So, what happened to X-Men movies? When Bryan Singer’s X-Men movie came out in 2000, it felt like we were in a new frontier where nothing could go wrong. After ‘Days of Future Past,’ what went wrong? A lot of people seem to agree that Fox failed to change in the face of changing adaptations. Marvel brought the change and Fox did not fall in line.
Blade was a success while Batman & Robin failed and it seemed like Marvel comic characters were golden. When X2 came out, it was less about building the X-Men universe and more about getting to know the characters on a deeper level. Recently, we have seen that the best X-Men universe products have been the series ‘The Gifted’ and ‘Legion’. Both are unconnected from the familiar movie franchise world.
‘The Gifted’ is good because of how each character has a developed and distinct personality. In contrast, the X-Men characters are just ‘that person who can do this thing.’ A similar mistake in the Marvel movies with the same flaw is Nick Fury whose character development starts and ends with the eyepatch. They rectified that with the release of Captain Marvel.
The X-Men franchise did not create characters that we can be emotionally invested in except for Logan.
This problem started with X2 and got worse with X3 when Brett Ratner took over for Singer. Singer went on to direct Superman Returns, something Ratner had been meant to do. When X3 came out, the way that Ratner introduced a serious X-Mansion did not sit well with fans. It avoided the bright and campy look directors like Sam Raimi had tapped for the Spider-Man franchise. The movie diverted from the source material and that is when it all started to fall apart.
The Dark Knight essentially did the same thing. They diverted from the comic book source material but they kept the character’s most important characteristics and got away with it beautifully. When you divert and then fail to build characters we can become continually invested in emotionally, it doesn’t work.
The X-Men franchise hit a low point with the release of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. That was until this last offering; ‘Dark Phoenix.’
X-Men first class came after Iron Man came out and the world had changed. Comic book movies were safe investments and the fact that they named it after a known comic book storyline made it palatable for audiences. Even lower tier comic book material like Kick-Ass and Sin City were becoming hits.
X-Men: Days of Future Past dethroned X3 as the highest grossing film in the franchise. Audiences and critics found it easier to watch. Then came X-Men: Apocalypse and it was a flop. It let down fans who had become hopeful after Deadpool and we all wondered if they could be trusted not to ruin ‘Dark Phoenix.’
Logan came after Deadpool but not before Apocalypse, which put the brakes on, for most fans. We knew ‘Dark Phoenix’ would struggle under Simon Kinberg and years of disappointment but we didn’t think it would be this dark.”