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5 Rules for an X Men Reboot
How to Make the Perfect X Men Movie
By Chad Derdowski
November 11, 2009
Fox keeps on milking the X-Men cash cow and will likely continue to do so until Disney finds a way to wrangle the film rights away from them. In the event that something like that happens, it might be time to hit the reset button and reboot the franchise in order to bring it in line with the rest of the Marvel movies. As successful as the X-Films have been, long-time fans who actually read X-Men comics know that they’re far from perfect. If a reboot happened, would Disney learn from the mistakes that Fox has made? Could fans be assured that the new films would be more in line with the comics than the old? Here are our 5 simple rules to make sure that it happens.
5. Keep the Characterizations Correct
Professor X was perfect and Magneto was great too. And with the exception of all the crying he did in X3, no one is going to level any major complaints about Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of Wolverine. But the rest of the X-films offered a bunch of characters that were nearly unrecognizable except for their names and powers.
Remember how fun-loving and jovial Nightcrawler was? And how about Rogue, the sultry and sassy Southern belle? Or Storm, one of the most powerful members of the team who was once worshiped as a goddess and eventually assumed leadership of the team? If this doesn’t sound familiar to you, it’s likely because you haven’t actually read the X-Men comics; you’re only familiar with the movies. That’s okay–the folks making the movies didn’t read the comics either. They read a description of the team on the back of one of those “Philosophy of the X-Men” books you find at Borders and never bothered to get to know anything about the team members.
The reason why the X-Men became such a popular series is because fans grew to know and love the characters like a family. Yes, the book was often used as a metaphor for bigotry, racism and intolerance, but don’t forget that it was also a kick-ass sci-fi book with some major soap opera action going on. Think about it: would you like to see a Batman movie in which Batman handed out roses to his enemies? Would you enjoy an Iron Man movie featuring the title character forsaking technology? No you wouldn’t, and Nightcrawler fans didn’t particularly enjoy seeing their favorite fuzzy elf recast as a depressing potential suicide case when they had spent nearly two decades knowing him as a fun-loving swashbuckler.
Don’t just call the movie X-Men; make a movie about the X-Men.
4. Go Giant-Sized!
Or more specifically, a few issues after Giant Size X-Men #1. In other words, stick with continuity.
Sure, some things have to be altered to translate a comic book to the silver screen. We’re not looking for Watchmen here. But if Iron Man taught us anything, it’s that you don’t need to make enormous alterations in order to make it work. You actually can stay true to the source material! The same rule would probably hold true for an X-Men movie. Start the movie off with a few black-and-white yearbook shots of the original team and a few of their exploits. Recreate some classic covers and then give us a few glimpses of Professor Xavier assembling a new group to fight the threat of the island of Krakoa and go from there.
Open the movie with the death of Thunderbird so that rather than showcasing Cyclops as a whiny stick-in-the-mud with a chunk of ruby quartz shoved up his ass, we can understand why takes his job so seriously. Rather than give us a team comprised of “X-Men Greatest Hits,” show us the new team assembling and learning how to work together. Don’t give us a Wolverine who is a rebel with a heart of gold; give us the real Wolverine, the guy that nobody could stand who was always on the verge of killing his teammates. You can show us the heart of gold in the sequel. Don’t substitute Rogue for Kitty Pryde; just use Kitty Pryde! Make some attempt to stick showcase events as they actually happened.
No, we’re not asking to see the Starjammers or the Shi’ar Imperial Guard. We don’t want an issue-by-issue reproduction of the entire history of the X-Men. That’s unrealistic and it might even make for a crappy movie. We’re just asking that you take the Iron Man approach: they changed Vietnam to Afghanistan and updated the technology to modern standards and other than that left well enough alone. It’s the X-Men: the story is already there and it’s already awesome. Tweak what you need to tweak but keep the core events intact.
3. There’s No “I” in Team
The name of the movie is X-Men, not Wolverine. But you’d never know it if you watched the first three X-Movies. Yeah, we know he’s popular. We know he sells a lot of books. He’s undoubtedly the most popular member of the team,but man cannot live on bread alone. As we stated earlier in the section about characterization, it’s a team book and fans want to see the entire team treated with respect, not as Logan’s supporting cast.
If you want to make a Wolverine movie, make a Wolverine movie! But if you’re gonna make a movie about the X-Men, how about actually featuring the rest of the team?
2. No More Magneto!
The X-Men have been around since 1963 and since then have amassed an enormous rogues gallery. Mister Sinister, Apocalypse, the Acolytes, Bolivar Trask and his Sentinels, the Hellfire Club… the list goes on and on. Are you going to tell us that in the long and convoluted history of the X-Men, the only villain you can come up with is Magneto?
Of course, Magneto was the obvious choice for the first film and the storyline that stretched over the three X-Movies was a logical one. But if a reboot takes place, they have got to move on and use someone other than the Master of Magnetism. Learn a lesson from Chris Nolan: you can try something new and save the #1 villain for the sequel. If you do it right, it’ll be worth the wait.
1. They’re Superheroes, Not Bikers!
The X-Men did look pretty cool in their black leather outfits, and if those types of outfits are going to work for any superhero team, it’s the X-Men. After all, they used to all wear the same uniform in their earliest appearances. But we don’t buy the “we tried it and they just looked like the Power Rangers” excuse. Try harder. We want to see the X-Men in costumes.
No, the costumes they wear in the comics might not translate perfectly to the big screen. They’d likely all have to go through some sort of revision. But Spider-Man wore tights and didn’t look stupid in his movie; he looked awesome. The costumes worn by the X-Men don’t have to be spot-on reproductions of the ones we see in the monthly book, but it would be cool if they were a little more familiar. We’ve already discussed our desire to see the plot mirror the comics a little more closely and we’re demanding that the characters actually act like their counterparts – would it hurt if they looked a little more like ‘em too? Just a teeny little bit more?
These are our Rules for an X-Men Reboot: a few helpful tips that we think would make the next set of X-Men movies even more kickass and more successful than the first one. What do you think? What are your rules for a more perfect X-Flick?
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