Logan (dir. James Mangold, 2017) – The arrival of a young mutant sends an ailing Wolverine and Professor X on the run.
A near-perfect swan song for an aged hero, a brilliant origins story for a rising heroine.
The stars are aligned as we bid adieu to the Wolverine. It has been a long time coming, and no better timing for his last run. With the evocative nature of farewells almost a given, director James Mangold has his work cut out for him. The recent resurgence of the western genre also comes in good time, falling right in place with his dusty town vision.
Then, there is that minor success with Deadpool, boosting the studio’s confidence in bloodier, adult-oriented comic book movies. Just as the superhero genre flatlines on novelty, Logan knows to grab the opportunity to break out of the tired formula. So all bets are on, and all for the better. At long last, the Man with the Adamantium Fists gets the grittier treatment he deserves.
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X-Men: Apocalypse (dir. Bryan Singer, 2016) – Mutants unite against the ancient and all-powerful En Sabah Nur, who plans to rebuild civilisation by annihilating the human race.
Massive destruction fails to disguise an underwritten debut of the world’s first and most powerful mutant.
In the beginning, there was En Sabah Nur. Men worshipped him. They had witnessed his limitless powers and believed him to be almighty. But in time, he was betrayed by renegades, buried and forgotten.
Then came 1983. Unwitting apostles rouse En Sabah Nur from his long gestating dream of remaking modern civilisation. Against the world that once debased him, he rises as the bringer of armageddon, or the Apocalypse.
Following First Class and Days of Future Past, the X-Men are off to a new world war in Apocalypse, its title promising colossal destruction. Against the seasoned mutant team, Apocalypse builds his own army of soldiers to hold his fort. Storm, Angel, Psylocke and Magneto – his Horsemen make four, echoing the jarring cameo of a Metallica jam.
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X Men: Days Of Future Past (dir. Bryan Singer, 2014) – Humanity’s last chance sees Kitty Pryde send Wolverine back to the past, to prevent a dystopian future that spells the end for both mutants and mankind.
While ambitious and entertaining in extravagant fashion, Days of Future Past neglects essential themes that underlie the X-Men narrative.
Mutation is evolution. Scientist Bolivar Trask sees it as a threat. Defending against the human race’s successor, his misguided efforts lead to the sanctioned assembly of mutant-targeting robots, the Sentinels. Soon, nature’s order has humans and mutants warring for the survival of the fittest. With the aid of evolution and technology, the fight is a long draw.
Stretching far into the future, X Men: Days of Future Past proposes an apocalyptic end that sees both sides on losing ground. In a no man’s land, it would seem the selfish hatred of men had driven themselves to extinction. The decimated mutant population too, barely clings onto their eroding end.
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X Men: First Class (dir. Matthew Vaughn, 2011) – Mutants Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr unite on the same path to stop a spark that could ignite the third World War.
Returning to untold history, X-Men: First Class presents an effective reveal of answers to split ideologies.
Hostility between two camps often stems from trite motivations. Best guesses? Vengeful retribution. Pecuniary greed. Thirst for power. Sometimes, it lazily boils down to an innate appetite for destruction.
What has always made X-Men a fascinating stand-out in the superhero genre is its muddied distinction between villainy and heroism. Settling on neither black nor white, X-Men: First Class treads cautiously on this divide and looks to the past for answers to their differences.
1944, to be exact.
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