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7 Ways to Save The X-Men Franchise From Itself (Or At Least Give It a Kick in the Pants)

Build inward, not outward a.k.a. Less really is more

Build inward, not outward a.k.a. Less really is more

You don’t have to comb 50 years of back issues to know that there are a lot of characters under the X-titled umbrella. Too many to mention, really. But while the movies and their sequels have taken up much the same mantra as comic serials in terms of piling on people, in film the reverse is the wiser course. Instead of bunkering down with our established band and getting to know them better, I felt like we continued apace and only skimmed over everyone’s most basic characteristics. If it seemed hard to connect to anyone, the subsequent movie would try to correct the damage by introducing even more new faces, or simply wiping the board and starting afresh in a new time period.

What makes for an expanded merchandising foundation also makes for weak storytelling. One of the reasons the X-books were compelling across such a wide range of readership was that, amidst the action, the turmoil of what was happening was acutely focused through the lens of the characters involved. You felt that you knew each character, partially because you’d spent so much time with them, seeing how each of them reacted under pressure, and learning what relationships they had to their powers and teammates. Movies must do this on a compacted time scale, and can do so effectively, but they can be helped along by having a smaller main cast.

To that end…what about exploring the culture a little? We haven’t seen much of the implied world outside the Mansion’s sphere, except in the very isolated settings of the Wolverine movie, during the protest scenes in Last Stand, and in brief flashes during First Class. What’s the modern world like, day-to-day, in this alternative universe? The closest we get to outside interactions are the ones in X2, in the mall, and, later, with the cops at Iceman’s parent’s house, both of which are antagonistic. Instead of feeling compelled to introduce more and more new things, a smart narrative would build on what’s already been established, taking us along for the ride to whatever is encountered next.

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  • gia manry

    I really liked First Class. I didn’t think I would at all, either.

  • Anonymous

    Rothman never cared much for the licenses Fox held. Hopefully after DD, FF will be the next to go back where it belongs. The X- verse and Spider-man are stuck, unfortunately.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve actually heard the term “pre-sequel” used before, but I think “seprequel” works better. Partly because it sounds like some kind of medical disorder, which seems appropriate for any film series where the word applies.

    “I’m sorry, but… these test results aren’t promising. I’m afraid your film series has developed seprequel. It’s not too severe right now, but if left untreated, seprequel can lead to confusion among movie-goers and, in some cases, franchise rot.”

    “What are my treatment options?”

    “Well, some franchises have found a total reboot to bring about a temporary remission, but that can bring about problems of its own. And once a franchise has seprequel there’s no guarantee it won’t relapse. You’d do better to just try and manage the situation, and keep exposure to scriptwriters who want to bounce around the timeline of your continuity to a minimum.”

  • Kayla K.

    Was there such concern with what to call a prequel series with the Star Wars films?

  • John Wao

    #8 send the right back to Marvel and let Kevin Feige put together a decent writer/director to work on it.

  • Anonymous

    Actually, I enjoyed the more realistic (or shall we say plausible) tone of the X-Men movies. One of the things that was guaranteed to bore me with the comics was when they’d start one of their weird story arcs where they’d fight demons invading New York, go running around in the Shiar Empire, or get dragged to Asgard by Loki in Asgard. Most times when they got away from “the cause” (aka fighting for the defense and acceptance of mutants) the books seemed to lose focus and may as well have been about the adventures of Fantastic Four or the Avengers.

  • Anonymous

    I enjoyed First Class. It was fun to have sort of a spy movie thing going on. Apart from the undeserved mindwipe, HELLO.
    I want them to go back and watch the cartoon from the 90s. It has its issues, some of which are on this list, but it did stick to a smaller cast, and it did a great job parsing down complex, weird storylines so that they fit in the half hour format and still be understandable.
    Also, Gambit’s my fav. He’s mysterious and angry, but kinda sweet for all that. I get a little bored of Wolverine and his EMOTIONS. EMOTIONS! Oh Wolverine. I want to pat him on the head and send him to play with his little mutant friends.

  • Anonymous

    Matt Bomer as Gambit? Really? I love Gambit, and I love Matt Bomer, but that seems like a really strange combination.

  • Christopher LaHaise

    One thing I’d add to the list: Give it back to Marvel. This way, it can be part of a larger franchise, and they can use mutants in other movies, and allow for some tie-ins.

  • Anonymous

    Can Rogue please be a badass again? That makes ridiculous southern metaphors?

  • Engler Pascal

    To be fair, there wasn’t a confirmation that she was mindwiped, so there are fan theories (Which i subscribe to) that she only pretended to have her memory erased.
    But yeah, confirmed or not, it was a bit of a stain on an otherwise imho excellent movie).

  • Liam Shiels


  • Dal.

    I agree with everything

  • Sabreman

    Ditto; but honestly, I liked Last Stand, too. It may have some different problems than X1, but I wouldn’t say it has more problems. Maybe even fewer problems! (…wth, why I can’t I carriage return here…?) *** Anyway, Origins is what I balefire out of existence. Although, having put it that way, I’ve heard rumors that the First Class sequel (now with Stewart confirmed to return as Xavier) may retcon Last Stand somehow. I’ll be a little upset if that happens, but I can understand the studio’s desire to consolidate to the fan favorites.

  • John Ender

    wait First class was a prequel? To what exactly? Every movie after X2 is its own verse/take and FC is just reset point for everything else…

  • jsmith0552

    No, because it had been established long before that these movies happened before the original trilogy. Remember they’d already started renumbering the original movie as IV, V and VI long before anyone knew there actually would be prequels. The X-men thing is like apples and oranges since everything was sorta’ established and in place when the first film started i.e. Xavier in wheelchair, school established, Magneto an enemy, etc.

  • Steven Ray Morris

    PAGE 6 all the way. Seriously these movies have more sympathy for Magneto’s causes than anything else.

  • Yodel Lightly

    I’ll go with “Pre-sequel”, because it does what it says on the can. Prequel that’s a sequel. Se-prequel sounds like something that comes in your pharmacy order!
    I’ll go out on a limb & say that I wasn’t THAT fond of any of the X-films to date except Origins:Wolverine, which did a competent job based on the available material (& Logan was finally restored to bad-ass status after being everyone’s beating post for most of the series).
    Some of the casting has always been dubious (Jean, Ororo, Mystique, Juggernaut, Sabertooth and so many more), while they did have some inspired calls (Both Xaviers, both Magnetos, Nightcrawler, Beast, Wolverine, Cyclops – all nailed by the actors involved!)
    X1 & X2 couldn’t decide whether to set themselves in the Ultimate timeline or the original so settled for a mismatch (it’s the first time that I’ve seen Jean apparently older than Scott!)
    X3 was 1) an utter waste of potential with the “cure” storyline, 2) a total travesty as a portayal of ANY version of the Phoenix saga, 3) Deux et Machina ending where Charles awakens in the mindless body Moira was conveniently looking after & 4) a total waste of some good X-characters by consigning them to disposable villain status (Psylocke, for example).
    As for First Class, I enjoyed it after I managed to mind-wipe the “X-Men” tag from the film. (Havok being old enough to be Cyclops’ father? Sheesh!)

    Superhero movies have, until very recently, always gotten a bad deal. DC’s characters particularly are undermined due to lack of editorial veto on cinematic decisions (“Let’s make Krypton an Ice-world! Why? Because it looks nice & I want to.”); Superman I & II stand out mostly because of the late Chris Reeves’ performances. Green Lantern? Too silly, Ryan Reynolds (& Hal) deserved better. Batman? His villains keep dying, otherwise Nolan finally did a good job (even if Bane was lame). And where are the Flash/Wonder Woman/JLA movies? Nowhere… Thankfully we never had to see Supes fighting a giant spider! :O
    Some of Marvel’s characters have similarly suffered. Spiderman? Reset for no good reason (I loved Raimi’s first two movies, but again with the dying villains). Fantastic Four? Gal-lak-tus instead of Galactus & Victor was so Von Dumbe; otherwise okay. Iron Man, Thor, Captain America have, thankfully been everything you could ask for; Avengers not so much, but it wasn’t a total washout.

    What the series needs is a genuine comic fan as a Director, which it hasn’t had yet; Bryan Singer was NO WAY an X-fan (nor a fan of the Big Blue Boy Scout). And stilladyj? That’s a NO on the cartoon base either… that’s taking it TOO simply! Aim higher than a PG-13, a 15 might do it.

  • Peter Vervloet

    A bit late to respond, but I don’t feel that Xavier’s mindwipe was a stain on the film. Charles has been shown to have a very poor understanding of how people’s minds work, particularly those of women, he’s also vain. And heck, even in the comics he has moments where he is a complete douche (whether that was the writer’s intent is a whole different issue). So yes, I too feel the mindwipe was completely underserved, but I don’t feel it was out of character for Charles to do such a thing.

  • Eric Bazilio

    Silver Age Crack, ahahahahaha.

    It’s a very accurate description.

  • BobHaven

    The whole Civil Rights thing was never the writers’ intention, actually. They just felt it was a good excuse to introduce a lot of mutants

  • diracproject

    What? You never read about Dr. King’s secret task force of super-powered teenagers who would fight against Malcolm X’s evil carny brigade? That’s exactly the kind of story they were trying to tell.