Let’s Talk About X-Men: Part 2

Alright peeps. Seeing as Logan is Hugh Jackman’s curtain call as Wolverine, it seemed like a good time to take a look back on the X-Men film series and talk about what we liked and didn’t like. These aren’t reviews, per say. We’re not going to rank these things or analyze the crap out of them. Instead, we’re just going to crack jokes and revel in the fact that Jackman has been playing this character for almost 20 years. That’s pretty damn amazing, whether you like the X-Men or not.

We already traveled back to the early 2000’s and discussed the groundbreaking start to the X-Men movie franchise covering X-Men, X-2, and The Last Stand right here. So make sure to check that out to find out which movie knocked Jesse’s pants off (he still hasn’t found them) and which movie we wish never existed at all (hint, it’s The Last Stand).

Next we are going to whip out our adamantium claws and slash our way into the Wonderful World of Wolverine.

Kevin: Moments ago I jokingly referred to the Wolverine films as The Wonderful World of Wolverine. Which as a joke is pretty weak but do you know what else is weak Jesse? The title of the first Wolverine film. So let’s start there and break it down.

Theatrically known as X-Men Origins: Wolverine but otherwise known as, That Movie that Ruined any Chance of a Gambit Movie and Numerous Other X-Men Origin Stories and Would have Ruined any Chance of a Good Deadpool Movie if it wasn’t for Ryan Fucking Reynolds. At least that’s how I refer to it.

I apologize for the outburst, but there is a point to it all. X-Men Origins: Wolverine was supposed to kickstart a series of X-Men films that would explore the origins of all of our favorite X-Men like Gambit, Magneto and Cyclops. It was like what Marvel did with the Avengers except backwards!

Alas it was not meant to be because, simply put, X-Men Origins: Wolverine was just as bad as it’s wordy title.

What do you think Jesse. Was this movie as bad as I recall? Or am I just remembering all the bad parts like will.i.am and the mutant formerly known as Deadpool?

Jesse: In short? X-Men Origins: Wolverine makes X3 look like The Avengers. This is a film with no heart that can’t decide if it’s a fun comic book flick or a slapstick comedy. And holy shit, the special effects in this fucking travesty are egregiously horrible. They look like something that a couple of teenagers made on their computer after getting high on a Saturday afternoon.

You would think at the very least Fox could have given us cool action sequences, but apparently it wasn’t in the budget. Neither was an even halfway decent script. I’m not sure what the hell they did with all their money, seeing as Origins had the highest budget out of all three Wolverine films. Maybe will.i.am and Ryan Reynolds blew it all on hookers and blow? I have no clue.

Hugh Jackman did the best he could but good grief, there was no salvaging this one. It’s pretty amazing that this franchise wasn’t left for dead under the smoldering turd that was Origins, but just like Wolverine it regenerated and lived to see another film.

And it turns out that the next film was First Class? Is it time to talk about First Class now, Kevin? Please say it’s time!

Kevin: Fine Jesse. We can talk about First Class. Personally I prefer to talk about movies I hate because all of my best material relies on bad movies. But sure, I’ll let you wax poetically about First Class.

But before you do, allow me to say this, I have mixed emotions on First Class and I probably need to rewatch it to set the record straight. You see I have two distinct memories of the movie. First was when I saw it with you, possibly at the Elvis $2 theater if I recall correctly. Like I stated in our previous blog, I was blown away. But I had some trepidation. Was I blown away because the last X-Men movie I saw was X-Men Origins and anything compared to that piece of crap looked great? I wasn’t sure so I put my curiosity to the test by showing the movie to my wife.

Simply put, First Class struggled on my rewatch. I don’t know what happened. It seemed to drag out and it felt cheap. Maybe it was the company. My wife loves the X-Men movies surprisingly enough but she was not feeling this one. Meanwhile when I went with you I could sense your pants were getting knocked off (whoa). Maybe I’m a movie chameleon and I adapt to what people around me feel. Maybe that’s my X-Men power!

I just wanted to put that out there. I have two distinct feelings about this movie and they are on complete opposite ends so I probably should split the tie and have a rewatch. Go ahead and convince me that my third go around will have me waxing poetically about First Class.

Jesse: I’m not sure that I have ever waxed poetically in my life. I’ve waxed my car and I’ve thought poetically, but I don’t believe the two have ever intertwined. Regardless, that’s not something that I would do for First Class even if I was a waxing poet, and I’ll tell you why. The reason that I wanted to get to First Class so badly isn’t because I think it’s this blockbuster masterpiece or anything like that. Like you, when I compare it to Origins it pretty much blows that atrocity out of the water in every conceivable way. Unlike you, I can only talk about movies that I hate for so long before I start to get really depressed and wonder about what could have been. I needed to get past X3 and Origins or things were going to get ugly.

Translation? X-Men: First Class is a solid movie, but not a great one and certainly not worthy of having a poet wax all over it. I’m not surprised it struggled on your rewatch, because it’s kind of like the Broncos signing Tony Romo: there is an equal amount of pros and cons to the whole (and you can read all about my thoughts on that here). James McAvoy as a young Professor X and Michael Fassbender as a young Magneto? Very good, as is the way the film lays the foundation for both their lifelong friendship and inevitable confrontations. Beast’s CGI? Laughably bad. Hugh Jackman’s hilarious cameo? Obviously good. Kevin Bacon as the antagonist? Eh, not bad but hard to take him seriously in that role. You see where I’m going with this.

Granted, I’ve seen Logan already, but First Class would’ve barely made my top five X-Men films even before that and now it topples out altogether. I appreciate the layers that McAvoy and Fassbender give to Charles and Eric, but I can’t say that I really care much for any of the other mutants in this movie, and that includes Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique. For whatever reason, she just didn’t resonate with me in her first outing in that role.

That’s probably not the response you thought you were going to get from me, but there it is. So what say you Kevin? Did I miss anything about First Class that I should’ve hit on?

Kevin: I’m glad you hit on Jennifer Lawrence’s awkward fit in this film. I believe this was just moments before she truly burst out on the scene and started winning all of the  awards. But she never truly feels like Mystique to me. Maybe it’s because Mystique as a character is either blue or literally anyone else other than Jennifer Lawrence at any moment. But in these films she spends a lot of time just being Jennifer Lawrence.

You are right though, how impressive is it that First Class has McAvoy, Fassbender, and Lawrence alongside a Hugh Jackman cameo? Pretty remarkable honestly. Amazingly enough, Days of Future Past has an even better cast. But before we get there we have to take a step in the wrong direction again and talk about 2013’s The Wolverine.

Actually that’s not fair. Compared to X-Men Origins, this film actually seems to get Wolverine’s story back on track right? I haven’t seen Logan yet but my assumption is this film’s tone, along with Deadpool proving an ‘R’ rated superhero movie can be successful, really helped set up Logan to be what it is. Am I right?

Also he survives a nuclear bomb better than Indiana Jones did.

Jesse: You mean because he didn’t take cover in a fucking refrigerator? Yeah, I’d have to agree with you on that.

As far as The Wolverine goes, I really enjoy about the first three quarters of it. When the film transitions to the present, we find Logan in a very different place than he was at the end of X3. Alone in the mountains and rocking the Jeremiah Johnson look, Logan spends his time wandering the woods, hanging out with bears and having nightmares about killing Jean Gray, the love of his life. This is clearly a broken man trying to suppress all his demons while hoping that the world will forget about him. I feel like after what he went through in the original trilogy, this is where he should’ve wound up, not strolling through Xavier’s Mansion acting like everything is okay.

And I’m a fan of this movie taking place primarily in Japan. New characters, new setting and a serene atmosphere that allows Logan to heal and gradually come to terms with what’s happened to him, and move on. Then they introduce a giant robot and the final act of the film is completely silly, and they ruin the ending of an otherwise solid movie. But for the most part Kevin, you are right. Without The Wolverine coming first and Deadpool surpassing everyone’s expectations with an ‘R’ rating attached to it, we probably don’t get Logan. And it helped that James Mangold was behind the camera for both.

Anything you’d like to add on The Wolverine before we move on to a movie that is definitely worth waxing poetic over, Kevin?

Kevin: No, I’m ready to talk about the Magneto taking the phrase, “this is our house” literally by taking possession over a baseball stadium in Days of Future Past.

Actually let’s talk about what’s more confusing, the title Days of Future Past or the timeline or Days of Future Past.

Actually, no, let’s talk about this cast. Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Ellen Page, Peter Dinklage, Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart. Wow.

Wait, no, no, let’s talk about the Quicksilver scene. Or how we got young and old versions of Professor X, Magneto and Beast all in one movie.

Okay but for real, outside of Logan, is Days of Future Past the best X-Men movie Jesse? Are you going to wax poetically as your pants are knocked off?

Jesse: Again, I have never waxed poetically. I’m running out of jokes in response to that phrase, but regardless I’m not going to shower Days of Future Past with praise. I’ve already done that because it is indeed the best X-Men movie. The pants I wore that day were lost, never to be seen again.

What I really admire about Days of Future Past, and something that I didn’t hit on in my review, is that the stakes are immediately sky high from the moment the picture begins to roll. The film hooks you and then doesn’t let go. More importantly, while almost every X-Men movie turns into the Wolverine show by the time the climax hits, Days of Future Past is really more about the young Professor X and whether or not he can get his fellow mutants to believe in hope again. Before he can do that, he has to believe in himself again and McAvoy really shines under that characterization.

It really is a huge cast and if they hadn’t brought Bryan Singer back, this thing would’ve collapsed under the weight of its own ambition and turned into a huge mess. Luckily, they did and it didn’t. And that Quicksilver scene… is there such a thing as the perfect scene at the perfect time? If there is, that was it.

I’d place Days of Future Past alongside the very best movies that Marvel Studios has made, and yet you don’t often hear that sort of universal acclaim and appreciation that you do for The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy or Captain America: Civil War. So what gives, Kevin? Did Days of Future Past just come along too late? Did it’s clunky title throw people off? Or are the X-Men simply not as popular as some other heroes?

Kevin: Okay I have done some substantial research regarding this great question. Which means I have thought about it for two minutes. The answer is, it came out at the apex of superhero overload. Wait give me two more minutes to confirm this with Google…Okay I’m back and I was wrong. Here was the real issue.

The Avengers came out in 2012. That was the height of the superhero genre right? As far as hype is concerned. Well between The Avengers release and Days of Future Past release here are the superhero movies that came out: The Amazing Spider-Man, The Dark Knight Rises, Dredd, Iron Man 3, Man of Steel, The Wolverine, Kick Ass 2, Super Buddies (I guess this counts), Thor: The Dark World, The Winter Soldier, The Amazing Spider-Man 2. You know what that’s a list of? A list of mostly disappointing movies that are only taken seriously when bloggers have a “Most Underrated Superhero Movies” post.With a large exception for The Winter Soldier of course.

My argument here is that Days of Future Past got washed away in the muck of post The Avengers and pre Guardians of the Galaxies era. But also got overshadowed by the great year that was 2014 with the aforementioned The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy. (I will note that I distinctly recall having the “Which is the best superhero movie of 2014?” discussion with you and at that point we both argued The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was in serious consideration. We must’ve been drunk.)

It boils down to timing really. People were probably starting to get tired of this genre while also getting tired of the X-Men formula (this was number seven in 14 years!) and at the same time their attention was being drawn elsewhere by two of the best Marvel movies ever.

Speaking of timing, you know who had perfect timing? Deadpool. Or Ryan Reynolds. Whatever, they’re the same person. Deadpool came (hehe) post 2015, which might be the most disappointing year for the genre (Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, Fantastic Four) since 2007 (Ghost Rider, Rise of the Silver Surfer, Spider-Man 3, Underdog). Deadpool burst on the scene with an R rating, perfect comedy and a refreshing paint job to the superhero origin story and somehow made people feel excited for superhero movies again.

Which leads me to ask you Jesse, in my best Deadpool impression, is it time to make the chimi-fuckin’-changas?

Jesse: Damn right. Hope you brought a deep fryer and plenty of napkins, because we’re about to get all up in this shit.

When Hugh Jackman announced that Logan would be his swan song as his most beloved character, a lot of people (myself included) were really bummed because they wanted to see Wolverine and Deadpool in the same movie. Jackman was asked about this in pretty much every interview over the past few months and always brushed it off. “You don’t need me for that,” he would say, partly out of humility but also out of acuity.

Deadpool was great not solely because it was rated-R (though that granted Reynolds and co. the freedom to make an authentic Deadpool movie), but because it didn’t have to rely on any other properties in order to tell its story and entertain us. Sure, I suppose technically it exists in the same universe as all the other X-Men movies, but it’s not beholden to them. When they introduce a new actor for Colossus and a mutant named Negasonic Teenage Warhead, you know that they aren’t taking that shit seriously.

And you’re right, it’s just such a breath of fresh air. A much needed shot in the arm for superhero movies. It can stand on its own and you can enjoy it even if you’ve never seen any other X-Men film. I don’t know about you, but as much as I love me some shared universes, I get kind of burnt out on telling people that you won’t know what’s going on in this movie if you don’t see these eight other ones first. So while I am still a little bit sad that we’ll never see Deadpool say, “I’m the best at whatever Wolverine does,” to Jackman’s Logan, I think the man is right. He’s not needed for that. Deadpool is just fine off doing his own thing.

Now before we move on to Apocalypse, Kevin, care to offer up any parting words for Wade Wilson? Or maybe some tacos?

Kevin: Deadpool was everything I wanted it to be. Absolutely ridiculous to its core and Ryan Reynolds. What else do you need? I swear once a month my wife reminds me how much she loved Deadpool and once a month I remind her how much I love Ryan Reynolds.

But I do want to make a bet with you. This might be foolhardy because I have yet to see Logan but I think you are being naive when you write off the possibility of a Deadpool/Wolverine mash up with Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman. I know what Jackman is telling the press but we know the games these actors play. If the money is right and the story is half right and the timing is good, he will jump on board. That’s my bet. We will see a Ryan Reynolds/Hugh Jackman mash up in the future. If only to wash our brains of X-Men Origins. 

Alright Jesse, time for Apocalypse, the much ignored third film of the second X-Men prequel trilogy or something like that. This time we are in the ’80s! And look! Jennifer Lawrence spends 3 minutes being Mystique, Nicholas Hoult spends 1 minute being Beast and James McAvoy finally goes bald! It’s like we are watching an actual X-Men movie!

Okay, I apologize for my heavy sarcasm. The truth it, I secretly enjoyed Apocalypse. It didn’t do anything new but it was well paced and full of our favorite actors again. My only complaints were the various plot holes in continuity (So Jean Grey and Cyclops had met Nightcrawler and Wolverine before X-Men and X2? And neither felt obligated to mention it? And if this is set in 1983 how the hell does Magneto age 30 years by the year 2000 when X-Men premieres?) and the fact that they brought Cyclops back into our lives. Remember when he was dead? Those were great times.

But in all seriousness I’m very impressed with this new trilogy that they put together. It was a blast to jump from the 60’s to the 70’s to the 80’s with each film. It felt like the filmmakers had a lot of fun with that. In addition we had some great actors playing the origin stories of some of our favorite older X-Men. Plus each film can easily stand on it’s own. I’m starting to think this X-Men franchise is getting unfairly overshadowed by our MCU friends.

What do you think Jesse? Are you as high on the third film of the second trilogy that is a also a prequel? Or were you too sad that Olivia Munn was largely ignored?

Jesse: I’ll take that bet, but I’m not too excited about it. Probably because betting and Jesse aren’t two things that mix very well together. Although If I lose, in this case we get a Wolverine/Deadpool movie, which I would still be super excited to see.

But back to Apocalypse. I remember walking out of the theater after I saw it and immediately texting you, flabbergasted that this movie was on the receiving end of such harsh criticism. Didn’t understand it then and am equally confused by it now. Sure, the nonsensical continuity of this franchise is only further muddled by the appearances of young Nightcrawler and young(er) Logan, but minor gripes like that certainly don’t irrevocably torpedo an otherwise entertaining movie. It may not be the best X-Men film, but it’s far from the worst.

And overall, you are right. It’s a damn entertaining trilogy that has always been left out in the cold by general audiences because of what is happening at the MCU. Fair? Probably not, but at least it isn’t being ostracized like the DC Film Universe is. Could be worse, is what I’m saying.

And that brings us to Logan. Because Kevin is testing my loyalty as a friend by waiting forever to see that damn movie attending a double-feature with Logan and Power Rangers, we can’t hit on that just yet. But we’ll be back to discuss the most critically acclaimed move in this entire franchise.

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