Flashback/Backslide is happy to welcome a new author to the site! Lauren J. Grey reviewed X-Men: The Last Stand as part of the Marvel Blogathon. We will see more of Lauren soon when she reviews her favorite Marvel characters in Thor. Please join us in welcoming her!
Okay, I admit it. I have never been a big X-Men fan. I thought their fight scenes of intense staring and arm-waving were cheesy compared to the crashes and bangs of the Avengers, and their litany of characters and superpowers confusing. I must now emphatically admit something. I WAS WRONG. X-Men is intelligent and awesome. Charles Xavier is a brilliant, wise father figure who stands for a particular noble cause defined beyond the vague “doing good and opposing evil” found in so many superhero movies. Storm is exciting (when she remembers she has powers). Wolverine has the most magnificent hair I have ever seen (and this is coming from a diehard Loki fangirl). I could go on, but it would last all day. The point is this. The complex relationships between main characters are compelling and constantly evolving, and the secondary characters like Iceman and Pyro are more than just two dimensional cut-outs used for quippy comic relief. Every character has potential – for those who read the comics, we understand the subtle references to characters more deeply explored in writing, but for those of us simply learning about these characters from watching the movies for the first time, we can see that potential depth and wish we had time for a closer look. This combination of a team of unique characters with the rich political subtext makes these movies really mean something – the audience cannot simply write off Magneto as a diabolical supervillian. Magneto has an excellent point. Perhaps we disagree with his methods, but at some point we all wonder – are these silly homo sapiens worth it?
And with these thoughts pass the first two X-Men movies – the plots are well-balanced, the characters well-developed, and the fight scenes are well, super awesome. Perhaps this is why I was so disappointed when watching the third installment in the X Men saga, marketed at the time as the finale of a trilogy.
This movie had potential too! The original actors were back with the exception of Kitty Pryde (YES! – and who doesn’t love Ellen Page?) and we start the movie with an epic resurrection of Jean Grey’s dark alternate personality, the Phoenix (YES!) But then it starts to get weird, and the audience starts to get nervous. Cyclops, one of the major X-Men, is killed offscreen after less than five minutes of screen time. We start to remember with dread that Bryan Singer did not direct this movie. Professor X is mean, and Wolverine is confused. (Us too, Logan!) It feels like there are two worthwhile stories fighting for the spotlight – the political messages of the “cure” and the story of Jean Grey, and neither gets the attention it deserves. The story of the Phoenix should have been expanded beyond her lifting various items (with the notable inclusion of Patrick Stewart’s right eyebrow) and sullenly following Magneto around the forest. She is an Omega level mutant! There is no reason for her to be following anyone’s commands but her own. Her story is interesting but was essentially cut short. Here is an actual excerpt* from the writers room:
Writer 1: Okay guys. How should we put Jean Grey and her all-powerful alter ego Phoenix in this movie?
Writer 2: How about dying her hair dark red, telling everyone her super interesting origin story, and then basically ignoring her until the very end of the movie where she is killed in a way that definitely did not actually kill her and deviates so far from the comics we will cause mass confusion, outrage, and disappointment across generations?
Writer 1: Perfect!
*Not an actual excerpt. But almost certainly possibly happened.
And can someone please explain to me why Magneto is the worst general of all time? His fight for the mutants involves sending as many as possible to their certain deaths, and somehow (again, why?) has Jean Grey simply following him around without any attempt to use her powers. He could have won the battle about sixty different ways and yet finds the most inefficient use possible for everyone on his side and subjects us to twenty minutes of flaming car cannonballs. Clearly the special effects people working on this movie are not in the Brotherhood because their powers were actually utilized to their full potential. The only good thing about the fight was the inclusion of the Fastball Special – a classic moment for comic lovers.
Somehow, the audience can always tell when production is rushed, and this is no exception.
With multiple director changes and many of the actors working on other films simultaneously, it was a disappointing conclusion to a great first two films. Perhaps instead of making this movie in the not too distant future, they should have taken a bit more time to ensure a more coherent storyline and a script that did not deviate so far from the comics. Where are the flames around Phoenix? And I cannot get over the *continues to ramble incoherently about the Wolverine stabbing scene*
In the end, Magneto is alone, sadly wiggling chess pieces around in the park. Unfortunately we missed the scene when he manages to convince the FBI and the CIA and the general public that he doesn’t need to go to PRISON, a feat far more impressive than lifting the Golden Gate Bridge. And – SURPRISE – Charles is not dead. Here is yet another conversation overhead* in the writers room:
Writer 1: Okay, so this is the end of the trilogy! Let’s wrap things up!
Writer 2: Bad news. Marvel may want to continue with this franchise. We’re going to need to un-finalize every thing we just did in the past 95 minutes.
Writer 1: But we already shot most of the movie.
Writer 2: No problem. Let’s add on a few non sequitur scenes that make no sense and leave the audience completely unsatisfied.
Writer 1: You brilliant bastard.
*Overheard-ish + small amounts of rampant speculation and deductive reasoning
If you want a movie that will frustrate you and ruin all your hopes for future X-Men movies, watch this movie! And take comfort in the fact that in the future, Bryan Singer indeed returns to X-Men, and it is good.
Thanks for reading!
Lauren from Flashback/Backslide