Thursday, May 29, 2014

x-men love

Oh, do I love the X-Men... I collected comic books as a kid, and I thank X-Men for that.  I walked down to the IGA Foodmart in Samson, Alabama, and would get a few issues every month, as my allowance would allow it... and when they released the X-Men vs The Avengers 4 issue limited series, which centered around the arrest and trial of Magneto, I was over the moon.  Still have all 4 issues in good condition buried in my comic boxes.  The reason they are only "good" and not "mint" or "near mint" is because I read them about 50 times each... loved that storyline, plus the pictures of The Avengers locked up with the X-Men in an actual physical brawl.

Through college, I couldn't buy many comics, and I kinda lost touch with the stories and the series, but in 2001, when I knew there was an actual "X-Men" movie coming out in May of that year, starring some dude named Hugh Jackman, plus Halle Berry and Captain Picard and, of course, the young and beautiful Anna Paquin... well, I just had to go get me some X-Men comics.  And I did, stopping by Captain Comics (was over on Lorna Road, though the shop has been closed for at least 10 years) and diving headfirst into several series, but my favorite were, of course, The X-Men, followed by The Fantastic Four (I had a comic thing for Sue Storm) and The Avengers.  Because I was working two jobs, I had some money to work with at the time... I likely dropped $50, sometimes $80 per month on comic books--I'd take them to my little cube at the radio station office I worked in, and in between projects, I'd read. 

But it was truly the X-Men movie that sparked my revival.  Now, I don't buy many comics (re: any) because they are just so doggone expensive... when I was buying them, and my monthly issue of Mad Magazine, back in the late 80s, the comics were about $1.00 each, maybe $1.25, and my Mad Magazine declared on the front cover "$1.99 CHEAP!"... when I had my comic buying renaissance in the early 2000s, they went from $1.99 to $2.50 to $2.99 each in the span of about 2 years.  Now?  $3.99 for a regular issue... the art work and graphics are awesome, but when it costs $40 for ten different issues?  Nope.

I guess for those not fully seeing the X-Men appeal, maybe you don't know what I'm talking about... here's a nerd explanation...

First, X-Men are a team of mutants--humans who were born with various "gifts", everything from shape shifting to extraordinary healing... back in the 60s, Stan Lee came up with the concept of "mutants" to explain how to give some of his characters powers without making them otherworldly.  They are mostly Earth-born, but different.  And the mutant struggle for acceptance has been many times connected with the struggle of the homosexual community in what they've gone through over the years for acceptance and such.  Not sure if that's where the artists were truly going with that over the years, but there you go.

Psychic and wheelchair bound (long story) Charles Xavier helps to round up some of these young mutants to train them to start a team, the X-Men, with the likes of Cyclops (fire shoots out of his eyes), Beast (scientist Hank McCoy turns blue and... beastly), Jean Grey (another psychic) and various others, usually doing battle with the evil mutant Magneto, who can control metal at will.

Of course, there is Wolverine, aka James Logan, a sometimes out of control rough n tumble mutant who's special power/gift is healing, but he also has bone claws that can come out of his hands--in a later storyline, those become "adamantium", an almost unbreakable metal. 

So then you've got the bad guys, like Magneto and Mystique and The Brotherhood of Mutants, who believe that normal people are inferior, and that mutants should rule, and will do whatever they need to do to rule such "ungifted people"... you get the drift.

All this leads to "X-Men: Days of Future Past", the movie we watched last night... based on one of the most popular storylines in the comic series history, it makes a few changes to the original story to tell a tale of time travel, dark pasts, darker futures and assassinations.

The movie opens years into the future from the present day, where giant robot Sentinels are wiping mutants off the face of the Earth.  Through some trickeration, Professor X and Magneto, along with young mutants Shadowcat (also known as Kitty Pryde), Pyro, Iceman, Bishop, Warpath, Colossus and a few others help to send Wolverine back in time.  The purpose is to stop the then-young mutant Mystique from assassinating scientist Boliver Trask (played to the hilt by Peter Dinklage).  The killing sparks a series of events to which the Sentinels are then created and sent out to murder the mutants (leading to the future we saw at the beginning of the movie)

However, when they stop Mystique, they discover things to be even worse.  Hugh Jackman is Wolverine, and by that I mean, he IS Wolverine.  All others in this franchise of films can be replaced--but he is an important to X-Men movies as Robert Downey Jr is to the Avengers series.  He's the focal point.

The stellar cast also includes the gorgeous-in-whatever-she-does Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, in full blue body paint... Sir Ian McKellen reprising his older Magneto role... Ellen Page as Kitty Pryde... James McAvoy as the young Charles Xavier... and Michael Fassbender, who owns the screen every time he's on it, as the younger Magneto.

The movie itself was spectacular.  The action was great, the story was great, the script was well done, and new mutant Quicksilver (Evan Peters) nearly stole the film out from under everyone... the "Time in a Bottle" sequence is one of the most well done X-Men sequences since the opening scene of X2: X-Men United with Night Crawler.

Sorry, did I lose you again?  Well, the opening scene of the 2nd X-Men movie, aptly titled X2: X-Men United, introduce the mutant Night Crawler, who can teleport, and its an amazing scene.  The Quicksilver scene here was nearly as good.

Finally, there is the matter of all those other X-Men films, and how does this connect?  The answer is simple.  It doesn't.  Except for when it does.  Except for those times it almost does, but doesn't, but then does.  "Days of Future Past" draws heavily from the previous film, "X-Men: First Class", and has several nods to the first two movies, X-Men and X2... it kinda ignores "X-Men: The Last Stand", the 3rd film, which is ok because several of us ignore that one too. And only sorta references the two stand-alone Wolverine films, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" and "The Wolverine"...

...but as you'll see at the end of this film, the writers were clever enough to set it up where all that doesn't matter, and from here, they can kinda do what they want. 

There you have it.  Go see "Days of Future Past", even if you aren't a comic fan, you'll catch on pretty fast.  Go read some graphic novel collections of the X-Men, including the original story, as told in Uncanny X-Men #141 and 142.   Watch this movie, then read this hilarious spoiler filled explanation of everything you just saw.

X-Men: Days of Future Past is 3rd in my Happy Summer 100 list.

1 comment:

  1. The time in a bottle sequence was amazing. The best part about seeing the X-Men is that my wife loves watching them. Or maybe just Wolverine? Great post David!


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