Expectations are a funny thing, as I found in the run-up to and viewing of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War. In the case of X-Men: Apocalypse, my expectations were lowered partly by poor reviews and the floundering fortunes of the X-Men franchise since X-2 (2003), as the films’ attempts to imbue blockbuster spectacle with serious topics of prejudice and tolerance have been only partially successful. Bryan Singer’s fourth film in the franchise succeeds by virtue of its simplicity, delivering a major blockbuster with a truly epic scale and consistent tone. The early 80s setting suggests Cold War tensions, but provides little more than backdrop to a story of superpowered individuals battling for supremacy. The titular villain (Oscar Isaac) is presented as a force of nature with a gigantic ego, committed to wiping out humans whom he sees as lesser beings. Alongside him, we have established characters Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender), Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) and Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult), as well as younger versions of characters from earlier films – Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan), and Kurt Wagner (Kodi Smit-McPhee). X-Men: Apocalypse utilises this ensemble very well, giving the colorful characters space to breathe and using the superpowers to create some truly spectacular set pieces. Rather than being clouded with politics like BVS: DOJ and CA: CW, X-M: A is a straightforward power play that avoids being a tiresome replay of the previous films by its commitment to epic grandeur. The film also tidies up the timelines with some ret-con regarding characters and when they appear in the timeline, and largely erases the bad choices of X-Men Origins: Wolverine (including a welcome appearance from everyone’s favourite indestructible Canadian). X-Men: Apocalypse looks to be far from Armageddon for this now sixteen year-old franchise, thanks to its commitment to straightforward blockbuster entertainment.