The X-Men franchise has been a part of American pop culture for decades. When created in 1963 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the group was used as an allegory for change and the Civil Rights Movement. As time passed, the group has grown with us like a family of misfits wanting to belong. With Charles Xavier playing a surrogate father to so many of his students, you can’t help but want to be part of the team just to hear the man’s words of knowledge and guidance.
After so many failed attempts to bring the X-Men to the big screen, 20th Century Fox decided to set their sights on an up and coming director, by the name of Bryan Singer. When it was announced in 1998 that the film was in production, the fanboys flipped the fuck out as our dreams were finally coming true.
Well, here we are in 2016 and with eight films in the can and a 9th on the way, with Singer taking the helm once again. And it’s time for everyone to face the facts; Singer needs to go away.
Now, before you rally the troops and start passing around the pitchforks and torches, not all the films are bad. Deadpool was a huge smash hit, The Wolverine was pretty good up until the third act, First Class was serviceable, and we dare not speak of Last Stand or Origins. We’re just going to focus on Singer’s work.
*Update* 2017’s Logan is even more proof why Singer just needs to stay away.
For the first X-Men, the material was set and cast handpicked. The story would be an introduction of the team while bringing Wolverine and Rogue into the fold. Magneto and Brotherhood of Evil Mutants would be the antagonist, defeated and credits… and that was it. Already the film was a huge misstep into creating the world and introducing the family dynamic of the team.
Sure, we might have a connection between Xavier and Wolverine and the beginning of the so called “odds” between Logan and Scott, but there was room for potential. The Logan and Scott feud was and still is a huge focal point in the X-Men mythos and later on, would hardly even be explored. Granted, it was the first film and the studio didn’t fully realize what they had in front of them, so I won’t truly dwell on it too much.
Singer came back for X2 with a different villain in William Stryker and hopefully, left the problems of the first one behind.
Singer took what he used in the first film and applied to this sequel. With the characters established and time in the film having gone by, he could’ve showed what the X-Men is all about; a team of amazing superheroes working in conjunction that can do incredible things.
Surely after the events of the first film, Xavier would’ve gotten his team the proper training, but no. And the family dynamic that the X-Men are well known for was nowhere to be found. It was just a rehashing of the first one with the difference of adding Nightcrawler and still leading to Magneto, in the end, of being another protagonist.
Also, I understand the argument about the amazing “White House Nightcrawler” scene, but all it showed was that Singer is a one note kind of guy. True, the scene was awesome, but why couldn’t he apply that type of action and visual style to more of the film?
After a long absence from Singer, Fox tapped in Matthew Vaughn for X-Men: First Class, but with Singer still as a producer. It was kind of refreshing to see the X-Men in this prequel, or soft reboot. The possibilities of where to take the X-Men seemed to really open up to being more than the typical battle against Magneto.
Well, Singer decided to put the kibosh on that idea.
Fox, Singer, and Simon Kinberg (who helped write the atrocious X-Men: The Last Stand) decided to try out the Days of Future Past storyline for their next installment in the franchise. This storyline was a huge event in the X-Men mythos which had been used on several occasions in other X-Men platforms, such as the various cartoon shows. It would bring a new feel to the X-Men films with the bleak future, and the chance to course-correct the story at this point. But this being Singer, he just blew his big action wad load in the first ten minutes of the film and that was it. The “X-Men vs. Sentinel” scene showed us one of the many things we love about the X-Men comic.
If you really think about it, X-Men: Days of Future Past is just X2 with a different set of actors, the 70’s, and the concept of time travel added to it. Follow me if you will. The X-Men are disbanded in some form. They have to get everyone back together, with the aid of Magneto, to defeat this non-mutant that’s using some type of tech laced with the mutant gene to hunt down and defeat other mutants, and in the end, Magneto uses the same tech and turns it on the humans…credits.
Singer has gone on record and said that with the inclusion of time travel, he can take the X-Men wherever he wants. That would be a great idea if he and Fox actually fucking did something with it. I would say that maybe his fourth try (because fourth time’s the charm) could be something new and different with the villain Apocalypse and his Four Horsemen, but hearing from the reviews, it probably won’t be.
The X-Men comics have so many great storylines and so many great diverse members in the team that it’s tragic that these films are not handled with the respect it deserves. I say this not only as a fan of the comics, but also as a moviegoer that wants to be blown away by these films. I want to satisfy that inner child, still holding on to his X-Men 95’ Fleer Ultra Chromium Base trading cards who imagines what it would it be like, watching the X-Men battle the likes of Nimord, traveling to the Island of Genosha or meeting the Starjammers on the big screen – I guess that shit isn’t happening anytime soon.