The Age of Apocalypse is a dark alternate future time-line in which the legendary mutant dark lord Lord Apocalypse rules the Earth and all of it's inhabitants.
This era was conceived in a different timeline in which Professor Xavier's son David Haller, who is the psychotic mutant by his name Legion, went back in time to assassinate the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants' charismatic founding leader Magneto, but instead murdered his own father and Apocalypse, once first known as En Sabah Nur during times of Egypt's antiquity, came at an earlier time and was able to build his despotic reign of terror over the planet. But not all mutants agree with Apocalypse's rule, including a group of ragtag freedom fighters led by Xavier's oldest friend Magneto, the X-Men themselves, as they fight against Apocalypse and his army.
The Age of Apocalypse would soon come to be born as Lord Apocalypse begins his overzealous war of "the strong versus the weak" after 10 years in waiting only for him to arrive at an earlier point. Despite the X-Men's resistance, Apocalypse conquers the entire continent of North America and eventually mutants there are considered the ruling class, and this was the beginning of something vile set in motion. Apocalypse initiates a global genocidal campaign called "Cullings", killing millions of humans. To further ensure that no one is left to challenge him or undo the circumstances that led to his reign of terror, he has everyone with telepathic or chronal abilities hunted down by his minions including his Horsemen of Apocalypse and "supporters" including The Madri and the Clan Akkaba.
Apocalypse is opposed by several factions of opposing mutants mutant resistance including Magneto and Professor Xavier's surviving X-Men, since, after Xavier's sacrifice, he came to believe in his late closest friend's dream of a peaceful coexistence between humans and mutants alike.
The group of X-Men and their fellow mutant freedom fighters manages to send the mutant Bishop back in time to prevent the murder of Professor Xavier at the time when young Professor Xavier and Magneto are still friends while in the Middle-Eastern country of Israel before Legion came to attack his father and Magneto, undoing the entire timeline, and ending the cruel Apocalypse's fanatical tyranny upon Earth.
- Lord Apocalypse (Bigger Bad)
- Dark Beast
There had been various What If? issues in the Marvel Comics revolving around the Age of Apocalypse:
- In What If? vol. 2 #77, Legion manages to kill Magneto just as he escapes from the concentration camp he was being held in. Due to Magneto's death, mutants become accepted by the public and the X-Men are mutant celebrities, although Xavier senses that something is wrong. Apocalypse attacks a press conference in Washington, D.C., with an army of mutants and the X-Men are easily defeated. Xavier is forced to bring the now married Jean and Scott out of retirement. Xavier confronts Apocalypse directly while Jean and Scott take on his army. After being taunted that his dream was weak, Xavier kills Apocalypse with a psychic blast that kills himself as well. After sensing Xavier's death, Jean becomes angry and becomes the Phoenix again, causing the area to burn to the ground. Apocalypse's army retreats saying that his dream will live on, even though he is dead. In the aftermath, hatred and persecution of mutants begins to take place, due to the events in D.C. Scott reopens the Xavier Institute and carries on Xavier's dream. Apocalypse's forces challenge Scott, saying that only the best dream will survive.
- In What If? vol. 2 #81, Tony Stark (Iron Man), head of the human resistance, joins up with Magneto to figure out a way to save Earth from the coming of Galactus. Among Tony’s fellow human freedom fighters are the Hulk, Sue Storm (Invisible Woman), and Gwen Stacy. Ultimately, the survivors defeat Galactus by linking all minds on Earth (human and mutant) into one psychic attack. They are left greatly hurt by Galactus, but feeling more unified and capable of stepping past the bigotry caused by Apocalypse's rule.
- In 2006, Marvel published a What If? Age of Apocalypse one-shot that revealed what would have happened if both Xavier and Magneto were killed by Legion, leaving no one to form the X-Men. As explained by Uatu the Watcher, the governments of the world respond to the hundreds of deaths caused by Legion's attack by capturing mutants and sending them into concentration camps, causing non-mutant superhumans to flourish. Some mutants, such as Cyclops (who tore out his own eyes to pass as human), flee to the Savage Land. After Apocalypse conquers the world, he gains hundreds of mutant and superhuman followers, including the Absorbing Man, Banshee, Cannonball, the Hulk, Holocaust, Juggernaut, Lady Deathstrike, Namor, the Scarlet Witch, Sebastian Shaw, clones of Spider-Man, Storm, and Sunspot. Apocalypse's Horsemen are Hulk, Juggernaut, Namor, and Storm. Apocalypse's followers destroy the mutant sanctuary in the Savage Land and only Sauron and X-Man (Nate Summers) escape. They join the Defenders, a group of heroes consisting of Brother Voodoo (the new Sorcerer Supreme), Captain America (wielding Mjolnir), Captain Britain (using Iron Man's armor), Colossus, the Molecule Man, the Thing (using a prosthetic arm), and Wolverine (without adamantium), who have learned the truth about their reality from the sacrifice of Doctor Strange. They have pledged not to change the past, but to overthrow Apocalypse in the present. As they fight back, Nate puts his own plans in motion to change the past, but with tragic consequences. The majority of the Defenders are killed in the struggle against Apocalypse. Nate succeeds in killing Apocalypse with the help of the Molecule Man. Nate then garbs himself in Apocalypse's armor and uses the stolen Eye of Agamotto to open a time portal into the past to stop Legion's actions. Captain America unleashes a bolt from Mjolnir that kills Nate and he and Wolverine walk off. Uatu reveals that by trying to change the past, Nate merely caused events to repeat themselves in yet another reality, as the lightning bolt destroyed Legion, Xavier, Magneto, and hundreds of others. He mentions that this problem is spreading like a cancer across the multiverse, as reality after reality turns into an Age of Apocalypse.
In Other Media
An Age of Apocalypse-like timeline is shown in the episode "One Man's Worth" from X-Men: The Animated Series. The death of Professor X at the hands of Fitzroy during his college years caused a destructive war between humans and mutants, with Magneto leading the Resistance against the mutant-hunting Avengers. Some of the mutants are shown in their Age of Apocalypse costumes from the comics.
The Age of Apocalypse reality is featured at the end of the Wolverine and the X-Men episode "Foresight" Pt. 3. After the X-Men accomplish their mission in the present to avoid a world ruled by Sentinels, a variant of the Age of Apocalypse reality is shown as a seemingly perfect but dark modern world in the final episode of the first season. Mister Sinister and Cyclops (who in the Age of Apocalypse storyline, was a villain) are alongside Apocalypse. The series was cancelled before a Season Two revolving around the "Age of Apocalypse" reality could be done, so exactly how it would have been portrayed is unknown.
X-Men: Reign of Apocalypse is based loosely on the Age of Apocalypse storyline.
X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse is heavily influenced by the Age of Apocalypse storyline, including several characters (such as the Madri Priests and the Infinites) and concepts from the storyline.