Welcome to Five Points, a regular feature at Geekfinity where we lay out five ideas, thoughts, suggestions, etc for ways that a certain movie/game/comic/show can be improved. It could be characters we want to see used differently or more in a property, new settings for a game, new stories to be told, etc. All five of the points are the opinion of the current writer. Share your own thoughts about the points and what you want to see in the given property in our comments or through social media!
After seventeen years, the X-Men are set for a possible time of change. While the main film line that has been running since 2000 is mostly staying the same in it’s rebooted form (for now at least) the newer films like the Deadpool series and the upcoming New Mutants are expanding the franchise in new ways. The impending purchase of all of Fox’s movie and television divisions, alongside some other assets, opens the door to an even different future of possibilities that we’ll explore later this week.
It’s not news to most that the X-Men universe at Fox is a bit of a continuity/timeline nightmare which makes it really hard at times to even know what is going on and what is connected or matters to what other films. With all the reboots and movies set in the past & the future alongside all the decade jumping. In this very first official entry for Five Points, I thought we’d take a look at some things that can be done moving forward with future films to avoid many of these issues.
With that being said, let’s dive into this!
Point One: Follow the lead of Deadpool, set them in the present day
While the various films since have been received either positively or negatively by fans & critics alike, one thing that most agree on is that since Fox soft rebooted the franchise with X-Men: First Class things have been a big mess of continuity. Not only are the X-Men films hopping a decade every single time but the timeline alterations of Days of Future Past wiped out other films and caused a lot of messes and films like Logan, while awesome, confuse things even more since it’s set way apart from everything.
The first point for Fox is to avoid bogging down future films with these issues by following the lead of Deadpool and set it in present times. As of this moment (unless Disney changes things after the deal) there are plans to launch an X-Force series of films off the Deadpool films, make The New Mutants a trilogy and even to do more Deadpool films. It would make sense to tie all these series together in one solid timeline continuity. It will ground the film in a way instead of being this greatest hits-style thing of showcasing different decades, seemingly forgetting things that have come before or after as the main X-Men films have done. All that being said, they don’t have to be like the Marvel Cinematic Films where people crossover and there are end credit scenes and all that. As soon as the upcoming X-Men: Dark Phoenix is done, moving the main X-Men films forward would be for the best too. Also tying it things to the hugely successful Deadpool, at least in the setting not necessarily cameos or such, could likely rub off on the films that might be a harder sell with lesser known to general audiences characters.
Point Two: Let the characters develop (No Decade Jumping)
Besides the issues of continuity that come with jumping decades, there is the giant issue of character development being something that is almost non-existent within the main X-Men films as of late. To be fair there is, of course, some developments, like Magneto’s family in the most recent film, but it’s almost all stuff that happens off-screen. Various decades have passed since Charles Xavier, Mystique & Magneto came together in First Class but most of the changes to them happen between films which leads to expositional info dumps in each film. This year’s Dark Phoenix will likely take place in the 90s, meaning we’ll miss a decade of development of Cyclops, Jean, Storm, Nightcrawler, etc who were made the new X-Men team in Apocalypse. Also, there is the fact that while decades are passing between films the actors aren’t aging that much so it makes every mutant seem like they have found the fountain of youth.
Giving fans reasons to care about these characters should be the key. Logan proved this point last year as the main reason the film really succeeded is that there were deep emotions tied to the story as we truly cared about Logan as a character after 17 years and seeing him in this hard and bad place for the final time really spoke to audiences. Deadpool did much of the same in its own way, making Wade Wilson a very sympathetic character that we could empathize with in his journey. Hopefully, that won’t be a thing in New Mutants as director Josh Boone reportedly has plans for a trilogy of films starring these characters. All these characters should be allowed to grow before our eyes. Seeing the changes that come to the character through the adventures is what makes us feel more connected to them. Skipping over an entire decade of development of a character leaves giant holes that can easily frustrate fans that love those characters.
Point Three: Keep small & steady casts
While jumping decades caused an issue with character development in the main X-Men films, a finger could easily be pointed at the fact that the cast, save a few exceptions, has been a pretty much a game of musical chairs with each subsequent film. There are almost no films that stick with the same core stable of characters as the main team through the entire 17 year run of these X-Men related films. Every film adds or subtracts a lot of characters. Even with a smaller cast in X-Men: First Class it would be hard to argue that most of the spotlight was on Xavier, Magneto, and Mystique in that film and the two sequels.
What the future films need to do is keep relatively the same small stable cast through their films, adding in a few new characters when necessary. Basically what is happening with Deadpool 2. Wade, Vanessa, Colossus, Negasonic and the rest of the first film’s cast (outside of the enemies) is coming back as Cable and Domino and some bad guys are added in. New Mutant‘s starting cast of Wolfsbane, Cannonball, Mirage, Sunspot, Magik, and Warlock should stay through the entire trilogy, adding in a few other characters along the way. Timeline continuity is one issue the films have but character continuity is an even bigger issue. Allowing us time to grow with these characters and see how they develop and change through the films is a formula that has been successful for most other popular superhero and non-superhero franchises. The Marvel Cinematic Universe and The Fast and Furious franchises are perfect examples of following characters for years that fans have grown to love. Make us want to care about the cast.
Point Four: Deal with smaller/more personal threats
Some of the most compelling stories with superheroes and comics, actually just films in general, are the more personal and self-contained stories. An argument can easily be made that films with gigantic world-threatening events can be hollow or fall flat if there aren’t good character moments to balance out with the Michael Bay style destruction porn. Just look at both Logan and Deadpool, to keep it X-Men related. Both films are intensely personal films because the threat or issue the character faces has to do with overcoming someone that they love or care about being put in the crosshairs. Both simple stories, full of character and emotion yet also fitting in over the top action on a smaller scale.
While they are superheroes, the X-Men characters have always thrived better when their stories are smaller and more about their personal issues or their fight for survival in a world that hates and fears them. Since the first few films, that struggle to prove themselves to the world has all but been forgotten for the most part as the spectacle that they face gets bigger and bigger each time around. X-Men: Apocalypse took it way over the top with it’s “The world is going to end” style attacks that rung hollow as it was just an excuse for that Michael Bay style destruction porn. New Mutants seems to be following the lower key role as the film reportedly will deal with the Demon Bear saga which is a storyline that personally deals with Danielle Moonstar/Mirage’s past and her friends helping her out. If the franchise keeps to these threats that are personal to one or more members of the group for more of their films, it will help with the previously mentioned developing of characters.
Point Five: Just have fun!
There were many things that Deadpool did right for the X-Men line of films, one of those was just that simple reminder that these films can actually be really fun. That’s not to say that the other X-Men films of late didn’t have those moments but they really have gotten bogged down at times with a lot of heavy things that just drag the characters down. Not to mention the aforementioned destruction porn threats that rain down upon the characters. That doesn’t mean a film has to be a laugh a minute style thing either, as Deadpool and Logan both proved. You can have fun moments within the real and emotional moments that guide a storyline.
The New Mutants is about teenage characters, learning about their powers and themselves and it should be fun. Let them have their teenage moments of doing things teens do. For all the films remember the source material and bring in some of the over the top crazy stuff that comic books are about. That is one thing that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 did well, embracing the insanity & fun ideas that comic books have done well over the decades. Not everything has to be a hardcore serious “realistic” storyline like was done with The Dark Knight Trilogy and others. Some characters it works with, others should be bright and colorful fun. Let’s have some big fun with Marvel’s merry mutants!
Do you agree or disagree with these five points? Do you have your own ideas for what Fox/Disney should do with the franchise? Share your own ideas with us below or through our social media channels!