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When I first heard about the new X-Men movie, I was terribly excited. Professor X and Magneto back when they were BFFs? That’s probably one of the most interesting storylines in all of the Marvelverse (Civil War aside). Sixties era setting? I appreciate go-go girls as much as the next person, and besides, this makes Magneto and Prof. X contemporaries with a certain Mr. Bond. Happens BEFORE the X-Trilogy takes place? Even better: Cyclops is still alive out there somewhere, we don’t have to deal with Rogue’s emo-tantrums, and we can all pretend that Wolverine: Origins just never happened. (And seriously, they came up with marketing stuff like this- MacGuffin). Then I saw these posters. I probably should have given up any expectations then.
Who thought this was a good idea? I get that this movie focuses on Charles and Erik’s roles as mutant forefathers, but did they have to make that point literally, by having their faces sprout from their loins? Unfortunately, these posters seemed to accurate predict the movie itself as a series of missed opportunities. I don’t know much about movie reviewing, but I do like to think I know a bit about storytelling. And I can recognize a missed opportunity when I see one.
1. Professor X and Magneto
In my opinion, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender were excellent for these roles. Fassbender’s Magneto was a brutal, sexy version of James Bond, except darker and more vicious. McAvoy’s Professor X was perfect. Snarky and pretentious, I was delighted to be suppressing my urge to punch him in the face throughout the movie. Nobody can be that sanguine without having been a complete prick at some point; it was refreshing to see Professor X portrayed as something besides a saint.
Unlike some of the other characters (but more on that later), Professor X and Magneto were actually well developed. To be fair, given their detailed history in the comics, how could they have not been? What was disappointing, however, was that their relationship was not as well developed as they had been individually. Maybe the writers intended to emphasize each man as his own maverick. I’m not sure. What I do know is the main reason why I gave this movie a chance was because I was curious to see what the writers had come up with for the enigma of how Charles and Erik became friends.
The best we got was a cheap friendship montage: the young mutants get trained, Charles and Erik become best friends, and a good time is had by all until Kevin Bacon strolls by and rains on everybody’s parade. Instead of rehashing the first movie (yes, I think we can all take for granted by now that Magneto was a victim of the Holocaust–and by the way, when did that become a trope instead of a tragedy?), maybe they should have spent their efforts developing actual relationships between characters. Furthermore, the ending was a major disappointment. Rather than Erik blindly tossing bullets over his shoulder, it would have been more interesting if Erik, lost in a blind rage, intentionally shoots Charles. At the very least, it’s better character development than a mere accident. Once he has realized what has happened, he is penitent–but he also has a moment of recognition. He sees that Charles’s path of peace and reconciliation could never be his own. The moment becomes poignant because Erik sees himself for what he is: a monster. In one moment, he is horrified by what he sees and hates himself for paralyzing his best friend, but also is strangely excited and relishes in his power. The sun eclipses; the dark side wins. Charles grieves for his friend, but more importantly he grieves for himself and can’t help but resent Erik for what he has done. He knows he will spend the rest of his life confined to a wheelchair. He tries not to hold his condition against Erik, but he knows deep within him that he will never be able to rise above it. The actors were talented and certainly could have dealt with such a complex scene–its a shame that the writers couldn’t.
2. Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique
I’ve heard such promising things about Jennifer Lawrence. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see any of it during First Class.
Mystique’s development was such a missed opportunity in the movie. Yes, we get that she is young and vulnerable. We get that she wasn’t always the vicious, savvy villainness we typically see. And I don’t argue with her initial portrayal as your standard insecure teenager–I just wish that somehow throughout the movie, she moved beyond that. For being what turns out to be one of the most powerful female characters in comicbookdom, Mystique was sadly one-dimensional. She essentially played a stock character: insecure teenage girl with body image issues who has difficulty accepting herself for who she was. For Chrissakes, that’s the plot of She’s All That.
Her mutant power is a physical manifestation of a woman’s body image issues. Rather than using it to objectify herself in pathetic attempt to win attention by playing up male fantasies, we should have seen her using her power arbitrarily, recklessly, for the mere reason that she could. It would have established Mystique as a loose cannon and shown that she was more dangerous than the men had estimated her to be. Yes, appealing to male fantasies by shifting into female forms would have been a nice way to have her start the movie, but it would have been interesting if Mystique recognized her potential wasn’t limited to her feminine form. If she had shifted into the shape of a man, it would have been symbolic of her liberation and allowed her to evolve into Mystique, as I know her: an uncontrollable, unpredictable force to be reckoned with. She’s completely unrecognizable as Charles’s docile lapdog, cowering in the corner when any fighting occurs. And by the way, if Emma Frost remained the ditzy companion of Sebastian Shaw, this version of Mystique would have been a great foil to contrast the docile housewife to the independent, self-realized woman.
3. The Rag-tag Gang of Mutants
Forgive me if I’m mistaken, but I was under the impression that the reason comic book movies are made and funded is because they promise epic action scenes. X-Men boils down to the promise that the audience will see a handful of impressively powered mutants fight an all out battle with another group of somewhat less sympathetic mutants with equally impressive but slightly different mutant powers.
Somehow in First Class we ended up with Banshee. Banshee? Really? We also managed to snag butterfly girl and toanrdo man, too. The only person who could have been lamer than these sorry mutants would be Jubilee (sparkles!). I get that the first trilogy exhausted many of the more interesting and better known characters, but were these mutants really the best in show? There must have been lesser known mutants with cooler powers. Hell, they could have made up mutants with cooler powers.
In addition to having really, really lame powers, none of the auxiliary mutants were developed. At all. If the excuse for having less cool mutants was to introduce new characters to the franchise, then I don’t know, actually create real characters that are interesting and have some depth to them. We get it. Angel has daddy issues. (I’m still not sure why she defected. Was it because she saw some sort of acceptance from Shaw that she couldn’t get from the X-Men? Was that ever made clear?) Havok can’t control his powers. (But why? Could he maybe be trying to prove something/steal attention from his saint of a older/younger brother Cyclops?) Banshee… pretty much has no personality. Darwin is black. (Seriously–that was the extent of his character development. When did basing entire character profiles off race become okay?) I wasn’t compelled by any of these characters.
Instead of having the the ragtag team of no-name mutants, they should have just started off with the classic lineup. I get that we’ve seen Jean Grey, Cyclops, Iceman and Angel (Warren Worthington III) in the later films. It doesn’t matter. Cast them as their younger selves. We’re already tossing chronological consistency out the window by having Havok (who must have fallen into some sort of wormhole in order to be a teenager in the 60s if he’s Cyclops younger brother) and Emma Frost (who must have added backwards aging in addition to diamond form and telepathy to her powers since she’s about 12 in Wolverine) in the movie.
The classic lineup is good. And who cares that we’ve seen them before; we could have gotten a different spin on the characters. I would have loved to see a younger version of Jean Grey that foreshadows her development as Dark Phoenix. Wouldn’t it have been great if she were this rebellious, Beatles-crazed teenage terrified and fascinated by her power and throwing herself at poor Cyclops much to Charles’s dismay and Erik’s interest? She could have been what Rogue should have been in the first movie. I know we’ve seen this group of mutants before, but let’s be honest, their substitutes in this movie weren’t good enough to justify eliminating the classics. Jean could have been a rival for Charles’s affections with Mystique. Clearly, Jean Grey would ultimately win–which would provide more impetus for Mystique to leave and go rogue. All in all, the movie wasn’t terrible…but there were many things that could have made it great. For seeing all of its lost potential, it seems somehow a little more disappointing than if it had no promise at all to begin with.
MacGuffin here: as far as I’m concerned, this was the only good moment in the whole film. Click to see the animation, because apparently WordPress doesn’t like Gifs.
Wonderful news! I have located Bill Mudron‘s artistic doppleganger! Remember the incredible art nouveau Doctor Who posters? (How could you forget them, since I bring them up every 3 minutes?) Well Deviant Adam Hughes has done an art nouveau Slave Leia and my goodness Puffin, it’s hot enough to fry bacon on!
These look like a pair, right? But no! Slave Leia is by Adam Hughes (see above for fangirl gushing). But the La Dauphine aux Alderaan is by artist Karen Hallion. Why is this important? Because it means that there are two separate artists mucking about with this style!! Plus Bill Mudron! This is fantastic!
Karen Hallion also did a great illustration of Voldemort. I would like to nominate Karen Hallion as the cover illustrator for some fancy cloth bound edition of the Harry Potter series. Something with the same kind of productions values as Charles Van Sandwyk’s Wind in the Willows.
Soooo…. this started as a post about the Slave Leia picture, but then it sort of ballooned as I found more and more awesome art nouveau stuff.
Or this neat art nouveau Iron Man by John Tyler Christopher
For the Sherlock fans out there Nero749 has been hard at work on your behalf:
I’m not a huge fan of Disney princesses (that may be the understatement of the century), but I do like these 7 deadly sins (the 7 Disney sins? The 7 deadly Disney sins?) illustrations by Deviant Chill07, aka Chris. I really like how snarky they are!
(Psst: who the heck is that princess for wrath? I realize that I’m displaying ym ignorance of Disney princess mythology here, but I’ve never seen that girl)
Chris also did this wonderfully sinister drawing of the evil queen from Sleeping Beauty, a movie which scared the ever-loving crap out of me when I was 8 or 9.
And these two of Padme and Slave Leia are by deviant r4design.
Enjoy Puffin. I hope these fill you with some sort of artistic glee. They sure do for me.
Other posts about art
Little known fact: I love silhouettes. I also love movie ephemera and art based on comics, tv shows, movies, etc. So Olly Moss’s Paper Cuts are basically a win-win for me. I found the Calvin and Hobbes one on Epbot and then went on a massive Olly Moss rampage. First I found the Paper Cuts blog and found all these, which were recently featured in a solo show at Gallery 1988. Can you recognize them all?
But then I found more and more stuff from Olly, and now I want to be his concubine. He came up with the Panic and Freak Out mug, that I adore, and can be purchased here.
And Raphi, this is for you:
UPDATE: I also found this, which I think speaks for itself
As April drags interminably on, stubbornly resisting the transition to spring, and as my thesis drags similarly on, stubbornly failing to magically transition from draft to completed magnum opus (seriously, the damn conclusion simply refuses to materialize out of thin air. What is with that?) my thoughts turn not only to beer and television, but also to the amazing movie season that starts at the beginning of May. Pirates of the Caribbean 4, The Hangover 2, X-men First Class, The Green Lantern, Harry Potter, Captain America, and even the one about which I am most frightened, Tinker Tailor. Which is my favorite book/bbc mini series ever and if they screw it up I will kill them.
These are the main US posters. The first one doesn’t work, I feel. The text clashes too much with the faces underneath, and the spacing is off. The second one may have many flaws, but I can’t articulate them because Chris Hemsworth.
This one, on the other hand, is pants-wettingly awesome:
Go behind the cut for production stills, all the trailers and general fangirliness, including a bonus Bender/Thor mashup poster.
I desperately need a palate cleanser after that last piece, which brought so much bile to my throat that I think I permanently damaged my teeth. So here is a change of pace, or perhaps a return to form, since I think this blog is evenly split between my movie poster obsession and our various political rants. So here we have some pictogram posters of famous movies by artist Viktor Hertz. Follow the link to see many many more.
And a great painting of Quorra by Peter Breese. I like that he even got her highly improbable shoes right.
These are fantastic Formula 1 Grand Prix posters from PJ Tierney. I love the way he integrates the shape of the car into the dominant shapes of the flags. Especially the one for Japan. Although now I want to see rip offs featuring the Stig.