The year 2000 saw the arrival of the modern superhero flick in the form of Bryan Singer’s “X-Men,” which skyrocked the subgenre into popularity, making movies like “The Avengers” possible in the 2010s. While not the first superhero movie to grace the silver screen, Singer’s “X-Men” encapsulated the idea of what the world would look like with realistic superheroes, or mutants in this case. Clad in black leather instead of yellow spandex, the mutants received several subpar prequels, sequels and reboots for over two decades which ultimately killed the franchise. Luckily, fans of the comics will receive a Disney reboot sometime in the future.
Darker themed superhero material was nothing new, as the 1990s saw multiple dark animated television shows featuring vigilante justice in the form of “Batman: The Animated Series” and “X-Men: The Animated Series.” Both television shows inspired the gritty thematic elements showcased in Singer’s “X-Men,” giving the movie the presence of realism. This, partnered with the fact the mutants are outcasts, means the franchise is not praised by the world the same way as “The Avengers.”
Frankly, this movie is not fantastic, but it is better than most other superhero offerings from the 2000s. With every adaptation comes inaccuracies, the most notable being Hugh Jackman’s height in his portrayal of Wolverine and the uniforms worn by the X-Men. Granted, this movie is not action heavy like later installments of the franchise, but the heroine department is seriously inadequate. For example, the character of Rogue, a useful and strong character from the team, is made out to be a weak teenager who never gets the screen time she deserves, even in later installments from the franchise.
An element that made “X-Men” memorable is the casting of Sir Ian McKellen as Magneto, an excellent decision from the casting department. Obviously, Hugh Jackman as Wolverine was another standout choice as he starred in spin-offs of his own, such as James Mangold’s “Logan.” Other notable casting choices are Sir Patrick Stewart as Professor Xavier and Halle Berry as Storm. Die-hard fans can spot their unnamed mutant favorites — like Pyro, Shadowcat and Jubilee — in smaller scenes. These characters eventually were recast in later movies; most notably Shadowcat, who was played by three different actresses in the first three films.
The success of the superhero genre could not have been predicted, so “X-Men” not aging well makes sense. It was the beginning of the beginning. Features that don’t stand out as much is the serious lack of action during the climax, outdated CGI and horrible dialogue from Storm. What it did well was give us an inside look to the outsiders of humanity and a very realistic approach to what the world might do if an advanced form of humans were to be discovered. A nostalgic offering for fans of the movies, as most of the franchise does not come close to the importance of the original movie. Overall, “X-Men” pioneered the genre forward and improved along the way. Afterall, if “X-Men” was never released, the world wouldn’t have been able to cry over the death of Tony Stark in “Avengers: Endgame.”