I was introduced to the X-Men world when I was 9 years old; before that I really had no interest in anything superhero related. When my older brother and sister found out that there would be an X-Men movie series, they were thrilled, but my parents were somewhat confused as to what X-Men was (they grew up with Batman and Superman). Since then, X-Men have been a staple superhero franchise in our household.
The reason I enjoy X-Men so much is the idea that is constantly enforced that no matter how strange or different you think you are, there will always be someone stranger. There is also the familial aspect with the X-Men as well; remember it takes place out a school, where you have your parental figures, your older siblings that are being trained to lead and your up-and-coming youngsters. Everyone has their place.
The X-Men franchise is very large, there are the first three movies: X-Men, X2 and X3: The Last Stand
The prequel: X-Men: First Class – Can be watched before or after the trilogy
X-Men: Days of Future Past – a stand alone story arc and is probably best to watch after the trilogy and the prequel.
And the Wolverine franchise: X-Men Origins: Wolverine - Logan’s story, pre-X-Men that can be watched before the X trilogy and The Wolverine - better to watch after the trilogy.
So, I’m going to try and pack all information that I can in one overview post.
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|Hugh Jackman as Logan//Wolverine|
When Logan is introduced in X-Men, he’s a solitary loner looking for answers in his life. A strange freak of nature (otherwise known as a mutant), who has the ability to self-heal, advanced senses and Adamantium claws that can retract from his fists, Logan isn’t the type of person you would befriend immediately. When given the chance though, Logan proves to be a generous and self-sacrificing man fighting against injustice, a protector of innocent children and a leader who will not compromise or surrender no matter the situation.
All throughout the X-trilogy you see Logan’s widening character development as he begins to embrace this unexpected future as a teacher, a fighter and a member of the X-Men. Prior to the X-Men series is the prequel movie, X-Men Origins: Wolverine which answers all the questions about Logan’s life, who he was, where he came from and the choices that made him the mutant and man he is by the time we meet him in X-Men. The Wolverine is separate storyline about Logan’s life in Japan after X3: The Last Stand.
Like any character Logan has his flaws, he’s arrogant, sarcastic, heavily judgmental and knows no boundaries when it comes to getting what he wants. Yet, it’s those flaws that make him all the more real and his strengths all the more admirable.
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Professor Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr
|Right: James McAvoy and Patrick Stewart as Professor Charles Xavier|
Left: Michael Fassbender and Ian McKellan as Erik Lensgerr
In X-Men: First Class, we see the foundations of their lives and how their vastly different backgrounds molded them into the men they became by the time they met. Charles was born into a wealthy family in upstate New York, where he lived comfortably, but had a distant relationship with his mother and abusive step-father. Erik grew up in Nazi Germany with two loving parents, but his once idyllic life was cut short when his family was sentenced to live in a concentration camp; Erik was the only one that survived.
Separation and loss of parents were the crucibles for both boys that forged them into men determined to challenge that powerful for the bettering of mankind. Both believe in gathering and teaching other abandons to hone their powers, live bravely and fight fiercely, but where Charles wants to help humanity and have mutants as equals to humans, Erik wants to dominate humanity and make mutants the superior species.
In the X-Men trilogy, they are old men with a lifetime of history between the two of them. Erik has spent the last 50 years in planning an eventual war between all mankind. Charles is head of a thriving school for young gifted children and the creator of the X-Men (former students, who have stayed on to gather, teach and train other mutants). Throughout the trilogy, Charles remains strong in his moral convictions, whereas Erik is a loose cannon that isn’t always pointed in the right direction.
The overused metaphor of ‘the two sides of the same coin’ has never been better applied then when it comes to describing the complex relationship of these two adversaries. One is led by hope, while the other is led by hatred.
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|James Marsden as Scott Summer//Cyclops, Famke Janssen as Jean Grey//Phoenix and|
Halle Berry as Ororo Munroe//Storm
Scott//Cyclops, Jean//Phoenix and Ororo//Storm
An unlikely group of reluctant heroes, some runaways, some from loving families, are brought together for one common purpose, to use their abilities to protect humanity while trying to preserve the mutant species. While under Xavier's care, they come out from their fearful shadows that the world has put them in and find themselves in a stronger light that leads them to their futures as heroes, friends and legends.
Scott Summer//Cyclops: Scott is to the X-Men what Captain America is to the Avengers. That is basically who he is, the calm, quiet leader, who does his job with perfect execution and will not tolerate an form terror or misguidance. His mutation is the use of powerful rays coming from his eyes, which renders him unable to use eyes for seeing and must wear glasses or a visor with a ruby quartz lens to protect himself and other people. In the story, Scott is Professor X's second in command and everyone at the school is under the belief that it will be Scott who will one day take over the school and lead the next generation of X-Men.
Everything is running for smoothly for Scott until Logan is brought in (X-Men) and his once perfect world has gone haywire. Logan with his bad boy nature and sarcastic attitude at the school is trying enough since he doesn't want to be there, but when he starts hitting on Scott's beautiful fiancee, Dr. Jean Grey, then it gets real. Scott isn't possessive of Jean and trusts her judgement, but it's difficult when he's seen as the golden boy and Logan is a dark mystery man from the other side of the Canadian tracks (Logan is Canadian).
Scott is a great character, but he hardly had any character development as all! In X2 and X3, he only has a sum total of 15 min. of screen time and neither really didn't do him justice as a possibly cool character. His brother, Alex, had more development in X-Men: First Class, then Scott did in all 3 trilogy movies.
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Jean Grey//Phoenix: A beautiful and brilliant doctor with the gift telekinesis and developing telepathic abilities. Although she possesses a kind and generous personality, Jean is somewhat of an introvert who lets few people into her private life. Scott Summers in one of those people whom she loves dearly and trusts above anyone else, Professor X, who is her mentor and father figure and Orora (Storm) she considers her ally and friend.
When Logan is brought to the school, he is immediately smitten with Jean, but she has a harder time dealing with it, mainly because she's faithful to her fiancee, Scott and also because she is not what one would call, a risk-taker. When her telepathic powers become to powerful, Jean almost becomes a detriment to human and mutant society and understands that to save humanity she must sacrifice who and what she is if it means protecting the ones that she loves as well as preserving the small hope that humanity can still exist in a prejudiced world.
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Ororo Munroe//Storm: The soft-spoken, but pragmatic history teacher whose mutant powers of the control of the natural weather elements, literally makes her a force to be reckoned with. Ororo (or Storm as everyone calls her) has a fierce loyalty to the Professor X and the school. She is never one to question Charles' authority and is hardly someone that will compromise in a tight situation.
Storm has a deep maternal nature that sets her apart from from Scott and Jean. Like Charles, she has the ability to see the goodness and potential in other mutants, even when they may not see it themselves. Storm is hardly a judgmental person and tries to give everyone around her the benefit of the doubt before she makes a final conclusion on their character. In a nutshell, Storm is a wonderful and strong female heroine that brings a good amount of balance to the X-Men story.
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|Shawn Ashmore as Bobby Drake//Iceman, Anna Paquin as Marie//Rogue and|
Ellen Page as Kitty Pryde//Shadowcat
Bobby//Iceman, Marie//Rogue and Kitty//Shadowcat
The most prominent and best of the best in Xaviers' school. These are the students who will one day run the school and lead the X-Men. Bobby and Kitty are sent to the school by their parents, while Rogue is a lively young run away with the powers to steal another person's life force and in a mutants case, temporarily take their powers. Therefore, she is unable to have any physical contact with anyone. Her storyline is the basis of the first film as also the first person that Logan opens up to and reveals his rarely seen emotional side. (major sweet scene!)
Bobby has the ability to create ice whether from his body or from water and immediately befriends Rogue and eventually becomes her boyfriend. The lack of physical contact between Bobby and Rogue becomes a difficult barrier for them to handle, especially when Rogue becomes jealous of Bobby's growing relationship with Kitty Pryde.
Kitty has a two-fold ability, she can phase through any solid barrier as well as the power of mind control, that can allow her send someone's sub-conscience back in time, for a short period. Her phasing is her prime use in the X-trilogy, while her mind control is the crux of Days of Future Past when she sends Logan back to 1973.
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I was going to do a Mystique//Raven profile, but really didn't know where I was going to put her. Anyways, she's pretty much Magneto's henchman in the trilogy until she loses her mutant abilities in the last film and turns him into the government for abandoning her. All ends well with Raven. She has a more dominant role in First Class as Charles' adopted sister and Erik's student on acceptance in the world (because as a German Jewish mutant, he knows all about personal acceptance) and is the primary antagonist in Days of Future Past (see movie review).
Well, that's seven movies in one overview post! I focused primarily on the characters and their roles in the films, rather than the films themselves, because the storylines are very complex, but I didn't want to do seven separate reviews. X-Men is an absolute classic for me and re-watching the films just brought back all those great childhood memories of theses wonderful superheros that overcame adversity by simply wanting to make the world a better place for the generation the follows.