X-Men, directed by a professional piece of shit, was released in 2000, way before the onslaught of comic book movies and television shows that audiences are used to today. Before X-Men, the primary comic book/superhero films that had been released were four Superman films of varying quality–and by that I mean it ranged from good to abysmal–and four Batman films of varying quality (see my comment about the Superman films). Comic book films in the early 2000s weren’t at the same level that we see now. X-men was something unique and special and we can attribute the success of the MCU to its success and the success of the Spider-Man trilogy that would begin shortly after this movie was released.
X-Men tells the story of a group of people called mutants and explores how they are faced with prejudice and bigotry from a world that doesn’t understand them. It is common knowledge that Stan Lee began writing the X-Men series to comment on the civil rights movement that was brewing in our own country at that time. One could argue now would be the perfect time to see the X-Men come back into the forefront of superhero media as a way to comment on the turmoil we see minorities still facing to this day.
This particular X-Men story focuses on the character of Wolverine, iconically portrayed by Hugh Jackman, and Rogue, played by Anna Paquin, as they enter into the larger mutant world. Both Wolverine and Rogue are taken in by Professor Charles Xavier, played by Patrick Stewart, who runs a school for mutants. There they meet Cyclops (James Marsden), Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), Storm (Halle Berry), and come into contact with radical mutants such as Magneto (Ian McKellan), Mystique (Rebecca Romijn), Toad (Ray Park), and Sabertooth (Tyler Mane). The differing viewpoints of Xavier’s X-Men and Magneto’s Brotherhood of Mutants drive the primary conflict of the story. Charles wants cohabitation with humanity, but Magento wants superiority. Magneto is a holocaust survivor and is plagued by the haunting memories of what humans are capable of, ironically he becomes the same kind of monster subjecting others to violence and terror through prejudice and fear.
If I had one complaint about the movie, it would be that Wolverine takes too much of the center stage. He is an iconic character and I think it is an excellent idea to use him and Rogue as a way to help explain the world to the audience, but for me, X-Men has so many excellent and iconic characters that fall to the wayside so the movie can show the badassery of Wolverine. Cyclops, who is a massively important figure in X-Men comics and stories is here played as the butt monkey. His heroism and leadership are portrayed as corny and unnecessary next to the gruff and gritty Wolverine. Another complaint, and this is a personal preference, I hate the black leather costumes. The costumes from the comics are colorful and add layers to the characters that wear them; what we get here are knockoffs from a Joel Schumacher Batman film, minus the nipples.
X-Men is an iconic and important movie that helped design and influence the culture of blockbuster movies today. It is not without its flaws, but if you are looking for an entertaining action film with some excellent performances you can’t go wrong with X-Men.