Before Captain America, Iron Man and their bicep-bulging friends joined forces and smashed their way on screen with the big-hitting The Avengers in 2012, there was another group of superheroes who had already made their big screen debut and several successful sequels.
In 2000, director Bryan Singer brought the mutants of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s X-Men to life, 37 years after their 1963 comic book introduction. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen took on the leading roles of Professor X and Magneto, warring leaders with a mysterious past together and very different views on how mutants should be part of society.
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS
The Avengers and Avengers Assemble delighted audiences because they brought together characters that usually work alone. Viewers unaware of the comic book series, myself included, enjoyed seeing the superheroes team up, with old school Thor getting to grips with larger-than-life Iron Man.
In X-Men and its sequels, unity is paramount. Professor X and his X-Men are stronger together to combat the threat of Magneto and his followers; strength comes from the whole not the individual.
In establishing Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, Professor X has sought to create fellowship from the moment a child discovers their powers, creating a community to foster the talents of those with the mutated X-Gene and show them that they aren’t alone.
It’s these touches that I really enjoy about X-Men and its sequels. The focus isn’t on one person but many, and the film doesn’t just capture the dramatic fist fights. It also acts as a snapshot into the lives of the mutants.
Teamwork is a key attribute of the X-Men but, as with any other group of co-workers, emotions can run high. Whether it be a clash of personalities, being ashamed of being different or falling in love, the team does have its very real moments aside from saving the world.
THE WEIRD AND WONDERFUL
In creating an ensemble cast, the beauty of X-Men and its sequels is its wealth of characters. If you can think of an ability, chances are there’s a mutant that can do it. From controlling the weather to mimicking someone else’s appearance, the breadth of the featured mutants’ abilities is impressive.
While many of today’s 11-year-olds would say that the flamboyant Iron Man is the ultimate superhero, to my generation Wolverine, portrayed by Hugh Jackman, was the one to beat.
The mutant reinforced with super strong adamantium was an unwilling hero, bringing dark, brooding emotions with him. He hadn’t had the easiest life, as touched upon in X-Men and revealed further in subsequent films, and his gruff persona certainly took a lot of getting used to. However, he was fiercely loyal to the X-Men.