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The X-Men trilogy : Marvel’s original legacy


Symposia : 8/10

Average IMDb rating : 7.2/10

The X-Men franchise has been running for over 20 years, with 13 films encompassing the clash between humans and mutant-kind. The most impressive films in the franchise are the first three, which provide a subtle amalgamation of social prejudice and science fiction.

A run-through of the three films:

The first movie, simply titled ‘X-Men’, introduces the audience to Wolverine, Rogue, Professor X and a plethora of other mutants from the X-Men comics. The film revolves around the oppression of mutants, who have been alienated and demonized by humans. Professor X runs a special school for them, where he teaches them how to use their gifts for the greater good. In contrast, Magneto, or Erik Lehnsherr believes that they are a superior species, and will one day take over the world.

The plot of the first film forayed into the inequalities between mutants and humans, which many consider a parallel to current societal standards and ideas, camouflaged under the guise of a comic-book movie. The movie followed several stories, such as Wolverine’s past, the fallout between Professor X and Erik, and of course, the mutant-human conflict. Bryan Singer, who directed the first two movies, solidified the foundation for the X-Men universe.

‘X2’, the second film, partners up the X-Men and Erik Lehnsherr’s Brotherhood of Mutants, to save the world’s mutants from extinction, by the hands of Colonel Stryker. The plot becomes darker, and magnifies the scale of conflict.

‘X-Men: The Last Stand’ faced a change in direction, after Bryan Singer left. The film follows the Dark Phoenix plotline, where Jean Grey, a mutant with telepathic and telekinetic powers, unleashes her alter-ego and wreaks havoc. A cure for mutants has also been created, which suppresses the mutant X gene and would ideally stop mutants from using their powers, which creates an additional problem.

What I particularly enjoyed about these films was the straying from typical tropes and plot-lines. As one of the initial Marvel projects, the trilogy showed the stories of superpowered beings in a far more humanised way. With the antagonisation of the government and the questioning of a divisive society, the implied social commentary went spectacularly with the action and conundrum of the story. Another thing I loved was how the science behind the mutations is exaggerated, but still mostly real. Marvel now slaps the ‘quantum’ or ‘nano’ prefix in front of anything that is too hard to explain.

However, with the departure of Bryan Singer in the third movie, the story felt flat, forced and depressing. The role of Wolverine as the ‘leader’ of the X-Men was not comic accurate, and the overuse of his character didn’t do much to drive the plot forward. I personally believed that the story and ideas conveyed could have a slightly more positive spin on it. In all three films, there is an intense harshness that leaves you wishing there was something happy, something pleasant taking place. The pronounced drop in quality can be seen throughout the franchise with the prequels going well beyond the limits set by this trilogy.

The initial X-Men trilogy did what no other Marvel series could do, and created a name for itself that I believe has not yet been replaced. I would recommend sticking to the first three films if you cannot wrap your head around more complex events, as they adhere to a similar status quo and timeline. If you want a change from the current superpowered-human genre, and want to watch something with substance, meaning and unique notion, then the X-Men trilogy is perfect for you.

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