20th Century Fox churned out X-Men movies from 2000 all the way until last year, and while the first two were not a complete mess, there were choices made that forced X-Men fans to question the motivation behind certain decisions. As more X-films movies were added, more “what the…?” moments popped up. At least for this X-Men fan.
The X-Men were my introduction into the world of comics, and to this day, despite ups and downs in the narrative, the mutants hold a special place in my big nerd heart, which is why the 20th Century Fox movies upset me so much, especially how certain characters were shoved into the plot. While some casting choices are brilliant (Patrick Stewart IS Charles), others are a hot mess, and many characters were the equivalent of a cardboard cutout of their comic counterpart. The list of mishandled characters is long, but we’ve narrowed it down to 10 characters that definitely deserved better from Fox’s X-Men movies.
Anna Paquin has fans, mainly from her time on True Blood. And while she’s snagged critical acclaim and even an Oscar, Paquin’s Rogue is lukewarm at best and fails to capture the essence of the character. Yes, she played a young, scared version and not the mutant powerhouse, but even as the films continued, Paquin spent more time looking surprised and scared than using sass and any type of strength, even to cover her own insecurities. We can’t blame the actress completely, of course. The writing and directing should also be held accountable. But it would be nice to have an Anna Marie with a little spunk.
2. Emma Frost
The version of Emma with the most screen time is in X-Men: First Class, and she was essentially a really hot set piece. January Jones looked the part, but a few times I was afraid someone might need to check her pulse for signs of life. Again, not blaming Jones completely as she’s at the whim of the script, but for a character as complicated as Emma Frost, to see her as a pretty henchman was sad.
So in the X-Men movies’ first attempt at Mystique, she more or less said nothing and was an excuse to paint Rebecca Romijn blue and have her slink around naked. In the second version played by Jennifer Lawrence, she was barely Raven. Mystique is one of my favorite villains, emphasis on VILLAIN. At least in the early films, she was a bad guy. In First Class and forward, it very much felt like they couldn’t let her be the manipulative antagonist she should be because America’s Sweetheart played her. This point is further highlighted by how less blue she got as the series progressed.
4. Kitty Pryde
I love Elliot Page, and their version of Kitty Pryde should have been much more than it was. Earlier films — the first two X-films in which Kitty was played by two different actresses prior to Page’s casting, and X-Men: The Last Stand which placed Kitty in a slightly more prominent role — just didn’t do anything with the character (notice a theme), but the movie that placed her front and center was Days of Future Past. Unfortunately, front and center meant shouting at everyone with her hands on Logan’s head and using powers she shouldn’t have. Kitty phases. She’s not a psychic. With Charles sitting literally right there, why was Kitty sending anyone back in time?
Another example of a major villain with a good backstory and depth becoming a mere henchman. When Liev Schrieber takes over the character from Tayler Mane, there is more weight and an actual character behind the feral mutant, but Sabretooth is psychotic and dangerous, and I never really felt that from either version.
Darwin is a pretty powerful dude. His mutant power is he can evolve based on the circumstances around him, which means he can basically survive anywhere and in any situation. Underwater? Gills. Fire? Well, now he’s fireproof. Getting beaten by, oh, the Hulk? Well, when sapping gamma radiation to fight on Banner’s level didn’t work, he could now teleport outta there. Adaptive. Great in any fight. So why did Edi Gathegi’s Darwin get beat in First Class?
In the first set of films, Jubilee was basically an extra, with casual mentions here and there. In Apocalypse, Lana Condor takes on the pyrotechnic mutant and the most exciting thing about her place in the movie is her yellow jacket. The girl shoots freakin’ fireworks out of her hands and it’s still boring. No wonder she didn’t come back for Dark Phoenix.
Olivia Munn looks like Psylocke. And if the character was given any respect in the script, she would have been a bad-ass Betsy. Instead, she’s reduced to one of Apocalypse’s horsemen and spends most of her scenes looking on in awe at the crazy stuff En Sabah Nur can do. And just when you think you’re going to see a cool fight scene with her, it fizzles out.
I actually love James Marsden as Scott Summers. I think physically he works and his carriage and delivery remind me of the comic. The problem is Scott was shoved to the background in favor of the more popular Wolverine, who basically took over as the main reason for anything in nearly every film (Scott’s not alone, as Logan even steals Kitty’s thunder as the one to time hop in Days of Future Past). Instead of the complicated team leader, the Cyclops we get is a meek, confused, unsure man who wonders why Jean keeps ditching him for Logan.
I can talk about how Taylor Kitsch’s Remy lacked any charisma. I can rant about how his power set was represented in a strange way. But honestly… can I get a mon ami? No?