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Commentary, Lead Commentary

The Marvel Movies: X-Men (2000)

 

“Blade” may have been the first “modern” big-screen interpretation of a Marvel character (in cinematic terms anyway during the CG era of filmmaking), but “X-Men’s” 2000 release was the true litmus test for how Marvel superheroes would fare on the big screen.

The result was a resounding “yes” from the populace. The film itself had a few flaws, but the concept — mixing the fantastical with the real world and giving the characters weight and subtext — told us Marvel’s heroes were here to stay.

Director Bryan Singer, heretofore best known for the dynamic mystery flick “The Usual Suspects,” delivers flawed mutant heroes scarred by years of discrimination by a public who fears them — connecting the villain Magneto’s (Ian McKellan, as an adult) Holocaust experiences with hero Rogue’s (Anna Paquin) traumatic first kiss, then with Jean Grey’s (Famke Janssen) failure to sway legislators in the halls of Congress.

To be certain, using superpowers as a metaphor for the civil rights movement was the obvious move that had been explored fully in the comics, but Singer gave the arc full weight and made his characters the focal point rather than the cause.

Yes, the battle of ideology between old friends Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart. employing Martin Luther King Jr.’s peaceful co-existence) and Magneto (the Malcolm X “by any means necessary” stand-in) was the framework, but the art itself is in the relationships of their pupils; whether it’s the distrust among Xavier’s charges or a direct conflict between the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Mutants, it provides the soul of the film.

That Wolverine, the pivotal character on whom the film’s success or failure firmly rested, was fully realized by the tall Aussie unknown Hugh Jackman was a miracle in itself. Wolverine in the comics was a small, fierce creature, and audiences did more than accept Jackman’s tall, fierce creature; they embraced him, and he is arguably as important a cinematic face for the character as Christopher Reeve is to Superman.

There were missteps in makeup and costuming. Most notably, villains Sabretooth (Tyler Mane) and Toad (Ray Park) looked silly at times, Wolverine’s hair was never completely right throughout the series, at times it was a little too obvious that the actors were working on a soundstage and some of the fight sequences employ too-obvious wirework.

But overall, Singer did a fine job bringing the X-Men into the real world and would perfect the job in the movie’s sequel before moving on to let Brett Ratner and others drag the franchise into various levels of mediocrity.

Next time: The Daywalker returns!

Previous Marvel Movie Entries

Conan the Barbarian (1982)
Conan the Destroyer (1984)

Red Sonja (1985)
Howard the Duck (1986)
The Punisher (1989)
Captain America (1990)
The Fantastic Four (1994)
Blade (1998)

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20 Responses to “The Marvel Movies: X-Men (2000)”

  1. […] the Giant Killer” (June 15) — Jack the Beanstalk gets the big-budget treatment from “X-Men” director Bryan […]

  2. […] the Duck (1986) The Punisher (1989) Captain America (1990) The Fantastic Four (1994) Blade (1998) X-Men (2000) Blade II (2002) Spider-Man (2002) Daredevil (2003) X2: X-Men United (2003) Hulk (2003) The Punisher […]

  3. […] the Duck (1986) The Punisher (1989) Captain America (1990) The Fantastic Four (1994) Blade (1998) X-Men (2000) Blade II (2002) Spider-Man (2002) Daredevil (2003) X2: X-Men United (2003) Hulk (2003) The Punisher […]

  4. […] the Duck (1986) The Punisher (1989) Captain America (1990) The Fantastic Four (1994) Blade (1998) X-Men (2000) Blade II (2002) Spider-Man (2002) Daredevil (2003) X2: X-Men United (2003) Hulk (2003) The Punisher […]

  5. […] the Duck (1986) The Punisher (1989) Captain America (1990) The Fantastic Four (1994) Blade (1998) X-Men (2000) Blade II (2002) Spider-Man (2002) Daredevil (2003) X2: X-Men United (2003) Hulk (2003) The Punisher […]

  6. Jeff Dodge says:

    It was fun seeing the prequel to the X Men movies. My son in college commented that the casting was great for Charles and Eric, along with several others. The cast "cliqued" together very well. I can see why he got hooked on these movies and the comic books.

  7. […] the Duck (1986) The Punisher (1989) Captain America (1990) The Fantastic Four (1994) Blade (1998) X-Men (2000) Blade II (2002) Spider-Man (2002) Daredevil (2003) X2: X-Men United (2003) Hulk […]

  8. Alewis says:

    Xmen is one of my favorite movie franchises. I like the characters and the plot, where
    the mutants are the minorities and are discriminated against because their different. It’s just like real life.

  9. […] the Duck (1986) The Punisher (1989) Captain America (1990) The Fantastic Four (1994) Blade (1998) X-Men (2000) Blade II (2002) Spider-Man […]

  10. Holly says:

    We saw X-Men First Class last weekend, and it made us want to go home and watch X-Men. It was really fun to go back and see the connections that they made between the two movies.

  11. […] the Duck (1986) The Punisher (1989) Captain America (1990) The Fantastic Four (1994) Blade (1998) X-Men (2000) Blade II […]

  12. Andrew W. says:

    well written article. nice comparisons.

  13. […] Conan the Barbarian (1982) Conan the Destroyer (1984) Red Sonja (1985) Howard the Duck (1986) The Punisher (1989) Captain America (1990) The Fantastic Four (1994) Blade (1998) X-Men (2000) […]

  14. John says:

    I really thought xmen was a great movie…as long as your not a fan. I do like the fact that most superhero movies stick pretty close to the original story line but this was one movie that jacked it up. However, I did enjoy seeing the mutants on the big screen.

  15. LaQuisha says:

    Good review! I love the X-Men Trilogoy, it brought to life what we read in the comic books and seen in the cartoons. There may have been flaws, but never the less, when we saw these X-Men movies when they came out in theaters, we thought they were GREAT! and they still are, the action, visual effects, costumes that was cool/awesome in that era and other film makers have followed to make their movies better.

    Thanks

  16. Suzette Miller says:

    When I first saw X-Men, I thought it was great. It was not until after X2 and looking back now that I realize it was not really that good. However, it was the catalyst for the current generation of Marvel movies.

  17. Keith says:

    I liked X-Men, but it had a very weird tone. Not necessarily the plot, but just the fact that it feels like a proto-comic book film, like before they figured out what works and what doesn’t. Kind of like Hellboy, how the first one just feels very basic, by the book, and then the second one really expands and makes the series feel more… comfortable(?), X2 really showed what the franchise was capable of. Too bad, then, they were followed up by X-Men 3 and Origins. Fortunately First Class returned the series back to the tone of X2.

  18. Sylvia says:

    I agree that the Marvels are defintely here to stay. I grow up watching the marvels as a kid and really enjoy seeing them on the big screen.

  19. Tony Cunningham says:

    I agree the film in itself was a good introduction to the newbies but lack the character development I was hoping Bryan Singer would bring to the screen. Overall it was a fun movie. The script…well it was kind of garbage. From a fan boy stand point my feelings where hurt over Storms ridiculous wig. Let Haley Berry where here short hair…spike it up and run with it.

  20. Travis Bow says:

    This is still a fun movie to watch. With First Class just coming out, they were running them all weekend on FX, and it’s still cool to see Wolverine for the first time. And the opening scene with lil Magneto is still a very powerful scene. Unfortunately it has one of the worst lines in cinema history. "You know what happens when a toad gets struck by lightning? The same thing that happens to everything else."