This is part two in a series of posts I will be doing to better explain my displeasure with what Fox, Bryan Singer, Lauren Shuler Donner and company have done with my favorite super hero team of all time… The X-Men.
You can check out other installments in the What’s So Wrong With The X-Men Movies Anyway? series here:
This week we will be taking a close look at each of the major characters of the movies so far. Some characters are actually represented quite well, while others are absolutely butchered.
Again, we are only looking at the characters as they were shown in the movies. If there are aspects of a character that were better fleshed out in comic adaptations, novelizations, video games or any other peripheral materials – those are not taken into consideration. Just the movies.
So, we will start with some of the major players in the X-Men and work our way down through more minor X-Men, on through to the bad guys and more minor characters.
Both Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy are solid choices and really do the character justice. I have little to complain about in their portrayals of the character. Patrick Stewart is the classic version of Professor X that we have known and loved for many, many years. McAvoy’s version is one we haven’t seen before in any medium but it is interesting and seems like it could ultimately lead us to Stewart’s version if they play their cards right.
Hugh Jackman has embodied this role since day one and has continued to flesh the character out better and better with each outing. Even though X-Men Origins: Wolverine wasn’t the greatest movie, I still have very little that I don’t like about Wolverine’s character. The big thing here is that Hugh Jackman has rarely given us a glimpse of Wolverine’s wild side. He really should give us the feeling that he is always teetering on the brink of going completely feral… which he has done in the comics.
This is where things REALLY start to go downhill… and fast. Cyclops is the leader of the X-Men and yet has some of the least amount of screen time of anyone in the series. Plus, we are given very little to actually like about the character. He always comes off as a bit of a prick.
The character of Jean Grey is pretty important to the series and yet she’s awfully boring. She’s SUPER powerful and the love interest of two of our main characters and, other than being hot, it’s tough to understand what they see in her, particularly Wolverine who seems to be madly in love with her after just meeting her. And when she gets her Phoenix powers it isn’t some force from the great beyond that inhabits her and makes her bad, it’s something that she has kept bottled up for years. The Phoenix loses all its fiery powers and just becomes a stronger version of Jean Grey.
I’ve talked before about how Storm was stripped of her African background but she was also stripped of all leadership qualities that she has had in the comics. In the comic books Cyclops and Storm are the two main leaders (aside from Xavier) and both have taken the back seat to Wolverine through 3, going on 4 movies. At one point the X-Men were broken into two teams, the blue team and the gold team. Cyclops commanded the blue and Storm the gold. Then why is it that in The Last Stand, when Cyclops doesn’t show up for the Danger Room, Wolverine is calling the shots? Why is it that in the final battle, after Cyclops had been killed, Wolverine is calling the shots?
Ooooohhhh Rogue. She is a total badass in the comics and the old animated series. What happened? If what we saw on screen was so important to the story then why not use someone like Jubilee or Kitty Pryde for it? They were both introduced when they were very young and neither has ever been a powerhouse badass like Rogue has. Both were even Wolverine’s little buddies at one point. Plus, by having Rogue so young she can never be a love interest of Gambit, which has been a huge part of both of their stories. This is one character that was completely and utterly destroyed by Fox/Singer. She could have been AWESOME on screen and she did absolutely nothing for three movies (going on four).
Iceman is one of the founding members of the X-Men along with Cyclops, Jean Grey, Beast and Angel. Why they couldn’t stick with that formula, I don’t know. Iceman has always been a bit of a jokester in the comics. He doesn’t really ever get that treatment in the movies though. He’s pretty much just a lovesick puppy, pining for Rogue… and maybe Kitty Pryde too.
Nightcrawler’s first appearance in X2 is one of, if not THE coolest scenes in the entire franchise. His powers were used in a way that made complete sense. This is how a mutant fight should go. Unfortunately there is no link made to Mystique. Maybe it’s coming. He’s her son in the comics, in case any readers weren’t aware. We also don’t get to see him swinging a sword at all. He’s a huge swashbuckler in the comics. Not huge deviations and they could be added in at some point. They kept him German, which is a HUGE accomplishment for this franchise. I just wish he had been kept on longer.
Beast / Dr. Hank McCoy has been played by three different actors in this series of movies. He was seen briefly on a TV in X2. This guy certainly didn’t have the Beast look. No biggie though, it was just a fun cameo. Next we saw Kelsey Grammer donned the blue fur in The Last Stand. Honestly, Kelsey Grammer seemed like a perfect choice for Beast after seeing him as Dr. Frasier Crane for so many years. Then we got Nicholas Hoult, the current Mr. Jennifer Lawrence. With the glasses on he looked properly nerdy and seemed to be lanky enough. I still love the scene where he unfurls his hairy monkey feet from First Class. Then he turned himself into a Dr. Seuss character. Luckily it seems like his look is fixed for Days of Future Past. All in all, Beast is one of the more successful adaptations.
Daniel Cudmore does a pretty decent job looking the part of the huge Russian. Unfortunately he never attempts a Russian accent. I’ve said it before but the differing nationalities of the X-Men members is a HUGE part of what makes this team unique. Colossus actually made his debut in the second iteration of the X-Men which was specifically made up of members of all different nationalities and backgrounds (Colossus, Nightcrawler, Storm, Wolverine, Thunderbird, Banshee and Sunfire). So why lose the Russian-ness? It’s also really unfortunate that we will never be able to see these members on a team together. Last but certainly not least, Colossus has always been a rather quiet, gentle individual. He was raised in a simple farm lifestyle. Again that’s all gone. He’s not made into a loudmouth brat or anything but then again, he’s not really made into much of anything.
Kitty has so far been a pretty minor character. It wasn’t until Ellen Page took up the mantle that she even got more than a cameo slot. So far so good with Miss Pryde but looking ahead has me pretty worried. She is apparently the one responsible for sending Wolverine’s mind back in time in Days of Future Past. That is a power that she has never had in the comics. It’s also not even remotely related to her other power of being able to walk through walls.
Gambit is another character that has always been one of my favorites. And I know I’m not alone. He’s been a HUGELY popular character since his introduction and yet he is one of the most poorly adapted characters in the movie series. Taylor Kitsch, bless his heart, has a horrible Cajun accent. The powers are accurate other than the weird flying/floating cards thing. Gambit is shown in Origins to be about 20-30 years old in the 1970s. His very important flirtation with Rogue will never happen. The fact that Gambit was set as a minor character in one of the worst movies in the franchise is a slap in the face. Producers kept him out of the early movies because they felt he was too close in character to Wolverine. Shows what they know…
Cyclops’ younger brother… in the comics. We have to assume that he is going to be called Cyclops’ older brother in the X-Men movie series, possibly taking his place as one of the first FIVE on the team. I really hope they make the first official X-Men a team of five. Lucas Till pulls off the bad boy vibe of Havok just fine… until he hula hoops energy rings. That one still blows my mind. It’s interesting that Havok is still fulfilling the rebellious younger brother role despite now being the older brother in this series of movies.
Banshee was only an X-Man in the comics for a relatively short time (about 4 years) but he has continued to have a presence for years including being a mentor figure to the Generation X team. His daughter, Siryn, was even a member of X-Force and made an appearance in X2. Somewhat appropriately, Banshee was a bit of a minor character in First Class despite being a member of the “X-Men.” I did mark out pretty huge when Banshee first started flying using his scream. And the kid playing him, Caleb Landry Jones, at least attempted a Irish accent and certainly looked the part. I’d say, for a minor character, he was actually presented fairly accurately.
Angel, in the comics, was one of the original X-Men. In the movies… he’s a plot device and nothing more.
Magneto has been played by two fantastic actors in Ian McKellan and Michael Fassbender and for the most part has been done justice. I will say that old man Magneto didn’t feel quite right. It wasn’t McKellan’s fault though. His plans and hatred/superiority toward humans didn’t feel quite right until The Last Stand and then First Class.
Mystique is an oddity. She was almost a silent character in the original trilogy. It wasn’t until Jennifer Lawrence put on the blue makeup did Mystique become an important character. We get flashes of Mystique’s sneakiness but not a whole ton of insight into her truly devious nature. It looks like DOFP will give us more of that. It would have been nice if Mystique could have retained more of her mysterious nature from the comics rather than having her entire life being linked to Charles Xavier.
Sabretooth was another character that was relegated to the background. He was played by Tyler Mane, a former pro wrestler, so it isn’t really any huge wonder that he wasn’t given a ton of lines. We next saw Sabretooth in Origins. This portrayal, by Liev Schreiber, was actually pretty awesome. He was appropriately obsessed with Wolverine and NASTY. You really got the sense
Ray Park’s Toad only lasted for one movie and didn’t speak a whole lot. In the comics Toad is sort of a groveling British Magneto lacky. Being that he was played by Ray Park, I guess it is safe to assume that Toad was intended to still be British but we can’t be too sure since he spoke so little. There was no sense of his groveling nature though. Disappointing but I don’t think too many hearts were broken that Toad wasn’t perfectly represented. Toad will be returning in some capacity in DOFP so we will see how that representation goes…
I found Pyro to be a pretty cool character in the X-Men movies. I was always glad that they accurately represented his powers. It would have been very easy to give him the power to produce fire on top of controlling it but, in a rare show of restraint, Fox required that he use his lighter and other flaming objects in order to produce fire. He isn’t Australian, as he is in the comics. His quick temper and his potential for viciousness are present but not yet fully developed. Overall, not too bad.
Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw seemed like an odd choice but he definitely pulled it off. The whole backstory with Shaw being involved in the death of Magneto’s parents was an utter mess. His powers also looked pretty ridiculous when in use. But the elitism aspect to his character was certainly there and the idea that the Hellfire Club was deeply rooted in the upper crust of society was most definitely present. Not the worst. Not the best.
January Jones REALLY looked the part of White Queen / Emma Frost. I personally dislike her second mutation, the diamond skin. It just seemed so unnecessary. White Queen isn’t a bruiser so it never seemed like she needed overtly offensive or defensive powers. But she got them… That’s just my personal preference though, it happened in the comics and it happened in the movie so I really can’t complain. The problem with the character is that she really isn’t much of a character. She’s really one dimensional and subservient to Shaw. I’d love to see her back for a future installment where we can get a better sense of her wit and bitchiness.
Plain and simple, Blob shouldn’t have ever been a part of Team X. He doesn’t fit with the team. He’s pretty much always been a bad guy, often under the “guidance” of Magneto. So, Fox, in all their wisdom, took a character perfectly suited for a slot as one of Magneto’s goons and dropped him into this weird comedy spot in Origins in the 1970s so that he can likely never be a member of Magneto’s team. What a waste of a good character and of a great actor in Kevin Durand.
I sort of feel like I’d be beating a dead horse to talk about this again so we’ll keep it short and sweet. Ryan Reynolds’ Wade Wilson was actually pretty decent. He was more or less the Merc with the Mouth. Then he became weapon XI and had no mask, laser eyes, teleportation, swords coming out of his arms and NO MOUTH. How can he be the Merc with the Mouth without the mouth?
You still with me? That’s a lot of characters but those are my thoughts on the characterizations of the X-Men and their enemies. Some were done well, some were left open to be done properly in the future and some were absolutely butchered.
Stay tuned to Action Movie Fanatix for future installments of “What Is So Wrong With The X-Men Movies Anyway?” And as always, let us know what you think in the comments below – agree, disagree, indifferent.