Alright peeps. Seeing as Logan is Hugh Jackman’s curtain call as Wolverine, it seemed like a good time to take a look back on the X-Men film series and talk about what we liked and didn’t like. These aren’t reviews, per say. We’re not going to rank these things or analyze the crap out of them. Instead, we’re just going to crack jokes and revel in the fact that Jackman has been playing this character for almost 20 years. That’s pretty damn amazing, whether you like the X-Men or not.
To kick things off, we’ll discuss all things concerning the original X-Men film trilogy, particularly whether or not Cyclops is as lame now as we thought he was back then (he is) and if these movies have stood the test of time. The first two? Yes. The third one? Well, we’ll get to that.
Jesse: Alright Kevin. The year is 2000. Y2K had not in fact ended the world as so many people had predicted. Shaq and Kobe just won their first NBA Title with the Lakers. I had crooked teeth, played baseball in the summer and thought Sega Dreamcast was the most groundbreaking console ever invented (yep, I was friends with zero girls at the time). And I remember being excited because the X-Men, some of my favorite superheroes growing up, were getting their own movie. I didn’t know who Hugh Jackman was at the time. I didn’t care. It was the X-Men, dude!
Looking back, what are some of your memories of X-Men being released? Or were you one of the cool kids, unaware that there was any reason to care about a film consisting of mutants and Patrick Stewart rolling around in a wheelchair?
Kevin: To be honest my earliest memories of the X-Men consisted of this theme song and the SNES game. And my biggest takeaway from those were, Wolverine is a badass and Cyclops is a little bitch. Years later I realize that in my youthful naivety I was…actually I was right. Cyclops sucks.
To be honest, I recall liking my exposure to the X-Men and I especially recall my enjoyment of the Jean Grey-Phoenix story line from the cartoon. But I don’t recall being excited for the X-Men movie. I don’t remember a trailer, I don’t even know if I saw it in the theater. But one thing is for sure, I never imagined the impact the first movie would have on the movie industry of the 2010’s. Without X-Men we don’t have the Marvel Cinematic Universe right? Or the DC…whatever they call the DC Universe (might I suggest, The Failed DC Universe?).
That means you are probably a better X-Men historian. So tell me Jesse, what are some of your memories of X-Men being released? And why is Cyclops such a little bitch?
Jesse: Ah yes. The grand mystery surrounding why Cyclops is so freaking annoying. This has been researched by some of the most intellectual minds of our generation and it has been concluded that there is no definitive or irrefutable answer as to why that is. He’s just a little bitch, plain and simple.
But of course I remember that glorious theme song (I still hum that from time to time) and I vividly recall playing that game at a friend’s house, then instantly wondering why I didn’t have a Super Nintendo. I also spent hours upon hours and lord knows how much money in quarters on the X-Men arcade game. Incidentally, this also carried over into my early 20’s, thanks to the 1up always having that game in their arcade, but I digress.
You are 100 percent correct about X-Men’s influence on the MCU, however. I remember being really impressed when The Avengers so expertly balanced its ensemble cast of superheroes, yet somehow neglected the fact that Bryan Singer had already pulled that off 12 years prior. In a lot of ways it was a movie way ahead of its time, which is even more impressive when you consider the shortcomings of The Failed DC Universe. Relax DC fanboys. You still have a Ben Affleck directed Batman movie to look forward to! Oh, wait…
But as satisfying as the first X-Men movie was, it was really X2 that knocked all our pants off and raised the bar for all superhero adaptations to follow. So Kevin, you must’ve been really impressed by X2, right? And did you recover your pants afterward? Because I never found mine.
Kevin: Look this might be a #hottake but I just rewatched X-Men and X2 and I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed the original better.
There’s something so…simple about the original that I enjoyed. It was fun to be introduced to everyone. It was fun to listen to their cheesy jokes (“What do they call you? Wheels?”). It was intriguing, epic and a great start to the X-Men story.
I will admit X2 stepped it up a notch on the epic scale. Which is a common occurrence in the X-Men series. They always have to do it bigger and better in the sequel. It’s why Magneto lifted a stadium in X-Men: Days of Future Past. So I get it, they feel pressure to outdo themselves. But doing it bigger isn’t always something I enjoy.
I think X2 is great. I just think the original is better. I will say this, I thoroughly enjoyed the opening Nightcrawler scene in X2. Do you remember him breaking into the White House and nearly murdering the president? That scene of him teleporting in slow motion is the precursor to the wonderful Quick Silver scene that happens later in X-Men: Days of Future Past and I loved it. After that though? They wasted Nightcrawler.
Please give me your input on why X2 is the superior movie and why I’m an idiot. But before you do I will leave you with one more argument. X-Men gave us this joke:
Wolverine to Jean Grey while motioning to Cyclops, “Is that your gift? Putting up with that guy?”
While X2 gave us a dated reference to the hit 2000 song “Bye, Bye, Bye” by *NSYNC. I’m not joking. It’s even in the official soundtrack.
To summarize, jokes about Cyclops > *NSYNC songs.
Jesse: So, you found your pants then? And what the hell is wrong with you? How dare you have a different opinion from mine? It’s not like we share this blog or anything.
I thoroughly enjoy X-Men, including all the cheesy one-liners. By the way, I’m surprised you left out this zinger: “Do you know what happens to a toad when it’s struck by lightning? The same thing that happens to everything else.” Damn Storm, you really torched his ass with that one!
My main issue with X-Men is that it drags a little bit for me in certain parts, and some of the special effects, particularly in the Wolverine and Sabertooth fight on top of the Statue of Liberty, just haven’t held up that well. Still, definitely a great movie and a total gamechanger.
X2 didn’t make the best use of Nightcrawler after that opening scene (he’s kicking all kinds of ass and then spends the rest of the movie… not kicking ass?) but I loved the inclusion of William Stryker. It gave us more insight into Wolverine’s past and forced a fragile alliance between the X-Men and Magneto. I probably love fragile alliances more than I should, so I guess that makes me biased. And in my humble opinion, there was just a bit more emotional weight at the end due to Jean Grey’s sacrifice, which set up an awesome third installment in the trilogy, right?! Oh, crap.
So basically, I’m saying we’re both right because this is our post and I can do that sort of thing. And I have a bad feeling we’re going to start talking about The Last Stand. Please tell me I’m wrong and that we’re skipping directly to First Class.
Kevin: The Last Stand? You mean the most expensive film ever shot (at the time)? How was that not an instant classic? It’s definitely everyone’s favorite superhero film of all time right?
I gave it my best shot. I tried using my fake mutants powers of changing everyone’s mind but I don’t think it’s working.
So The Last Stand was a…disappointment to say the least right? All I recall of the film is, “I’m the Juggernaut, bitch!”, being confused about how Kelsey Grammer found himself as a blue monster and the puffer fish mutant.
Oh, and one more thing, they completely butchered the Phoenix story line right? What’s with the third movies of trilogies butchering classic villain characters that even the television shows were able to accurately portray (looking at you Venom in Spider-Man 3)?
On a brighter note, they killed off Cyclops pretty early into the movie right? I guess it’s not all bad in that case.
Tell me you rewatched The Last Stand (because I sure as hell did not) and tell me it’s not as bad as I remember.
Jesse: I did re-watch it. I’m not sure how you rank such things, but it’s definitely as bad as you remember. We’re talking a movie that’s in the running for “Biggest Letdown in Cinema History” and certainly one of the 10 worst comic book adaptations. I loathe The Last Stand and immensely regret wasting another two hours of my life on that putrid piece of crap.
Where to begin? How about with the fact that this movie nearly irrevocably ruined the continuity of this whole franchise? That it killed off Professor X (a decent and somber scene) and then brought him back after the credits (a confusing and completely cheap scene)? That it turned Magneto from the stoic bad ass that he should be into a mustache twirling, pun riddled fool? That it didn’t even bother to delve into the personal history between Juggernaut and Professor X because the story was already packed to the brim with subplots upon subplots?
And yes, then there’s the Dark Phoenix story line. Which should be so EASY to adapt in a meaningful and comprehensive way (you can include Venom in that), but Fox screwed that up too. This movie is a fucking trainwreck. Even talking about it makes me mad.
Considering Fox followed this instant classic up with another quality picture (X-Men: Origins – Wolverine), it’s amazing that they convinced people to keep shelling out cash for the X-Men. Do you remember seeing First Class together, Kevin? Did I cry tears of joy when the credits rolled? Because that’s what I imagine myself doing out of sheer relief for the existence of another decent X-Men film. All hope wasn’t lost after all.
Kevin: I just want to make it clear to our reader(s) that the line about X-Men: Origins – Wolverine being a quality picture was sarcasm from Jesse. I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea.
Yes I actually do recall you being quite thrilled after First Class and I recall myself muttering something along the lines, “is it just me or was that movie actually, you know, great?” to you. I was in shock because I had come to expect the X-Men franchise to spin off into Fantastic Four esque quality.
But let’s save that trilogy for another post. This blog is about the original trilogy and we have come to some stunning conclusions: X-Men paved the way for modern day superhero movies, X-2 knocked Jesse’s pants off (my pants were removed just not quite as much as Jesse’s) and The Last Stand, as far as we care to remember, never existed at all.
That’s it for the originals. Come back sometime later this week for an additional Let’s Talk About X-Men post covering everyone’s favorite mutant/human experiment, The Wolverine.
Jesse: Yeah, we know that Logan already came out. We don’t get paid to do this. Sue us. (Please don’t actually, we can’t afford legal representation)