his voice that the human ear cannot hear. And I can take that vocal range that I’ve now recorded, and I can pull it and use it to augment his voice -- and that with a little digital magic can create a voice that’s both completely governed by his performance but is not natural.
“It ebbs and flows and moves through the movie, and changes, so he doesn’t just have one single voice. He speaks with different voices depending on different moments in the film. So it’s really kind of cool. It’s the first time I’ve ever had the tools to sculpt a performance in post-production, that was already given to me on set and chosen in the cutting room."
As for Apocalypse’s overall appearance, which some fans have compared to something out of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers:
“There was an image released on Entertainment Weekly, where the effect hadn’t been put in yet, so everyone was -- the effect has a pink light on it, and everyone got lit up pink, so people thought Apocalypse was going to be pink. I was like, ‘No, no, they’re all pink. Take a look. Everyone in the picture is pink. It’s a pink picture.’ They maybe just should have taken the pink out of the picture — I should have taken the pink out of the picture. I’m going to take some blame for that. My fault, not Entertainment Weekly’s. That’s the picture I gave them.”
Singer also discussed Apocalypse’s size, which has been another issue -- some folks thought he seemed too short for a god (even though you clearly see him turn into a giant in the trailer):
“So then people were like, ‘He’s small.’ I’m like, ‘Okay, I got the same s*** when I cast a six-foot-three actor to play five-foot-four Wolverine. I got the same s*** when Quicksilver’s very sweet, 1970s costume was released on an Empire Magazine cover.’ You know, every time. I could have made him a giant through the whole movie, or some muscle-bound guy who can’t act -- I could always do that. But the reality is, among his many powers -- and you will see him change size — but among his many powers is his power of persuasion, and it was very important that he’d be able to connect with his horsemen, at their level, and that he’d be played by a guy who can actually act like Oscar, who’s a fantastic actor.”
Let's face it, Singer -- like many superhero movie directors before him, and as he himself has experienced in the past -- is in a can't-win situation, here. Apocalypse on the screen may not look exactly like he does in the comics, or behave exactly like he does in the comics, or sound like fans want to imagine he sounds, and frankly, that's too bad. If adjustments have to be made to make the character work on screen, so be it. I'd rather see an adaptation of Apocalypse that is faithful to the spirit of the character as delivered by a world class actor like Oscar Isaac.
As Singer himself points out, he's the guy who caught flak for casting a tall, unknown Australian named Hugh Jackman as Wolverine -- and that worked out pretty well. On May 27, we can all judge Apocalypse and Oscar Isaac and Bryan Singer by the only thing that matters -- the movie we finally see.