We Need a Xavier Mindwipe
It’s hard to believe I am thinking about what I see as the need to reboot the X-Men franchise. When X-Men hit theaters back in the year 2000, I was blown away. We had seen superhero movies before, but we had never seen a team of superheroes on the big screen. Before that, if we wanted live action teams, we were relegated to made-for-TV movies like Generation X. Luckily, times were changing and technology was catching up to the big ideas on display in comics. Blade proved that a comic book movie could have a dark tone and be taken seriously while making a decent amount of money. It paved the way for a new way of thinking when it came to comic book movies, and two years later, we got X-Men.
X-Men was X-Citing
X-Men was the movie that truly showed me what comic book movies could be like on the big screen. Sure, we had individual films starring Superman, Batman, and even Howard the Duck. None of these showed you the diversity and excitement a team could have. In the comics, the individual hero had the villain to spar against, and that was about it. With a team book, you had heroes sparring with each other both emotionally and physically. Not only that, but team books often inspired some of the greatest villains.
A combination of these items often leads to greater storytelling. And getting to see all of this on display, in a serious big-budget Hollywood movie, was amazing. That was a long time ago though. Eighteen years and seven—soon to be eight—movies later, the luster has worn out quite a bit. The solution might be found in the tried and true method almost every comic has utilized at this point: a reboot.
One of the things I have noticed with the X-Men movies is the sequel is considered superior to the original, but the third movie tanks. Critic and audience scores seem to reflect that notion. While I can’t speak for everyone, both X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men: Apocalypse were terrible films. Apocalypse was one of the worst movies I have ever seen. In the case of the X-Men series, “franchise fatigue” sets in with the third movies. Writing is sub-par, the directing almost nonexistent, and the actors are clearly there because they signed a contract. I get it, these big-budget tentpole movies are a strain on the system to make. The excitement has worn off, but because the last two movies made money, we have to crank out another one.
In the case of the First Class series of movies, fatigue seems to have set in with audiences as well. Days of Future Past earned nearly $750 million worldwide, while Apocalypse earned almost $550 million. That is a significant drop in audience, especially when compared to X2 and Last Stand, which saw an increase in audiences with those movies. Oddly, maybe due to critical and audience reactions to The Last Stand, Fox decided to do a reboot anyway with the First Class movies.
Why Another Reboot?
Which leads us to the “why a reboot” question. Rebooted franchises often find substantial success. Look at the success the Batman, Superman, Spider-Man and James Bond franchises had after a reboot. There was a brand-new energy about each franchise. A new way to look at the storytelling. Joel Schumacher killed the Batman franchise, and Nolan rebooted it 8 years later to incredible success with Batman Begins. Begins was a revelation in storytelling and acting. Gone were the days of George Clooney grinning like an idiot while Alfred was dying. We had an incredibly grounded, real-world story where you believed that Batman could exist.
With an X-Men reboot, now firmly in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Marvel could work their magic on this stagnating franchise. Marvel has found a formula and one that has worked really well thus far. By combining Hollywood genre films with Marvel characters, we have seen some amazing films. Winter Soldier is a great ’70s-era throwback spy thriller and buddy movie. Ragnarok is a balls-to-the-wall campy ‘—80s sci-fi movie with buddy cop thrown in for good measure.
Just think of what Marvel could do with the X-Men now. It might be too late for Infinity War, but we could still get an Avengers vs. X-Men crossover for the power of the Phoenix. My only true hope is that they choose a villain other than Magneto for the X-Men movie. The X-Men have plenty of villains. Mr. Sinister, Apocalypse (done right this time, not the Ivan Ooze we got), Omega Red, Sabretooth, Juggernaut, the Brood, Arcade. Oh man, an Arcade movie would be so much fun! Marvel has been wise enough to pull out obscure villains from a hero’s rogues gallery, and I hope this isn’t any different.
With the tired feeling of the current First Class series of movies, I want something fresh. The new one coming out, Dark Phoenix, has done nothing to alleviate this feeling I have toward the series. Are we doing Dark Phoenix…again? Awesome? I get they are trying to make people forget The Last Stand even exists, but this is ridiculous. Time to let Marvel have their property back. Time to let Marvel put their spin on it. At least then I would have faith that something original was coming, instead of the rehash we are certain to get with the upcoming one.