Hello interweb, Nate here! So I claim to be such a huge X-Men fan and yet I’ve only seen X-Men: Days of Future’s Past and X-Men: Apocalypse, and I believe I’ve only reviewed the later on here. (I would give it a quick review but that movie was so forgettable I’d have to rewatch it first.) Hopefully, I’ll be able to watch and review X2, X-Men: The Last Stand, and X-Men: First Class sooner than later but I don’t know when that’ll be so no promises. With all that out of the way, let’s get to the review! Also, not sure whether this is necessary for a 17 year old movie, but SPOILER WARNING just to be on the safe side.
Movie Title: X-Men
Produced by: Marvel Comics
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Writer: David Hayter, Tom DeSanto, and Bryan Singer
Director: Bryan Singer
Producer: Lauren Shuler Donner and Ralph Winter
Running Time: 1 hr 44 min
Not gonna lie, when I came into this film I was expecting to either dislike it or hate it. My biggest problem with the Fox’s X-Men franchise may lie partially with myself and not solely on the movies. Because of my love for the comics, I have very high standards for an X-Men story and I doubt that Fox will ever make an X-Men movie that meets those standards. This does mean I tend to judge X-Men films a lot more harshly than other superhero films because I have my own vision for what the X-Men are and the creators of these movies clearly have a different vision. That’s not to say that their vision is wrong, it just doesn’t match mine. The interesting thing about X-Men is that I don’t really hate this movie, I don’t particularly love it or find it amazing, but I don’t find it insulting. This may be because it is a product of its time so I’m looking at it from eyes in 2017 where we have Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers, Captain America: Civil War, and Deadpool to compare superhero movies to when back in 2000 we only really had Blade, a few Batman movies with the most recent at the time I believe being Batman Forever, and the Christopher Reeve’s Superman movies. With that in mind, if I saw it when it first hit theaters I’d probably see it in a similar light to how I see Sam Raimi’s Spider-man.
So what’s the story? Senator Kelly is currently in the process of pushing anti-mutant legislations in America and he’s getting huge support from the American people. Due to this, a rift is caused between two groups of mutants: the Brotherhood of Mutants led by Magneto, and the X-Men lead by Professor X. Magneto lived during the time of the Holocaust and therefore has experienced first had just what prejudice and discrimination can do when pushed to the extremes so he plans to wipe out the human race so mutants don’t suffer the same fate he did as a child. Professor X, on the other hand, dreams of a world where mutants and humans can coexist and live peacefully with each other and sees Magneto’s plans as a threat meaning he must gather his X-Men to stop him.
The mutant prejudice is what this movie does the best and, in my opinion, it does it better then DoFP and Apocalypse. It never comes off as preachy with it either, only demonstrating that people fear mutants because they don’t understand them and sees their power as a danger to society rather than something that could improve it. Senator Kelly is demonstrated to be on the wrong side of history within the movie and even has a change of heart near the end (right before he dies, I might add). One of the best parts of any X-Men story is exploring the philosophies that each character has to react to the arguably unjust prejudice placed on mutants which is explored through these three characters. Although while Senator Kelly’s philosophy that mutants are a danger isn’t explored as much as Magneto and Professor X’s individual beliefs, the film makes it clear that his beliefs are clearly in the wrong and so there’s not much exploration there. I also think that it was done best here partially because this universe hasn’t met heroes like the Avengers or Spider-man and therefore there’s no weird double standard where the Avengers are moderately tolerated or beloved while the X-Men are hated. That’s the only thing that I do see a problem with the X-Men joining the MCU but I bet they could come up with a plausible explanation for why people hate mutants. Hell, Civil War could’ve caused people to sour towards superheroes in general and then the X-Men shows up and now even your own son could have superpowers!
While the film tackles the prejudice towards mutant kind brilliantly, it’s missing the other half of what the X-Men stand for which is another big problem that plagues the Fox’s X-Men franchise. Mutants don’t just want to be accepted in society because they can’t control who they are but they also love who they are too. While you could make the argument that that’s pretty much implied, I wish they would do more in terms of the characters loving their powers and having fun with them outside of students playing mutant basketball for a split second of screen time. Of course, some characters featured in the film I couldn’t blame for hating their abilities (mainly Rogue) but I really wanted a scene where a character like Senator Kelly suggest curing the mutant gene only for someone to speak up and say that they don’t want a cure. However, I have heard that the cure is tackled in later movies so I’m interested to see how that plays out.
The action is very 90’s and early 2000’s, which duh it was made in 2000. It was just pretty funny to watch as characters flew across the sky slowly when punched and unrealistically crash into walls and such. I nearly burst out laughing when Wolverine basically flew through the sky early in the film when his truck crashed into a tree Sabretooth broke. That scene was NOT meant to be comedic but when it’s shot like that I couldn’t help myself. The only thig that genuinely bugged me about the action was Wolverine during the climax. Wolverine is suppose to have trained with samurais by the time he became and X-Men and yet here he barely seems to know how to fight. It kind of reminded me of Batman in The Dark Knight Rises vs Batman in Batman V Superman. Say what you want about BVS, at least admit Batman’s fights was choreographed much better there than in Dark Knight Rises
Let’s get to the characters now. The two kinda-ish main characters in this movie is Rogue and Wolverine. Rogue is nothing like her confident southern belle counterpart. She reminds me more of a Shadowcat or Jubilee like character. Which only makes me wonder why they didn’t use Shadowcat or Jubilee, I mean Jubilee’s powers are quite dangerous so if you needed to take the “Naive mutant girl with dangerous powers” angle then Jubilee would’ve worked. Luckily for the film the only reason I ever really loved Rogue was because I always liked her relationship with Gambit so I’m a little bit more relaxed on letting this out-of-character adaptation slide. Rogue’s character here is really meant to be more naive and relatable to the audience as our way of learning about this world more. It’s kind of like one of those characters writers make who’s new to everything just so more experienced characters have to explain things to them and by extension the audience. I’ve always found this trope (is it a trope or a cliche?) kind of dumb since it’s used so much but a least it’s not too overplayed here.
Rogue’s relationship with Wolverine is done quite well here. Wolverine throughout the comics have always had a soft spot for little girls forming a bit of a daughter-father relationship. Examples of these include Shadowcat, Jubilee, X-23, and a few more. As much as I don’t care much for Wolverine, I have to give credit where credit is due and the film did that part of the character quite well. Hugh Jackman, despite being a bit tall for the role, does do a great job as Wolverine and this is clearly evident by the fact that he’s about to play in his last movie as the character and a lot of people want him to stay.
Patric Stewart does a perfect job as Professor X and his role in the film is written very well. His relationship with Magneto isn’t fully realized but enough is revealed in this movie that will allow future movies to make their relationship more complex. I also appreciated the little touch at the end where he’s visited Magento in his marble prison.
Speaking of Magneto, I really liked him here. His connection to the Holocaust made his motives very strong and he proved to be quite the threat. I did think his Brotherhood of Mutants were weirdly out of place in the film since the film had a more realistic tone to it and having henchmen just seemed too comic booky. Which I know is odd since it is a comic book movie, but they were taking a more realistic tone with this movie, not a comic booky one. So the henchmen just all felt out of place. I still think it’s an odd choice for Mystique to be his right hand man (or, woman) since the two barely interacts with each other in the comics, but her character served its purpose for what they had her do.
Scott and Jean were both in here but I really just had a “meh” opinion on them. Cyclops isn’t really the strong and decisive leader he is in the comics and Jean only served to be the center of a rather forced love triangle. Seriously, the film didn’t make me care for Jean’s relationship to anyone here. She might like Scott because…I don’t know. And she might like Wolverine because…I don’t know. And both Scott and Wolverine likes her because…she’s hot…yup, quite compelling! I mean Wolverine was a bit more flirtatious with her but there just really was no chemistry with these characters.
Overall, the movie isn’t insulting but it isn’t brilliant either. It’s a fun little flick to watch if you want to see all the early superhero movies before the MCU showed up. The mutant prejudice was the best thing about this movie and the characters are all well written for the most part. The tone shift from the comics is to be expected from a movie made in the 2000s but I only forgive it because it was made in the 2000s. If this was made today I would be a tad harsher, not much since it is decently written, but a tad harsher nonetheless. If you’re an X-Men fan I’d reccomend seeing it just to see where the X-Men movies started or if you’re a marvel or superhero fan in general, but if you’re just a casual superhero fan then pick up literally anything in the MCU and you’ll have a much better movie experience.