Disclaimer – I’ve done my best to avoid spoilers, or at the very least, keep them to a minimum.
It doesn’t matter how popular The Avengers become, The X-Men will always be the greatest Marvel superhero team! Ever since I was a very young child, I’ve been absolutely captivated by the universe and its wealth of characters and storylines. My favourites include Age of Apocalypse, Days of Future Past and The Dark Phoenix Saga.
When the first two X-Men movies graced our screens, they were far from perfect, but they were still very fine films nonetheless. I remember at age 14, queuing outside Forbidden Planet waiting to meet Tyler Mane, Sabretooth in X-Men. After the success of the X-Men animated series, Bryan Singer was taking fanboy dreams to the next level.
Then after X2, Singer left and the franchise seriously nose-dived.
Then, in 2011 the franchise returned with a much-needed reboot… well, semi-reboot. As a comic-book movie it is arguably one of the best I’ve seen, but as an X-Men movie, it fell short.
In terms of substance and plot, this was the truest representation of the universe yet, it really felt like a comic-book adaptation, which is something that the previous instalments had failed to accomplish. However, with all this in mind, it was the choice of characters that proved to be this outing’s greatest downfall. This was an X-Men Origins movie, without the actual X-Men, well… except Beast and Professor X.
In terms of character, Professor Charles Xavier and Magneto were both essential and flawlessly portrayed. However, in terms of the young X-Men students, it is my personal opinion, that the chosen characters were both poorly chosen and poorly executed. None were adequately developed and it was as though each was a filler to allow the origins of Professor X and Magneto to be explored.
Yes, the origins of both of these iconic characters are fascinating, but the origins of the X-Men are equally important and therefore both stories must complement one another and neither must be undermined…
A wasp/butterfly/moth-type character that is utterly pointless in terms of character. She is neither interesting nor engaging and her involvement seems entirely wasteful when there is a wealth of strong female characters to choose from.
Raven / Mystique:
Mystique is a complex and interesting character with great potential to explore her eventual allegiance to Magneto and the Brotherhood of Mutants. In First Class, the character is portrayed simply as a whiny, hormonal teenager who rebels against her only friend, at the worst possible time, and for the most pointless of reasons. It was a wasted opportunity.
Alex Summers / Havoc:
The YOUNGER brother of Scott Summers (Cyclops) and leader of X-Factor is now one of the founding members of the X-Men? Sigh… Ok in fairness, he was one of the more interesting characters and to general movie-goers; the history of the comic-book character is inconsequential. However, from a lifelong fan’s point of view, this is lazy and unjustified.
Sean Cassidy / Banshee:
A great comic-book character, whose charismatic portrayal brimmed with a quiet arrogance that was perfectly captured within the movie but the role lacked depth and appropriate character development. He was also half the age of Moira MacTaggert. Sigh…
Hank McCoy / Beast:
The only original X-Man to appear in the movie, they even managed to stick fairly accurately to his origins… well they stuck as loosely as possible but got there in the end. The problem here, Hank isn’t a bumbling dork and his mutation into the Beast is both iconic and a long struggle, one that should have spanned at least two movies.
This character did for X-Men: First Class, what Morph did for the pilot episode of X-Men – The Animated Series. Sigh…
This movie, although very strong in its own right, fell well short of being an adequate reboot. In terms of the previous trilogy, the original X-Men were completely under-used, of course with the exception of Jean Grey.
Why not remain true to the comics and create an origins movie that fans can be proud of? I appreciate the demand for big box-office numbers (which were ultimately not achieved) and I’m aware that they’ve got The Wolverine continuity to consider. However, what’s the point of telling an origins story and changing everything?
It is a very fine film, nothing will ever be perfect and in the grand scheme of comic-book movie adaptations this new batch of X-Men films seem to be in very safe hands. It is worth noting though, that the film-makers seem to be going down the Star-Trek route of rebooting the franchise through time-travel and thus changing the future of the characters, so why not just use the original characters from the start? Star-Trek did…