Let’s recall all the films about mutants released during these two decades, trying to understand the reasons of their popularity and building our own assumptions about what will happen to our favorite characters in the near future.
Mutant superheroes were first appeared on the pages of Marvel comics back in 1963. According to the plot of graphic novels, there are people in the world with an unusual gene that grants them different and very random abilities. Appearing on the chromosomes of some people, X-Gene makes them mutants. As for a team of mutants who have united to achieve certain goals – usually for all good and against all bad – in the pages of the comics, they are called “X-Men”.
In addition, the plot of the adventures of superheroes team is built not only on the fight against super-villains, but also on the rejection of mutants by the “normal” society. The X-Men gained their popularity as they personify a group of people who are not accepted by society. Similar problems are faced by blacks, homosexuals, Jews, communists or Hindus. Essentially, the X-Men are diversity that is denied by the “too normal majority”.
The first attempts to film X-Men comics were made almost immediately after their publication. However, from the 1960s to the 1990s, these characters became heroes only in cartoons, until in 1996 Fox tried to shoot a TV series, which never passed the threshold of the pilot episode.
Still having the rights to film the X-Men stories, 20th Century Fox took a big step at the turn of the century with a mutant blockbuster.
The First “X-Men” Trilogy
“X-Men” (2000) Directed by Brian Singer
There are many films telling stories about popular comic book characters have been released before this movie – the classic Superman films; a series of films about Batman buried by director Joel Schumacher; “Blade” with Wesley Snipes and so on. This time, viewers will be presented with an expensive film with a budget of $ 75 million, which tells the story of the mutant team. It is noteworthy that the leading roles are played by little-known actors – while some have already appeared in other projects, the rest are just beginning their path to fame. Ultimately, this film contributed to the skyrocketing popularity of Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry and many other actors.
In the new film, a team of mutants confronts a team of almost the same mutants impersonating villains. The freshness of the film’s main message is that – while being a bit more radical in their views – both mutant-villains and Team X have roughly the same motivation – a desire to be accepted by society.
Warmly received by both audiences and critics, the new blockbuster opened up broad prospects for the adaptation of other big-budget comics – the sequel to “X-Men”, released a few years later; “Spider-Man” by Sam Raimi that has strengthened the position of the new super popular genre for decades to come, and so on.
X2 (2003) Directed by Brian Singer
Having presented the audience with the first film about a mutant team, Brian Singer continues to develop a new cinematic universe. Slightly expanded, Team X is now confronting the most ordinary human – Colonel Stryker obsessed with the idea of controlling mutants. He is convinced that the very existence of people with supernormal abilities is a direct threat to humanity. Although the government is neutral on this issue, the colonel’s men attack Xavier’s mansion – and now the professor’s young pupils are forced to flee. So, mutants will have a fight against a dangerous enemy…
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) Directed by Brett Ratner
The well-established blockbuster production machine malfunctioned – Brian Singer, director and scriptwriter of the first two “X-Men” films, leave the project to shoot a new “Superman” film (by the way, which turned out to be very unsuccessful). Determined to ignore Singer’s work, 20th Century Fox hired Brett Ratner, director of the “Rush Hour” film-dilogy, to shoot a new film about a team of mutants. Zach Penn who later worked on “The Avengers” and Simon Kinberg, not the last name for the “X-Men” CU, were the authors of the script.
Resurrected according to the triquel script, Jean Gray returns to the mutant headquarters – but as the Dark Phoenix, one of the most powerful creatures in the Universe. However, she returned at the wrong time – a mutant boy capable of suppressing the X-gene was discovered. As a result, one pharmaceutical company is announcing a “Cure”. This news – along with the appearance of the Dark Phoenix – causes a rift in the camp of mutants.
Having spent $ 210 million filming the triquel, 20th Century Fox was able to return just $ 460 million in box office receipts. Escaping unprofitable status, this film did not become a record holder and was not well received by critics. So, the producers faced with a dilemma – to continue the movie franchise or not?
Undoubtedly, the main casting success of the first X-Men trilogy was the selection of Hugh Jackman for the role of Wolverine. As an obscure Australian actor, Jackman embodied the spirit of the franchise, earned an army of fans and became one of the most popular characters. It is not surprising that the choice fell on Wolverine when the producers decided to continue the development of the X-Men CU in the form of a solo project of one character.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) Directed by Gavin Hood
The film tells the story of Wolverine, a ferocious superhero and a public favorite, was released in 2009. Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film (“Tsotsi”, a South African production film 2005), Gavin Hood directed the movie. David Benioff, who became famous for his work on “Game of Thrones” TV series a couple of years later, is the scriptwriter. Of course, Hugh Jackman is the leading actor of the film.
The plot tells about the difficult life of a mutant since the middle of the 19th century, as well as about a difficult relationship with his brother (Victor Creed, who is Sabretooth), the death of his beloved, the acquisition of an Adamantium skeleton and memory loss. New mutants were added to the plot of the film, including Deadpool performed by Ryan Reynolds. Well received by the audience and collecting a good box office, this picture nevertheless did not become a film masterpiece. 20th Century Fox is once again speculating on the future of the film franchise.
The Wolverine (2013) Directed by James Mangold
As the MCU rival grows close by – and director Matthew Vaughan’s “X-Men” reboot is finally well received – 20th Century Fox decides to continue the Wolverine story. Although a new film by director Darren Aronofsky was conceived back in 2009, the development has been very slow. However, things got off the ground after Darren Aronofsky was replaced by James Mangold.
The second film follows the adventures of a mutant in Japan after the events of “X-Men: The Last Stand”. Arriving in the Land of the Rising Sun, Logan meets Yashida, his old friend. Wolverine faces new enemies – Yakuza and the venomous villainous Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova). Grossing $ 400 million at the box office, this film becomes one of the most unremarkable one under the franchise.
Logan (2017) Directed by James Mangold
In 2029, when the powers of all mutants have dried up, the survivors have to drag out a miserable existence. With a hard-time regenerating and caring for the Professor Charles Xavier who are out of his mind, Wolverine is forced to work as a limousine driver. One day, Wolverine learns about the mutant cloning program. Now, he needs to save the children grown from a test tube and deliver them to safety place.
Directed by James Mangold, the final film about the adventures of Wolverine was pleased by critics. Many people call “Logan” one of the best films in the series, noting that it would be the perfect ending for the franchise, as we have to say goodbye forever to several important characters.
The X-Men Second Trilogy
With the release of X-Men: The Last Stand, the studio decides to start the story anew. Brian Singer, now a producer, returns to work on the film series directed by Matthew Vaughn known as the director of “Kick-Ass”, a comic strip parody. It is noteworthy that while taking part in the development of “X-Men: The Last Stand”, Vaughn was forced to leave this project.
X-Men: First Class (2011) Directed by Matthew Vaughn
The first film of the new trilogy tells the story of the formation of the X-Men team and about the uneasy relationship between Professor Xavier and Magneto, two leaders of mutants. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, the most promising actors of the 2010s, play their roles – and this casting choice fully paid off. Jennifer Lawrence, a rising movie star, played the role of blue Mystic.
A new story awaits the audience: Xavier and Magneto gather a team of mutants to confront the “Hellfire Club”, a team of villains with super powers. In addition, Emma Frost, an important character of the X Universe, will appear on the screens for the first time.
Hugh Jackman (Wolverine) and Rebecca Romijn (mature Mystic), appearing in several episodes of the movie, indicate that the creators did not disown the legacy of previous films.
X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) Directed by Brian Singer
Having talentedly blends the plot of the first trilogy with a new paradigm, Brian Singer is back with a new film that is one of the best in the franchise. The “Sentinels” system capable of detecting people with the X-gene was created by the US government. However, out of control, this program kills many people and places survivors in concentration camps.
In a dystopian 2023, humanity is close to complete annihilation, and the remaining mutants are trying to send Wolverine into the past to prevent the creation of the “Sentinels”.
Full of beautiful sadness and great special effects, the film brings back the actors from both trilogies playing their characters at different points in time. Bringing characters together, Brian Singer not only created a powerful crossover, but also reset the timeline allowing to completely change the rules of the game in the future. Grossing $ 747 million at the box office, the film set a new franchise record and earned critical acclaim.
X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) Directed by Brian Singer
Two years after the release of “X-Men: Days of Future Past”, a new film directed by Brian Singer – telling a new story about a team of mutants – was premiered. However, this time the director dispenses with the actors of the first trilogy (only Hugh Jackman appears in small episodes, as always).
The action of the new film takes place in the 1980s, and the main villain becomes the very first mutant Apocalypse awakened after millennia of sleep. Wandering around the world, he gathers an army of disgruntled mutants. To stop the end of the world, Professor Xavier is forced to reassemble the team once again.
At first glance, Brian Singer seems to be doing everything right – he opens up new characters, develops them, shoots amazing battle scenes (even the scene with Quicksilver – that has become traditional – was not excluded from the film). However, the new film was unsuccessful. Grossing around $ 500 million at the box office, the film was coldly received by critics – and “X-Men: Apocalypse” is the Times magazine’s worst film of 2016. As a result, Brian Singer left the film franchise for good.
Initially, Deadpool was supposed to appear on the screens back in 2004. The film starring Reynolds has been frozen. The character Deadpool shown in one of the Wolverine films did not give impetus to filming “The Deadpool”. Despite Ryan Reynolds’ best efforts, filming was delayed for a long time.
Deadpool (2016) Directed by Tim Miller
Having never directed a single feature film before, Tim Miller was chosen to direct the new movie. To attract viewers, the movie bosses chose an extraordinary approach – a promo video to assess the degree of viewers’ interest was launched on the Internet in 2014. Having a positive result, the producers launched the film into production. It is noteworthy that the movie was initially rated R. Premiered in February 2016, the motion picture proved to be very successful – the box office in the first week of the screening was about $ 300 million (the film’s budget is just $ 58 million). The most grossing X-Men film under the franchise, “Deadpool” grossed $ 783 million in total. The movie held the record for highest grossing film with an R rating until 2019 when “Joker” was released.
The story of a chatty mercenary breaking through the fourth wall required a sequel to be filmed.
Deadpool 2 (2018) Directed by David Leitch
The “Deadpool” sequel was released two years after the first film premiered. Losing director Tim Miller (replaced by David Leitch) and retaining the core cast, fervor and R rating, the sequel has nearly matched the box office’s success of the first movie. Keeping the same perfect mix of action and comedy, the authors added several new characters. Since “Deadpool 2” turned out to be a very successful film, the creators are already talking loudly not only about the triquel, but also about the X-Force spinoff.
On the Ruins of Its Former Greatness
As known, while going through a really tough time, Marvel did not hesitate to sell the rights to some of its characters. At one such point, 20th Century Fox acquired the rights to the “X-Men” and ran its own franchise since 2000 (and earned nearly $ 6 billion in box office by 2018). Presumably, Marvel had a hard time watching the alternate history of its mutants cut off from the MCU. At the end of 2017, the deal of the century was made – Disney studio (which owns Marvel) not only buys back the rights to the X-Men team, but acquires 20th Century Fox in its entirety.
Following the completion of the deal in 2019, the history of the X-Men franchise ended. Wanting to completely reboot the characters, Disney is freezing the development of new mutant films.
However, there are two films left in the vaults of 20th Century Fox, and Disney is sluggishly release them.
Dark Phoenix (2019) Directed by Simon Kinberg
This film is the second retelling of the same story about the reincarnation of the telepathic Jean Gray into the monstrous Dark Phoenix. This time, the transformation was due to shapeshifting aliens.
Having previously written scripts for the films under the franchise, Simon Kinberg directed the film. The finale of the film franchise turned out to be depressing: having hardly beaten off its budget at the box office, “Dark Phoenix” topped all ratings of the worst films of the year. The movie was criticized on almost every key aspect.
Although it seemed that it could not be worse, there are still “New Mutants” in the studio’s bins.
The New Mutants (2020) Directed by Josh Boone
Delayed for years, plagued by reshoots, expectations, hopes and the coronavirus epidemic, this film is the most unfortunate one under the franchise. The history of the horror genre about young mutants locked in an asylum was supposed to involve the shooting of sequels. However, unable to discover at least something new in the film franchise, “The New Mutants” did not even deserve to be called just a good film.
The “X-Men” are now officially part of the MCU (where they should be). It is not yet known how Disney is going to embed the characters into the franchise. Now, there is a heated debate about who will become the new Wolverine and which of the mutants will be the first to appear. Obviously, the characters will be re-cast.
Aside from Deadpool, Marvel has made no secret of its interest in R-rated blockbusters – and triquel of Wade Wilson’s adventures hasn’t been officially canceled. However, MCU producers will have to go through a difficult job to bring Deadpool’s character into an already painstakingly created franchise in a harmonious way.
Meanwhile, mutants with superpowers from the pages of the comics have always been important Marvel characters, and many of them at one time or another were part of the Avengers. Although we don’t know “how?” and “when?”, but the X-Men will undoubtedly appear in the MCU once again. Probably “WandaVision”, the first MCU TV series, contains some answers to these questions. So, it won’t be long to wait!
Меня зовут Игорь. Я из тех, кто постоянно выискивает себе новые увлечения. Начинал с зоологии и чтения в детстве и докатился до путешествий, кино и истории искусства. Не могу жить без новых книг, новых телешоу и новых стран. Свято верю в науку, доброту и то, что впечатлениями надо делиться. Учу языки, планирую поездки разного километража и пишу про кино и сериалы.