First off, just so we’re immediately clear: HERE BE SPOILERS! As well as spoilers for X-Men: Apocalypse, this litany of speculation also potentially contains pre-emptive spoilers for future X-Men movies, as well as Deadpool 2 and Gambit. You have been warned.
Still with me? Wonderful! Let’s go.
The capture of Mystique, Quicksilver, Beast, and Moira by Colonel Stryker and their transportation to some anonymous and remote facility seemed a somewhat directionless interlude in an already lengthy and sprawling story. It’s likely that it was only included as a set up for the post-credits stinger, featuring a mystery man (actually credited at the end of the cast list as Mystery Man) striding impassively past the clean-up operation after the devastation of Wolverine’s bestial rampage. This, in turn, sets up a number of potential plotlines for future movies based on comic books to which Fox still has the rights.
Let’s start with the obvious. The scene’s final shot saw the Mystery Man’s ominously closing briefcase (and those are three words I never thought I’d write consecutively) stamped with the words Essex Corp. This almost certainly refers to one Nathaniel Essex, an adversary of the X-Men with the adjective redundant supervillain name of Mister Sinister.
Sinister is a genius bioengineer obsessed with evolution and genetics, and through his work over the years acquired a number of mutant powers such as telepathy, mental manipulation, telekinesis, regeneration, shapeshifting, teleportation, and near-indestructibility. The Essex Corp in question is most probably a scientific research facility where he carries out all kinds of unpleasant experiments on mutants to develop and harvest their powers.
His appearance at the end of this film in particular is curious, as his origin story in the comics sees him empowered by Apocalypse with an unnaturally extensive lifespan to complement his stolen abilities, giving him all the time he needs to formulate and carry out his nefarious plans, and was even one of the Four Horsemen in the alt-reality Age of Apocalypse series. However, now that Apocalypse has been thoroughly obliterated by Jean Grey apparently unleashing the power of the Phoenix Force, how Sinister will enter the ongoing saga of the X-Men remains to be seen.
It’s possible that a future X-Men movie may incorporate a version of Mutant Massacre, a carnage-strewn crossover title during which Sinister made his grand début and has far-reaching implications for a certain X-Man currently in the process of getting his own film.
Before joining the X-Men, Remy LeBeau, the bio-kinetic force wielding Gambit, was a professional thief in the employ of Mister Sinister, indebted to the scientist after he removed a portion of Gambit’s power when he could no longer contain it. His final task was to assemble a team of mercenaries, dubbed the Marauders by Sinister, and lead them into the underground tunnels beneath New York. Unbeknownst to Gambit, the Marauders were a mutant-hunting death squad with the task of wiping out the Morlocks, a tribe of subterranean mutants that Sinister wanted destroyed, the aforementioned Mutant Massacre.
Another detail of the post-credits scene is the vial of blood labelled Weapon X taken by the Mystery Man. This will be a sample taken from Wolverine during his incarceration, and the other vials in the suitcase will likely be similar samples taken from other esoteric sources.
That it was Wolverine’s blood, in particular, likely foreshadows the appearance of X-23, an animalistic young woman who is a female clone of Wolverine (I promise this makes sense, but in a way that’s too laborious to explain here). She was first introduced in the eponymous episode of the X-Men: Evolution cartoon series, and soon after incorporated into the universe of the comics.
While the origin of the taciturn and violent girl sometimes known as Laura Kinney has no direct ties to Sinister in the comics, the scientific nature of her backstory makes it straightforward enough to have her be a product of the Essex Corp, and should she appear in a future X-Men film it will most likely be as one of Sinister’s genetic creations.
Since Deadpool 2 is now well and truly confirmed as ‘A Thing’, it stands to reason that the studio should be able to afford a few more characters, with Deadpool himself promising us that Cable would appear in the sequel. Thus, it’s possible that the film will take some inspiration from Cable & Deadpool, a wonderfully mental title that ran for four years in the mid-‘00s.
In one of his schemes, Mister Sinister was responsible for the creation of Nathan Summers, the son of Cyclops and Madelyne Pryor (a clone of Jean Grey created by Sinister whom Cyclops nevertheless loved as though she were Jean after her death and until her resurrection – see Andrew Pollard’s excellent rundown of X-Men history in STARBURST #424 and #425), who was taken into the future as a baby to save him from infection by a techno-organic virus. Nathan later returned to the present as an adult, the hulking, muscle-bound warrior Cable. As Cable was envisioned by Sinister to become a weapon powerful enough to destroy Apocalypse, it again asks the question of how his origin will be treated now that Apocalypse is no more.
Overall, it’s entirely possible that the Essex Corp will be a presence felt across all of Fox’s interwoven Marvel Comics movies (perhaps Ajax’s laboratory in Deadpool was one of its facilities) and that Mister Sinister is being set up as an ultimate big bad, the same way Thanos has been in the MCU or Darkseid will in the DC Extended Universe once Warner Brothers have properly figured out what the hell they’re doing after the lacklustre reception of Batman vs Superman.
So, what do you think? Agree? Disagree? Have alternative theories? Want to lambast us for some minor and inconsequential error to prove your greater knowledge and thus superiority in all thinks geekery (this is the Internet after all)?
Let us know in comments below.