26 Leadership Lessons And Quotes From X-Men: Apocalypse

A Reel Leadership Article

The X-Men movie universe has been a shaky one over the last 16 years since the first movie was released in 2000. We went from good to bad to worse to seeing improvement.

X-Men: Apocalypse, the 8th X-Men movie, was a step in the right direction, along with recent entries Days Of Future Past and First Class.

While it won’t win any critic’s awards, it was a fun summer movie. The action was fantastic. Seeing new X-Men introduced brought out my inner geek. And the story was engaging.

Now, let’s get to the leadership lessons from X-Men: Apocalypse.

WARNING: Spoilers ahead

Leadership Lessons And Quotes From X-Men: Apocalypse

1. Charles Xavier/Professor X:

A gift can also be a curse

To be a mutant is to be something special and unique. There are gifts you would receive if you were one. Yet there’s also a curse that comes with being a mutant.

People fear you. They don’t understand you. They want to control your power.

I see the same type of situations appear with leadership.

Leadership is a great gift. You are able to help people reach their full potential. You are able to guide and teach.

You also have responsibility. You have deadlines. You carry a heavy weight.

Leadership is both a gift and a curse.

2. Your work is temporary: As X-Men: Apocalypse starts, we see his followers turn on him. These traitors wait until he is in a pyramid and then blow it to kingdom come.

Their hope was that they could destroy Apocalypse so his reign of tyranny would end. They were successful. For a time.

Your leadership is temporary.

You’ll do work that impacts generations. Still, those works will only last so long.

3. Raven Darkholme/Mystique:

I’m nobody. I’m not a hero

In the recent X-Men movies, Mystique had been a member of the X-Men. She helped save the world from evil mutants.

Even with the good work that she had done, she didn’t consider herself a hero. She felt she didn’t deserve the title.

In this, I saw a bit of humility. She wasn’t willing to take on the mantle of a hero. She was someone who was doing what needed to be done.

You don’t need the title of a leader to lead. You can do it by doing what’s right and what needs to be done. Don’t wait for the title.

4. Watch yourself: Hank McCoy is better known as Beast. A mutant who is blue and furry.

When we first meet-up with Hank in X-Men: Apocalypse, he is human. No animal characteristics to be found.

He was paying attention to his body and keeping himself in check.

Leaders need to do the same thing. We are given great power and responsibility when we become a leader.

We need to watch ourselves to ensure we’re using that responsibility properly.

5. Scott Summers/Cyclops:

Yeah, it doesn’t feel like a gift

Once again, we’ back to how being a mutant and having abilities doesn’t always feel like a gift. Leadership is the same way.

6. Jean Grey:

It felt real

Jean Grey is a telepath. Her mutant ability is to control things with her mind. She can also peek into the minds of others.

During one scene, she wakes the school because of a nightmare she is having. She’s seen the end of the world in a dream.

When she awoke, she said it felt so real. Well….

While we may not have the mutant ability to see into the future or connect our minds with one another, we do have our intuition. That small voice in our gut.

These feelings can feel real. Listen to them.

7. Every leader has a fear: Once awake, Jean was fearful. She didn’t know what to make of the dream.

We then see her talking to Professor Xavier. He affirms that he feels fear as well.

Being a leader can scary. You may feel fear. You may even want to pee your pants.

That’s normal. Leading isn’t an easy job. If it was, everyone would be leading.

8. The details we give may not be what’s needed: In a laugh out loud funny scene, we see Hank and Xavier talking about Moria Mactaggert. Hank wanted to know what was going so he asked for the details. Xavier then proceeded to fill him in on how she looked. Apparently it was quite good.

This leadership issue arises frequently. We give, what we think, are the details needed to get the job done. But we only give the details WE would want. Not what is needed.

Be careful of the details you give. Make sure they’re clear and what is desired.

9. Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto:

Is this what I am?

In what I considered to be the most tragic scene in X-Men: Apocalypse, Erik’s wife and child are killed in front of him. He lashed out and returned the favor. Wiping out a number of men.

After the death and destruction, he laments and wonders if all he is is a killer.

We, as leaders, may wrongly lash out at those around us. We make mistakes. We choose the wrong words or act in an inappropriate manner.

Know that you don’t have to stay in that place. You don’t have to continue making mistake after mistake or misdeed after misdeed. You can choose to be better.

10. Charles Xavier/Professor X:

Didn’t really matter what was best for me

This line reminds me of the Simon Sinek book Leaders Eat Last. Charles realized that as a leader, his best interests weren’t what was important. What was important was that the team was taken care of.

11. Have a role model: We received a glimpse into the home of Ororo Munroe/Storm. There, we see a picture of Mystique, Ororo’s hero.

She looked up to her for what she had done. She wanted to be like her.

Do you have a role model you look up to? What other leader are you following?

12. Bad leaders seek out nothing but power: Apocalypse was a power-hungry leader. He sought out the most powerful mutants and used them for HIS will.

He didn’t care about their well-being or who they were. He only cared about what they could do for him.

This is a clear sign of a bad leader. Leaders who only want to hold power aren’t leaders worth following.

13. Don’t discount others: While Apocalypse was clearly a bad leader, he did show us that we couldn’t discount someone just by looking at them.

Angel had his wings seared. Those wings no longer worked the way they should.

There were people who questioned Apocalypse’s choice of Angel. That was until Apocalypse replaced Angel’s feathered wings with metal wings.

Sadly, we make choices based on appearances. We look at someone and then decide whether or not we feel they can offer us something.

That’s not the way we should view others. Instead, choose to look at someone and see their potential.

14. Hank McCoy/Beast:

He thinks the best of people. He has hope

Wow! This was an inspiring line. Professor X had an idealistic vision of others.

He saw the best in them. He also had hope, even for the fallen.

My question to you: Do you have this same thought process and hope? If not, you need to.

15. Apocalypse:

You don’t know your own strength

Once again, the bad leader is dropping great leadership advice. Those we lead don’t always realize their own strength and potential.

Your job as a leader is to pull their strength out.

16. Be willing to make fun of yourself: Scott, Jean, Jubilee, and Kurt were out and about when they were discussing the Star Wars movie. Trying to figure out the best movie in the series, one of the X-Men mentioned that the third movie in a series is always the worst.

This was in reference to the horrid X-Men movie The Last Stand.

You’re not going to do everything perfectly. Be okay with this. Also, be willing to poke fun of yourself.

A little humor shows that you’re human.

17. Have a dream: Charles had grand plans for the Xavier School For Gifted Children. He’d long dreamt of humans and mutants co-existing with one another.

He worked towards that dream and put his lifeblood into the dream.

Do you have a dream for your organization? Or maybe it’s your family. Do you have one for them?

You need to have a dream. You have to see a future for those you’re leading.

18. Scott Summers/Cyclops:

They look up to you. They need you.

Scott said this to Raven. She still felt like she wasn’t a hero. She didn’t realize others looked up to her.

Well, this is a wake-up call to us too. There are people who are looking up to you. You may not know who they are but there are people who admire you.

Make them proud.

19. Give people something new: The X-Men universe is vast. There are tons of mutants. Most of them haven’t had screen time.

I fanboyed quite a bit during the movie. They gave us a variety of mutants that we hadn’t seen before.






Seeing some of my favorite X-Men on the big screen made my heart jump. Even though some of them didn’t play a big part in the movie, they threw the fans a bone and at least this fan gobbled it up with joy.

What are you giving that’s special to your team or customers? Find something new and exciting to give. Then give it.

20. Charles Xavier/Professor X:

Those who have the greatest power must protect those who don’t

Heavy stuff here.

You’re a leader. You have power. Use it to protect those you lead and serve.

21. Great leaders create teams who can function without them: Charles Xavier was the founder of the X-Men. He formed the team and made them who they were. Then he was kidnapped by Apocalypse.

Now, the true test of his leadership would come out: Could the team function without him?

You need to build a team that can function even when you’re not around. Because, one day, you won’t be there to lead them anymore.

You must be able to make a team that can function when you’re gone.

22. Jean Grey:

Well, you’re a hero to us

Here’s another example that people will look at you in ways that you don’t see yourself.

23. Seek out the deeper issue: Magneto had a reason for going all cray-cray. He’d seen his family murdered.

His issues ran deeper than being evil. He had a messy life.

When dealing with issues on your team, find out what the real issues are. Dig deep and deal with the true issue, not the surface problem.

24. Psylocke:

Split them up

As the Four Horsemen Of Apocalypse were fighting the X-Men, Psylocke told Storm to split the team up. Don’t let them stick together.

She knew the X-Men were more powerful as a team. Individually, there was a weakness.

I want to look at this quote as a way to deal with our problems.

When you initially look at an issue the team is facing, you see one big issue. Reality is the big issue is made up of smaller problems.

Split up the larger issue into small ones that you can attack.

25. Raven Darkholme/Mystique:

I’m going to fight for what I have left. Will you?

You may not have a lot left but what you do have left is worth fighting for. Don’t give up.

26. Don’t lead alone: As X-Men: Apocalypse wraps up, Professor X is in a bind. That’s when Jean Grey steps in and helps him fight back against Apocalypse.

Much like the good old Professor, you can’t lead alone. You need help.

Bring along a team to help you lead your team to success. It’s much easier when you’ve got other good men and women standing beside you.

Question: Have you seen X-Men: Apocalypse? If so, what leadership lesson or quote did you pull from the movie? If not, what was your favorite leadership lesson that I shared? Mention it in the comment section below.
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