As much as we’ve criticized Fox in the modern day scene for how they’ve handled their properties, we have to give it to them for starting the superhero craze all the way back in 2001 with the first X-Men movie. Since then, they’ve created an entire franchise with popular characters, such as Wolverine, Mystique, Magneto, and many more. Despite the fact that they were the first to create this large network of movies featuring comic book characters, they got plenty of things wrong in the transition from the pages to the big screen. Regardless of how good the movies are (and some of them are very good), there are still those glaring issues where Fox changed something that they really didn’t need to.
This reality is becoming more evident as they’re attempting a soft-reboot of the franchise after the time altering events of Days of Future Past and the absence of Wolverine after the solemn Logan. They’re trying a new take on these characters, but we’re not sure that we’re on board for it. They may have all of these iconic characters and storylines, but they’re not using them to their full potential. Here are 15 things Fox got wrong about the X-Men.
This is the obvious issue. Back in the early 2000s, the idea of superhero films was still a fairly new concept, so Fox didn’t want to give all of the characters colorful spandex in favor of the product being labeled as “corny.” Instead, they gave all of Xavier’s mutants these black leather suits that were all uniform, more like a government agency than a superhero team.
Now it’s 2017 and we’re ready to see more classic versions of these suits. A step in the right direction was made during X-Men: Apocalypse, but not to the effect that we want. Furthermore, it’s a travesty that in all the movies featuring Wolverine, none of them ever showcased him in his yellow suit. It was going to be included in The Wolverine, but Fox cut that part out at the last minute.
Of all the X-Men villains, none are seemingly more threatening than the mutant known as Apocalypse. Often cited as the first mutant ever created, Apocalypse came into contact with alien technology that gave him immeasurable powers. From that point on, he only grew in strength to become the strongest mutant who ever lived. When he fought the X-Men, it was a battle of the ages.
Much of the excitement that X-Men: Apocalypse stirred was immediately thrown out the window once we saw what the villain looked like. He was shorter than the rest of the mutants and had a voice that was not nearly as threatening as it should’ve been. He was just a mustache-twirling villain who wasn’t utilized to his full potential. It’s one area where the old X-Men cartoon actually did it better.
One character that was heavily misused was Mystique. She was a member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in the X-Men trilogy, but after that, things got a little hairier. In X-Men: First Class, we were given her backstory as a friend to Charles Xavier and then we saw her leave to join Magneto. It was an interesting tale that was undermined by the later films (particularly X-Men: Apocalypse).
In it, Mystique turns out to be this legendary mutant that other mutants look up to. She’s even labeled as a hero. At the end of the film, she’s training the X-Men for their next task. Why this doesn’t work is that Mystique was always an anti-hero at best in the comics. Making her such a prominent character just seems like the studio taking advantage of the fact that Jennifer Lawrence is playing the part.
12. WOLVERINE LORE
The story of James “Logan” Howlett is an interesting yet gripping one. From an early age, it’s clear that everyone that was close to Logan was destined to suffer a tragic fate. His entire family was destroyed in one single night and that’s when the claw mutation developed. From that point on, Logan was never liked by the public and he traveled around Canada, even leading a pack of wolves at one point.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine attempted to tell this story, but by shoving in some subplot about his brother and the creation of Deadpool. The parts that would be most interesting, Logan partaking in various World Wars, was delegated to a montage sequence, and the timeline was all messed up as a result. Thankfully, he was treated better in The Wolverine and Logan.
11. WOLVERINE OVERSATURATION
Wolverine is arguably the coolest of the X-Men, we’ll admit, but there are several stories in the comics that were excellent without him. Apparently, Fox didn’t get the memo because Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine was so popular the first few times, they decided to practically bank their entire franchise on him. The only two movies where he didn’t serve as the main character were First Class and Apocalypse (and he still had an appearance).
Wolverine was a big character in the comics, but never to the point where he was constantly the main character for nearly every story. One thing Fox got right in this aspect was by giving him a proper send-off in Logan, making sure that all of us shed numerous tears along the way.
10. NOT USING GAMBIT
Of all of the popular X-Men characters, one of the big ones that has yet to properly appear is Gambit. Technically, he had an appearance in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but considering that timeline never existed due to the events of Days of Future Past, that version no longer exists. There were big plans for Channing Tatum to take the role in a Gambit movie, but the plans fell through. Fox says they’re set for a Valentine’s Day next year, but we’re skeptical at best.
Gambit, in the comics, had a string of bad luck involving some villains until he met the mutant Storm and fell in love with her. That was his way of entering in the X-Men, and he’s had a big hand in their stories since then. Not using him is such a huge missed opportunity for Fox.
9. MEANING OF DEATH
Death, in the X-Men comics, was massive and served as the catalyst for many storylines. Look at how Onslaught was created, or how the team dynamic was shaken up when Professor X died. While you could argue that most of those characters were eventually brought back, there’s no denying that those events had a greater impact in the source material.
Moving over to the X-Men movies, a different tune is being sung. When Professor X died in The Last Stand, he was already back by the end of the film. When Jean Grey died, she was later brought back in Days of Future Past. Wolverine died in The Wolverine, but he didn’t stay dead for long. You get the point. There’s no tension or emotion because we know that Fox isn’t going to let go of those characters (Logan being the exception).
As a disclaimer, just because something makes it on this list doesn’t mean that it’s a bad change. In X-Men: Days of Future Past, Fox brought in the Sentinels, which were heavy duty robots that were designed to adapt to mutant abilities and kill them. In the movie, they looked terrifying and were a force to be reckoned with.
In the comics, the Sentinels not only looked much different but had a greater impact on the X-Men universe. Their designs were a bit more in-line with everything else that went on in the stories, and seeing them only once in the movies is a darn shame. The Sentinels could serve to be more exciting if properly utilized, but we just want them to not look like the Destroyer from Thor.
7. THE DARK PHOENIX SAGA
X-Men: The Last Stand had a lot going for it in terms of story. After all, it was adapting one of the greatest storylines in comic book history in “The Dark Phoenix Saga”. In it, the powerful mutant, Jean Grey, begins to be taken over the Phoenix Force. She turns into a powerful entity that the X-Men must work together to stop, and ends with a painful climax.
Unfortunately, the movie adaptation missed the memo about what made the comic so good. The pacing was all over the place, the action was uninspired, it shoehorned in a subplot involving the relationship between Xavier and Magneto, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. What makes this even more confusing is that Fox will be giving this a second try with X-Men: Dark Phoenix or whatever they’re calling it now.
6. INCONSISTENT TIMELINE
While it’s certainly cool for F0x to jump around different time periods with our favorite characters, the problem comes in continuity. Put simply, Fox didn’t really follow their own rules when crafting this universe, leaving some pretty significant holes in the timeline. First of all, Xavier and Magneto were shown to be friends in their older years in X-Men: The Last Stand, but it was revealed that they ended their friendship during the Cuban Missile Crisis in X-Men: First Class as young adults.
Most of these timeline jumps have to do with how the prequel films connect with the main trilogy, and there are too many to count. Days of Future Past reworked the timeline to get rid of a lot of these holes, but even then, more problems were created as a result of it. Hopefully, Fox can improve on this.
5. JEAN GREY AND SCOTT SUMMERS
When talking about major relationships in Marvel Comics, you’d be a fool not to mention the connection between Scott Summers (Cyclops) and Jean Grey (Phoenix). These two had the hots for each other across many years, and several stories included their love. As a matter of fact, a lot of Scott’s big moments involved how he treated Jean and responded to her delving into madness. It’s interesting and tragic, but we’re still rooting for them.
In the movies, Jean and Scott’s relationship is glossed over very lightly in favor of making Wolverine seem like the true suiter for Phoenix. This means that a love triangle ensues, and it’s not a great one. Scott is eventually killed by Jean in The Last Stand, but without the proper buildup for their relationship, there’s no weight to it.
4. TONE OF THE MOVIES
The X-Men comics have been about many things. They could be about political issues, freedom, tension, betrayal, and so many more. You never quite know what you’re going to get when you pick up an issue, and that’s part of what makes them such popular characters.
Jumping over to the movie adaptations, the same can’t be said for them. Fox tries to make the X-Men movies culturally relevant, but not in the same way. Instead of moving forward with brilliant story arcs, a lot of the movies feel like a big soap opera. There’s drama for the sake of drama, and the stakes aren’t all that important (we’re speaking in a general sense). Apocalypse tried to be a little more serious, but that let to action and effects that were stale.
3. NOT UTILIZING THEIR FULL ROSTER
Remember that X-Men movie that incorporated Vulcan and Fantomex? Us neither. The X-Men are armed to the teeth with powerful and unique characters that are a gold mine for storytelling. However, Fox was so insistent on capitalizing the popularity of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine (as well as Xavier and Magneto), that many of the popular characters were left by the wayside.
The comics quickly brought in new characters, rotated them in and out of Xavier’s Mansion, and kept things moving as a result. With no proper growth and no new characters, the X-Men franchise doesn’t feel new or unique. Bringing back Nightcrawler and Quicksilver was cool, but we’ve seen them before and know what they can do.
2. SABRETOOTH CHANGES
There were a lot of poor decisions made regarding the character of Sabretooth in Fox’s movies. While he was, more or less, just another member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in X-Men, it was revealed in X-Men Origins: Wolverine that he was actually the Logan’s older brother. Yet the change in direction was so drastic that the Sabretooth from the past and present feel like two completely different characters.
Compare that with the Sabretooth in the comics. He was like a Wolverine with no moral compass. He fully embraced his animal side and went on a rampage in Canada. He killed Logan’s wife, and the two had a bitter rivalry ever since. Furthermore, there was no proper payoff (in the films) of Sabretooth being Wolverine’s brother. It was just there to tell a story.
1. NO CLEAR DIRECTION
From the first X-Men movie, Fox was slowly building their franchise to go out with something big (we all know how that one turned out). Then they tried going with prequel spin-offs, and their first attempt was so bad that they scrapped the idea altogether. Then they decided to do a trilogy based on past events, retcon the entire franchise, and still move forward with the story.
After X-Men: Apocalypse, we have Deadpool, which is very much its own thing and has little to do with the rest of the X-Men. Now Fox is trying Dark Phoenix again and is moving forward with the horror spin-off New Mutants. While some of these decisions are exciting, it communicates a severe lack of direction for the series. It seems that they’re not sure what to do with their characters anymore.
What do you think Fox got wrong with the X-Men? Let us know in the comments!
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