In the wake of Joel Schumacher's devastating take on the Batman franchise with Batman & Robin in 1997, comic-based and superhero movies descended to an all-time low. Regardless of its upturn with Sam Raimi's Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2, and Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight trilogy, you can't deny the fact that with Bryan Singer's first X-Men movie in 2000, people began to have faith in comic-based movies once again. It really proved that superheroes are not just a product of fiction. They are more than their colorful costumes, they are characters to whom people can relate.
Sixteen years have passed since Bryan Singer kicked off the X-Men franchise with its first feature film. The idea of bringing a team of mutants to the silver screen began in 1984, but due to financial troubles, a lot of ideas and concepts were rejected until the X-Men's film rights were obtained by 20th Century Fox in 1994.
After the success of The Usual Suspects, Bryan Singer was looking for a science fiction film to direct. He was offered to direct Alien Resurrection, but the X-Men's prejudice theme persuaded Singer to take on the project. The first X-Men film was 16 years in the making and all the hard work really paid off, with its box office success and critical acclaims. But how did the X-Men breathe new life into the comic book and superhero film genre?
Faithfulness To The Comics
Despite being considered as a "Wolverine" film, X-Men managed to stay loyal to the comics in terms of character development. The characters' costumes may not have been as colorful and accurate as they were in the X-Men: The Animated Series, but it didn't fail to present the characters as they were in the comics. The movie also managed to touch on the different elements from the comics, such as Wolverine and Cyclops's feud, Storm and Cyclops's leadership in the team, Wolverine and Jean Grey's relationship and of course, Professor X and Magneto's unending vendetta.
The X-Men comic book series basically has two main focuses — humankind prejudice against mutants and mutants' venture on equality. The movie successfully reflected the mutants' (X-Men) journey as they fight against preconception, digging into their emotions and struggles on conquering this path. And because of X-Men's success at the box office and its critical acclaim, it opened new doors for the superhero movies' inevitable sequel.
Good Balance Of Exposition
Another key aspect of the film is that it successfully elaborates on the original story and handles the characters' past and personas. Neither the plot nor the character development and relationships were hard to follow, such as Magneto's backstory when he finally discovers his ability to manipulate magnetic fields, Rogue's capability to take other people's life force and Wolverine, Cyclops and Jean Grey's love triangle drama.
Before the journey to fight against evil begins (The Brotherhood of Mutants led by Magneto), Professor X not only introduces the X-Men to Wolverine/Logan but also to us. That exact sequence draws us into the world of the mutants even more, highlighting how they cope with their daily lives despite people's rejection of their kind. It allowed us to fully immerse ourselves into the story and understand on where the characters get their own opinions and views in life.
The movie's complex theme provides us with humanized characterizations and emotions. Sure, you cannot relate to Jean Grey in that you cannot go inside other people's heads or move things with your mind, but the one aspect that the X-Men movie has achieved is that they humanized the characters in such a way that though we aren't mutants, there are still elements of their personalities we can relate to.
Mutants, or the X-Men in specific, do not exist in real life, but the characters' emotions emerging throughout the movie exist in us. We may not be as indestructible as Wolverine/Logan, but ordinary people like us would feel as vulnerable as he does when he was trying to pick up the broken pieces of his life. We are not as powerful as Jean Grey and Professor X, but what they felt as they strived for the mutants' equality in society is what we also feel as we battle against racism.
This movie didn't just please the comic book fans as it reinvented the approach to the comic book and superhero film genre, but it also taught me to fight for what I believe is right. That I should never give up to something that matters most in my life and that what I do will always define me as a person.
The X-Men film is considered to be the reincarnation of superhero movies. It is Bryan Singer's solid start to the X-Men franchise, and although it may not be extremely loyal to the comics, it succeeded in capturing many people's hearts, especially those of diehard fans.
See how far Professor X and his students have come in this awesome BTS video for X-Men: Apocalypse below:
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Which X-Men movie do you think is the best?