X-Men Apocalypse is opening next month, and it's now sixteen years since the first X-Men movie was released. I was 10 years old then; I'm 26 now.
The X-Men Legacy
In the superhero soaked media climate of today, it's difficult to recall what the environment was like for superhero movies at the turn of the millennium. How exactly were movies with live-action cartoon characters in colourful costumes received back then?
The answer, as you can probably guess, is not well. Joel Schumacher single-handedly undid all the good work Tim Burton had started with Batman at legitimizing the superhero franchise, when Batman & Robin dragged down the whole superhero industry to the level of a glitzed-up kids movie. With disastrous reviews and sweeping backlash over the dumbing down of the Batman franchise, the late 90s were a bad time for superhero movies.
Enter Bryan Singer and X-Men (2000); the movie that changed everything. It was the first spark that gave way to the unstoppable Marvel/DC inferno we have today. It kicked off the superhero movie adaptation rebirth, spawning Spiderman (2002), Hulk (2003), and, fast forward to 2016, it’s led us to the most singularly powerful position that superhero movies have ever occupied in the larger film world. It's actually astonishing how much the industry has changed in even ten years. Today, the major Hollywood studios are readily locking down half a decade worth of future projects as their major tentpoles for the financial years to come. They bank on the longevity of these franchises, and their financial bankability in the overseas markets, to stay solvent. This is an unprecedent shift in the focus of the broader film industry, never mind the plight of superhero movies.
How much of that could have been predicted back in 2000, when X-Men was following the legacy of Batnipples & Robin? (Hell, 2013 even…)
There's certainly been controversy over the near oligopoly that today's superhero franchises hold over the film industry. But behind all the studio's machinations and cash grabbing, the X-Men films hold up because they're simply great movies. They combine a talented ensemble cast with sharp narrative focus, and the overarching theme of being a 'mutant' is something that most film geeks will find some reason to respond to.
X2 surprised everyone by being bigger and better than its predecessor, though it’s the prequel sagas X-Men: First Class (2011) and X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) that proved to be the critical and commercial slam-dunk that's kept the franchise alive well into the second decade of the 2000s. And not just alive, but bigger and better than ever before. Days of Future Past opened to critical and commercial acclaim unrivalled by any previous outing from the series, grossing $750 million compared to X-Men’s $300 million. It’s a rare film series that actually peaks in interest during its fourth and fifth outings.
With all that in mind, I introduce you to ‘X-Men Remixed’ – a celebration of the film series that combines all the X-Men movies into one epic music video (excluding X-Men 3; I think the official line is that Last Stand never happened).
My passion project is turning movies into music videos. It sounds impossibly tedious, and it probably is. But I’ve also been playing drums for ten years, and this is the unexpected skill that lends itself as a secret weapon to video editing. I like to sync up to the rhythm of a movie in the same way I am to a song; the actions and reaction times; the quick cuts and slow reveals. Music is what gives meaning to striking imagery, and what plays out onscreen creates the story for the music. It's a perfect relationship when done well. Think of your favourite song and you’ve got the video playing in your head, right?
But what’s even more fun – and more rewarding when done well - is taking two disparate sources – a movie and a song entirely unrelated – and matching them together permanently in someone else’s head. This video features over 30 X-Men characters, spanning 15 years in 3 minutes, with the action syncing up to the awesome alternative rock song ‘Capital M-E’ by New York rock band Taking Back Sunday.
What's most incredible to me is just how well the older X-Men movies have aged. The action set-pieces particularly still look fantastic. There's nothing distinctly 'early 2000s' that would preclude them from being made today. In fact, they could easily have been made yesterday.
Clips from the films are intercut throughout the remix video in random order, so that it's hard to tell what shots are from the most recent X-Men movie and which ones are from 15 years ago.
Which is the shot I saw as a 10 year old, and which one as an 26 year old?
Which one is you watching X-Men as a kid and you watching X-Men today?
X-Men Remixed is for everyone who's grown up with X-Men without realising an ocean of time has passed by.
X-Men Remixed has been shared by the band Taking Back Sunday, the James McAvoy MB network, Irish entertainment website The Broadsheet and, best of all, Michael Fassbender's online network. Share it around.