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'X-Men: Apocalypse' Is Set In 1983, But Why That Year?

by Oliver Lyttelton
June 16, 2014 4:00 PM
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X-Men Apocalypse

"X-Men: Days Of Future Past" (check out our feature on the Best and Worst of the film) did what it was intended to: thanks to the all-star cast and surprisingly strong reviews, the film was by far the biggest hit of the series, with the film closing on $700 million worldwide, elevating it far above its predecessors, and justifying Fox's decision to spend more money on the picture than any other film except "Avatar." As such, the already-announced plans for "X-Men: Apocalypse" are moving forward at speed, and writer Simon Kinberg has just spilled some beans on it.

We already knew that the film was going to focus on villain Apocalypse, an ancient mutant (take a look at our ranking of the character canon) with reality-altering powers (as shown by the post-credits tease at the end of 'Days Of Future Past'), and Kinberg has previously said that the film will be closer to a "disaster movie" than the time-jumping antics of the last picture, and that it'll be set in the 1980s, after the 60s and 70s settings of the first two. But in an interview with screenwriting podcast supremo Jeff Goldsmith (via Comic Book Movie), Kinberg has got more specific, and said that the new movie will be set in 1983.

Now, for some franchises, this wouldn't be hugely important, but the exact date of the setting of "First Class" (1962) and "Days Of Future Past" (1973) turned out to be important to the films' plotlines: the climax of the latter took place during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the latter included a key sequence set at the Paris Peace Accords, and one can assume that the meld of history and fiction will continue here. So what can we glean about 'Apocalypse' from the year in which it's set?

Well, if we were take the 'disaster movie' line literally, the film could end up featuring the earthquake and tsunami in Japan that killed over a hundred people, or Hurricane Alicia in Texas, which killed twenty two. Or if we were to see the film keeping closer to 'First Class,' the arrest of Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie in Bolivia might be a plot point. But neither quite sound right, especially as 1983 saw, arguably for the last time, the Cold War ramping up: the Strategic Defense Initiative (also known as 'Star Wars') was unveiled in March, while September saw a Korean plane be shot down by the Soviet air force, killing all on board, including a U.S. congressman, and two terrible cases of nuclear brinksmanship before the end of the year too. We'd wager that whatever chaos Apocalypse is causing, it ends up causing conflict between the U.S. and the Soviet Union at the some time. Or perhaps the plot figures into the internet, which 'officially' came into existence on January 1st that year?

Or perhaps it's just because it takes place ten years after the film. "X-Men: Apocalypse" hits theaters on May 27th, 2016.

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More: X-Men: Apocalypse, Simon Kinberg

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  • RON | June 19, 2014 2:37 AMReply

    Because iNDIA won Cricket World cup ...!!!

  • chris | June 17, 2014 8:15 PMReply

    Seems to complete the pattern. First Class took place in 1963, most of Days of Future Past took place in 1973 ergo: Age of Apocolypse 1983 (of course with a quick trip back in time to kill Professor X?)

  • chris | June 17, 2014 8:55 PM

    I'm re reading Age of Apocolypse and Apocolypse is ruling over an America that has been destroyed by nuclear weapons, he is culling all humans and any Mutants, like the X-Men that are attempting to stop him. The Summers brothers work for and Apocalypse and Jean is with Wolverine (Weapon X).

  • Desmond | June 17, 2014 11:07 AMReply

    I think you mean the climax of the 'former' took place during the cuban missle crisis

  • Vince Russo | June 17, 2014 12:17 AMReply

    1983 was the most important year in the world. The year I was born.

  • Mike | June 17, 2014 6:39 PM

    1983 was the year I turned 18! :-)

  • KIng | June 16, 2014 9:50 PMReply

    1983 was the yer McDonald's introduced the McNugget.

  • mike | June 16, 2014 9:02 PMReply

    1983 was the year Rogue joined the X-Men. Uncanny X-Men #171.

  • James | June 16, 2014 8:41 PMReply

    1983 was arguably the closest we ever came to nuclear war. A succession of old men were ruling in Moscow and dropping like flies, leaving the chain of command unclear, and the US was installing Pershing missiles across Europe. Then in the middle of all that came Operation Able Archer. I had a professor in college who said it was much, much more dangerous than the Cuban Missile Crisis, it's just relatively unknown.

  • anglo77 | June 16, 2014 4:25 PMReply

    You wrote that the film got "surprisingly strong reviews," yet it is no surprise. The past two X-Men films that Bryan Singer himself directed got strong reviews, and it was quite obvious that his third time around would be no different, especially if Matthew Vaughn helped conceive the story. Sure, numerous X-Men films got bad reviews, but it was quite apparent that this one would actually be good.

  • Byron | June 18, 2014 3:13 PM

    I just did a little research on "Able Archer". It began at the end of 1983. This might just be the event that they are to focus on in the next film and why they specifically chose 1983 as the setting. Hmm...

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