Five Things Fox’s “X-Men” Series Did Well, and Five Things It Destroyed

The FOX “X-Men” movie era is officially over marked as the end with “The Dark Phoenix.” Now that Disney has absorbed FOX’s properties, there’s a strong chance we will be seeing the “X-Men” again on film and or television very soon, just not in the way FOX Studios imagined it in 2000. As an “X-Men” fanatic, I can’t say that the series delivered very much but it did offer some small nuggets that are worth appreciating. What did you think of FOX’s “X-Men” series overall?

5. Did Well: Kelsey Grammer as Beast
Kelsey Grammer as Beast was brilliant casting and it’s a damn shame we didn’t get to see him in future films. Grammer is just so well suited for the role of Hank McCoy and he deserved a huge spotlight alongside Professor X and Wolverine. And no, Nicholas Hoult doesn’t count. Grammer was one of the very few elements of “The Last Stand” that worked.

5. Destroyed: Apocalypse
Apocalypse is one of the most menacing, threatening, supreme, and scary villains that the X-Men ever faced. He’s the first mutant, the mutant with powers reaching near god-like proportions, and… well, “X-Men: Apocalypse” turned him in to just another stock villain. Along with the boring motivations, and cheesy powers, he came off more snarling and mustache twirling than sentient and possessing a high intellect. And don’t even get me started on how he was the reason two of the most powerful X-Men in the series realized their full potential. Storm and Jean Grey deserved better.

4. Did Well: Nightcrawler
It’s a shame that Bryan Singer and Brett Ratner are so notoriously awful to work for, as we might have seen Alan Cumming return for the rest of the “X-Men” movies. Who knows what could have been if he’d been brought back and allowed to further develop his iteration of Nightcrawler. In either case, one of the very few shining points of “X2” is Alan Cumming who embodies Nightcrawler and could very well have led his own “Excalibur” spin off movie under better circumstances. For what limited time he has Kodi Smit McPhee also does a very good job in the role, and is allowed to shine much more in “Dark Phoenix.” Here’s hoping the Fuzzy man returns in the inevitable reboot.

4. Destroyed: Diversity
Diversity has never been the entire movie series’ stronger points. What is a comic series filled with so many people of color, size, and appearance, is basically watered down for a series primarily focused on the white characters. There’s Wolverine, Magneto and Professor X, Mystique and then Jean and Scott. The minority characters are included mainly to act as cannon fodder or props as a means to help the main storylines progress further. Even the women don’t get to do a whole lot. Bishop, Storm, Darwin, Psylocke, they’re all mainly walk ons and supporting players never quite given meatier material, in the end. I hope Marvel remedies that.

3. Did Well: Deadpool—Yes, Deadpool
Deadpool was probably the only real series of “X-Men” films we’ve had since the property was at Fox. Not only did Ryan Reynolds save the character offering us two really entertaining and fun films featuring the Merc with a Mouth, but we also got loyal iterations of the X-Men universe. Colossus was built like a tank and was actually Russian, Juggernaut was humongous and sinister, Cable definitely held true to his character, and even Domino managed to convey so much of the original character’s aspects down to the sly wit and relationship with Deadpool. Hell, we even got X-Force—uh for five minutes. But still!

3. Destroyed: Most of the X-Men
Where to begin? Pretty much all of the X-Men that didn’t get love from Bryan Singer, or FOX were given the shaft from the starting gate. Jean Grey didn’t do much, Scott was depicted as a pompous ass, Rogue basically does nothing but play the damsel in distress, Psylocke has zero dialogue in “Apocalypse,” Angel has three versions that never amounted to much of anything, Bishop, Dazzler, Jubilee, The Morlocks, Multiple Man, Gambit, Storm—well, you get it. It’s such a vast humongous team and they’re all written as forgettable background extras. Shame.

2. Did Well: Wolverine
It’s not hard to do Wolverine well in any format since, let’s face it, he’s not a very complex character. He is one of the big shining successes of the FOX series was Wolverine. Thanks to Hugh Jackman’s top notch turn as arguably the most popular X-Man of the property, Wolverine gets some banner moments, and a really good film with “Logan.” Jackman might be hard to top when Marvel reboots it eventually.

2. Destroyed: Continuity
The continuity is all muddy and often incoherent when it comes to the whole series. Factoring in all of the cameos and whatnot, nothing in the whole series makes sense at all. It’s almost as shoddy and confusing as the “Terminator” movies timeline. Apologists often excuse the huge gaps and inconsistencies to “time travel” but it still doesn’t add up. Like why are Professor X and Magneto in their forties in 1992, but their seventies in 2000, where “X-Men” is set to take place? And is Deadpool in the same universe or different timeline from the new “X-Men” timeline? Jean realizes she has the Phoenix force as a child, but why is it awakened as a teenager in “Apocalypse,” and then explained to have taken hold of her later in “Dark Phoenix”? How did Professor X get resurrected after dying in “The Last Stand”? It’s all so dizzyingly confusing and sloppy.

1. Did Well: First Class
“First Class” originally started out life as a Magneto spin off and origin story, and was remolded to be an X-Men prequel/reboot, and it’s about as close to a great X-Men movie with a team in the whole series run at Fox Studios. For the first time ever we get Banshee, and Havok, and some great mutants like Darwin, not to mention the story with Mystique and her relationship with Hank McCoy and Charles Xavier is engaging. Also the recasting of Professor X and Magneto is quite good. In a great X-Men movie, these iterations would have been the quintessential takes on the characters.

1. Destroyed: Interesting Stories
For the most part, the “X-Men” movie series all failed to deliver any kind of narratives that thought outside of the box or gave us a reason to care about the fate of the characters. In all the menaces that concocted their own megalomaniacal schemes involving the fate of the mutants, none of the characters ever really came together to deliver the team we’ve been told this movie is about. It’s “X-Men” on some occasions, with the primary focus on one or two characters. There’s no sense of everyone giving their unique talents or having their own personal stakes like we saw in “The Avengers” or “Guardians of the Galaxy.” It’s too bad, as the X-Men are filled with unique, original and amazing characters. Hopefully we can see them on film someday very soon.