How Did The Last X-Men Stand?
In 1982, I bought my first X-Men comic. It wasn’t the first time I was immersed in the Marvel Comics mutant mythology, but it was the first time that I actively sought out a comic with characters far different than the usual Superman / Batman fare. It was a classic story: X-Men versus Dracula, an off-side pairing that still remains an active part of my psyche as the coolest of the cool.
Fast forward eighteen years to 2000, when X-Men debuted from 20th Century Fox. While the characters on the screen did not look (or in some cases act) like I imagined they would if the comic could come to life, the first X-Men movie struck a resonant cord. When X-2 debuted, it was another visit to the briefly glimpsed real world roughly equivalent to my imagination, that far off place of 1407 Gramalkyn Lane which was the centerpiece of many good moments of childhood. X-2 strayed from the source material, re-inventing characters and ultimately changing more of the iconic continuity that I had come to expect from the comics, but the movie was cool, and it was in essence the same material that had drawn me in so many years ago.
And now the end of the X-Men franchise (for the moment), that being X-Men: The Last Stand. Unlike many of the reviews I’ve seen, I’d like to explore both my admiration and disgust for the work.
Mark the comic fan feels that XMTLS misses the mark completely. There is such a thing as at least trying to maintain continuity to the source material. The writers could have at least attempted a more reasonable approach to the movie. It does not take Ernest Hemingway to realize you can’t rewrite ‘Moby Dick’ so Ahab kills the whale and returns to Bristol (which was the actual original screen version of the book). In essence, the movie’s fault is that it doesn’t maintain its own sense of continuity. The complete re-writing of characters such as Angel, Iceman, Storm, Psylocke, and the rest is negligent creative homicide. If you can’t fit the characters into a semblance of their actual concept, then don’t add them.
In addition, the movie borrows liberally from at least three separate comic storylines that took years to resolve, which could not easily be crammed into a 2+ hour timeframe. While I am impressed with the effort the writers made to include secondary characters, and the earnest attempt to translate some of the characters properly, the complete disregard for the source material is simply unacceptable. As an adaption, this was marginally better than Fantastic Four, Daredevil, The Punisher, and Blade: Trinity, but far below the superior attempt in X-2.
Mark the movie buff loved that the first two movies shared a tone and continuity — they introduced characters you cared about, and created its own visual style that marked the film in several degrees. In some ways, XMTLS works to create the same atmosphere, but fails to bring the ambiance of characterization that made the first two work. Cyclops was finally getting interesting, and then *poof*… gone. What the franchise did not need was more Storm time, and while I like Halle Berry, the movie should have been a greater ensemble work, exploring characters like Colossus, Rogue, and Cyclops. Mystique has been a great character, but she’s hardly even in the film. It seems that there was an attempt to do too much, and that’s my major complaint: It was trying to be epic, and that’s not how it ended up feeling.
Now, to be fair, it was visually stunning, and it kept the X-action coming. One of my complaints with the first two films was the pacing of the action, and that is not the case here. I think that the film was completely what it was: a summer movie. In that respect, it met the expectations I had for the film, but did not exceed them. I believe XMTLS is not as good as X2, but better than the original movie.
Both Marks would say X-Men: The Last Stand is good for those seeking summer blockbuster fun, or to complete the movie storyline, but should be avoided for the serious or obsessive X-Men fan.
Written by Mark in June of 2006. Last edited March 2019.