The X-Men television hype is real now that we know Bryan Singer is directing the pilot episode of Fox's new series. He's brought success to the X-Men film franchise time and again with X-Men, X2, Days of Future Past and X-Men: Apocalypse (little less success on that last one there).
Singer's X-Men paved the way for other successful superhero films, including those of the MCU, which in turn paved the way for superhero television shows such as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and The CW's #Arrowverse. So the idea of him taking Marvel's mutants to the small screen seems like it should be a cinch, right?
Perhaps, but this isn’t the first time the X-Men tried to kick off a career in live-action television. And the last one didn't go so well:
In 1996 FOX released the poorly received pilot for Generation X, based on the X-Men comic-book spinoff series of the same name that featured Emma Frost, Banshee and Jubilee, along with a new team of young mutants such as M, Skin and Mondo.
Though #GenerationX didn’t continue, it could serve as a good point of reference for Singer, providing examples of what to not do –– or to do –– to ensure a more successful series this time around.
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Don't Haphazardly Change The Source Material
While there is something to be said for putting your own spin on your projects, some things are best left as they are. This is especially true for the X-Men franchise, as fans have proven that they don't like Hollywood taking too many creative liberties.
In the case of Generation X, offenses included whitewashing Jubilee, introducing new and underwhelming mutants (such as Buff and Refrax, instead of Chamber and Husk, to save on the special effects budget), and just telling a boring narrative.
The team's training is interrupted when they have to rescue Skin from the mad scientist, Russel Tresh, who wants to use Skin for mutant parts. This "original" story was uninspired, the characters unremarkable, and we weren't emotionally invested. These are all points Singer should, and likely will, improve upon.
It is not known if the new X-Men series' first season will focus on an existing comic book story or not — however, doing so would be a good way to lure in fans new and old. Singer has proven he can adapt our favorite comic book story arcs, including God Loves, Man Kills and Days of Future Past. Hell, he even did a great interpretation of Jean Grey's death, kicking off the Phoenix Saga, which Brett Ratner completely ruined –– something he could have avoided if he had learned from the mistakes of Generation X.
At the risk of sounding like an English teacher, Bryan Singer would be wise to do what Generation X did not, and employ the three C’s: clear, concise and creative. Tell us a good, clear story that gives us all the feels and our favorite characters, and we are in.
Make Sure The New Characters Are Actually Interesting
Back when Generation X aired, the comic was among the newest of the X-Men titles. Fans of the X-Men animated series would've recognized Jubilee — and maybe Banshee and Emma Frost — but probably not any of the other characters. These new, uninteresting unknowns made the transition to live-action television a difficult one for the franchise. Curious viewers struggled to connect with them. There was little-to-no inclusion or reference of the X-Men we love.
This is most likely a problem that Singer will also face. After so many films, the most popular mutants have already appeared on the silver screen and are now associated with actors who come with large price tags. Naturally there will be new characters to focus on, but who will they be? And to what degree will they involve the X-Men?
It has been revealed that the plot will center around a human couple on the run with their teenage mutant children. Who exactly those characters are and what mutations they have are points of intrigue, but everyone really wants to know how they relate to the characters we already know and if some of them might show up. It doesn't seem unreasonable to imagine Patrick Stewart's Professor Xavier or Anna Paquin's Rogue making a cameo.
Maintain The Look And Continuity Of The Films
The X-Men films are notorious for continuity issues, but they were visually and thematically streamlined fairly well, especially in the original trilogy. Each of the those films began with a voiced-over prologue reflecting on mutation and evolution, not unlike what Generation X did when it opened with a written prolog:
Mutation: n. 1. The act of being altered or changed. 2. The illegal genetic condition [US Statute 5504178], first apparent in puberty, caused by the X factor located in the pineal gland of the brain.
Something that would really help tie the X-Men television show in with the movies is the X-Mansion. Like Generation X before them, X2, The Last Stand and Deadpool used Hatley Castle in Victoria, BC as the Xavier Institute. This would help make the shared universe a bit more cohesive.
All eyes will be on the costumes, that is for sure. Singer is known for his controversial move of dressing the X-Men in more combat gear-like uniforms rather than comic book yellow spandex. This was practical or sacrilege depending on who you ask, so it will be interesting to see how how the new mutant superheroes costumes will look. If it looks anything like what Generation X had to offer, we'll pass.
To Me, My X-Men
Once again, the time has come for the X-Men to unite under Bryan Singer's direction. No other director has worked with our favorite mutants and their stories as successfully as he has. Yet, the question remains: will his talent translate well on television? Or will this series repeat the mistakes of Generation X?
With the right creative team, characters and stories, hopefully we will have another X-Men hit on our hands!
Are you looking forward to the new X-Men TV series or think it should stay a movie franchise only? Let us know in the comments below!