What I still need from an X-Men movie
There have been some good X-Men movies. I'd argue there's even been one legitimately great X-Men movie. But having been a fan since I was a kid, I must admit I've yet to see a definitive X movie. One that perfectly adapts not only the comic's sci fi and soap elements but also its Superhero DNA all in the same film.
- 1.The X-Men (fully formed)The last couple films (and the forthcoming Apocalypse) concern themselves with the decades long formation of the X-Men. X3 concerns itself with their destruction. And while both X-Men and it's fantastic sequel X2 feature a fully formed team of mutants, their plots revolve heavily around the outsider Wolverine who seems to dip in and out of the group at his leisure. But the character dynamics of a well serviced ensemble is why X-Men soars on the page. Would be great to see that dynamic on screen.
- 2.Superhero CostumesJos Whedon articulates it best in his Astonishing X-Men run when the mutants (finally free of the "all black leather" influence of Bryan Singer's understandably dialed down first film) dawn their yellow and blues again to "astonish" their on lookers. In a world where the Avengers and Spider-Man are adored - bright colorful costumes is their bid for acceptance by a bigoted public. Not only is it a clever twist on the superhero team genre form, but it's unique to the X-Men.
- 3.Sex & SoapX2 implies a love triangle betwixt Wolvie, Cyke, and Jean but it doesn't come close to the steamy soap opera turns of the comic or even the original animated series. This is a world where Professor X's one true love is a psychic alien Queen. Where Cyclops cheated on Jean Grey with her mind controlling clone. These mutants are sloppy af! Because frankly the world being in danger has diminishing returns dramatically after a while - but lust, jealousy and betrayal always keep us hooked.
- 4.A Diverse CastThe X-Men were intentionally designed as an International team. Colossus is not a hipster claiming to be Russian to avoid being labeled white. Dude is actually from Russia. Storm is African. Wolverines Canadian af. They've got heavy accents and conflicting world views. All double / triple minorities finding common ground and a way to work together in a country that fears and hates them all the same. It's instantly dramatic and fascinating to watch on the page but many of the films shy away.
- 5.The Phoenix SagaMy favorite part of X2 is its post script. The camera glides over a lake as recently deceased Jean Grey narrates and we see a faint glow of the Phoenix Force flying overhead. The movie I imagined would come next fills me with anticipation still - as it seemed Singer was poised to really let the X-Men take flight in his Phoenix Saga. But alas we got X3 instead. And then a whole bunch of prequels. 13 years later, still waiting for the team to form. And for this storyline to become viable.