My take on the new X-Men script

Xmen2_bFirst off this is going to include so many spoilers for the new X-Men movie that if you want to watch it without having your mind polluted then you should avoid this.  Secondly this may be the final draft of the film's script, but it could still change before the film is filmed and released.  Lastly it will help if you read this review of the script first so you know what I'm talking about.

What I liked:

First off I think it's only fair if I start off what I liked about the script.  I want to get the cool stuff, and there is some cool stuff in here, out of the way.

i) Kitty Pryde / Shadowcat:  I have noted my total and complete love of Kitty Pryde, otherwise known as Shadowcat, before on this blog and I would like to mention it again.  That Shadowcat is moving from being merely a background character in the first two movies to a more central and active role here.  Maggie Grace who has been cast needs not to be blonde but considering this is a franchise where Halle Berry has white hair it's not an extreme job.  She looks like she could handle the role, though I've never seen Lost the show she's known for.

ii)  The scene where Magneto destroys the Golden Gate bridge sounds awesome, and a very good example of the sheer power Magneto has but has yet to really show in the films.  It's similiar both to the sort of destruction that he unleashes in the Ultimate X-Men comics, and also in Grant Morrison's run on New X-Men.  This scene could be the best in the movie.

iii)  Angel:  They're going for something close to the Ultimates comics than in the traditional X-Men, but that's okay.  I think he's going to be a cool character and as long as the special effects are seamless as opposed to terrible it'll be good times.

What I don't hate:


These aren't things I particularly am going to drool over, but I don't really hate it as much as some other people seem to.  The first one I talked with Delme about already and at first I was angry but I've moved to being neutral about it.

i) Kelsey Grammer: That's right Doctor Fraser Crane is going to be in the movie and he's going to play Doctor Henry McCoy otherwise as Beast.  Now McCoy has always been a large man and while Grammer isn't Tom Cruise tiny, he's not a football player sized person.  But my guess is that the Beast will be mainly a CGI character.  CGI characters either work (Gollum) or really really don't (Jar Jar).

As just a voice actor Grammer might do okay.  I'm not really doing backflips, but it might not suck.

ii) Bringing back Jean so soon:  I knew they'd bring her back, she's the Phoenix isn't she.  That's the point of having her die.  But she reappears at the very start of the film.  I think it would have been better to leave her out for longer and thus show what a gap she's left in the lives of the X-Men.  Now bringing her back so soon isn't something that will ruin the movie, I jus think it loses a bit of dramatic oppertunity.

iii)  Plot:  The main plot seems way too busy, but it's not terrible.  The idea of a cure for mutants was done in the Josh Whedon's first story arch in Astonishing X-Men.  Some of the stuff here seems taken right from that, such as Beast breaking into the lab and the line of mutants waiting to be cured.  It worked in Wheadon's comic but will it work here?  I'm not sure, but combining it with the stuff about the Phoenix is a waste of one decent story line (the mutant cure) and one great story line (the Phoenix saga).

Things I hate:

i)  The killing of major characters:  Killing of a main character is a old standby in comics but comic deaths, as everyone who remembers the big media blitz that surrounded the death of Superman knows, are temporary in almost every situation.  There's a line that for every Unlce Ben or Gwen Stacy, two characters whose deaths have significantly shapped Spider-man's character arch and who have never been brought back to life, there's a dozen Jean Grey's (who has died like four times in the comics).

The problem is with the exception of Jean Grey whose death is needed if they're going to do the Phoenix Saga as a plotline once you kill someone in the movie-verse it's going to be really hard to bring them back because people who aren't used to some of the bullshit that comics tend to pull won't put up with that.  You can kill Spock once, you can kill Jean once, but you can't bring back Kirk's son and you can't bring back Cyclops (Scott Summers), Professor X (Charles Xavier) and Magneto and bring any of them back after you've brought back Jean already.

Magneto, and Ian McKellen's protrayl of him, adds a level to the X-Men that really keeps it from being a good guys punching out bad guys type of movie.  He's a character that brings a lot of depth to the story by having a very mixed morality.  He wants to protect his people but in order to do that he's willing to harm those who oppose him or those who are not mutants.  The relationship he has with Xavier is one of the better hero-villian dynamics in comics and in movies.  They both are addressing the same problem and both in fact started at the same place, they're just on different paths.

Xavier, and Patrick Stewart, has the task of being Charlie to the X-Mens' angels.  He's there to add exposition and assign jobs and sometimes show up as the deux ex machina and save the day at the last moment but he's got a really vital role as emboding the guiding principal of the X-Men.  In the movies he mainly gives tours of the mansion and then gets conviently taken out of action for the remainder of the film, but he really is important.  He's been killed a few times in the comics and everytime they bring him back because the X-Men without him just isn't the same. 

Cyclops, played very well by James Marsden, is the character that most of the fans are kind of shrugging about dying.  He's the most underused so far in the films and his role is essentially as a counter-point to Wolverine.  Killing him so early in the film is pointless and ruins the Phoenix storyline because it is eventually Jean and his love of each other that convinces her to sacrfice herself.  Plus he's an important part of the team.  The best humour in the first movie was the interplay between Scott and Wolverine and though he had a much smaller part in the next film he's an important anchoring character in that with the exception of his power he's a regular guy.  He keeps the movie grounded in reality in a way that it's hard to do with a film about blue mutants.

ii)  Halle Berry gets upgraded:  It sounds like she's going to be the main X-Men, taking over from Wolverine in the past two films.  Now this sounds like them saving Wolverine for his own solo movie, and in all honesty I'm not a huge fan of making Wolverine front and centre in every X-film but making Halle Berry the central X-Man is like making an Indiana Jones movie about the Dr. Marcus Broody character.  Except of course the Dr. Broody character was an interesting character, was played by an actor who could handle the job and who didn't whine so much.  But she's really been a side character the entire series and the reason she has been is that Berry can't carry the character.  That they're banking on her is as stupid as Warner Brothers making Catwoman around her.

iii)  No Singer: Every thing else in this list is academic if they'd address this one point.  One thing I thought Marvel was doing well with its new generation of superhero comics, or at least the ones that worked, was sticking with the same creative team through the series.  Sam Rami rocked on the first Spider-man so he got to do the sequal and will be doing the third unless something goes terribly wrong.  Singer absolutely made two of the best comic book films out there and then by all reports Fox jerked him around long enough that he went to Sony to make the new Superman movie. 

He was a classic victim of his own success.  The first X-Men movie the studio had no faith in, it was a tiny budget and basically it was pretty much assumed by everyone that nobody but comic geeks would see it.  Singer made it good enough that non-comic people saw it and it did well enough to warrent a sequal.  Then with a slightly better budget Singer went out and built on that success and even my parents who aren't sci-fi or comic fans really liked X-2.  It was a huge surprise hit in a summer where the big sure fire hits didn't do nearly as much business as everyone thought they would.

So Hollywood being Hollywood Fox suddenly realized that the X-Men was a viable franchise and instead of just leaving Singer to it they started to micro-manage it and dink about even more with the budget instead of just giving him the budget of X-2 and some extra.  So Singer left, and now Fox is trying to rush X-3 out before Superman is done just to spite Singer. 

Groan.

Conclusion:

It's hard to say how the X-Men film will end up.  I'm a huge fan of the comics, going back to the 1990s' when Jim Lee was working on X-Men.  I really did not have high hopes for the first movie after seeing the Batman movies kill themselves, but it surprised me and I loved it.  The second one was even better, and now I'm back to being pessimistic.  It's tragic that Marvel will be loosing a strong movie franchise just as Batman and Superman relaunch.  Batman Begins has shown how comic books movies can be made and while I don't think it's as good as Spider-man, Spider-man 2, X-Men or X-Men 2, it's a great film. 

But beware Batfans, and you too Delme, as soon as Batman starts to get too successful Warner Brothers will manage to fuck it over.  You're only one hit sequal away from rubber nipples and killing off Jim Gordon.