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'X-Men' 20th Anniversary Of Learning What Happens To A Toad When It Gets Struck By Lightning

By Brian Richards | Film | July 25, 2020 |

By Brian Richards | Film | July 25, 2020 |


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In September of 1963, Marvel Comics published the fabulous first issue of a comic book called The X-Men. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, it introduced readers to the concept of mutants (humans born with a genetic trait called the X-gene which causes them to develop superhuman powers once they reach puberty), and how six of them — Professor Charles Xavier (Professor X), Scott Summers (Cyclops), Jean Grey (Marvel Girl), Warren Worthington III (Angel), Bobby Drake (Iceman), and Henry “Hank” McCoy (Beast) — work together as a team against another mutant named Erik Lehnsherr (Magneto) and protecting humankind while doing so, despite the fact that mutants are feared, shunned, and hated by most humans.

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It has remained one of Marvel’s most popular and longest-running books, largely thanks to how it connected with people in real life who know what it’s like to be an outsider, and who know what it feels like to be hated, feared, misunderstood, and treated with disrespect. In 1975, with the publication of Giant-Size X-Men #1, the team’s popularity grew even more, thanks to the introduction of a new and more diverse team of mutants recruited by Professor X to rescue the original members of the X-Men from captivity: Ororo Munroe (Storm), Kurt Wagner (Nightcrawler), John Proudstar (Thunderbird), Peter Rasputin (Colossus), Shiro Yoshida (Sunfire), Sean Cassidy (Banshee), and last but not least, Logan (Wolverine), who made his first appearance in the pages of The Incredible Hulk.

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As well-known as the X-Men were by comic-book fans, it wasn’t until the Nineties that they really became household names, thanks to 1) X-Men, the Konami arcade game that became available to take many a quarter from many a video game player in 1992, and 2) the animated series X-Men, which premiered on FOX later that same year and aired on Saturday mornings, back when Saturday morning cartoons were a regular thing (and was also the second attempt at adapting the X-Men for animation, after X-Men: Pryde Of The X-Men in 1989). Much like Batman: The Animated Series, which also aired on FOX, it not only entertained viewers with the high quality that was evident in each episode, but it also created X-Men fans of all ages, whose love of the characters in cartoon form led to them seeking out X-Men stories in comic-book form at their friendly neighborhood comics shop to read every month.

It was only a matter of time, especially after the recent success of comic-book movies based on lesser-known characters such as Blade, The Crow, and Men In Black before a movie studio would take the next step and bring everyone’s favorite mutant superheroes to life in live-action form. (And no, the FOX made-for-TV movie Generation X from 1996 doesn’t count.) And that time finally came on July 14, 2000, when X-Men opened in theaters nationwide.

X-Men opens in 1941 Poland, where a young boy named Erik Lehnsherr, his family, and millions of other Jewish people were taken by the Nazis to the Auschwitz concentration camps. When he was being physically separated from his parents, the anger and trauma of the experience resulted in Erik’s mutant powers (the ability to control any and all metals and metallic objects through magnetism) to make their first appearance. Decades later, Erik (Ian McKellen) is now known as Magneto, and has become an extremely powerful and deadly mutant now using his powers to protect mutantkind from imprisonment and execution by unleashing all-out war on humankind with the help of his Brotherhood of Mutants, shape-shifter/hacker/martial-arts expert Mystique (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos), Toad (Ray Park) who has enhanced agility, fighting skills, and a 20-foot-long tongue that can spit hazardous mucous, and Sabretooth (Tyler Mane), who has superhuman strength and agility, razor-sharp claws, an accelerated healing factor that makes him immune to nearly all diseases, poisons, and physical injuries, and no mercy whatsoever for anyone that he considers an enemy or a target.

The only person standing in Magneto’s way: Professor Charles Xavier, a.k.a. “Professor X” (Patrick Stewart), Magneto’s longtime best friend who is also a mutant, as well as the world’s most powerful telepath. Unlike Magneto, Professor X is a fierce advocate for the idea that humans and mutants can learn to peacefully coexist with one another, despite the fact that an influential Senator named Robert Kelly (no, not that one, and definitely not that one) is attempting to pass the Mutant Registration Act, which would require any and all mutants to register their identities and their abilities with the U.S. government. And to help Professor X defend both humans and mutants from those like Magneto who would inflict harm upon them, he has enlisted mutants who have gone from students to instructors at his own Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters: Cyclops (James Marsden), who can fire concussive energy blasts from his eyes, Dr. Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), who possesses both telepathic and telekinetic powers, Storm (Halle Berry), who is capable of controlling and commanding all aspects of the weather, along with two possible recruits who have just crossed the X-Men’s path: Marie D’Ancanto, a.k.a. “Rogue” (Anna Paquin), a teenage girl who has run away from her home in Meridian, Mississippi after the activation of her mutant powers (the ability to absorb the energy, life force, and abilities from any living being through physical touch) resulted in her boyfriend ending up in a coma, and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), a rough-edged drifter who is unable to remember anything at all about himself or his past, and whose mutant powers include enhanced senses, an accelerated healing factor that (much like Sabretooth) makes him immune to nearly all diseases, poisons, and physical injuries, a near-indestructible metal called adamantium that has coated his entire skeleton (making Wolverine even more difficult to injure or kill), and retractable claws between his knuckles that are also coated in adamantium and are capable of slicing through any substance.

If you know anything at all about X-Men, then you most likely know that it was directed by Bryan Singer. And if you know that, then you probably also know that Bryan Singer’s name is well-known for…so many reasons, and very few of them are pleasant. So before I start writing about how X-Men was made and went into production in the first place, and having to mention his name more often than any of us would like, let me just get this off my chest, along with the rest of you.

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All right then. Moving right along…

Since 1984, back when Orion Pictures first had the movie rights for X-Men before they went over to 20th Century Fox, there were many directors who were taken into consideration. From Kathryn Bigelow to Robert Rodriguez to Brett Ratner to Paul W.S. Anderson, Fox decided on Bryan Singer after seeing his 1995 film The Usual Suspects and being impressed with his ability to handle a compelling story with a large cast of characters, and with that skill set being needed to help bring X-Men to life, he ended up in the director’s chair. And there were just as many story treatments considered in pre-production with different line-ups for the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Mutants: One idea from writer Andrew Kevin Walker (Seven, or Se7en, depending on your preference) had Wolverine recruited into the X-Men by Professor X and fighting alongside the original lineup of Cyclops, Jean Grey, Beast, Iceman, and Angel as they all battle the Brotherhood of Mutants comprised of Magneto, Sabretooth, Toad, Juggernaut, the Blob, and also a couple of eight-foot-tall Sentinel drones. Other writers whose scripts ended up being rejected included Laeta Kalogridis (Shutter Island), John Logan (Gladiator), Michael Chabon (The Adventures of Kavalier And Clay), and Joss Whedon (you may have heard something about his last project and how shooting conditions were not that great), whose script was thought to be too reliant on pop-culture references, but had two memorable exchanges that remained in the final cut: the “You’re a dick” conversation between Wolverine and Cyclops, and Storm asking Toad if he knows what happens to a toad when it gets struck by lightning. Which was, according to Whedon, supposed to be delivered with more sarcasm, similar to how Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers would deliver the line. But Halle’s delivery was much more serious, and therefore ruined that exchange between Storm and Toad.

(It wasn’t until Marvel Comics hired Whedon to work with artist John Cassaday on a 12-issue run of Astonishing X-Men that he was finally able to play around in the X-Men universe how he saw fit, which occurred not too long after a Season 5 episode of Angel took shots at X-Men, particularly the film’s third act. And that certainly wasn’t the first, second, or third time that Joss has talked sh*t about other people’s work.)

David Hayter (best known as the voice of Solid Snake in the Metal Gear Solid games) ended up with sole writing credit from the Writers Guild of America after he rewrote the story treatment that was written by Singer, Tom DeSanto and Christopher McQuarrie (who declined any credit for the screenplay since very little of what he wrote was left in the film), and once Fox approved of the $75 million budget (which is downright laughable compared to the budgets for most comic-book movies made today, and which resulted in Beast, Pyro, Nightcrawler, and the Danger Room being removed from the script, or in Pyro’s case, only appearing in a brief cameo), moved up its release date from Christmas 2000 to Summer 2000 to fill the void left by Minority Report delaying its production (although Singer had originally hoped for a Summer 2001 release), and finished casting, the film soon went into production afterwards.

Much like when Richard Donner directed Superman: The Movie, it was clear that Singer and his writers were taking the themes and characters seriously and treating them with respect (how many comic-book movies can you think of that begins with a young boy being torn away from his parents during the Holocaust?), while also remembering to make sure that the audience is having a good time. And yet, because of the fact that X-Men was one of the earliest comic-book films to respectfully adapt its source material, it’s easy to see that because of budget and schedule limitations, as well as the unexpected success of The Matrix which seemingly came out of nowhere and became a game-changer for Hollywood, Singer seemed determined to keep X-Men as grounded as possible and not embrace every fantastical thing about its comic-book origins. Instead of the X-Men wearing their original and colorful costumes, they wore similarly patterned costumes made from black leather. (Which of course was referenced by Cyclops as he teased Wolverine about preferring to wear yellow spandex instead).

The stuntwork and fight scenes weren’t horrible, but still left a lot to be desired, as Singer didn’t want the characters being so reliant on martial-arts techniques and reminding audiences too much of The Matrix, and they turned out to not be as impressive as some fans had hoped. Do you like seeing Storm barely putting up a fight as she is taunted by Toad before she ends up getting Spartan-kicked down an elevator shaft? Well then, X-Men is the movie for you. Yes, Wolverine’s vast knowledge of fighting techniques rival that of Captain America and fellow amnesiac Jason Bourne (who is still able to remember how to kick ass in six different ways), but does any of that come across in his fights with Mystique and Sabretooth? Not really, and part of me suspects that he was easily trounced by Mystique to prevent younger fans from seeing one of their heroes hitting and pummeling a female mutant. You would think that seeing Wolverine and Sabretooth in their first fight on top of the Statue Of Liberty would be a little more memorable, but unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. And the special effects combined with the evident usage of a stuntperson in the shot where Wolverine uses his claws on the Statue of Liberty’s crown to regain his footing doesn’t help much either.

All that being said, the black leather costumes really do look cool, and seeing the X-Men in live-action form for the first time as they suit up and take off in the Blackbird X-Jet to rescue Rogue and take down the Brotherhood Of Mutants, really is a joy to behold, as is the rest of the film. And if seeing the X-Men in action isn’t enough for you to enjoy, there’s also many an Easter egg to be found throughout the film. Besides the brief appearances of Iceman (Shawn Ashmore), Pyro (played by Alexander Burton, and not Aaron Stanford, who took over the role in X2), and Jubilee (played by Katrina Florece and not Lana Condor, and she is given the same miniscule amount of attention and screen time that she had in X-Men: Apocalypse), you also get a blink-and-you-miss-it appearance by Colossus as he draws by the X-Mansion’s pool during the “Professor X tells Logan all about his school and what he does” montage, as well as Kitty “Shadowcat” Pryde (Sumela Kay) as she leaves Professor X’s class (sadly, Lockheed is nowhere to be seen). The truck driver who drops Rogue off at the bar in Canada where Wolverine is cage-fighting? He’s played by George Buza, who provided the voice of Beast in X-Men: The Animated Series. And last but not least, we get the late, great Stan Lee appearing as a hot dog vendor on the beach when Senator Kelly escapes captivity from Magneto and his new transformation grabs the attention of everyone there.

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Toad is someone who clearly enjoys his work as he likes to toy with his prey before going in for the kill and attacking his enemies like a hurricane. And of course, he can’t resist showing off a bit while doing all of this, as evident by his twirling of the long metal bar after kicking Storm down the elevator shaft, which was a clear reference to his role as Darth Maul in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace.

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Like the other members of the Brotherhood Of Mutants, Sabretooth doesn’t really get much characterization or screen time, and the only real time we get to see him do anything other than murder-walk and roar menacingly is when he attacks Wolverine and Rogue as they drive through Canada, and when he twice attempts to threaten Storm by wanting her to scream for him, all of which end up very badly for him.

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Of all the members of the Brotherhood, Mystique is without a doubt the coolest and most memorable, and not even because of the fact that all of her skin is blue and that she’s only wearing her birthday suit when she appears as herself. Incredibly good at what she does (kicking ass and inflicting mayhem of all kinds), making no apologies for any of it, especially when confronting someone like Senator Kelly (who as she points out to him, is the kind of person who made life an absolute hell for her when she went to school as a child), and licking her lips with delight upon realizing that she has found herself a Worthy Opponent in the form of Wolverine, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos’s performance in X-Men as well as its sequels are why she is considered the best live-action version of the character. Nothing at all against Jennifer Lawrence, who is a damn good actress, but she wasn’t always given the best material to work with when she played Mystique, and the less said about her makeup as Mystique compared to Rebecca’s, the better.

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Like Superman and Captain America, Cyclops isn’t always well-liked by some comic-book fans, as he’s seen as a stick in the mud and a goody-two-shoes compared to the badass antihero that is Wolverine. And he doesn’t come across all that differently in the film either, as he’s determined to keep the team safe in Professor X’s absence while also showing nothing but distrust towards Wolverine, who is more than happy to let him know that the feeling is mutual. But anyone who really knows the character of Cyclops knows how powerful, skilled, and capable he is and all of those qualities are why he’s a trusted leader of the X-Men. And though he clearly knows how to handle himself in battle, we don’t really get to see many of those leadership qualities on display as he’s given the short end of the stick compared to Wolverine, which wouldn’t be the last time that happens in the X-Men films.

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Jean Grey is known as one of the most powerful mutants in all of the X-Men universe thanks to her telepathic and telekinetic abilities, but we only get brief glimpses of her powers throughout the film, as she is still training herself as well as receiving training from Professor X on how to become better and more comfortable with what she can do. And not surprisingly, it doesn’t take long for there to be mutual attraction between Jean and Wolverine once he arrives at the X-Mansion, despite her being in a committed relationship with Cyclops.

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Storm’s own powers of controlling and manipulating the weather also make her a force to be reckoned with, and her presence is one that demands respect and conveys authority. Unfortunately, none of that comes across onscreen whatsoever with this portrayal of Storm. It’s not as if Halle Berry isn’t trying with what she does (if anything, she does a better job of conveying authority and demanding respect and being an absolute force to be reckoned with as Sofia in John Wick: Chapter 3), but the script and her choice of accent let her down and don’t give her what she would truly need to soar the way she deserves. And before you say it…yes, Angela Bassett should’ve been the one to play Storm, but her asking price was apparently too high for the film’s budget, hence why we never got Angela Bassett as Storm.

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If you read the X-Men comics and watched the animated series before seeing X-Men, you’re familiar with how Rogue is supposed to look (ridiculously curvaceous figure, which is also possessed by every other woman in comics, Amanda Waller and Etta Candy being the notable exceptions), how she’s supposed to sound (thick Southern accent), and the powers she’s supposed to have (superhuman strength, near-invulnerable to physical harm, flight, and the aforementioned ability to absorb someone’s energy and life force through physical touch). But this version of Rogue doesn’t look or sound anything like the Rogue that X-Men fans were used to or expecting, and other than having just one of those mutant abilities and her famous white streak of hair after surviving her ordeal with Magneto, we don’t get to see her fight back against Magneto or any other member of the Brotherhood, as she is kidnapped and placed in damsel-in-distress mode in order for the X-Men to come to her rescue. None of this changes the fact that Anna Paquin does a terrific job as Rogue, and beautifully conveys how scared, curious, and lonely she is as she connects with Wolverine and discovers this new world that she’s now a part of.

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There’s a famous quote by Malcolm X which goes: “If you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches, there’s no progress. If you pull it all the way out, that’s not progress. Progress is healing the wound that the blow made. And they haven’t even pulled the knife out much less heal the wound. They won’t even admit the knife is there.” And considering that Magneto is often compared to Malcolm X (with Professor X being compared to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.), the quote is an applicable one, as Magneto has experienced levels of loss and trauma that have him firmly convinced that there cannot and will not ever be peace between humans and mutants, and that the lives of his people will always be under constant threat because humans think that they’re doing the right thing. And the only way to make humans understand what they fear is to have them all transformed into mutants themselves by a radiation machine of his own creation, even if said transformation will result in their deaths. And no one will stop him from achieving this goal and using any means necessary to bring humans to their knees, not even his closest friend and greatest enemy…

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…Professor Charles Xavier, who is kind-hearted and empathetic enough to understand the pain and anger that Magneto has towards humanity, but refuses to let that stop him from opposing him at every turn and reminding that when humans go low (over and over and over again), mutants need to go high in order for there to be any peace and coexistence between them. And part of that involves him taking in mutants at his school, mutants who are scared and confused and have nowhere else to go and teaching them how to use their powers as well as teaching them everything else they need to know about the world around them. When he needs help finding mutants who are lost and have nowhere to go (or mutants who are determined to have all Hell break loose), that’s where Cerebro, the device located deep in the X-Mansion that enhances his already-powerful telepathy, comes in handy. And it was these performances by Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart (along with McKellen’s future role as Gandalf in The Lord Of The Rings trilogy and Stewart’s previous role as Capt. Jean-Luc Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation) which wowed audiences and practically made them gods in the eyes of fans and geeks worldwide.

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When it was announced that casting was taking place for the role of Wolverine, there were those who were hoping that it would end up going to Russell Crowe, after his fantastic and brutal performance as Officer Bud White in L.A. Confidential. The role almost went to Glenn Danzig, singer/songwriter and frontman for the heavy-metal band Danzig, since he was seen as being rather similar in appearance to Wolverine, and Dougray Scott was a close contender for the role until scheduling issues with Mission: Impossible 2 as well as a motorcycle accident on the set took him out of the running. And when casting was done, the role of Wolverine didn’t go to any of those actors, or to Bob Hoskins, who was also considered to play Wolverine long before Fox got the rights to the franchise. Instead, it went to a little-known Australian actor named Hugh Jackman. Which caused X-Men fans (myself included) to go, “Who the hell is Hugh Jackman, and what kind of fucking name is that?!” It was the same kind of response that comic-book fans would have towards Heath Ledger when he was cast as The Joker in The Dark Knight , and much like Ledger did with his performance as The Joker, Jackman’s performance as Wolverine silenced nearly all of the naysayers and made them eat numerous plates of crow (myself included).

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Wolverine is one of the deadliest mutants alive, and in his own words, he is the best there is at what he does, even though what he does best isn’t very nice. And Jackman is incredible at showing how ferocious he can be when fighting his enemies, and how his tolerance for other people and their bullshit (especially Cyclops) is at absolute zero. It’s why even when Magneto has him at his mercy, Wolverine doesn’t hesitate to call him out on his hypocrisy and on his willingness to sacrifice the lives of others for his cause instead of sacrificing his own. But beneath all of that brutality beats the heart of a poet, and the heart of someone who can’t turn his back on those in need of help, who will fight until his very last breath to protect his fellow X-Men, and who will do what Magneto refuses to do and be willing to sacrifice himself without hesitation if someone else is in grave danger.

It’s a very understandable complaint that many of the X-Men films that followed this one felt less like films about the X-Men, and more like films about Wolverine and sometimes the other X-Men if there’s any screen time left over for them. But no matter the film, Jackman made it impossible to take your eyes off of him (and not just because of how often he’d be shirtless onscreen) and made you care about Wolverine and what he was going through, even when his claws were sheathed and he wasn’t slicing and dicing away in battle. Just the exchange between Rogue and Wolverine when she first meets him and asks, “When [your claws] come out…does it hurt?,” and Wolverine responds with, “Every time” is beautifully done and says so much while saying so little. And in 2017, when Jackman stepped down from the role in Logan, that exit carried so much weight for those who spent seventeen years watching him as Wolverine in movie theaters and at home, and who now see it as nearly impossible to think of anyone else as that character, much like how it’s nearly impossible to envision anyone else as Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man, after Robert Downey Jr.’s exit from the role in Avengers: Endgame.

X-Men opened in theaters to largely positive reviews and was a box-office hit with $296 million worldwide. (Which is probably what the budget for an X-Men film would be if it were made today) This response was so impressive that Hollywood couldn’t help but be reminded of how financially successful a comic-book movie could be when done right, after the unfortunate debacle that was Batman & Robin. And after X-Men, there were a lot of comic-book movies that followed, which took the same respectful approach, but with varying results.

Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3, Daredevil, Batman Begins, Hulk, Sin City, Catwoman, Watchmen, The Spirit. These were just some of the comic-book movies that came out between 2002 and 2010, and though there were obviously many more comic-book films to follow, it wasn’t until the release of Iron Man in 2008 when the gauntlet was truly thrown down, as Marvel Studios used that film to make it known to everyone that they were establishing their own cinematic universe and that every other film to follow would be a thrill ride that everyone would want to get a ticket for. Twelve years and twenty-two films later, Marvel Studios (along with Disney, which purchased all of Marvel back in 2009) has done a pretty good job of keeping that promise and has now become, for better and for worse, the gold standard of what comic-book movies and cinematic universes are often and always compared to.

After the release of X-Men, many more sequels, prequels, and spin-offs soon followed. Starting with X2: X-Men United, which introduced Alan Cumming as Nightcrawler, Aaron Stanford taking over the role of Pyro, Kelly Hu as Lady Deathstrike, and Brian Cox as Gen. William Stryker.

X-Men: The Last Stand, which was directed by Brett Ratner (another director that will make you angry-sigh more than once) when Bryan Singer left to work on Superman Returns after 20th Century Fox refused to give him enough time to work on both films.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the prequel which gave Wolverine his own solo film to explore his unknown past, and featured Liev Schreiber in the role of Sabretooth instead of Tyler Mane, while also introducing other mutants, including Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds), who ended up looking like Baraka from Mortal Kombat 2 by the end of the film.

X-Men: First Class, another prequel but set in 1962 and focused on younger versions of Professor X, Magneto, and Mystique (James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence), how they all first met, and how they all worked together to form the X-Men. (Jackman’s brief, one-line cameo as Wolverine is one of the very best things about this film) Please know that it is a truth universally acknowledged that if you bring up X-Men: First Class on Twitter, someone will point out how it is absolutely bullsh*t that Darwin, the Black male member of the X-Men whose mutant power is for his body to automatically adapt to any situation or environment he is placed in, allowing him to survive possibly anything, ends up being easily killed off by Sebastian Shaw. It’s a very heated topic of conversation, and that’s not even getting into why, how, and why Darwin thought it was a good idea to let his fellow students beat on him with sticks for fun. As a Black man. In the 1960s. And also, the teaser posters for X-Men: First Class were horrible.

The Wolverine, which followed Wolverine as he went to Japan and was targeted for his healing factor while going up against ninjas and against members of the Yakuza.

X-Men: Days Of Future Past, which brought Bryan Singer back to the director’s chair, featured Wolverine being sent back in time to 1973 by Shadowcat in order to prevent an assassination that could lead to the creation of the Sentinels program and end up killing or imprisoning all mutants. It also introduced us to Quicksilver, whose version of the character turned out to be much cooler and more memorable than Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s version of the character who appeared in Avengers: Age Of Ultron. Just ignore the fact that the Sentinels in this film look less like Sentinels and more like Dyson vacuum cleaners that can walk, and that the original storyline this film was based on was centered on Shadowcat instead of Wolverine, and that Shadowcat does not and never did have the ability to project anyone else’s consciousness to another time period. (If I’m wrong about that last part, I’m sure that the Comments section will be incredibly kind as always in pointing this out)

Deadpool finally gave the chimichanga-loving Merc With A Mouth his own solo film, with Ryan Reynolds brought back to reprise the role and to be given much better treatment than he received back in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

X-Men: Apocalypse gave us the very first live-action appearances of Oscar Isaac as Apocalypse (even though many people pointed out that he looked a little too much like Ivan Ooze from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie), and also gave us glimpses of this version of Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) tapping into the full extent of her mental powers, which made her look an awful lot like the Phoenix Force.

Logan not only gave us the final appearances of both Hugh Jackman as Wolverine and Patrick Stewart as Professor X, but introduced us to Dafne Keen as Laura, a.k.a. X-23. And this film earned its R rating. A lot.

Deadpool 2 featured the return of Deadpool, and the introduction of both Josh Brolin as the time-travelling mutant cyborg Cable, and Zazie Beetz as Domino, the mercenary with great hair, plenty of ass-whooping skills, and the mutant ability to manipulate luck so that things always work out in her favor.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix gave X-Men fans plenty of hope that this would be the film that X-Men: The Last Stand promised to be and give us Jean Grey-as-Dark Phoenix in all of her beautifully destructive glory. Unfortunately, those fans were not entirely impressed with what they saw. But it finally killed off Jennifer Lawrence’s version of Mystique, as Lawrence was clearly getting tired of playing the character, so at least there was that one bright spot for them to enjoy.

And if you thought that it was ridiculous how Tenet kept changing release dates and insisting on opening in movie theaters this year in the middle of a nationwide pandemic, you clearly forgot about The New Mutants and how it was originally supposed to open in theaters April 2018. But due to Disney having ownership of the characters, it has been delayed and allegedly re-edited numerous times to be less of a dark horror film and something that is more family-friendly. It now has a scheduled release date of August 28, 2020, which is a surprise to many, as most of us have been wondering when Disney will just bite the bullet and release it instead on Hulu or Disney Plus.

Now that Marvel and Disney have ownership of the X-Men, fans are now hoping to see the characters and their universe done right and given real opportunities to truly cut loose together as a team in movies with the same level of quality as The Avengers. One character who fans are demanding to finally be treated with the respect that she deserves: Storm, and they’re hoping to see her played onscreen by a dark-skinned Black actress, preferably Kiki Layne (If Beale Street Could Talk and The Old Guard) or Michaela Coel (Chewing Gum and I May Destroy You) or Yetide Badaki (American Gods). Janelle Monáe has tossed her hat into the ring as well for consideration, but it seems that some fans would rather see her play Dazzler instead of Storm.

For almost fifty-seven years, X-Men has told stories about prejudice, alienation, fear, death, and doing whatever it takes to keep your people from suffering and from having their lives and their rights taken away from them…all while giving us mutants who fell in love, got on one another’s nerves as only family and friends can, and kicked the crap out of each other with the fate of the world hanging in the balance. And whether or not you’re satisfied with how the rest of the journey turned out, X-Men was a terrific and influential first step in giving old and new fans an opportunity to see it all brought to life on a movie screen, and to look forward to whatever happens next.


Brian Richards is a Staff Contributor. You can follow him on Twitter.


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