Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Comic Book Cinematic Universe 101: Opportunism, X-Men

Oh man, I bet you guys thought this was going to be about the European Elections. Well, so did I, then I realised I'm way too bummed out, and perhaps even TOO cynical to deal with that right now. So we are taking a break to focus on something lighthearted and meaningless before we get down to the crippling rise of exclusionary politics that threatens to halt all liberal progress. So until that time, lets laugh at some fatcats trying to profit off of Comic Books and how it should and shouldn't be done.

Welcome to Cinematic Universe Continuity 101: First Lecture, Opportunism.

Here is a handy graph that took me all of 5 minutes to make, so you can bet I'll use it a lot. 

So Opportunism in and of itself isn't a bad thing. Germany took the 'opportunity' to reunite at the end of the Cold War and that worked perfectly well, and some of the greater achievements of Capitalism have been based on opportunism. The ugly side also exists, both of that Capitalism comparison and, to name a very relevant one at the moment, the aforementioned political opportunism of UKIP and other parties. I noticed during X-Men: Days of Future Past that it had definitely filled the hole I had been looking for while seeking to make a unified theory on Cinematic Continuity. You can take the fact I had time to plan this article 2/3rds of the way through the film as a minor indictment of its pacing issues. 

Spoilers ahead, but like, nothing mind blowing 

Overall however, X-Men: DOFP is not a bad film, compared to ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ and 'Last Stand' it is positively marvellous (Though I still feel an article should be done one day about why Last Stand isn't 'Ghost Rider' levels of bad). A solid 7-8/10, it has objectionable parts, but you'll never be objecting enough to be not entertained. In fact, despite being so heavily wrapped up in both the prequel and sequel films, watched in isolation I can imagine it makes for a pretty decent film. (Though you'd probably wonder why the 'present' universe has so many characters considering it is on show for all of 20-30 minutes.)

The basic plot goes present = shit, past = hope. Change past, save future. 

Blue is beautiful (ish) - The Blue Cat, the Magic Roundabout. 

It is split pretty unevenly, but that is fine and expected. The 2000s film cast is large, expensive and unwieldy, as you may remember from Last Stand, several of the 'big members' lay dead, others have become increasingly more expensive or obscure. Another key factor, they are old now. X-Men (2000) was, as the date implies, 14 years ago. Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen weren't young when they started, I imagine both are counting their lucky stars that their powers are mental rather than physical. But in case you are wondering, all your Bryan Singer favourites come back (more on that later).

For the First Class X-Men's part, many of them just don't appear. Franco, Fassbender, that guy from Skins (Beast) and Jennifer Lawrence feel like the only four inhabitants of this universe from the previous one while in the 'past' sections of futures past. Jackman's Wolverine, Peter Dinklage's Trask (very good) and Evan Peters 'Quicksilver' (more on him later) fill out the past. 

Not involved in this production, Nightcrawlers Dad. (Another paradox probably here)
((I didn't say it was a perfect bout of opportunism)).
(((Why not have Demons AND Pseudo-Quantum Physics))). 

Overall both sections have distinct tones and work very well at complementing each other. Some things aren't explained at all, most significantly the time travel is sort of solid, but the way the X-Men are actually able to do this is complete Deus ex Machina on Kitty Pryde's sy(i)de of things. Wolverine serves as the go between, perhaps fittingly or ironically depending on where you stand on Jackman's seven time stint as the Canadian Superhero.

Finally, Opportunism.

X-Men should be rewarded for their services towards bromance. 

Ever since Marvel blitzed the stage with the MCU and proved that it could make shit tons of money whilst providing you with a virtual casus belli to milk a franchise in the name of creativity, any studio with a property or two has been trying to get in on that racket. While watching X-Men:DOFP, the main thought that went through my head is, "Why didn't DC do this?". Now DC will be covered next time in this series but it does beg the question why their brand of opportunism hasn't worked out. To that end so I don't have to go into it next time, lets have a think.

Now part of it is genuinely just luck, DC didn't get lucky because Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan had clearly tired of Batman. The X-Men movies had been left in a weird statis basically after Last Stand, with only 2 bad-to-average Wolverine movies padding out the wait in terms of what we will now call the 'Future' timeline, aka, X-men 1,2,3 and the two Wolverines. 

It should be added at this point Bryan Singer effectively erased every movie HE didn't do, cancelling the events of 3, Origins and THE in exchange for the vague Pseudo Quantum Physics buzzwords of "the stream rights itself", hinting that some of these events might be predestined? Though the movie's own metaphysical quandary remains inevitably unsolved. 

Thank god Hollywood keeps its actors looking so consistently young...And then that guy who plays Scott.

What the X-Men franchise really lucked out upon was the intervention of Matthew Vaughn like a worried bystander does to his alcoholic friend. They say the idea 'evolved' from First Class, but you can tell that Vaughn envisaged his own sequel. Opportunism appeared though and everyone realised that they could make something pretty damn cool before every actor from the Clinton administration got too old to play their characters anymore.

Irrespective of how good you think the film is, it all worked out quite well. They had two casts just fair apart enough in age, with shit tons of promising actors both sides of the divide, and a series that could rely on both a growing "earlier 2000s" nostalgia combined with a 3 year, recent memory contemporary hit. All this then able to be smashed together under the guise of COMIC BOOK CONTINUITY. 

And it worked. Fuck, they almost made it look easy, short of a few weird stumbles like Mystique, Quicksilver probably too old to be Magneto's child, and an overexposure to Wolverine as he leads his Sixth movie of Seven. 

So next time, when we visit Cinematic Universe 102, it'll be DC. Before then though, you'll get some Politics...Sorry. 

Make me the lead again you Nerd.


  1. After the UKIP triumph in the elections, I am still expecting Chapman bile and ranting so cant concentrate on this froth.

    Wheel out the vitriol.

  2. Focus on the mutants Chapman.

    Ignore that mean Euroskeptic.