Saturday, 28 May 2011

X-Men: First Class, cliptastic thoughts. It should be great but...

This blog is going to have the kind of ‘fanboy’ crap I hate in it; there’s no way to avoid it, not if I’m going to write this properly, but I hate it. I just want that clear. I’ve also got to make it clear that I am really looking forward to this movie.

I’ve been a fan of X-Men since across various media, comics, TV cartoons and the live action Films. X2 remains, just, my favourite comic book movie of all time. There’s a lot to look forward to; the setting of the film in cold war America, where the Civil rights movement is about to reach its heights is inspired; Matthew Vaughan (Layer Cake, Stardust, Kick Ass) has quickly become a director whose work I look out for; and the key casting for young Xavier and Erik is about as good as it could get with James McAvoy (Last King of Scotland, Wanted) and Michael Fassbender (Centurion, 300). So what’s the BUT?

Ok I’ll start with the issue that doesn’t’ bother me at all, but does have many a ‘fanboy’ up in arms. Also to be fair to the fanboys this is a problem the studio made for itself for no apparent reason. You see the film is called X-Men: First Class and there’s a line of X-Men comics called “X-Men: First Class”, but the film isn’t based on those comics; Confused? Well a   lot of people are, why bother to name it after a specific comic and then not bother to have it be about that comic. The Amazing Spider-Man is about Spider-Man, not one or more of the dozens of Spider-Women. As if trying to make matters worse the film also refuses to use the actual original X-Men, in other words the actual first class. Once again it doesn’t really bother me, it’s weird, but I’m fine with the idea that each different medium can have its own rules and language. The cartoons aren’t the comics and the live action films shouldn’t e expected to be the comics either. Furthermore, we haven’t seen the movie, those reviews out so far are generally quite strong, so we have no idea how well any of this fits within the context of the movie.

So onto the real problem(s): The advertising for this film has gone to great lengths to tie this film to the original 3 X-Men movies, but in doing so it attracts the same problem Wolverine did. Watching a Teenaged Scott Summers (Cyclops) running around in the 1970s just set the WTF alarm off in the back of mind. So no matter how much I may have been enjoying the scenes with him in a voice  was calmly reminding me that Cyclops was in his 20s in the “not too distant future” of X-men 1 -3. Even if we were to be cruel to the guy and pretend he was actually more like 35 AND assume that the not too distant future was actually 2006, then Cyclops would still have to have been BORN in 1971! Not a teen in high school in 1979 (when the film ends at 3 Mile Island’s infamous accident.) A more realistic view is that the even if X-Men was meant to be taking place around 2006 a teenaged Scott is at high school around 2 years before he is going to be born. Of course seeing as Havok, Cyclops’ brother in the comics is in First class, apparently as Scott’s future father, maybe the Cyclops character in Wolverine is actually his uncle, or something!

The whole, timeline makes no sense, thing gets even worse in First class. Mystique is another character who seems to be running around as a teenager years, if not decades, before she should be born. I know what you’re thinking, Mystique is a shape shifter and as such can look anything from 15 – 150. Well yes, when she’s passing herself off as “normal”; but when she’s herself, blue feathery scales or not, she has an age you can guess at. More than that in X-Men 3 she loses her powers and transforms into a regular human female, looking very much like the ridiculously good looking Rebecca Romijn; in other words a woman who is in her early 30s, not someone who has been walking the planet since the mid 1940s and is fast approaching, or already past her 60th birthday!

So if, as the promo material keeps suggesting, this is connected to, a prequel to, the original X-Men trilogy then what’s with completely screwing up the timeline? If it’s more of a reboot, then why go to such lengths to tie the older films to this one? In other words why give the fanboys another excuse to badmouth the film? It’s not like they don’t take naked pleasure in ripping apart the things they claim to love and Fox’s treatment of Marvel properties in particular is it? So there’s the film’s name, the character mix and a connection to a set of films that it doesn’t entirely fit in with on the con side; added to that is the return of the notorious Fox, impossibly short, release schedule. Ironically a shorter one than the time Matthew Vaughan had for X-Men 3, which he left because he didn’t feel he could make a film of sufficient quality in the time given to him.

But there are plenty of factors in the plus column too. Apart from Vaughan, the director of Layer Cake and Kick Ass, this film sees the return of Bryan Singer (director of X-Men and the superb X2) in the role of Producer. He was originally down to direct the film but a prior commitment (to highly the anticipated 2012 release Jack The Giant Killer) meant he had to stick to producing this one. There’s also the brilliant casting of Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy as Erik Lensherr (Magneto) ad Charles Xavier (Wheels Professor X). They may not have reached the status of Sir Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, but it’s an equally savvy pair of casting choices. Then there’s the geek stuff. Fans of the old comics and even the 90s cartoon show will be extremely pleased to see the Blackbird, the actual freaking Blackbird, and that the 1960s setting has allowed the filmmakers to get that classic yellow and blue colour scheme; it works a lot better in moving pictures than it did in that horrendous leaked photo of a few months ago.

There’s a lot riding on this film. Success, significant success would not only confirm the continuation of this new prequel / reboot series but would likely see the green-light given to Producer Lauren Shuler Donner’s proposed continuation of the original series. X4 has at the very least a treatment (which Donner confirmed in May’s Empire magazine) was already with Fox and allegedly very well received. More to the point “...X4 leads right into X5”, according to Donner. Whatever does or doesn’t happen to First Class continued or X4: Cyclops and Jean return, we’ll be getting both a Ryan Reynolds starring Deadpool movie (apparently with the harder R, 15 – 18 rating many though Wolverine should have aimed for) and a new Wolverine movie, snappily titled ‘The Wolverine’. Unfortunately the latter film is no longer being helmed by Darren “Black Swan” Aronofsky (Ahem Luc Besson / J J Abrams or Cohen Bros) but as it’s based on the legendary Wolverine goes to Japan storyline, I have high hopes for that film.

X-Men: First Class opens in the UK on the 1st of June and North America on the 4rd of June.

No comments:

Post a Comment