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The release of X-Men: First Class is just about here and we have had a long time getting to know X-Men characters. Some of them are good and fun, whilst others bad or disappointing. So to celebrate the release of this summer blockbuster, let's look at the best and worst X-Men characters in the film universe.
The Five Best Adapted X-Men
Bryan Singer took a charge when he cast model Rebecca Romjin as the shapeshifting assassin Mystique. Luckily it worked and a fan’s favorite was given rightful treatment. Mystique uses her powers to great effective as Magneto’s right-hand man and personal spy. She is not just a pretty face but also a martial artist who can certainly take on highly trained soldiers and our favorite Canadian mutant. In the comics she is more of a rogue, but I will allow a diversion in her character.
4. Professor Xavier
Patrick Stewart was the first actor to be cast in X-Men, which was because he was perfect for the role. The powerful psychic is the leader of the X-Men who is also a teacher, father figure and caring person who looks after teenage runaways. Some people may see that as dodgy but let's ignore that issue for now. True to his comic book counterpart, Xavier wants mutants and humans to co-exist in peace, just like a certain Civil Rights leader. There is a mutual respect for Magneto and Xavier has great intelligence, even without using his powers.
Wolverine is one of the most popular members of X-Men and it was role that made Hugh Jackman into star. Wolverine is a character who is tortured and experimented on by the military and has every reason to be a bad-guy, but fights with X-Men. X2: X-Men United was when he truly gets to shine, fighting off Special Forces and Lady Deathstrike, protect teenagers and showing those great flashback scenes from his dark past. He is such a great character. Now let's watch Wolverine fight a girl.
Alec Cumming’s performance in X2: X-Men United as Nightcrawler was a particular highlight in a film that is a highpoint of the superhero genre. From the first scene we get to see how powerful a mutant can be by kicking the crap out of the Secret Service and we get to see Nightcrawler add an international dimension to the X-Men series. There is a juxtaposition because Nightcrawler looks like a demon but is a committed Catholic adding depth to the character, which is beautifully handled in the film. His hinted at romance with Storm was added to the comics and whilst he offered comic relief, it did not distract from the film or the character. It's just a shame he did not get to be in later films.
Magneto is one of the greatest Marvel super villains, a powerful mutant who is ruthless and does not mess about. Sir Ian McKellen was able to give Magneto great charisma and made him into a true badass, especially for a pensioner. Magneto has a dark backstory, having survived the Holocaust, and because he saw humanity at its worst, his ideology was heavily influenced and made him into a symbol like Malcolm X. Even in X-Men: The Last Stand there was a hint of genius when Magneto showed his Holocaust tattoo. Plus there is Magneto’s complex relationship with Professor Xavier, being both friends and enemies. He is a great character for writers to sink their teeth into. I could not find Magneto’s prison escape video, so enjoy a more subtle scene from X2: X-Men United.
The Five Worst Adapted X-Men
5. The Dark Phoenix
At the end of X2: X-Men United fans were hyped when they saw the Phoenix in Alkali Lake and Bryan Singer was setting out to make her into a major character in the sequel. But Mr. Singer left the project and the new writer Simon Kinberg wanted to adapt Joss Whedon’s “Gifted” storyline; he ended up canning the “The Dark Phoenix” story. Famke Janssen’s performance was praised, but the character was turned from a metaphor of "absolute power corrupts" to a moody emo chick who is easily led. What made it worse is that Phoenix could not kill Wolverine but was willing to kill her love.
Gambit is a popular character in the X-Men universe because of his fun power, but mainly because he is so damn cool. Since X2: X-Men United, the filmmakers tried to find a way to put him in the film. But when he finally made it on screen, he was a disappointment. His powers are rewritten from simply charging objects with kinetic energy to using his cane to climb walls and as a helicopter. He has a lame fight with Wolverine and is useless in the film. Filmmakers, you have to try harder next time: fan favorites only work when they are treated with respect.
The marketing of X-Men: The Last Stand made it seem that Angel was going to be a major character in the film, and he had a promising start when an 11-year-old boy tries to hack off his growing wings – a scene that could have easily filled in the Singer X-Mens. After that his role is nothing but a glorified cameo, appearing in the film four more times and does barely anything. Why was he in the film?
Before Matthew Vaughn got to direct X-Men: First Class, he was scheduled to direct X-Men: The Last Stand and cast the acting “talent” of Vinnie Jones. That is not going down as one of his best casting choices. In the comics Juggernaut got his powers from a magic stone, so that would not have worked in the films and in the “Ultimate X-Men” series, but making Juggernaut a mutant was the only thing the maker of X-Men: The Last Stand got right. Juggernaut was turned into a dimwitted henchman with a helmet that makes him look like a giant metal dildo, someone who shouts cheesy one-liners and ignored as Professor Xavier’s step-brother. Whilst Juggernaut was never the most intelligential of character, he did have clear motivation because of his hatred for Xavier and was not stupid. Anyway, enjoy one of the more cheesy moments in the whole X-Men series.
In the comics Cyclops is a smart, noble field leader of the X-Men with a tragic backstory and Professor Xavier‘s natural successor. In the films he did not get such great treatment. In X-Men he was portrayed as a bit of a boy scout but at least he had plenty of screen time and was a competent leader. It went downhill from there: in X2: X-Men United, Cyclops was knocked out for most of the film because he was brainwashed. But it was X-Men: The Last Stand that really took the biscuit, making Cyclops into a crying wimp with little screen time and did not even get the dignity of an onscreen death. All because James Madsen was cast in Superman Returns. It’s not like his character was important in the Dark Phoenix Saga.