October 31, 2013

X-Men: D.O.F.P. due to flop?

That's what Comic Book Resources' Brett White ponders. His beef is multi-fold, and even tosses in a neat little PC nugget to assuage the contemporary audience:

They're hitting Christopher Nolan-level dramatic highs to prove to everyone turned off by the super-silliness of those two films that things are different now. But that course correction involves moody lightning, slow motion pain faces, and grandiosely somber music -- three things that just don't get me as excited as Anthony Mackie's Falcon going head-to-head with a plane mid-air.

The older I get, though, the more I realize that I have very specific ideas of what I want from the X-Men. I find it hard to relate to what younger fans want, and I am not that enthralled with what director Bryan Singer wants to give me. At what point was it decided that the central characters of the entire X-Men film franchise would be Wolverine, Professor X, and Magneto? The three oldest, whitest dudes in the entire canon? It feels like I'm 8 years old again and all I want are some X-Men action figures -- but my parents bought me the old good guy who doesn't fight, the bad guy who makes speeches and controls metal, and the angry guy that's filled with metal. While I have to appreciate the fact that I have these toys, because otherwise I'd be a brat, I have to admit I wouldn't mind having a few more, maybe Rogue or Storm or Gambit.

Brett's problem is that he is thinking precisely like a fan-boy. Which is OK, certainly, but one cannot seriously maintain that manner while pondering a cinematic version of great comics. A couple points:

  • Wolverine, Prof X and Magneto are not the oldest dudes in the entire canon. That is, unless you're talking about actual chronological age. (Wolverine, as we saw in his first solo movie, was born in the 1800s; his healing factor inhibits aging to a large degree.) But even if White does mean actual age, who really thinks of Wolverine as "old?" He looks like he's in his late 30s or early 40s. If White is referring to "Marvel appearance age," Wolverine isn't even close to being the "oldest." Prof X and his original team -- Cyclops, Iceman, Angel, Beast and Jean Grey (Marvel Girl) get that distinction, right along with 'ol Magneto (X-Men #1 from 1963). Wolvie didn't make his debut until 1974 in the pages of The Incredible Hulk (#180).
  • Why focus on Prof X, Maggie and Wolvie? Let's see -- perhaps because the actors that play the former two are some of the very best in the business? Patrick Stewart/James McAvoy? Michael Fassbender/Ian McKellen? Hard to beat. Hugh Jackman certainly doesn't possess the acting chops of those guys, but he plays perhaps Marvel's most popular character ever. So, he doesn't have to. Plus, Jackman's looks and physique will draw in the babes to the theatre.
  • I doubt director Bryan Singer purposely sought to "Nolan-ize" the X-franchise. Let's face it -- "Days of Future Past" remains one of the best X-stories ever told. (And keep in mind, too, that writer Chris Claremont and artist John Byrne told it in a mere two issues. If done today, contemporary creators would turn DOFP into a multi-title, ten-issue fiasco.) The tale goes right to the heart of the core tenet of what X-Men is about -- being different and being treated differently as a result. In this case, being hunted down for being different.
  • White laments things like not "capturing the friendship felt between characters like Storm, Colossus and Nightcrawler," and not "sufficient action sequences involving powerhouse characters like Rogue and Psylocke." Again, this goes back to the matter of turning a comicbook into a movie (franchise). You just cannot give many different characters enough camera time to do what White wants and have an enjoyable film at the same time. You could do it with a television series, but not a movie. Hell, Psylocke hasn't even appeared in a film yet White wants a "sufficient action sequence" with her? And in order for Rogue to be in one, she needs to the prodigious powers she stole from Carol Danvers, [then]-aka Ms. Marvel. I suppose Singer could have her nab, even temporarily, powers from another bruiser (like Colossus), but to what avail? That still wouldn't be the Rogue we know from the comics. The movie Rogue never was the Rogue from the comics.

I could care less if there is little superhero action in DOFP. I just want a damn good story, like the way Claremont and Byrne told it. If Singer can get close to that, I'll be happy.

Posted by Hube at October 31, 2013 05:18 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

Like White, I used to have a fanboy-like mindset where I'd get upset about superficial changes, but I think I've matured on that front and I understand different mediums require different things. However, that still doesn't excuse PC changes like Aldrich Killian being the Mandarin.

Anyway, for a website called "Comic Book Resources," it amazes me how clueless its writers really are about comics. Professor X and Magneto and the original five X-Men predate Wolverine by 11 years. Plus Wolverine is the most popular X-Men character, so it's not surprising he's going to be front and center. And the actors playing the three (Stewart/McAvoy, McKellen/Fassbender and Jackman) are easily some of the best in the field. I know Jackman is pretty much the only reason my mom wanted to see any of the X-Men movies. LOL.

And excellent point about how DOFP would be written today. It'd be a disastrous ten-issue miniseries, plus it would have 5 tie-in miniseries and probably shoehorn other characters from the Marvel Universe into the story.

Posted by: Carl at October 31, 2013 06:38 PM

And I don't care about the level of superhero action in the movie, as long the story is good. I also look forward to seeing how they will resolve the movies' continuity errors.

Posted by: Carl at October 31, 2013 06:43 PM

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