X-Men – The Road to Dark Phoenix

Wolverine, Cyclops, Storm, Jean Grey and Professor X in Twentieth Century Fox's X-Men.

X-Men is one of the earliest Marvel Comics adaptations to take to the big screen in the newer age of cinema in recent years.

After being on his own with no memory of who he was, Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) finds himself thrown into the middle of a war between Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Erik Lehnsherr (Ian McKellan).  Charles, known as the Professor, believes that mutants can co-exist with humanity.  Lehnsherr, known as Magneto, doesn’t agree.  The two of them used to be friends before having a falling out with each other.  That’s a story for another film.

The film wisely uses Logan and Rogue (Anna Paquin) as outsiders being taken into Xavier’s School for the Gifted.  In doing so, this gives us a way into the school with a bit of mystery.  The school doubles for what it truly is: a training ground for the X-Men.  It’s here where Logan meets Storm (Halle Berry), Scott Summers/Cyclops (James Marsden), and Jean Grey (Famke Janssen).  It’s only when Logan wakes up during a nightmare and stabs Rogue in which things soon go haywire.  Rogue, feeling guilty, runs away to the train station.  It turns out that Magneto and company need her for his evil plan to mutate the world leaders.  His attempt to do so with anti-mutant senator Robert Kelly (Bruce Davison) was already a failure.

Meanwhile, the film gives us a kick-ass third act that allows the team to shine as they work together.  Everyone has their part to do while nobody gets shoved aside.  This is how you know that a team-up movie is working.  Unfortunately, Mystique’s (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) sabotage of Cerebro puts the professor into a coma.  Thus, Charles is a non-factor in the third act.

With all of these characters being brought together, it’s easy to see how the narrative could lose its focus.  There’s certainly a larger focus on Logan because he’s been a fan favorite for quite some time.  Thankfully, there’s enough room for us to get to know everyone and move the plot forward.

This film came out in 2000.  Special effects technology has advanced quite a bit in two decades.  Yet there’s not a moment in the film in which one feels its outdated.  If anything, it’s the lack of smartphone technology that really dates the film!

There are humans who want mutants to register as a part of the Mutant Registration Act.  The conflict between humans and mutants will definitely lead to some intense situations.  On the other hand, one can certainly see this idea of mutants as standing in for the LGBTQ community.  All one needs to do is look at Chris Claremont’s run on X-Men, especially in “G-d Loves, Man Kills.”  We’ll see more some two films later with the idea for a cure.  One can look at that as the idea of conversion therapy.  Yes, there will be some mutants who want the cure so as to fit in with society.  Others are just happy to be their true selves.

X-Men plays faithful to the comics while opening the doors to a larger universe to come.

DIRECTOR:  Bryan Singer
CAST:  Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Bruce Davison, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Ray Park, and Anna Paquin

20th Century Fox opened X-Men in theaters on July 14, 2000. The film is available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital. Grade: 4/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.