X-Men: Apocalypse – 24 behind the scenes facts you need to know

X-Men: Apocalypse marks the end of a chapter – but rest assured that things will be going out with a bang. Susan Griffin has need-to-know facts about the franchise's most ambitious movie yet, which takes the action to 1983

Alexandra Shipp sports an 80s look in X-Men: Apocalypse

1. X-MEN: Apocalypse marks the conclusion of the prequel trilogy, which includes 2011's X-Men: First Class and 2014's X-Men: Days Of Future Past.

2. Bryan Singer helms the movie, his fourth X-Men film following 2000's X-Men, 2003's X2 and Days Of Future Past. He also co-produced First Class.

3. Filming began on April 20 2015 in Montreal, with production based at Mel's Cite du Cinema, a 27-plus-acre studio facility, comprised of seven sound stages totalling 116,500 square feet.

4. Academy Award-winning production designer Grant Major, who also worked on The Lord Of The Rings, was responsible for overseeing the design and construction of almost 60 purpose-built sets, as well as the art direction for the movie's numerous locations in and around the city.

5. In one of the film's biggest scenes, a larger-than-life pyramid is erected the middle of 1983 Cairo. Major found an old factory about to be demolished in Montreal to 'create' it. "We literally pulled down buildings and demolished the surrounding landscape, building layer upon layer of destroyed environments," he recalls.

6. The Space Port video arcade in the shopping mall scene was named in honour of the one Singer used to play in as a kid.

7. An Egyptologist was brought on board for the construction of the Egyptian temple, advising on hieroglyphs, phrases and decorative elements to reflect the story being told.

8. Keen to up the ante, Singer, who also co-wrote the film, decided to introduce a villain intent on global extinction. Step forward Apocalypse, the world's most powerful mutant, who's woken up after thousands of years – more than a little miffed that his kind are no longer treated like gods.

9. Moviegoers got their first glimpse of Apocalypse in a sequence shown after the credits had rolled on Days Of Future Past. A younger version of the mutant was seen telepathically building pyramids, while his minions looked on.

10. Oscar Isaac, fresh from his role in the latest Star Wars movie, was the man chosen to depict the immortal Apocalypse. It took three people half an hour to help him into his 20-piece costume each time.

11. The prosthetic make-up for Apocalypse included neck, forehead, nose, cheek, jaw and chin pieces, as well as a headpiece and helmet. "The only body part that wasn't covered was Isaac's eyeballs," notes make-up designer Brian Sipe. "It was like a giant jigsaw puzzle."

12. To ease any discomfort, Isaac wore a cooling system beneath his costume, similar to the ones racing car drivers use.

13. Apocalypse's 'four horsemen' are newcomers Psylocke (Olivia Munn), a ninja assassin who also uses telepathy; Storm (Alexandra Shipp), who can control all aspects of the weather; Angel (Ben Hardy), who can fly and is lethal in hand-to-hand combat, and Magneto, a returning Michael Fassbender, who can control magnetic fields.

14. Costume designer Louise Mingenbach designed Angel's wings, but they were never built because they were too cumbersome to be practical on set. In the end, the task was handed over to the visual effects department.

15. Hardy, who you might recognise from EastEnders (he played Peter Beale), trained six days a week and followed a strict diet, "to look as superhuman as possible". He likens the flying sequences to "being on a roller coaster all day".

16. The latex suit worn by Munn's Psylocke was made by a sex shop in Los Angeles.

17. It's estimated the production gathered almost 100,000 pieces of wardrobe by the end of the shoot, and dressed between 2,000 and 3,000 people.

18. The action's jumped to 1983, so expect early 80s fashion statements and brilliant period detail, as the decade's excess is brought to the screen.

19. Jennifer Lawrence's character Raven returns and enlists the help of younger mutants. Her pared-down wardrobe was inspired by The Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde.

20. James McAvoy, who's back as Professor Charles Xavier, shaved his head so the character could transition into the bald Professor X, the man we met in the original trilogy, played by Patrick Stewart.

21. Stewart witnessed the moment McAvoy lobbed off his locks via FaceTime – and asked if he could send them to him. He now, reportedly, keeps a bag of McAvoy's hair in his safe.

22. The characters we meet at Xavier's School For Gifted Youngsters, such as Jean Grey (Sophie Turner); Scott Summers/Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), are the younger incarnations of the figures in the original X-Men films, played by Famke Janssen, James Marsden and Alan Cumming respectively.

23. Smit-McPhee's transformation into Nightcrawler took just under two hours, and included the application of prosthetics, make-up, teeth, eyes, feet, hands and body armour that supports his kinetic tail.

24. Peter Maximoff/Quicksilver, played by Evan Peters can move so fast that, according to visual effects supervisor John Dykstra, "he can fit a day's activity into the blink of an eye". Alas, a scene involving this fast-moving mutant takes a little longer to put together: a two-minute sequence took over six weeks to shoot.

:: X-Men is in cinemas now.


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