Let's get something straight, right off the bat: I am an X-Men fan from back when the team was located in Australia. I grew up with these mutants and their cause; picking up from where my dad's collection left off and through many mediums, right into the 90's animated series that to this day I maintain is one of the best cartoons that has ever existed. I had it all. I collected the comics, the toys (my Aunt worked for Toy Biz back in the day :D) and I shared this passion with my best friend. Together we became experts in the lore and were so heavily invested in it, that when the animated series concluded the Phoenix Saga, we shed tears.
I am a fan and about as much of a "real" fan as there can be.
Nearly a decade later, Bryan Singer released the first movie tied to this universe and while it's not the Citizen Kane of superhero movies, I really enjoy it. It brought my favorite heroes to life in a new way and though it didn't have my absolute favorite team member, I was reminded of why I love the franchise.
The movie franchise seems very polarizing, to me. As much as there are people who seem to like them, there are seemingly an equal (but louder) group that despise them, for some reason. Sure, there are two very obvious duds in the franchise (I'm looking at you, Last Stand!), but there is great fun to be had in these movies and Bryan Singer is a great visionary to help bring my favorite superheroes to life.
I had a discussion with a friend not too long ago, where he stated very strongly that Avengers is the best superhero movie ever, because it stayed true to "canon". Let me clarify: I'm not an idiot (at least I don't think I am) and I know what canon is, but I think that it's a dumb concept that makes for a weak argument. I said that Days of Future Past was my choice and again I was met with "but it's not canon" and that "Bryan Singer ruined the story". All this was because it wasn't canon.
Now, I'm no expert in the entire Marvel Universe, but this shows that there are more versions of "canon" than I'd like to count.
It's no secret that The MCU borrows almost exclusively from the Ultimate universe, instead of the comics that preceded it, a history established since the 60's. The Avengers even used the Ultimate version of Nick Fury, who for decades beforehand was Caucasian. Again, saying that something is not "canon" is just a weak argument.
So what's the problem with X-Men, then?
Our discussion devolved pretty quickly into a debate over whether Disney should take back the X-Men, or if Fox should keep it and continue to put out movies into what the Marvel Wiki calls "Earth-10005". Honestly? I think Fox should keep it, but my friend was adamant that Fox just ruins things and that Marvel (Disney) should take it back and make a "proper" movie. Further prodding revealed that a major point of contention was that it deviated to heavily from the animated series (which itself really deviates from the comics, you know) and that this deviation somehow meant that Fox "should never have had it to begin with".
Let's pause this right here.
In 1989 a pilot for an X-Men cartoon was made, that matched closely the events of Chris Claremont's run in Uncanny X-Men and it didn't work out. It was pretty bad, though not completely terrible. In 1992 we saw a new cartoon released instead that was based on Claremont's revised cast. Produced by marvel Entertainment, these were championed and ordered by the head of Fox children's network, Margaret Loesch. Originally the two part pilot was threatened with cancellation because the production team dropped the ball, with missing scenes, animation errors, etc; but after more work, it was re-released in the following season. Marvel Entertainment hired the production staff who nearly saw this cartoon cancelled before it got off the ground and Fox pushed them to do a better job. Fox always had it, so Fox - 1, Marvel - 0.
"Why don't Sabertooth and Wolverine know each other?"
It's never stated that they didn't know each other, but it's not like Wolverine would remember, anyway. He's an amnesiac. As for Sabes, he doesn't speak very much to deny anything and even goes so far as to steal Wolverine's dog tags. It wouldn't be a trophy, since the guy got away, so it's only logical that it was sentimental. Needless to say, this didn't end the argument, but maybe I'm just able to read more into it than most.
Over the continuing franchise, there were some definite pitfalls, but no more than others. X3 was a bomb along with X-Men Origins; but Spider-Man 3, Incredible Hulk and Iron-Man 2 and 3 weren't all that enjoyable for me, either and just about equally so. Sure, they all had points in them that I enjoyed, but overall there are far more movies I don't like, than ones that I do. Let me also add in that I don't even really like the cast of Avengers and only read issues of those comics that involved Doctor Doom or the X-Men. Sure, RDJ is to Tony Stark that Hugh Jackman is to Logan, but of the two, I go with the character who has his metal on the inside.
"They're not grounded enough in reality."
Let me just say that I do not like the Christopher Nolan style of superhero movie. Superheroes are unrealistic by design. In my mind, you can't have both a superhero and a realistic world. There is nothing realistic about a man dressing up as a bat so that he can pummel on bad guys because he never went to grief counseling. This rationale just doesn't hold up for me and I prefer to live in a world where "dark and gritty" are not used as a setting, beyond that of a plot point (ie: the distopian future of DoFP, or the alternate present of AoA).
The more vocal people are about why they hate Fox, or Bryan Singer, etc, the more I wonder as to why they feel that way to begin with. So far no one has given me a reason that makes me stop and consider their point of view. The closest thing so far are comments about the underused Rogue.
That one I can get behind, but not as a reason to jump on the Disney bandwagon. In X-1, Rogue was a modified blend of her original state and the character of Jubilee, according to various members of the production staff. It worked out well, because her character was made to be integral to the plot of the movie, without actually being about her. Let's be honest here too, more about her back story is told in that movie than that of Agent Romanov in Avengers. As a matter of fact, Avengers gives absolutely no back stories to its characters at all. You need to watch the varied tie in movies to learn anything and even then, you only get four members of the team. I have not seen Age of Ultron (and have no desire to) so I can't speak for that one, but my original point stands. X-Men does more for characterization in an ensemble piece.
"It's not about the team, enough."
This one didn't even make sense to me. The climax of X-Men has the group of adults working together to stop the bad guy and they did it with as much of a budget as the movie had. Maybe if it had the money behind it that Avengers had we'd see bigger effects for Storm or Marvel Girl. We can only wonder though. Even then, compared to Avengers it's no more or less a team movie. The only real difference is that X-Men brought everyone together in one movie and Avengers used several in order to accomplish the same thing.
Our discussion pretty much came to a halt a little while after. My friend was insistent that the "MCU" had a richer story where there were all these interconnected movies in a shared universe, but I don't feel it. Every time I watch a movie that is meant to tie into Avengers, or Age of Ultron, etc; I'm left feeling like they are just a trailer for an even bigger movie that I'd rather watch. Like all those times before Avengers when Nick Fury would pop up and basically say "Don't you wish this movie was the Avengers?" The Fox movies have a couple stingers as well, but they never (ever) made me feel like I'd wasted my time.
Two part movies suck, by the way (glaring at you, Infinity War). Doesn't anyone else remember the mess that was Matrix 2 and 3? I do and I refuse to watch a movie that requires me to tune in a year later to see the conclusion to the plot, especially after having to watch all the tie in movies to understand the characters. Each movie should be it's own plot with it's own narrative arc. Even the Star Wars Trilogies and Lord of the Rings managed this. They each told epic tales, without having to pull a dumb trick like splitting a story in half because it's seemingly too big for one movie, yet alone in a day and age when the average running time of a movie has increased by half an hour. That's the length of a single episode of a cartoon (which technically is only 22 minutes).
To add perspective: the Fellowship of the Ring is something like 3 hours long. That essentially works out to the total running time of the Phoenix and Dark Phoenix story lines from the X-Men animated series, back to back. Those episodes are widely held as some of the best examples of superhero storytelling and it covers an incredibly epic amount of content, with an impressive cast of characters.
Disney definitely has an impressive list of movies coming out for their superhero properties, but I remain a fan of the X-Men universe and like I said, I haven't received any feedback or criticism that sways my love of the Fox franchise. Fox can keep doing what they do and hopefully we will one day see a new animated series, considering attempts to keep one running outside of Fox have both failed - though Evolution and WatXM were both enjoyable.
Thinking about those two cartoons makes me laugh, considering that as enjoyable as they are, they are no where near what some would consider "canon". maybe it's time we all sit back, stop bitching and just enjoy what all studios put out for us. I for one don't need Disney to have a monopoly on a whole genre.
(Final thought: I chose to overall ignore anything related to DC, mostly because as disinterested as I am with the Avengers roster of characters, I'm even more so about DC's characters.)