Now and Then: X-Men
With the success of super hero movies nowadays, it is often forgotten that without the success of the first “X-Men” movie, they likely wouldn’t even exist.
After the failure that was 1997′s “Batman and Robin,” Hollywood was scared to make anything involving super heroes. For about three years no one took a chance on making any until 20th Century Fox approached Bryan Singer to direct “X-Men.”
Singer wrote his own story, which allowed him to make a movie dealing with issues deeper than what previous comic book adaptations had.
Despite the recent assertion that “The Dark Knight” was the first super hero movie to deal with real issues, Singer infused “X-Men” with his views on society’s ability to persecute outsiders and the human capacity of evil. Singer, an openly gay and Jewish dyslexic, allowed his experience of growing up as a minority to influence the film and make it what it was.
With the financial and critical success that “X-Men” experienced, super hero movies began to be green lit like crazy. One was “X2: X-Men United” in which Singer, being allowed more creative freedom, delivered a sequel that was better than its predecessor. On its way toward financial and critical success, the film took on a plethora of subjects including hate, prejudice, intolerance, government surveillance and the corrupting influence of power. Essentially the “X-Men” franchise was one of the few that actually had something to say.
Twentieth Century Fox next hired the man most famous for directing the “Rush Hour” films to make “X-Men: The Last Stand.” To make matters worse, it was based off a script written by the guy who wrote the screenplay for the sequel to the Vin Diesel movie “XXX” and the guy who wrote the screenplay for “Elektra.”
The end result provided the greatest evidence that what made the “X-Men” series so good was Singer and his influence. With lots of action and relatively the same cast as previous installments, the film didn’t attempt to stay true to its inspiration and went off on its own little hungry-for-money tangent.
Despite the film being a critical failure and a financial disappointment, not too long after its release, a movie solely focused on one of the franchise’s characters, Wolverine, was put into production. Apparently no one learned from “X-Men: The Last Stand,” because “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” is being directed by Gavin Hood. Hood has only one American film to his name in the form of “Rendition,” yet is being given the opportunity to make a film based upon a screenplay co-written by the guy who wrote “Swordfish” and “Hitman.”
The film is preparing for its May 1 release, and already things are looking grim. Early test screenings produced extremely negative feedback, causing the film to undergo drastic re-shoots. Additionally, a rough cut of the film was pirated and put online, with those getting a hold of it complaining about its quality.
It comes as no shock that the trailers for the film look horrendous and that everyone who has seen early cuts of the film don’t have any positive feedback. Like “X-Men: The Last Stand,” it doesn’t appear to have anything that made the first two films the good product that they were.
Over the years “X-Men” has evolved from a great but meaningful franchise at the hands of Singer to a collection of boring events and ridiculous circumstances at the hands of whoever 20th Century Fox can get their hands on that isn’t named Bryan Singer.
Wolverine may be the face of the franchise, but he clearly isn’t what made it so enjoyable early on, and he certainly won’t be the reason to resurrect the franchise’s quality anytime soon.
Hansen is a junior print journalism major and chief copy editor for The Spectator.