News of Disney buying 21st Century Fox spread long before it happened, when the idea of it was still just a rumor. A large company with such a storied history selling out to an even larger company felt like (and was) a big deal for a lot of reasons, but for the most part fans only thought of one thing: the return of the Fantastic Four and the X-Men back to Marvel.
Now being fair, from the very beginning, the FF movies were never especially well-liked and as a franchise it was never all that stable, even failing to get through its first trilogy. But the X-Men movies started off in a good place. The first X-Men film was well-received when it first released, and was responsible for catapulting superheroes back into the limelight and blockbuster films after years of obscurity, while the second is genuinely regarded as a great film in its own right. So why are fans so eager to see this property go to Disney, ending a franchise that’s gone on for 10 films and 17 years, not counting 2018’s Deadpool 2 and X-Men: Dark Phoenix? As always, CBR has the answers, and here are 15 reasons why fanboys hate the X-Men movies.
15 NO SCARLET WITCH
One of the biggest comic book kerfluffles of recent memory kicked off as both Fox and Disney were getting ready to launch sequels to their well-received team films in X-Men: Days of Future Past and Avengers 2: Age of Ultron. As the X-Men confirmed the existence of the mutant speedster Quicksilver in their film, Marvel would confirm both the children of Magneto for Avengers 2. Having the gift of hindsight, we’re able to see now that Marvel made pretty impressive use of Scarlet Witch while X-Men’s Quicksilver is often the highlight of the films he appears in, but it still feels a little weird to have one character without the other in either universe.
Thus far, the X-Films haven’t even hinted Scarlet Witch exists in their universe, which is a total bummer considering their dynamic as siblings is often one of the best things about their character development.
14 THE COSTUMES ARE BAD
When Stan Lee and Jack Kirby first introduced the X-Men, they didn’t exactly have the coolest looking outfits. The original five all wore identical blue and yellow uniforms, potentially to reinforce the idea that they were a single cohesive unit. It wasn’t until the second, “international” team that each member of the X-Men got their own, unique costumes. And arguably, the visual distinctiveness of the Dave Cockrum costumes had much to do with the team’s meteoric rise in popularity.
But when the X-Men came to theaters in 2000, their signature outfits were thrown aside to place all of them in boring black leather uniforms.
Presumably, the people involved with the first film thought it’d be an easier sell to mainstream movie audiences back then. And to be fair, it’s definitely more realistic -- but who goes to a superhero movie for realism?
13 THE MULTIPLE MAN CON JOB
Jamie Madrox is an example of how the Big Two are living universes that allow for characters to grow far beyond whatever they were initially intended to be. Jamie starts out as this joking prankster for the government incarnation of X-Factor, but the longer he remained under the auspices of one Peter David, the more he grew into a cult favorite character. By the mid-'00s, he was the head of a detective agency known as X-Factor Investigations, and was the star of his own title for nearly a decade.
Of course, absolutely none of that carried over to the character when he was finally placed in an X-film. 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand strips out that nuance and makes him a simple con artist. His biggest accomplishment becomes using his dupes to rob several banks at the same time. Impressive, but still a waste of a great character.
12 EMMA FROST
The X-Men have always been known for having some of the most well developed female characters in superhero fiction, and there are few that are more complex than Emma Frost. Though she started out as a member of the villainous high society group the Hellfire Club, over time we would see her become so much more. She ran her own school for Gifted Mutants alongside Banshee, taught children on Genosha, and alongside Cyclops guided the X-Men through one of their darkest periods.
Unfortunately, none of the nuance the character is known for actually carries over into the films.
She appears in X-Men: First Class as Sebastian Shaw’s girlfriend and plays a rather boring femme fatale role that undercuts just how cool of a character she really is, then by DOFP she’s been killed off. The White Queen deserved so much better than this.
11 MYSTIQUE BECOMES A MAIN CHARACTER
Mystique is a character whose motivations are often impossible to predict, as she shifts allegiances almost as easily as she changes form. She appeared as Magneto’s right-hand woman in the original trilogy, doing more to help him achieve his goals than any single other member of his Brotherhood.
But when the franchise hit its soft reboot in 2011…something weird happened. Because internet darling Jennifer Lawrence was cast as the new Mystique, instead of being someone who’s always in the shadows, she was placed front and center. In First Class she’s third lead behind Xavier and Magneto, while the entire plotline of DOFP is centered around her actions, and by X-Men: Apocalypse? She’s the de-facto field leader of the X-Men and essentially a celebrity. It’s almost like the second set of films is some expensive fanfiction by the world’s biggest Mystique fan.
10 THEY KILL TOO MANY CHARACTERS
If comics are a little too happy killing characters only to revive them, the X-Men film series takes that to another level…only usually most of the characters don’t ever get revived. Characters are killed off unceremoniously with zero chance to develop into more than what they are in their first appearances.
By the end of The Last Stand, after a grand total of three major adventures, they managed to kill off Jean Grey, Scott and Professor X, three of the most core characters to the whole franchise.
Things got so bad, they went ahead and rebooted the entire franchise with X-Men: First Class in 2011…and then killed off half the cast of that movie in Days of Future Past two years later. They spend so much time trying to off characters for shock value people never get to develop.
9 TIMELINE'S A MESS
For the first X-Men film Fox did something bold: instead of an origin story, they assumed viewers knew who the X-Men were and went from there. It worked, as the first movie was a critical and commercial success. But when they decided to reboot with the First Class, the film was a period piece set in the '60s like the real comics were.
Fans loved the film, so they continued doing it in the sequel, which is '70s influenced. But by the end of DOFP, they link both trilogies and leave the timeline a mess. Scott’s a teenager when he’s mentioned in First Class, and then barely out of his teens by X-Men: Apocalypse which is set in the '80s, and none of the characters look all that much older when we get to see them in 2023. Does any of this make sense? Nope.
8 THEY RUINED STORM
From the moment Len Wein and Dave Cockrum introduced Ororo Munroe to the X-Men, she’s been one of the coolest members of the team. Writer Chris Claremont’s seminal run on the team established her as a woman who was endlessly adaptable and had experienced many lives before even joining the team: a pickpocket in Cairo, a weather goddess in the Serengeti. She’s done everything from leading the X-Men, to defeating Calisto in a knife-edge death battle. So why is her character so flimsy in the films?
Halle Berry definitely looks the part, but she’s also responsible for one of the worst lines in superhero movie history.
Alexandra Shipp does a pretty awesome job of giving us the punk rock Storm in X-Men: Apocalypse, but her character gets so little development that she manages to join both Apocalypse’s Four Horsemen and the X-Men with zero explanation for either.
7 NO CONNECTION TO THE MCU
When Iron Man first came out in 2008, none of us could have ever guessed it would be the spark to an entire universe full of Marvel characters hitting the silver screen. And as exciting as it was, what made the whole thing even cooler was the sheer amount of crossovers the MCU wound up having. What was initially an “Avengers only” sort of thing stretched to include things like having Dr. Strange guest-star and the Hulk essentially be a main character to Thor: Ragnarok.
But as long as Fox had the rights to the X-Men franchise, that level of interconnectedness was impossible for them. Fans would never get to see how the Avengers would deal with a cosmic-level threat like the Phoenix, or see Professor X team up with the big brains in the Avengers and form an MCU Illuminati. All those cool ideas were wasted.
6 WHERE ARE THE SHI'AR
The Shi’ar are an alien race that have been a part of X-Men canon since Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum first introduced them back in X-Men #97 in 1976. A unique group with its destiny almost inextricably tied to that of the Phoenix, somehow the alien group has managed to make absolutely zero appearances in the X-Men films. That means no Empress Lilandra, no Gladiator, and no Imperial Guard.
It also means no Starjammers, which was always a little insane as they left Scott’s dad alive and in space, and who doesn’t like space pirates?
Ultimately, the loss of the Shi’ar is symbolic of just how stripped down the film version of the X-Men are, robbing them of the feeling they have in the comics where literally any kind of story feels possible.
5 COMPLEX CONTINUITY
Initially, the throughline of the X-Men movies was simple and easy to follow. But when we got X-Men: First Class, fans initially thought it was a full-on reboot unconnected to the original trilogy. It caused fans to ask the least questions and had unlimited potential for new storylines while unencumbered by the first series.
But then with Days of Future Past, they explained to viewers that both trilogies are a part of the same universe, and the world of X-Men: First Class eventually changes into that of the 2000 X-Men. Aside from some issues with character aging, this creates a mess. The team meets Wolverine earlier than original films, Jean develops the Phoenix Force far sooner than she did in the original trilogy, and it isn’t even explained how so many characters manage to get revived...only to die in Logan.
4 A PURPLE APOCALYPSE
If there’s one thing Fox should be congratulated on regarding how they used this iconic X-Men villain, it’s that they managed to condense his otherwise convoluted origins into something simple and easy to digest. And…that’s about it.
Long before we ever got to see if the film was good, X-Men: Apocalypse caught a lot of negative buzz over the design of the film’s titular baddie.
The character has always been noteworthy for his look: a megalomaniacal tyrant encased in cold, blue armor. But the film managed to get off on the wrong foot from the character’s first appearance, where he not only lacked his usual armored appearance, but wound up being a lot more…purple, than everyone remembered. Of course, this was later fixed for the actual movie, but fans still haven’t forgotten the brief moment where Apocalypse was Ivan Ooze version 2.0.
3 NOT ENOUGH CYCLOPS
What happened to Cyclops in the X-Men franchise is a travesty. Introduced in Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s X-Men #1, Scott is often considered to be the first mutant that Xavier chose to recruit to his school of gifted mutants. He’s the leader of the team, and in the comics has actually guided them all through more eras together than any other X-Men character, even Professor X.
And yet, he’s never terribly important in the films, is he? The key relationship in the first film is the one between Rogue and Wolverine. He gets brainwashed in X2 and doesn’t even make it all the way through The Last Stand, being killed due to Jean’s inability to control the Phoenix Force. And by the time we get to the second trilogy, he’s been downgraded to Babyclops and isn’t even the real leader of the team anymore.
2 TOO MUCH WOLVERINE
One of the biggest flaws of the X-Men films is that most of the characters are either mischaracterized, or they didn’t get much characterization at all. The one character that isn’t a problem with is Wolverine. As the only X-Men character to consistently maintain his own solo comic series, Wolverine was the most popular X-Men even before the film series started in 2000. But the films certainly took that and ran with it.
They rely heavily on everyone’s love of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine to carry almost all of the first trilogy.
He’s a certainly a popular enough character, but Fox loved him so much they gave him three films. And sure, Logan was certainly a great way to end his story…but let’s not pretend like the other two films are even worth the time spent looking at them in the movie theater.
1 THEY'RE NOT LIKE THE COMICS
This is what it all comes down to, right? The ultimate reason any fanboy doesn’t really like the X-Men movies is that they simply aren’t like the comics. For a long time, the first trilogy of X-Films are a relic from an era where superhero films were ashamed to be about superheroes. They twisted and contorted until they looked like every other summer blockbuster. And so the creative people over the films ignored the elements that led to stories being told with the X-Men in space, or in magical dimensions like Limbo.
The comics built these characters up to be endlessly mutable, and the films have ignored that for constant battles with humans that fear and hate them. And though that’s changed a lot, and the X-Men at the end of the last film resembled the comics far more than expected, it still feels like it’s too little, too late.