Today marks the 20th Anniversary of the first live-action X-Men film. Release on July 14th, 2000. X-Men is considered the movie that kicked off the superhero boom that is still going on today.
Kickstarting the Superhero Boom
Many often debate just which movie deserves credit for kickstarting the superhero boom. X-Men or Spiderman. While X-Men was first to box office it’s impact was far less. Grossing only a third of what the wall-crawler did. However where Spiderman is now on his 3rd reboot; the X-Men have done their best to keep the same story going.
Being the second biggest comic book movie universe and the longest-running.
What The Film Did Right
The X-Men’s greatest achievement was its ability to show that superheroes could be taken seriously. Created in a time when superheroes were seen as too kid-focused to be profitable. The X-Men chose to focus on the series’ very real theme of racial precedence. A theme far more adult than those in previous superhero movies.
The movie also did it’s best to steer clear of various comic book elements. Such as flashy costumes, omega level powers, or one-dimensional villains. Magneto’s plan of turning humans is a very comic book plan. It is not done for power, wealth, or revenge. Simply to make humans and mutants equal. This helped give the movie a level of grit and realism not normally seem in superhero movies at the time. It also allowed it to stand in contrast to the brightness of the Spiderman series.
What X-Men Did Wrong
The biggest problem for the first X-Men movie, and one that would plague the entire series, was its inability to evolve. For as groundbreaking as X-Men might have been for superhero movies. In many ways, it played it very safe.
The movie centers Wolverine as the audience insert as he is introduced to the hidden world of mutants. It then revolves mainly around the father-daughter relationship he develops with Rouge rather than his interaction with the other X-Men.
During the first movie, this was fine. But as the series progressed it largely kept to this style of storytelling. It found itself unable to create the kind of team comradery that would later define the MCU.
While the X-Men have certainly had some stinkers. It has also delivered what is considered to be some of the best comic book movies of all time.
The movies provide a rich assortment of what to, and what not to do, when creating a superhero movie.
Showing what superhero movies can be at their best. And what they can be at their worst.