This is the first in a series I'm starting where I examine the impact of 50 comic book movies on culture and society since the year 2000. In limiting myself to 50, I've had to drop a few films such as Hellboy and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, whilst films such as Blade didn't quite make the 2000 cut.
The Film: X-Men (2000)
Director: Bryan Singer
Producers: Lauren Shuler Donner, Ralph Winter
Production/Distribution: 20th Century Fox
Cast: Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Bruce Davidson, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Ray Park, Tyler Mane, Anna Paquin, Shawn Ashmore
Plot: Wolverine and Rouge arrive at X-Mansion, where they meet mutants such as Professor X, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Storm and Iceman. Magneto and his allies (Toad, Mystique and Sabretooth) capture a senator and artificially attempt to mutate him. Magneto captures Rouge, Prof X goes into a coma and the X-Men stop Magneto from using his machine on a large crowd of politicians at the Statue of Liberty.
This was one of the most mainstream superhero films in a long time. Whilst it was slightly beaten by Blade (1998) as the first modern superhero film, it was a wider introduction to the modern superhero film as we know it. Many previous comic-book films had been blatantly ridiculous, and whilst some are still very good, the majority don't hold up too well. X-Men brought a more realistic tone, not overly serious, but certainly a step down from the likes of Batman & Robin. The film can also be considered as the first true superhero team movie. Other films focused on singular characters (Superman, Batman, Blade) and whilst X Men did have a main character (Wolverine), it followed a team. The superhero team movie is hugely popular now, and X-Men set that precedent. Looking back, it was hugely important in establishing the modern superhero film as we know it.
The film is smart, centralized and accessible. This is something that we've become used to now, but it was certainly something special at the time.
At the time of its release, X-Men was well received by critics. Praise was given to its solid story and good performances. It was looked upon as one of the best superhero films ever, at the time. Over time, it has perhaps been overtaken by other films, both in its own franchise and others. It certainly has some off moments and the changes to the uniforms and characters (Cyclops) have not really held up well. Having said that, it is still an entertaining watch today, but it has certainly been surpassed by others
Rotten Tomatoes: 82% Certified Fresh (56% from Top Critics, 83% Audience)
Budget: $75 million
Box Office: $296.3 million
X-Men, while not perfect, is still a good superhero film. It deserves a lot of respect for being the first film to really bring a superhero team to the big screen. It was required to change from the comics in order to be liked by general audiences, but this doesn't derail the film. It balances humour with darkness but never really goes too far (except for that "Toad struck by Lightning" bit). It's not amazing, and the fight scenes gt better, but as the first superhero film of the 2000's, it is also one of the best.
It is certainly deserving of its place in comic book movie history.
3 Lessons learnt from X: Men
1: Superhero teams can work on film
2: Just because your characters have superpowers, doesn't mean that a film must be ridiculous.
3: Superheroes and Super villains simply have different agendas, one is not pure evil, one is not pure good.