How ironic: a team of superheroes is in need of saving. The most appropriate word to describe the X-Men films as a franchise is dynamic, in that it is constantly changing. While one film is praised for being even better than the original, the next decides to slaughter many of its lead characters for… fun? Drama? Then, another film brings the franchise back to life only to be smacked back down in the dirt two films later; that must have been one of Apocalypse’s many unexplained superpowers.
Whatever the case, the inconsistency of the X-Men film series is uncanny. Now with their latest entry, X-Men: Apocalypse, it’s clear the old cliche “third time’s the charm” has the opposite affect on this franchise. Now, there are mumbles of yet another reboot. Before then, Fox Studios need to take a solid afternoon and evaluate what they need to change with these films moving forward. Here are the top six ways to save the X-Men franchise from… itself.
6. Let’s Make A Deal With Marvel
There’s a reason this is number six: it’s not really in the realm of reality. It’s more likely some fortunate soul has a stressful puberty and develops superhuman abilities than Marvel and Fox working together. With Marvel Studios cranking out hit after hit, it must be humiliating over at Fox Studios; they can’t seem to get not one but two Marvel film franchises right. Everyone was a stop short of crapping their pants over Sony’s Spider-Man popping up in Captain America: Civil War. That deal seemed to work out well for everyone involved. It would be a glorious day for cinema if we could have Avengers vs. X-Men. I sincerely hope one day we the world bare witness to that carnage.
5. New Villains
Look, I love Magneto. He’s a complicated, powerful man with a painful backstory, and both Ian Mckellen and Michael Fassbender played him beautifully. The opening scene in X-Men (and X-Men: First Class) was heart wrenching and one of the best scenes of the entire franchise. Magneto may be the X-Men’s arch nemesis, but that doesn’t mean he’s the sole threat to humanity. William Stryker was a fine addition to X2, but we’ve seen him how many times now? Besides, he’s too closely associated with Wolverine to exist without Wolverine’s presence. First Class had the Hellfire Club and Kevin Bacon, and it was interesting, or at least different. Apocalypse at least tried to weave someone new into the mix, and the results were mixed at best.
The film series needs new blood in the mix, and they’re not short on options: Mr. Sinister, Mastermind, actual Dark Phoenix. The possibilities aren’t endless, but there are options.
4. New Story-lines
One massive element the X-Men film franchise has on its side is its source material. Marvel movies, while they’re mostly enjoyable and funny, are popcorn movies. Whereas X-Men comics have always connected with its audience through its recurring themes of prejudice and social injustice. Tony Stark is able to live freely as Iron Man, while mutants are persecuted, regulated, despised, and just about every other intolerable word in existence. It’s bewildering, and a shame, that the X-Men movies haven’t tapped deeper into their source material.
Not to say it hasn’t it the past; it’s not like Bryan Singer was writing fan-fiction. The franchise has had a history of taking liberties with the source material, like eviscerating Xavier without any sensible reason in X-Men: The Last Stand, or having Mystique play a larger role in X-Men: Days of Future Past or in Apocalypse because of the actress playing her. There’s over fifty years worth of material for the X-Men films to explore, and if I see another failed attempt at “The Dark Phoenix Saga,” I’m going to scream.
3. Incorporate Deadpool
It’s sad one of the best entries to date in the X-Men franchise is not even about the X-Men. It’s about that lovely, foul mouthed mercenary and fourth-wall breaker Deadpool. It would be an interesting mash-up if he decided to play nice with the X-Men for one film, especially considering the great tonal differences between Deadpool and X-Men. Deadpool can bring some much needed hilarity to the X-Mansion. The film X-Men take themselves very seriously. Wolverine/Logan isn’t the only funny character the X-Men universe has to offer. However, he’s the only character the film’s have shown to crack jokes or make fun of someone. Unless you count Storm’s infamous joke about toads and lightening in the original film, which I do not.
2. Have Logan Be Good. Real Good. Real Damn Good.
I have previously written about Logan before, and I made no effort to hide my deep desire for this film to be excellent. This film has to be good, not just for my fragile sake but for the franchise as a whole. X-Men is losing its face, the character and actor it built its life around. Wolverine has appeared in every X-Men film (save for Deadpool). For his cameos in First Class and Apocalypse, he was a welcomed surprise, even if his appearance didn’t make sense continuity-wise. Also, it was always apparent Hugh Jackman was completely devoted to this character and film series, he even put on a brave face and terrible CGI adamantium claws for X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Regardless, the franchise needs to have another ‘win’ in its belt and Logan is set up to be a slam dunk.
1. A True, Fresh Start
Magneto may not be the X-Men franchise’s greatest enemy: it’s continuity. This franchise constantly rewrites its past, places its characters where their presence makes absolutely no sense and jumps decades in time without any explanation. The whole point of Days of Future Past was to eradicate The Last Stand from its timeline. And I personally would love to see the X-Men Origins story between Apocalypse and X-Men that shows how horribly Charles Xavier ages over the course of less than a decade.
What the X-Men film franchise needs most to thrive once again is a fresh start. The reboot should include new characters while mixing in old that audiences love/are non-negotiable; it’d be a little awkward to have a X-Men film without its founding father. What it shouldn’t include is any trace of the old franchise, particularly the casting. It should care more about the characters, not the actors playing them. Overall it needs to detox; it needs to First Class itself once again.
How do you think the X-Men franchise can save itself? Sound off in the comments or send your thoughts on Twitter!