by Mike Lunsford, Editor
ComicsOnline is a diverse community. Within the confines of our geek pop-culture loving family, we’ve got stalwarts like Matt Sernaker (Managing Editor) who reviews movies as they come out. He also gets to see stuff before it comes out and lets us all know whether it’s worth seeing, the lucky jerk (just kidding Matt :-D) (EDITOR’S NOTE: Follow ComicsOnline on Facebook and Twitter for FREE SNEAK PREVIEW PASSES in San Diego! -Matt)
Then you’ve got editors/reporters like myself who are busy with day jobs and side projects (*cough, cough* PODCASTS FOR COMICSONLINE *cough, cough*). They want to go see movies when they come out, but they got stuff to do…or they’re just broke. DON’T JUDGE ME! I’m still a geek! In fact, that is the purpose of this article: to show you that even if a movie came out over a year ago, if it’s one of my favorite properties, I’ll make the time to do so. So let’s jump right into my review of X-Men: Apocalypse. I will also discuss why Fox Studios continues to shoot themselves in the foot.
Our very own Matt Sernaker reviewed this upon it’s release (re: jerk) and you can see his take on X-Film 27: So Now We Got Kids To Play The Characters (not actual title). So why review it again? Because the internet has taught me that my opinion is ALWAYS important and I’m possibly drunk with power here at ComicsOnline.com. It could go either way. I also want to prove a point about Fox’s ownership of the X-Men being mishandled.
I felt like the movie as a whole was reviewed harshly (by many critics and fans alike). Was it missing something? Yes. There were plenty of opportunities that weren’t capitalized upon. There were HUGE chances to develop the characters that we’re “seeing for the first time” that were either ignored or pushed aside. In defense of Brian Singer’s narrative decisions, it’s understandable that you couldn’t cram everything into one film. Typical comic book story arcs last months, spanning a handful of issues before coming to a nice and tidy ending. You simply can’t cram all that into a 2 hour film. That being said, I could have used more Jean Grey exposition. I would have liked to know more about Nightcrawler, Cyclops, and the Four Horsemen.
I want to talk about some things I noticed that at least warrant a mention:
Cyclops’ Optic Blast
Look, laser eyes are bad ass. Assuming that they’ll burn things and light stuff on fire is a rookie mistake when portraying my favorite X-Man. Brian Singer, who is intimately familiar with the X-Men, should know better. Here, let’s reference Wikipedia to give a description of his powers:
Cyclops emits beams of energy from his eyes, described as “optic blasts”, which have the appearance of red light and deliver massive concussive force. The beams cause no recoil or heat, but are tremendously powerful, and can rupture steel plates and pulverize rock.
While I’m waxing about Scott Summers, his portrayal was very, how do I put it, poster child of white privilege? No…that’s too severe. But he was the popped-collar, villain-of-a-John-Hughes-movie, type of d-bag. Granted, it’s early and this is year one of ol’ “Slim” Summers. But I never saw him as the sort of character. He’s an alpha, a natural-born leader, smooth with the ladies, a master of martial arts, he has an insane ability with spacial recognition because of his powers and…well…maybe the next one will get him right.
I’ve heard both sides of the argument with Oscar Isaac’s performance. “He’s a great actor and could have done better if he was given more to work with.” On the flip side, “Apocalypse should be much more imposing. Poe Dameron isn’t cutting it.” In both instances, I disagree. I loved Isaac’s portrayal. He brought the right amount of gravitas and general badass-ery that this role required. Oh, and he did the whole “villain monologuing unnecessarily” perfectly. They handled his ridiculous power set well, and man…when he went all epic and they put the auto-tune to his voice, I lost my mind. It was like being a kid on Saturday mornings all over again. X-Men: Apocalypse also handled his transformation of his “Horseman” very well. Instead of long, freaky surgery scenes we got him imbuing his chosen mutants instantaneously. And that brings me to the shining jewel of this movie, and frankly, all of the X-Men movies since First Class.
The possibility that someone would do a better job portraying a character than Ian McKellan is almost unfathomable. Yet, here I stand proclaiming that Michael Fassbender is far superior to Sir McKellan when it comes to his portrayal of Erik Lehnsherr, the master of magnetism. Granted, Fassbender has gotten to deal with the origins of the character and that always makes for more interesting story-telling. In the hands of a lesser actor, these scenes could have been laughable and eye-roll inspiring. Fassbender has killed it thus far and this didn’t stop in X-Men: Apocalypse. His scenes in this movie (in the woods with his wife in child, for example) show a man who just wants to be normal, and the world won’t allow him. His subsequent murderous rampage and rage feels justified and you could understand why he would join Apocalypse as the horseman War. James McAvoy is an excellent Professor Xavier, dare I say better than Patrick Stewart, but Fassbender is the shining star of this new X-Men series.
Overall, I enjoyed watching this movie. Archangel, Storm, Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Nightcrawler were all awesome but need some more development. As long as you have the McAvoy/Fassbender combo, this is going to be a good series. Adding components can only grow the series. Hopefully we’ll see this growth continue in the next installment. However…
Fox Is Missing Out on a Golden Opportunity
Comic book property movies are huge right now. I get it. Everyone wants in. However, as just about any comic book fan will tell you, some of the best adaptations are on the small screen, mostly on Netflix. Fox (who owns the rights to X-Men and The Fantastic 4) has not used their wildly successful and talented television arm (FX) to do any of their big name titles. Granted, they did release Legion early this year to rave reviews. Perhaps this is the precursor to seeing Professor X’s students take their battles to television.
Why would I even bring this up? Think back to every conversation you’ve had about an X-Men movie. Someone ALWAYS says “yeah, it was good, but I could use more from ________ . They don’t do them justice.” Every. Single. Time. And why does that happen? The X-Men are an ensemble; the sum is greater than the parts. There are fan favorites of course, but true X-Men fans have at least 5 favorite characters. It’s just how this series works. You know what other series has an ensemble of at least 10 and continues to keep people interested in their stories? Orange Is The New Black. This series was based off of a book that consisted of one woman’s perspective of a year in prison and that show has spun into 5 seasons. In fact, the ancillary characters have become MORE interesting than the main character in OITNB. As any X-Men fan can tell you, the secondary characters shine just as bright as the “big names,” sometimes, often more so.
Take a standard episode of OITNB. It is formulaic (you can thank Lost for this template). Something happening with the characters in present day, one of them is a focal point of the story, we see a flashback showing how they got there. Bing, bang, boom. There’s an episode. Imagine that in the X-Men universe. We have a young Nightcrawler attending classes taught by Dr. Hank McCoy. Something happens that causes Nightcrawler to stop what he’s doing. Fade to flashback. We see his backstory and understand the character more. Just about every single X-Men character on the big screen lacks an origin story and we could remedy that with a TV series.
For those of us who do not have an obsession with Wolverine, we would be ecstatic to see some of the other mutants who make up this team. Because, let’s be honest: he’s been the main character is most of these movies. 7 of the 9 feature films has had him in a pivotal role, With the exception of First Class and X-Men: Apocalypse. And don’t get me wrong, Hugh Jackman is wonderful and he plays Wolverine perfectly…but this is a team book, not a solo joint. Give the kids a chance, Logan!
This raises another interesting point in all of this. Let’s just say that Fox decides they are down for going the TV route with the X-Men. And, for further excitement, they go the Netflix route. Conceivably, there could be the possibility of having X-Men, Fantastic 4, and other Marvel characters cross over. With FF working out of the Baxter Building in NYC, Professor X and his mutant students and faculty in nearby Westchester County and then Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Jessica Jones all chilling in the city as well, yeah, did you go there, too? The crossovers possibilities are endless! We’ve already seen that Sony is willing to loosen the child-restraining leash it has on Spidey, perhaps they’ll join the party, too! Instead of just a movie or 2, we could get a series to enjoy their shenanigans together!
Perhaps my Netflix-Marvel Super Show (working title) is just a fevered dream, but I think we could all agree that it would be enjoyable. Not only that, a group of serialized shows would be easier to tell the stories we all love in the comics. Except for all that Spider-Man clone nonsense. NO ONE wants to re-live that.
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