I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I LOVE THE X-MEN MOVIES. I love everything about them: Hugh Jackman’s claw popping Wolverine, Ian Mckellen’s menacing Magneto (“We are the future, Charles!”), and even the kinda annoying fire maniac Pyro. Obviously Bryan Singer’s first two flicks are at the top of the heap, but my Marvel soaked heart even cherishes the less than good entrances in the series. Yes, that includes X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
So pardon me for not fully understanding all of this fanboy vitriol that ye olde’ hipster geeks toss towards this classic franchise.
“X-Men? Scoff… more like Wolverine and all of his friends!”
“What is Fox doing!?!?!?”
“I can’t wait for the rights to revert back to Marvel. They’ll do it right!”
Uh… what? Bryan Singer’s X-Men franchise quite literally birthed the modern superhero movie fiesta. Without those black leather clad flicks, we’d have no Spider-Man. No Iron Man. No Marvel Studios (peddlers of The Avengers heroes, if you’re not in the know) at all!
So what if Bryan Singer garbed the children of the atom in
biker stealth uniforms. And who cares if Wolverine received a little too much screentime. I absolutely couldn’t care less that Rogue was adapted into the young, naive superheroine role traditionally occupied by Kitty Pryde.
None of these changes substantially deviated the narrative. They actually improved it. You know how goofy Wolverine would look in his classic yellow and blue digs? Pretty damn goofy. And while we’re on the subject of that spiky haired vigilante, he absolutely should’ve been the star of the movie, although everyone protests. Wolverine is the most compelling of the X-Men. When audiences watch Wolverine onscreen, his pain resonates. More-so than any other mutant, Logan is afflicted by a the consequences of his ‘gifts’, and he’s the one character who makes us question the badassery of superpowers.
I know that’s just, like, my opinion man… but it’s true.
How many other badass modifications did Bryan Singer bring to the big screen? Ian Mckellen’s Magneto is leaps and bounds a more terrific character than his comic book iteration. Director Bryan Singer guided Mckellen along his path as the thespian transformed an otherwise monotonous villain into a sympathetic freedom fighter. Truthfully, a good deal of the credit falls on Mckellen’s shoulders, who’s a monstrous talent, but Singer crafted the context. And Patrick Stewart? His Professor X is the PERFECT version. While the bald leader of the X-Men can be a bit conflicted in the comics (vacillating between pacifist Jedi and shady Machiavellian asshole), Stewart’s Charles Xavier is the down-to-earth pragmatist that we’ve all grown to love.
But the truest triumph of Fox’s X-Men franchise is their relationship to reality. Their commentary on society, and how Bryan Singer’s so deftly woven those threads into his superhero fantasy, elevate the X-Men above even the most ‘realistic’ fare of any other comic book flick. Christopher Nolan’s Batman? Jon Favreau’s Iron Man? Terrific films in their own ways, but they can’t hold a candle to the X-Men’s depth. So often these superhero flicks embrace ‘realism’, insomuch that their heroes can only lift a small car instead of a massive tank, or that Batman must have a wingspan of at least 30 feet in order to glide… but X-Men’s realism is drenched in the realism of society, not physics. And that’s something I value far more.
So, to to all you X-Men haters, I say…