Monday, May 30, 2011

X-Men week: A look back at 'X-Men'

"X-Men: First Class" opens this week and, at the time of this entry, is sitting at a 100 percent rating at Rotten Tomatoes (20 reviews).

The X-Men universe is, to say the least, a continuity heavy place to be. I think they could offer Master's degrees on the history of mutants in Marvel Comics. It's that heavy.

Charles Xavier and his merry band of mutants first appeared in the pages of Marvel Comics in 1963, but it took almost 40 years to finally bring them to the big screen. That fact always amazes me, considering the amount of money that could have been made in the '80s and '90s off of the property.

In celebration of the newest film in the franchise, we'll take a look back at that first "X-Men" film.

"X-Men" was released in 2000 and was a longtime dream come true for comic fans. It was especially great because of what could be considered the best casting ever of Patrick Stewart was Prof. Xavier.

I can 100 percent promise that Stewart was at the top of the list of fan dream casts.

It also had a pretty good supporting cast of Ian McKellen as Magneto, Halle Berry as Storm, Anna Paquin as Rogue, Ray Park as Toad, Famke Janssen as Jean Grey and James Marsden as Cyclops.

Each of these actors were known at the time and had some measure of success so people could easily imagine them as the iconic characters.

I do remember thinking at the time that Paquin as Rogue was an odd choice, because by that time Rogue in the comics was portrayed as almost a sexy supermodel.

The biggest question mark was the character of Wolverine. First actor Dougray Scott was cast as Wolverine, but had to drop out because of re shoots for "Mission Impossible 2." I really feel bad for him. Can you believe his luck?

But, stepping into the role was unknown, to us, actor Hugh Jackman.
No one knew who he was or how he could possibly play Wolverine.

All I can say is whoever made that choice to cast Jackman in that part deserves a ton of credit and possible a very nice Christmas card each year.

The best surprises are the ones that come out of nowhere and that is what Jackman did. Wolverine was a highlight of the film and especially Jackman's performance which was spot on.

The film's plot had Magneto trying to turn the world's leaders into mutants, but what he didn't know was the special "turn them into mutants" machine was actually "going to kill them dead" machine. So it's up to the X-Men and reluctant Wolverine to stop them.

At the time it was great, the effects were top notch and people seemed to get a kick out of the script. One of my favorite parts was near the end where Cyclops tries to figure out if Wolverine is really Wolverine and not Mystique in disguise. Wolverine's response of "You're a dick" is one of the best lines in any movie.

The film had a good rating at Rotten Tomatoes with 82 percent with 126 good reviews to the 28 "rotten" reviews.

It was also a success, grossing more than $150 million in the US.

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