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X-Men

X-Men 2000

While it seemed like a good idea at the time to watch all five of the X-Men movies back to back, coming around to watching the first one made me realize that they’re better suited as being treated as separate entities. When you watch them close together, the continuity changes are quite glaring. Aside from that, this movie generally holds up and I can totally see how this one movie really paved the way for the previous generation of superhero movies. I say previous in the hope that the recent Avengers movie, prequels and sequels, as well as Nolan’s Batman movies, lead into the current generation of superhero movies. But X-Men still stands as a landmark in superhero movies.

I mentioned that one of the strongest points of X-Men: First Class was the relationship between Xavier and Magneto. While that relationship isn’t quite as strong, nor the main focus in this movie, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan create a unique and believable relationship of two people who have a deep understanding of one another, yet are at odds because of their ideologies. But that’s not the only strong relationship in this movie, the real focus is the fatherly relationship between Rogue and Wolverine. One of Wolverine’s best qualities is his loyalty, and this movie really capitalizes on that without overselling it. When I first saw this movie, I was disappointed at how young Rogue was, but I thought Anna Paquin handled the role quite well. She looks up to Wolverine as a protector and a pseudo-father figure, but there’s also a hint of romantic attraction on her end, keeping it realistically complex without ever creating an overly sappy father daughter type moment. The other relationship that bears mentioning is the one between Wolverine and Jean Grey. Jean is with Cyclops, yet Wolverine is almost instantly attracted to her. Hugh Jackman and Famke Janssen have a great chemistry in this movie, keeping things fairly subtle.

Come see the softer side of Wolverine.

The opening scene in this movie is still amazing, head and shoulders above the shortened version in First Class. It’s something that I don’t think would have ever been done before in a superhero movie. It’s shot in muted tones of gray, in the rain, in the middle of a Nazi concentration camp. If you didn’t know any better, you might think you were watching a film about the Holocaust until the gate starts moving. It’s presented to the audience as if it’s something that could have happened. And throughout the movie, that sense of realism combined with the powers of superheroes was something new. Even when costumes are finally introduced in the third act, they are more sensible costumes. They’re not bright and colorful, they’re more like a flight jacket. They even get the chance to poke fun at some of the more unrealistic superhero conventions, like yellow spandex and their codenames. The special effects for the most part are also less flashy, and more subtle than most superhero movies. Aside from a couple big scenes, most of the mutant powers weren’t overly flashy.

As I said in the beginning, it was a mistake to watch the other X-Men movies right before this one, especially compared to how well the Avengers movies connect to one another. The changes in continuity make a certain amount of sense when you’re just looking at the one single movie, but if you try to look at them as a whole, they serve to knock holes in one another rather than building each other up. Xavier says that Magneto helped him design Cerebro, yet First Class said that Beast designed it. Magneto reveals his thought-blocking helmet for the first time, yet First Class showed him with it over forty years ago. Xavier says that Wolverine was in Alkali Lake almost fifteen years ago, yet Origins seems to take place just over twenty years prior. Sabretooth is essentially a completely different character than in Origins. It’s a lot of minor things, but they still bugged me because they were so fresh in my memory.

Who? Just tell me who thought this was a good idea?

Another thing about this movie that was somewhat hit and miss were the villains. Magneto is an amazing villain. He’s intelligent, extremely powerful, and has a point. There’s a large grain of truth to what he does which is what makes him so dangerous, and believably able to recruit others to his cause. Mystique is also a great villain, when she’s used properly. She’s best when she’s using her powers to mimic the right people, like when she leads Rogue away from the school, or when she captures the Senator, and especially when she eventually replaces the Senator. I wasn’t nearly as fond of using her as a hand to hand fighter, or I should say foot to foot fighter. When she grabs the Senator with her foot, it just looks goofy. Even though I didn’t fully like the fact that they were brothers, Liev Shreiber was a great Sabretooth. He was violent, slightly feral, but still had a measure of intelligence to him. Taylor Mane has only two lines and doesn’t deliver them that well. In this movie he’s just a beast that growls and looks mean. And Toad is mostly just a bit of comic relief, and one of the more unrealistic and bizarre choices for a villain. Ray Park did a fairly decent job, but I’m not sure that Toad was the best choice for this movie.

In the end, the strengths of this movie far outweigh the weaknesses, though I would suggest to give at least a few months time between watching the newer movies and revisiting this one. The relationships at the core of the movie still hold up and most of the special effects haven’t aged that poorly. There’s also much more of the familiar characters in this movie and none that really need to be identified to any casual fan of the X-Men. Even Halle Berry as Storm, who I thought was the weakest out of all the actors, did a decent job. It started the superhero movie revolution and it still stands as one of the stronger movies even twelve years later. Next up, I’m looking forward to revisiting what’s considered the even stronger sequel X2. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.

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About Bubbawheat

I'm a comic book movie enthusiast who has watched and reviewed over 300 superhero and comic book movies in the past four years, my goal is to continue to find and watch and review every superhero movie ever made.

Posted on May 29, 2012, in 00's movies, Marvel and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. You have to hand it to X-Men. It was the comic book film that re-launched comic book films. After it was released and had a massive box office taking which repeated on DVD release, studios thought again about comic book films. Though now… with almost every comic book being turned into a film… bit of a double edged sword!

    You know it’s funny you mention the opening scene at the Nazi camp. When I first saw First Class a friend of mine commented on how that scene would never have worked in any of the other X-Men films. I had to educate him that it was in fact in the first one! Doh!

    First Class though is going to be an entirely different entity. And the films that follow. It’s not under the Marvel studio, so won’t be connected with any other Marvel film that’s going out there. Shame, but it’ll give the X-Men space to stand on their own.

    • Yeah, while I would enjoy it if it would revert back to Marvel since they seem to be doing a great job on overall continuity, at least First Class has been in good hands so far.

  2. You know, I’ve never seen any of the X-Men series. Not one. You touched on hoping Avengers begins a new wave of good comic films, but let me ask you this. In your opinion, after I’ve already viewed and fallen in love with The Avengers, should I bother with X-Men after having not seen it? Would it be hard to enjoy compared to something that of The Avengers?

    • It depends on a few things. If you’re a fan of the X-Men at all, they are great movies. Each one does take some liberties with the characters, but overall each one has really great things about it. As far as just being a general superhero movie, I’d suggest starting with either the original X-Men and X2 *or* X-Men: First Class. Since First Class is newer, the special effects will obviously be better, and it has sequel(s) coming down the line.

      So if you pick one, First Class is a great place to start. In a world of the Avengers, it ranks right up there with it.

      • Thanks man. I’m just going to start with First Class and if I get to the rest of them eventually fine. If not, no biggie. Thanks again

  3. I actually enjoyed this more than 2 or 3 (haven’t seen First Class or Wolverine yet). It definitely has its flaws — I agree about the generally weak characterization of the villains — but it doesn’t wallow in the over-the-top angst of the X-men as much as the later two films.

    • First Class is great, I recommend it highly. Angst can sometimes be an annoyance, but makes for interesting drama when done right. Usually feel that 2 has the right amount.

  4. Too many stories at-hand here, but it was still a fun flick that showed these mutants could be more than just freaks. Also, it’s a big movie that I always used to watch as a kid. X2 was amazing though. Nice review.

  5. “Who? Just tell me who thought this was a good idea?” I don’t see that Rebecca Romijn wearing only body paint is a bad idea! I must admit that I’ve never noticed the inconsistencies between all the X-men film, but I’ve never watched them all that close together.

    For me the biggest disappointment was in X3 when instead of Poenix being really kick-ass, she just went a bit mental instead.

    • Yeah, I didn’t notice them nearly as much when I watched them years apart. And I thought the look of Mystique was great and I’m glad they stuck with the same look for First Class, I just didn’t like her voice or their choice for how she fought.

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