As X-Men: Apocalypse hits the cinemas, The Snooty Ushers take a look at 20th Century Fox’s incredibly successful movie franchise
The X-Men films were the first comic book property to be turned into a genuine franchise. A full eight years before Tony Stark announced he was Iron Man and Nick Fury introduced himself, Bryan Singer brought the team of mutants to the big screen, and then 3 years later made the landmark film X2, which broke the mold and showed just how good ensemble comic book films could be. The X-Men films have almost universally delivered, with only the occasional misstep, and have taken on some rather serious issues such as discrimination, teenage angst, and government oppression. And let’s not forget TWO of the films start in Nazi concentration camps!
As well as the original trilogy of films, we’ve had an origin story for Wolverine, a spin-off for Deadpool, and a stand alone adventure for Wolverine. There’s a prequel/reboot, and then a sequel to the prequel that ties the two timelines (more or less) together. So, without further ado, let’s dive in with The Snooty Ushers On… X-Men! Please note – there may be spoilers!
Welshy: Beast (Kelsey Grammer)….This is tough but film wise it is this. Grammer fits the role perfectly; size, voice, looks and mannerisms. He was born to play this role. Even now, when I read Beast in the comics, I hear Kelsey Grammer’s voice and it’s just lyrical. I despise the Nicholas Hoult Beast… some of the worst casting ever. Beast is supposed to be a Renaissance man, big, handsome, an athlete, a scientist, a poet, a lover and fighter. I believe Kelsey Grammer could be all these things.
Dan: My mind is currently imploding making a decision. I love Cyclops but he’s not used enough, I love Beast but when it’s not Kelsey Grammer I don’t care, I love Gambit but they made a mess of him, so who do I pick…Magneto. There are few characters with so much depth in the X-Men films, and Magneto is one of them. Tragedy follows him wherever he goes, plenty of it his own making, but his alternate and sometimes warped views of achieving equality make him an truly interesting figure to watch. Both Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender are supreme actors of the highest quality and they have both brought a character to life that I didn’t think too much of during my spell with the comics.
James: I think for the fact that there have been two different, but both excellent, versions of the same “character”, it has to be Magneto. I like both McAvoy and Stewart as Xavier, but with Magneto we have the angry young man played by Fassbender killing his way across South America, all the way through to the frail older character McKellen portrayed, fighting alongside the rest of the mutants for survival in the future (or alternate future) of Days Of Future Past. There’s a reason X-Men: First Class starts with the young Magneto, he’s our way in.
Dave: Wolverine – Is there another choice? In the comics, although I am not a huge fan, it would be Cyclops, but he has been under used in the films so far. Hugh Jackman was born to play Logan. To think, if it wasn’t for Mission: Impossible 2 running long, it would have been Dougary Scott in the role. Wonder if he would have had the same impact? I doubt it.
Welshy: X2 – I love this because I think it touches on something the X Men are best known for, dealing with people’s hatred and ignorance. It develops the characters already established and does it pretty well for the number of characters present. I love some of the Iceman and Rogue development as well as the introduction of Nightcrawler. I feel Magneto is a little over used. Stryker is a big enough villain to carry the film, but hey that’s just me, being picky old me.
Dan: X2 – Stryker and Magneto are great villains, but there is no greater enemy that the X-Men face than the persecution for who they are. It’s a shame the film didn’t play on this more as it opted for focus on Wolverine’s back story rather than interesting politics. However the fact it was even used is good enough to catapult this entry to the top of the list. Having Brian Cox play Stryker opposite Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen is like a holy trinity of British actors. We also got to see Colossus (those few seconds on screen were tantalising!). Great action and an expansive story with many threads, X2 is as close as we have gotten to the perfect X-Men film. It also did what Captain America: Civil War is doing now, 13 years ago.
James: Well it’s got to be X2 – a true landmark superhero film. I really enjoyed the energy of the re-boot, and although I loved it, I’m not sure if Deadpool will hold up to quite the same standard after multiple re-watches in a few years. But X2 is the best of the lot.
Dave: X-Men – While X2 is is a better film in terms of story and action, I just loved this. I saw it a few weeks after it came out, and my brother who was a huge X-Men fan at the time didn’t like it, so I had gone in with low expectations. I thought it was the perfect origin story. There was something special about seeing the 4 X-Men getting suited up for the final battle.
Dave: Michael Fassbender as Magneto. In First Class, when he is hunting down the nazis. I would have watched a whole film of just that.
Welshy: Nightcrawler– I think it was a shame Alan Cummings didn’t stay. He was great as blue elf Kurt. I love how Cummings tapped into Kurt’s mild nature and his strong sense of faith. My favourite scene is when he is schooling Storm on the danger of hate.
Dan: Hugh Jackman as Wolverine – There’s a reason he’s stayed on for so many films, because he is effing brilliant throughout the whole series, and like a fine wine getting better with age. Jackman’s performance in The Wolverine is my favourite, as he manages a chance to go full berserker and tackle a decent story. It’s a role that will be so hard to replace. Following Jackman, props need to be given to the only good thing about X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Liev Schrieber as Sabretooth. I’d love to see him return.
James: Brian Cox as William Stryker is the best villain in the series, a man with (at one point) legitimate fears and motives that goes too far and turns into a monster. Peter Dinklage’s Trask from Days Of Future Past is in a similar vein, but that film is slightly too crowded for the character to really work. Kevin Bacon as Sebastien Shaw is a very close second. But best performance? Ryan Reynolds in a role of a lifetime performance as Deadpool in Deadpool
Most Misused/Underrated/Underused Character
Welshy: This is a hard question because given the size of the X men and the number of adored characters on the roster. Its hard to get them all in and give them screen time. It becomes a squash. My dream X team is not the same as others. What I did like early on, is how they handled certain members in the films. Rogue is a key example, her story was shaved down and quite different from what people knew but the key points remained and it worked within context of the story. If I had to choose I would have liked Nightcrawler to stay for another film. Instead of say Angel who was completely wasted.
Dan: Beast (Kelsey Grammer) Because of the insane pool of characters to draw from, and the rosters used without solo films there are a few that fit into this category. Cyclops came close to my choice, not only is he a great character but I was so so so so mad they did what they did in X-Men: The Last Stand. However, because he appeared in 2 & 1/2 films means I have to go with Kelsey Grammer’s Beast. There’s good casting, and then there is perfect casting, X-Men: The Last Stand did very little right but having Grammer as Beast was genius. But because we only got him for one miserable film, he’s my choice for most underused.
James: Cyclops As I always have to say, I don’t read the comics, and he’s little more than a drippy boyfriend for 2 films, allowing Logan to just flirt with Jean Grey. He even goes missing for most of the second film. James Marsden should have been springboarded to stardom by this role, instead he’s just another cast member. If he’s misused, I reckon Darwin could have been used a lot more, although I get that someone had to be sacrificed to bond the team in First Class.
Dave: Cyclops – The Leader of The X-Men is given nothing to do in the 3 films in which he appears. In the first film he is relegated to someone for Logan to belittle. In the second, his arc is reduced to nearly nothing and in the third movie, well, he has little more than a cameo. Hopefully, in the new film, the new Cyclops will fare better.
Least Favourite Character/Worst Casting Choice
Welshy: Taylor Kitsch as Gambit… Just no. Can’t act, looks crap, talks crap, stupid part in a stupid story. No backstory himself because he is supporting a character for someone he would never have had contact with. It’s just abysmal.
James: Originally casting Dougray Scott as Wolverine in X-Men. It just seems so wrong! Would he have had the physicality to pull the role off – especially in the later films? Of course, this isn’t really fair because he has never gotten the chance to proved me wrong, so I’ll also add James Marsden as Cyclops – maybe a different actor would have got more out of the role. Maybe.
Dan: Weapon X1/Deadpool – No not THE Deadpool, but the absolute clusterf*cked rape of the beloved character from X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The character was so shockingly pathetic that the world couldn’t even face palm, but a single tear rolled down the cheek of fans everywhere. This was a dumb, idiotic, and senseless choice that demonstrated the disconnect between the source material and those hired to write the films. Thank the lord Ryan Reynolds was able to give it one more go. P.S. Did you know the awesome Scott Adkins played Weapon X1? Such a shame.
Dave: Mystique – Jennifer Lawrence, wonderful actress but her star power over powers this ensemble piece. Plus, I just don’t like her.
Least Favourite Film
Welshy: X-Men Origins: Wolverine…messy with too many characters, ridiculous drawn out plot. An unnecessary graphic novel, and even worse film. Days of Future Past was a bad attempt at a great story, because like Origins it tries to do so much and gets jumbled. The film has no constant villain. What’s worse is that even though it was supposed to try and align the stories, so they all fitted into one timeline and you get as blank slate as possible. It still throws up ridiculous plot holes and kills the drama and tension of future films.
Example of plot holes- Beast having the cure, basically for Charles legs that stop his powers. The fact that we see the future where all the characters survive so we know the cast in Apocalypse will make it. The Ages of characters is just ridiculous.
Dan: X-Men Origins: Wolverine – I don’t normally like to acknowledge that X-Men Origins: Wolverine exists, aside from Liev Schreiber as Sabretooth, the film is worthless. X-Men: The Last Stand though is a very close second, with character overload, generic jumping mutants and killing off Cyclops it made me mad, but not as sad as I felt watching this shit show of a film.
James: X2 is best film in the franchise, and is basically a Wolverine film that explores his origins. The decision to re-do it in X-Men Origins: Wolverine was such a mess it’s hard to believe. There are some cool moments (especially the war montage at the beginning) but the CGI is terrible, and the story is just so baggy it’s shocking. Gambit is a mess – what is his power meant to be? And the need to cast Taylor Kitch as a Cajun charmer just seems strange. It also killed off the proposed X-Men Origin series that was planned for other characters. And why do a Wolverine solo film and basically turn it into another X-Men film. And “the dead pool”. And “his brain may heal, but his memories won’t grow back” as though that’s a thing you could plan. And… you know what, that’s enough. X-Men: The Last Stand is a bit of a stinker as well, but this is worse.
Dave: X-Men Origins: Wolverine – now, I am not the biggest fan of this franchise if I am honest, and have never really read The X-Men. This however was just a total mess. Awful in every way.
You get all of the Disney and Fox studio heads in one room and they give you a freebie – you can make one film with as many of the Marvel comic characters you want. What do you do?
Welshy: I would love to do the whole Messiah Complex, Messiah War and Second Coming as I think they are a spectacular saga. However it requires all of House of M to have happened and would be really confusing and is really a trilogy in itself.
As I have said in my X Men Fan Casts… I want to see the X Men fighting hatred and bigotry. Stories like… Green and Pleasant Land, Xtinction Agenda and God Loves Man Kills are all great examples of the evil and danger that average, non-mutant people possess. This would be so much more interesting and very simple to do. It has lots of allegory and metaphor applicable for a modern world that is equally as topical today as it was twenty odd years ago.
Or the Brood…that would also be fantastic.The Brood are sadistic insect-like aliens that enjoy the suffering they intentionally cause others. Maybe not as deep as some of the other film ideas but you could really cut loose and have fun.
Dan: Honestly, you can keep your superhero smack downs and crossovers, all I want are the Sentinel’s done justice and Gambit properly represented. Days of Future Past barely used the massive machines of death, and they are more than a suitable enemy to face. They’re also the kind of enemy that can be used in conjunction with the discrimination against mutants.
James: I’d just go for the obvious X-Men/Avengers link up. I could make Hulk v Wolverine just to make this poster on my wall even cooler:
So, The Avengers only get together when they need to – but what if some threat too big even for them occurred? So we just pick a huge baddie to attack the Earth, or maybe someone foresees the future of the world when Donald Trump becomes President, and the X-Men join forces with the Avengers. But it would be very specific, narrowly targeted, as I dump all the teenage stuff and focus on the character interaction. The thing is, I watched Reservoir Dogs again recently (it was our Other TV Film Of The Week) and it’s a heist film that doesn’t have a heist in it. So this would be a superhero film without any of the superhero film bits. We have Wolverine and Captain America fighting on the front line, but we only see their quips, them talking about how much better it was in the olden days, but none of the fighting. We have Hank McCoy and Bruce Banner in a lab arguing about science stuff while Tony Stark is happy to have some company, before the two of them go beast mode and Hulk smash respectively. Charles Xavier and Nick Fury share a drink and discuss just how annoying it is trying to organise their respective teams. We could have plenty of fun with Thor and Magneto, with eventually Magneto proving himself “worthy” maybe? And Deadpool and Vision as an odd couple pairing, which becomes the comedy spin-off. The film would take about £17.50 at the box office and I would be ran out of Hollywood, but I’d enjoy it.
Dave: A tough one, I am a DC guy so my Marvel knowledge is pretty much limited to the movies, so would probably just ask Welshy 🙂 X-Men v Avengers would make sense, but I getting frustrated by the fact the people always want to see Superheroes fight each other…so in short, I don’t know
And there are our thoughts on the X-Men films – I hope you appreciate that I re-watched X-Men Origins: Wolverine AND The Last Stand in the course of writing this article! Check out our Ranked! article tomorrow for a full rundown of all the X-Men films!
X-Men: Apocalypse is released in the UK on 18th May and worldwide on 27th May, because Britannia rules the waves I guess.
Until next time, stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold. See you soonish.
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