At the movies: X-Men

x men days of future past

With the release of X-Men: Days of Future Past this week, I thought I’d take a look back at the X-Men movies we’ve all grown to love or hate - much like marmite. First up is X-Men from the year 2000, which scored a respectable 7.4 on IMDB. It was our first interaction with everyones favourite team of mutants, the X-Men. Not to be outdone, however, where the Brotherhood of Mutants. The film did what it was designed to do, not quite an origins tale, but close enough to get us invested into them, as both comic book readers, and not. Back at this time, I wasn’t a comic book reader. It was something I always wanted to do, but like i imagine quite a few people felt, I was intimidated. The world of comic books was so big and broad, that someone wouldn’t know where to start. Films like this, were the gateway for people like myself.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d watched the X-Men cartoon, and I loved it. So I went into this movie knowing a bit about some of the characters, and I believe this movie is responsible for me falling in love with the X-Men all together. However, recently re watching this movie an astonishing fourteen years after its release, and countless comics later, things aren’t exactly as rose tinted as one would think. So, let’s have a look at the film itself, the story it tells, and whether it stands the test of time. I doubt I have to say this, as the movie is quite old now, but please be aware to read on will contain spoilers.

So the movie opens up with a scene that has become widely accepted as Magneto’s origin. A scene, that was re-used in X-Men: First Class, but taken further and panned out - but for our film it’s enough for us to accept who Magneto is, and why he is the way he is. Shortly after this we get introduced to Jean Grey, Senator Kelly, and Professor Xavier - arguably three of the most important characters in the series. We also get a glimpse of Rogues origin too, her being in her room with her boyfriend - giving us enough to realise who she is, and what her power set is. This, of course, is before we’re introduced to Wolverine, in spectacular style; a cage fight. Now I’m not going to go scene by scene and recount the movie, but I felt like the start was important, because the movie did a good job of introducing us to characters. One by one, bit by bit, before we get our first big scene with the X-Men. After Sabretooth attacks Wolverine, they are saved by Cyclops and Storm, and the following scenes explain how Wolverine ends up at the school, and who each character is.

This is where things really start to spin off from the comic books, however, the big two (Marvel and DC) are well known for changing peoples origins and often retconning a characters pasts (Wolverine for example has had his origin changed several times, until the “Origin” book became cannon.) The movie does things differently, and it often brings up questions. Where are the rest of the X-Men? Why are the proper first class not there? Why does Rogue seem to be filling the role of Jubilee? I think the movie gives enough fan service to keep those nagging questions at bay. Take for example the girl sitting next to Rogue in class, donning a yellow jacket, those sunglasses, and the hair - she’s clearly meant to be Jubilee. You have to wonder how many easter eggs are hidden in there? We get mentions of mutants with abilities, such as a “girl who can walk through walls” which makes any nerd or geek aware of the X-Men squee when they realise they are talking about Kitty Pryde. However, it’s all window dressing. This movie focuses on a very select few members of the X-world. Magneto, Mystique, Toad and Sabretooth (very little) then Wolverine, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Storm, Professor X, and Rogue. The story is self containing enough that we don’t need an overly large cast of mutants, yes there are others on the outskirts, namely the likes of Iceman and Pyro (who was recast in X2) I did find myself thinking though… Magneto so wrong?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean killing people, however he was unaware that his machine killed people. All he wanted to do was to push evolution forward, to make everyone mutants so that mutants would no longer be punished. Is that so bad? Tell me, wouldn’t you like to have a mutant power? I know I sure as hell would. Regardless though, the film does do a good job of setting up the X-Men universe, and showing us what both the good guys and the bad guys are capable of. Each of these characters has had fourteen years to develop in the comics since these movies came out, origins have changed, teams have changed, people have even changed sides. However, this movie does enough to capture the imagination, to entertain the viewer and give them a glimpse into the world of the X-Men and mutants in general.

The fact that this was the start of a franchise was probably not a very well hidden secret, but I know that fourteen years ago, I would have screamed for more X-Men movies and even now having re-watched it…I’m eagerly awaiting the re-watching of the rest - even though I know that in my opinion the series took a horrible downward turn. This however, is partly because X-Men set quite a high bar for the rest of the films to follow, and though there are differences from the comic books, it was a good enough adaptation too hook a generation.

So there’s my take on X-Men the movie, I’m planning on doing a piece on each of the X-Men movies (not Wolverine: Origins or The Wolverine - maybe another time) all the way up to Days of Future Past. So please feel free to comment, with opinions, feedback, questions, and the like. You can catch me on Twitter: @SpikaelKane , on Goolge+/Hangouts: [email protected] or on facebook:

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