PG-13 for a guy with knife hands knife-handing things. I would say the knife-handing is pretty mild in the first movie. He does swear, Mr. Knife Hands does. But it's adorable swearing. Once, he actually uses the knife hand to swear. It's more of an offensive gesture, but we all got where it was coming from, Mr. Knife Hands. You don't think we know, but we do. People who don't have knife hands can read your secret knife hand code. Also, Mr. Knife Hands hits on taken ladies, luckily without using his knife hands. Also, a guy turns into a puddle of goo. PG-13. Knife Hands.
DIRECTOR: Bryan Singer
What am I trying to do? I want to watch all of the X-Men movies before the last one comes out. That's not happening. Instead, I've accidentally turned this into a Patrick Stewart movie marathon because I also watched Star Trek: Nemesis last night. I'm just kind of dumb. I thought that the site would just love a breakdown of every X-Men movie before the new one came out. But you know what? I realized, like, halfway through X2 that also includes X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The Wolverine, Logan, Deadpool, and Deadpool 2. No thank you. I was just thinking I could knock out six in a week. Not only that, I thought I could knock out those six before I left for vacation. Bee-tee-dubs, I may not be able to write next week. I'll be on vacation. (Watch my clicks PLUMMET!)
The X-Men movies may have the worst continuity of any franchise. Man alive, those movies aren't really planned in advance. I don't want to mess with this movie because this movie made nerds everywhere happen. No, it's not the first superhero movie. There were tons before this. But you know what X-Men is? It's the template for every single superhero movie after this. It's the first one that is actually kind of ambitious. Marvel kind of still exists as a company because of this movie. In 2000, Marvel was on the verge of collapse. I read a book about this. I think we all know the fray of this storyline. We're actually kind of getting the last act of this storyline right now. Marvel was so broke that they started selling off all of their properties to separate film studios. This is pre-MCU, guys. This is pre-Ultimate Comics. To stay afloat, Marvel products were sold to the highest bidder, most of whom didn't really care about the properties they were getting. They thought that they could do SOMETHING with these properties. It's very uncool to praise Bryan Singer. I'm coming around to the fact that he's a turd monster who has probably done some absolutely abominable things. But, I'm playing that whole messy game of separating the art from the artist. Seeming to be an actual fan, he made a movie that not only treated the X-Men with some class and sophistication, but he made a movie that is downright fun. It's a little adorable watching X-Men in light of the fact that Avengers: Endgame has now completely blown most people's minds. (I actually am convinced that people who didn't like Avengers: Endgame weren't into the Marvel properties that much or REALLY enjoy being contrarians.)
The reason it is adorable? X-Men now seems really quaint. While being ahead of its time, there's something very early-2000s about the whole thing. Being light years away from other comic book properties that were being turned into films, X-Men is still a little afraid of being considered hokey. The hilarious part of avoiding hokiness is the fact that the changes that they made make the movie seem really dated. The movie calls out the costumes got not being retro spandex. Do you know what ended up working in X-Men: First Class? Retro spandex. Those black outfits...don't look that good. I just started X-Men: The Last Stand (it's been a while!) and the cover just has Wolverine front and center in his black outfit from this film. It doesn't hold up that well. It doesn't matter. None of this stuff matters. What Singer understood is that the source material worked. I just watched this mini-documentary on Marvel.com about the seminal moments in X-Men mythology. I remember reading X-Men # 1, a reprint of course, and thinking that Stan Lee didn't really introduce the characters with a lot of the key ideas that would make the X-Men interesting to read. A writer I actually don't care for did that. The whole allegory for civil rights probably was more in the camp of Chris Claremont. Bryan Singer did good work with this stuff. I can't help but think that X-Men as a film probably wouldn't exist without the love for the X-Men animated series. It's such a smart move to focus the X-Men storyline not on bad guys trying to take over the world, but rather with attention understandable fear. Listen, I'm always going to be on the side of the X-Men and Charles Xavier. I know that Chuck sucks a lot in the comics from time-to-time, but his message of peace is absolutely rad and I dig the whole allegory. But there is one moment that made the X-Men real and made me realize that there isn't so much good guy and bad guy as opposed to no real good answers. It's actually a scene where you only get one half of the dialogue. Senator Kelly is fighting for the Mutant Registration Act and he says something along the lines of, "You favor gun control. Any one of these kids is more dangerous than ten handguns." I DON'T LIKE GUNS! Man, it's one of those moments where I would honestly need to read up on it.
X-Men holds up more than I thought it was. I've seen this movie way too many times. There was a time where seven superhero movies didn't come out in a single year. There was a slow rollout and you took what you could get. I remember when I was younger that I kind of had to cool it with the X-Men rewatches because the movie actually gets a little bit boring. My biggest problem with the first one, which I swear holds its own, is how silly Magneto's master plan is. I like the result he's going for. If everyone's a mutant, everyone has to get along. While a bit simplistic, I can buy that. But I never really understood some of the logic of how he was going to pull that off with Rogue. SPOILERS: He forces Rogue to take his powers because the machine that only he can power drains his life. It looks like it is going to kill him, so he makes Rogue do it. But Magneto...isn't constantly using his powers. It's not like he walks by someone holding a fork and it just sticks to him. Magneto controls his powers. Why wouldn't Rogue be able to? She has the ability to temper and control powers. Remember, she not only absorbs powers, but also memories and disciplines. Why would just being in the machine cause the machine to operate? She could just say, "No." Also, the danger that Rogue posits constantly fluctuates. Rogue touches Logan and he feels like he almost died because of her. Magneto really goes at it, and not only is he still conscious, but he has a pretty decent grasp on his powers. Yeah, he's not at 100%, but it's enough to stop Logan. The third act is actually just a mess. I might actually really enjoy when the X-Men aren't being X-Men. I like it when it is talking mutant politics. I don't mind some minor action at times. But when it is time to suit up, I kind of just tune out. The fight sequences, and I'm ashamed to be taking this position, seem absolutely absurd in the first movie. It really feels like the wirework is almost distracting. It's so 2000s. I know. I'm very old. Or very young. Either way, it's not at all good compared to what we get later on.
Um...what's with the X-Men movies refusing to fire Chekov's gun? There are moments in the X-Men movies that are never paid off. There's a line in X-Men that has always really bothered me. Senator Kelly turns into a puddle of goo. The X-Men realize that Magneto's machine kills, which doesn't really change the morality of the situation. Okay, it does, but it still pretty evil regardless of results. They tell Magneto that his machine kills and that Senator Kelly is dead and MAGNETO SAYS KNOWINGLY, "Are you sure you saw what you think you saw?" This leads to a weird situation. It implies that Magneto knows that Senator Kelly isn't dead. It really looks like Senator Kelly is still working through his mutation and that he's going to come back in some meaningful way in the future. Note: He doesn't. The other answer is, "Yes, he's dead." By not following through on that moment, Magneto proves himself to be kind of an idiot. Why would you say that unless you KNEW that Senator Kelly wasn't dead. It's such a wink to the camera that something bigger is happening that none of the X-Men are aware of. All of this kind of points to the fact that these movies aren't really planned out as well as we would like them to be. When I write about X2, I want to talk about John. I don't remember X-Men: The Last Stand very much, but there's a moment with Pyro that I don't think is ever resolved.
It's kind of crazy how much X-Men owes Star Trek. I'm watching both at the same time. I would also like to say that Harry Potter owes even more to X-Men. Patrick Stewart really is the perfect Charles Xavier. I know that Singer is a huge Star Trek fan. He's an extra in Nemesis. I'm nearly positive that Singer was probably just really into Star Trek and just said that he wanted Captain Picard to be Charles Xavier. I don't know why Xavier isn't the focus of the film. I do know why and I'm ashamed to write it. The early 2000s were all about Wolverine. Okay, most of the '90s into the 2000s were about Wolverine and Wolverine alone. Baby Hugh Jackman, who really isn't supposed to age much, is the lynch pin of this movie despite the fact that Magneto keeps telling him to stop thinking that. You have Professor X, played by Patrick Stewart, and Hugh Jackman keeps getting the attention. I think people just wanted to see Wolverine as much as humanly possible. For being a tall guy, Jackman really nails Wolverine, especially when he's out of costume. I get why Professor X doesn't really take the focus of the film. He's the Bosley of the movie. The X-Men are his angels, especially in The Last Stand where Angel is literally one of the characters. There's all this good stuff in this movie and I just want...more? I don't know. I'm hopefully going to get around to writing about X2 pretty soon, a movie I thought would define superhero films forever. I honestly thought it would. But the foundations are all here in this first film. Yeah, X-Men nowadays is kind of boring. It would be the worst entry in a lot of lists if all of the movies came out at the same time. But X-Men was mind-blowing at the time. The previous great superhero movie was Batman, maybe Batman Returns if you were a hipster.
X-Men not only presented a think piece, but showed that superhero movies didn't have to be trash. I dare you to look at the list of superhero movies before this. I adore Superman: The Movie. It's one of my all time favorite films. But between that film and X-Men, superhero movies didn't exactly leave a lot of room for love. X-Men did more for superhero movies than any other title and I adore it for that reason alone.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.