After the shocking success of “Deadpool,” it didn’t seem very likely that Ryan Reynolds and FOX would be able to follow up the first act in Wade Wilson’s arc. Lo and behold years later, “Deadpool 2” not only serves as a great second act of the Merc with a Mouth’s misadventures, but it’s just as good as the original. What I liked most about it though is that “Deadpool 2” further bridges the gap between Wade’s universe and his X-Men origins, proving that ironically these films understand the “X-Men” mythology so much more than any of the actual X-Men films combined.
Now with the acquisition of FOX studios by Disney, X-Men is set to have a new renaissance in film and the media and “Chris Claremont’s X-Men” is available to audiences and comic book fans in a brand new feature length edition. Director Patrick Meaney adds over thirty minutes to his biography of Chris Claremont, featuring brand new interviews, extended interviews and even insights in to the franchise. From the comics, to the animated series, and movies, both old and upcoming, we manage to garner some keen and interesting looks in to the mind of Claremont, the man who made the X-Men as we know it.
Having seen mostly independent films and foreign releases, making a top 10 of mainstream, theatrically released films is practically impossible. However, some of these films deserve to be recognized and seen. Here are my 5 favorites of the mainstream American films I’ve seen this year.
Logan, the public’s beloved Wolverine, has aged and isn’t doing so great. As he holds onto life for some reason and is looking for a reason to be. His later life is not filled with action, something he seems to have settled into. That is until a woman comes asking for his help and a chain of events leads to him having to help a young girl in desperate need of guidance and assistance.
“Logan” is a terrible X-Men movie, but a very good Wolverine movie. I say that because director James Mangold holds about as much contempt for X-Men and its concept as Bryan Singer does. Mangold offers a vision of the team that is none too flattering. Set in an undetermined timeline of the movie series, we’re met with Logan in the distant future where he’s one of the only surviving mutants left on Earth. The dream has died, Professor X is now suffering from a brain disease that has turned him in to a burden, and everything the X-Men strived for has been forgotten and passed off as a joke. Now faced with nothing but a dark ending, he is confronted by a Hispanic woman who pays him to help her. Logan, at the behest of Charles Xavier, is tasked with caring for a small girl named Laura who is much more like Logan than even Charles Xavier realizes.
There’s no bigger an X-Men fan online than Comic Book Girl 19. The web personality has made her claim to fame from online personality to bonafide geek goddess by providing insightful, lucid, and very controversial opinions about comic books and pop culture in general. Among some of the biggest pop culture dynasties, Comic Book Girl 19 is one of the most passionate X-Men fans around. Like me, she hates the movies, but loves the X-Men comics and longs for a day when we can finally see them adapted properly on the big screen. “Epic History X-Men” has nothing to do with the movies, and is in fact about a certain stream of storylines and character arcs involving the X-Men.
Comic Book Girl 19 and director Tyson Wheeler have their cut off point, and end episode three of three with the “Dark Phoenix Saga.” The massive science fiction arc was penned by Chris Claremont and is one of the most complex, complicated, and unusual storylines ever put to the comics. And Bryan Singer actually is going to try to simplify it for one or two films. That aside, “Epic History X-Men” is a fantastic and very entertaining documentary where Comic Book Girl 19 and her sidekick Robot lay out the events of “The Dark Phoenix Saga” and explain the storyline’s nuances and emotional strong points as thoroughly as possible.
Though the series as a whole could just being Comic Book Girl 19 sitting in a chair and laying out every point of the storyline, she and director Tyson Wheeler switch up the monotony by adding splashes of panels from the comic books. They also animated a lot of the panels, and even add their own voice overs and great sound effects, all of which really add a flavor and excitement to an already enthusiastic host. Comic Book Girl 19 loves the X-Men, and she seems to have a ball describing every storyline, from Jean Grey returning as the Phoenix, the big rumble with the X-Men and an erotic mutant organization called the Hellfire Club, Wolverine taking down a whole army of guards single handedly, to Jean’s eventual transformation in to the dark side as the Dark Phoenix which ultimately split the team apart.
Comic Book Girl 19 even takes the time out to introduce her favorite X-Men: Dazzler. Dazzler is a light controlling mutant that Comic Book Girl 19 has fought for, defended, and consistently taken scrutiny for favoring over everyone else in the comics, but makes a darn good case for the character’s significance to the “Dark Phoenix Saga.” What’s punctuated through most of Volume 3 is that the “X-Men” isn’t just a series about young people going on adventures. It’s a long and very unique consistent epic about people with extraordinary powers from various ethnicities and nationalities fighting for humanity, and learning that they themselves are human, in the end.
Though considerably low budget, “Epic History” volumes 1-3 garners some bang up production with excellent voice work. They’re undoubtedly very exciting, entertaining, and heartfelt glimpses in to only some of the most important storylines in one of the most unique and original characters in comic book lore. Comic Book Girl 19 treats the material with great reverence and will likely leave you seeking out the books and appreciating the characters so much more. Suffice it to say I had more fun with the third chapter than I did with “X-Men: Apocalypse.”
“Epic History X-Men Volume 3: The Dark Phoenix Saga” is now available on Vimeo On Demand.
If you pressed me about “X-Men Apocalypse” and asked what I thought of it, when pushed in to a corner as an X-Men fan, I’d reply with: Meh. It’s not “Batman v Superman” murky, and awful, but it’s by no means going to dethrone “Civil War” as the superhero showdown of the year. Bryan Singer is terrible, the X-Men Movies still haven’t given us a great iteration these characters deserve, and for some reason Professor X and Magneto are still given the most screen time and importance over everyone else.
That said while “Apocalypse” wasn’t a waste of time, it also opened the door for huge questions that never went answered. Here are five pressing questions I’d love for someone to answer to me. Do NOT keep reading if you’ve yet to see “X-Men Apocalypse.”
At the end of the day, “X-Men Apocalypse” is a big step up from the films in the series that preceded it, but it’s still just a Bryan Singer “X-Men” movie. Its two and a half hours of surface level action and superficial ideas that still haven’t broken in to the more complex themes of prejudice, racism, hatred, and bigotry that have made the X-Men property so beloved and widely embraced. Six movies later and only now FOX seems to be getting that a big advantage of the “X-Men” movies is that there are so many fascinating heroes and average people turned in to heroes of varied shapes, sizes, and colors. Only now that Marvel has embraced the team movie are Singer and FOX transforming the “X-Men” in to a team franchise.