Despite many knowing me as a major Flash and DC aficionado, my love for all things comics started with Marvel, and, in fact, the X-Men. In fact, like most typical child of the 90’s raised by TV, I was fascinated by their cartoon incarnation heavily inspired what I soon after got to know as the Jim Lee influenced iconic look and feel and all their gaudy, goofy glory. You can imagine how I felt seeing these characters come to life when I first caught wind of the movie in the works hot on the tails of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man’s success.
If you think for a moment that my 10-year-old self was even remotely bothered by the heavily watered down cast of characters, obvious CGI flaws, a Sabertooth who lacked personality and very obvious budget cuts, you’d be absolutely wrong. In fact, I was so taken by the interpretations of the characters actually used – especially, as most other people, Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, Patrick Stewart’s Charles Xavier and most particularly Sir Ian McKellen’s Magneto – who very soon I discovered to be one of my top 10 super-villains of all time thanks to his very relatable motivations.
You could argue that in spite of all the mess that it soon devolved into, especially later in the series, the highlight was definitely – and always – the casting of its core characters – save for the inconsistency of Kitty Pryde but she was not as front and centre as she would have been, but I digress. I was particularly thrilled with this fact in the interpretations given of my two favourite (and coincidentally blue skinned) mutants in Nightcrawler and Beast – interpreted by the unfortunately named Alan Cumming and Frasier’s Kelsey Grammer, both of whom were practically lifted from the comics just as in the pages of my childhood.
On rewatching them years later with my wife, I realize, and with great nostalgia, that in spite of all their flaws and the inability to age well (oh my stars and garters those hairstyles….!), it took itself seriously to do what it set out to do: to make you care for the characters and to deliver the core message against prejudice. Granted, most things are better overlooked – such as the seeds of a confusing timeline of events and sudden disappearance of characters, major differences between characters from the source material (ANGEL!!!!!! PSYLOCKE!!) shifts in casting and most of all the very missed opportunities of giving Cyclops a better personality than that of chip board and having the “original” original X-Men on screen in the one movie they all appeared in, but it was all done with great love. I might be watching it through just a little nostalgia goggles, but it is has earned its place in a 2000s time capsule as a snapshot of pop culture of the era as well as its overall treatment of the medium, shying away just enough from the source material to be its own thing, and yet, unashamedly loving of the Children of the Atom.
This all changed very soon though, but that is a discussion for another time.