FT Top 100 Films
42: X-MEN

How do you turn a really successful, but really complex comic book series into a film. Its easy with Batman, Spider-Man or Superman as everyone knows what they do and to some extent why. But the messy, convoluted story of the X-Men, a bunch of guys with rather minor powers appearing in what seems like hundreds of comics at once. Oh there is this wishy washy idea that it is ALL ABOUT RACISM but beyond that, what is there to tag on to these characters. Except they all have really stupid costumes.

Well step one is get rid of the stupid costumes. Step two is to look at that origin again, and think literally. The X-Men were always based in a school, lets make it more like a school then, less of this constant fighting. Cherry pick your characters to the essential fan favourites (that would be Wolverine, Storm and Rogue* then) and a few that have really easy powers to do. And then make the best decision ever made in a superhero film. Make them a bit crap.

You watch Spider-Man and the origin sequence is nicely worked out. The spider, the wrestling, the tragedy. All nice and neat. Nowhere does it explain that the proportional strengths of a spider also give you some sort of magic tactical awareness, that makes you good at fighting. In X-Men, the hard guy – that would be your Wolverine – barely survives his fight with Mystique. In the second X-Men movie he equally gets his arse kicked by another gurl. Frankly it is by luck and risk taking at best that this team survives. And therin is the solution to the problem with superhero films, over competence. In X-Men everyone has powers, it is the status quo, so it is not really all that special. Some of those powers are really rubbish (long tongue and spitting like a toad. Um, lovely.) Short, sweet, something for the ladies (Hugh Jackman) and enough care over the package to make you think you would like to see this gang again. Which you do. One of the most successful applications of summer movie syndrome, I saw it three times in Mexico.

*A fan favouirte character whose powers are derivative of another characters in the Marvel Universe whos eown powers are themselves second hand and thus actually really difficult to reproduce in the X-Men films!