Thursday, June 01, 2006

Geek Out

Re: X3


I have NO PROBLEM with them killing characters and removing powers. Great, classic comic storylines, which as we all know can be easily reversed. Jean Grey herself died in X2. And since they killed off Gyrich, how the hell ELSE are they supposed to make a roster switch so that you get to see all your fav characters? Death and Gyrich = Marvel staples.

Now here's what's pissing me off about the X3 continuity griping. (Beyond my normal argument supported by comic critical studies that comics are our greek myths, our legends, and therefore absolutely MUST be elastic in their constant retellings, so chuck your continuity arguments at the Arclight door).

If you're going to effing geek out about the Dark Phoenix storyline not matching the Claremont comic, then for gods' sake do it right, man. The problem isn't that she died in Logan's arms instead of Scott's, etc. etc. etc. This issue truly rivals the character morphing of Kitty Pryde/Rogue and Gwen Stacy/Mary Jane.

So what I object to is that X3's Phoenix character was more based on Chthon (A #185-187)/(WCA #50s)Immortus - influenced Scarlet Witch's story, not Dark Phoenix. I should know, Wanda's my favorite effin' comic character.

From the costume design of Dark Phoenix (morphing Chthon and SW of X-Men Evolution)

to a catatonic witch telepathically elevating a house with teammates trapped inside (hola WCA #50s again), to placement by Magneto's side as favorite pawn, to accidentally killing off her teammates, to the power more resembling Wanda in The Ultimates than the Phoenix Force (destroyer of STARS, not a hundred measly people), to the skin disintegration that is a direct reference to House of M #1's variant cover, and Magneto and X and the telepathic block scene felt MUCH more Genosha/House of M than origin Jean Grey...need I go on?

Oh my stars and garters, am I the only one who has read Byrne and Bendis's Avengers stories? Hand them an effin' water hose and a residual check already. Damn, they must be PISSED. Remember The Avengers? Much ignored and abused effin' FLAGSHIP of the Marvel Universe?

NOW...two legit film gripes? The score and dialogue were completely beneath the quality of the rest of the film. Large subtractions.

Otherwise, a logical and not terrible finish to the trilogy. Some pure moments of childish delight, and some sadness that Ratner doesn't understand nor linger on human emotions, since Stan Lee has always insisted on the soap opera of human emotions being the true Marvel draw.

Will I see it again and illegally copy the DVD? Sure.

Ian was EXTRAORDINARY again. Freaking chills. And Rebecca. Loving Mystique. Ororo should have died. Some really cool nods to the comic storylines, and fantastic visual puns.

I really liked Kelsey as the Beast, but it PAINS me to see Beast without Wonderman. And it was really weird to have Kane walk past Prof. X with no reference to bloodties. Okay, and why bring up Juggernaut's helmet if not to mention it blocks X's telepathy?

Am I a little freaked out they've Frankenstein-cobbled together so many storylines? Assuming Galactus belongs to the Silver Surfer franchise and that they're not touching Kree-Skrull and Shi'ar with a ten foot pole, all they have left to steal from is The Hellfire Club, Savage Land, Apocalypse, and heaven help us, Mr. Sinister...Sure. I'm worried.

Now, m'on cher, bring on Gambit, Bishop and Betsy. And if The Brotherhood comes back, it better include Quicksilver.

Oh yeah, and really?!? MORLOCKS?!? *Shudder*

Holy crap, I just let my geek flag fly. Here come the marriage proposals...


m said...

Brilliant f&@$ing comics archaeology. I'd noted the similaraities to Scarlet Witch, but it completely eluded me how deep it ran.

I'm kicking myself. I am.

As for continuity griping and changes, my personal maxim is it only matter that they changed stuff if the movie is unsuccessful.

X3 is a success. Changes don't matter.

Had it failed or been universally regarded as sucky (which it isn't) then you might blame the film makers for having a template for success and not using it.

MIM said...

Figured you'd get around to this...

I'm still torn about wanting to see it, given that Dark Phoenix is one of the first complete arcs I've ever read (albeit in TP form).

What bugs me first and foremost about it is that, from spoilers-eye view, X3, like most of the rest of the series, cheapens the dpeth of character for a scatter-shot approach.

Example -- the role of Cyclops. There could have been a nice dynamic between a guy with tons of power he HAS to control (Cyke), a guy who struggles with control (Logan) and a woman with tons of power and a newfound aversion to self-control or others' control (Jean).

Also, there was no love triangle here. There was a check mark -- a short line btw Logan and Jean and a LONG line between Jean and Scott. Raoul in Phantom of the Opera was more appealing to Christine than Scotty was to Jean in this series.

Yeah, I know, the kids (and apparently at least one single female teacher I know) dig the coolness and studliness named Logan. But would it have really hurt to show both bad boy AND the schoolboy feeling horrible at the end?

Shoot, if you can't have a fastball special with the 6'3" Hugh-Wolverine, couldn't you have these guys have to team-up to slice and dice the old redbird?

Plus, despite the enormity of the X-universe, how many muties do you need in a 100 minute film? Like the other two, I keep hearing about MOMENTS of wonder and some great IDEAS, but not one review saying this was a fully-realized X-epic.

Supes I and II deviated from canon, and created their own, but they stood as epic films. Spider I was flawed, but was a more complete film to me than X1. And you know how much I love Begins.

And why do these people even have to die? Is it even on the level of emotional depth of a Spock death?

I know, I know, it's a movie and it's a flexible medium, and I'm waving a geek flag the size of a freaking AIDS quilt here. But doesn't the use of these quick kills seem like laziness rather than organic plot development?

I remember the documentary of how Kevin Smith originally KILLED Dante at the end of Clerks, and even he admitted it was because he didn't know what to with him. Did you get that feeling here?

Yep, I haven't seen it. Yep, I probably will see it in full bigscreen glory for the cost of three gallons of regular 89 octane.

But I can't help feeling that the whole series has been attempts to scratch at greatness, rather than shove the claws all the way in and carve out a big chunk of it onscreen.

Sorry so long.

jackt said...

Holy crap you are way out of my league. I will meekly remove the Wolverine background from my PC screen now as clearly I am not worthy.

Patrick J. Rodio said...

Yeah, the geek flag is flying, but it's kinda sexy.

Lynda said...

I will come back and read this post after I have seen the movie. Woohoo! Going this weekend.

Kid Sis said...

M, thank you! And I totally agree. The movies really need to succeed on their own terms.

MIM, I understand. I think you should see it. Funny the best emotional punch they've packed is still the opening scene of X1, which makes me throw up a little in my mouth everytime I think of it, and helped give me the chills when M points to the brand on his arm in X3. I think your concerns and observations are right on. Did you read Ebert?

The addition of Beast, Angel and Leech, not to mention Multiple Man, Juggernaut and the revived Dr. Jean Grey (reborn as Dark Phoenix) causes a Mutant Jam, because there are too many X-Men with too many powers for a 104-minute movie. There are times when the director, Brett Ratner, seems to be scurrying from one plot line to another like that guy who had to keep all of his plates spinning on top of their poles.

J, please don't! Just keep buying comics so that the industry doesn't die!!!!

P, :)

Lynda, right on girl. Enjoy!

Heidi said...

Dude. I have no idea what's going on but you clearly rock. Also love the pic of Hero's paw to your face.

Kid Sis said...

No worries, H. It's like you and Muscle cars...

By the way, it's not that combining Scarlet Witch and Phoenix (or Callisto and Quicksilver, ahem) is inherently bad. The part of the argument that I didn't make, because it seems so DUH to if you have rights to the most popular character/storyline of all time, why would you throw that away to instead tell one of the most HATED characters/storylines of all time?

I mean, Avengers Disassembled and House of M made me and a lot of other thirty-forty/somethings stop reading Marvel.

I'm just saying.

BrianFies said...

Good, insightful analysis. I didn't catch the Avengers parallels myself, partly because I could never bring myself to read Bendis's "Avengers Disrespected." Good catch, though.

I think X3 was fine for what it was and grade it more positively than negatively, but regret some mischaracterizations and missed opportunities. The less said about the fate of Cyclops--who never got the respect he deserved in any of the movies--the better. MIM is exactly right about how great a love triangle could have been, but it was clear the filmmakers wanted to get rid of Marsden so fast they didn't care how it hurt their story.

Couldn't figure out why the wise and patient Professor X was being such a jerk. "I don't have to explain myself, least of all to you." Wha-? And his accusatory "What have you done?" to Wolverine after Jean escaped only had one answer: "Uh, just happened to be in the room when she woke up?"

Phoenix was a huge missed opportunity. Except for the few seconds she begged to die, we never saw her struggle with her good vs. evil sides. Never understood what she wanted or why she was driven to violence (I get the unrepressed id but find that insufficient motivation. Why not just sit down and eat all the chocolate in the world?). Didn't get any sense that she had any feelings or conflicts about fighting and killing people she once loved. Did she really think Magneto's plan would get her what she wanted--whatever that was? And for being the most powerful mutant in the world, she was almost completely passive throughout most of the film. Spooky, but passive.

I was grinning like a ninny during the entire Golden Gate Bridge bit, although I immediately thought of 743 better, stealthier, more successful ways Magneto and his team could have infiltrated Alcatraz and killed the kid. Like a boat. Or, if he wanted a more impressive show, using Phoenix to disintegrate the island from Sausalito. Still, I forgive them that, although I still want to do the math to see whether the bridge could actually reach from the Marina District to Alcatraz as shown.

Loved the Beast and Kitty Pryde. Liked Rogue's arc--for some mutants, maybe a cure would be the right thing to do, and she was always shown as the most tortured and ambivalent about her powers. Angel was all right. I found Mystique's fate to be surprising and appropriate. McKellen is always a bright spot.

Thematically, I was struck by the similarity between X3 and the Star Trek 2 and 3 combo (Khan and Search for Spock). Both are about the dangers of hubris, and what makes both works tragic is that the lesson applies to heroes as well as villains.

Kirk thought he could cheat death and lost Spock. He regained Spock but lost his son, David, and his ship. David himself assumed the power of God to create a planet and life itself. It cost him both the planet and his life. By the end of Star Trek 4 ("the whale movie"), which really caps a trilogy, Kirk is a wiser and humbler man.

Prof. X thought he could control Jean and lost Scott and his own life. Magneto thought he could control Jean and lost his powers and social mission: his "What have I done?" is almost heart-breaking. Jean doesn't fit the profile: her crime wasn't hubris in that she never aspired to the power of the gods, she simply had it. But ultimately she, too, was brought down by power she wasn't meant to have and couldn't control.

Just some thoughts. Karen wants me to add that she doesn't have any fancy-pants analysis of X3 but just really thought it was fun. Got to go make breakfast now.

Bill Cunningham said...

I thought it would have been cool to put some quasi-religious subtext to the bridge scene and had Phoenix hold back the waters and have the mutants step through. Sort of a Moses leading us out of bondage sort of thing. Magneto could have swept aside all of the junk in SF Bay...

Kristen said...

Am I the only person who fell asleep during several segments of this movie? For all intents & purposes, nothing happened in this film. I mean, sure, people disintegrated and the bridge got wrecked, and characters died, but it all felt so... pointless. The whole story was a laundry list of minor beats to be introduced and checked off. Ho hum. Maybe if I knew the comics I'd feel differently, but as an outsider to the series and someone with no special affection for any of these characters... I gotta say, not a good film.

Meg said...

I pretty much agree with everything Brian says - the one thing that really irked me was the almost instantaneous offing-of-Scott (wtf??). I thought the director of the first two films would have done more with Phoenix and her psychological struggles. Wasn't this film the shortest of the three? Seems like they easily could have added another 20 to 30 minutes of "substance" without hurting themselves too much.

Kristen, I was pretty young when the comics were big, so I don't consider myself an officianado, but I personally enjoyed the movie...granted, I really got into the first two and had been anticipating this one for years, but I thought it was well worth seeing.

Couldn't figure out the Professor, either - Brian, maybe that "What have you done?" line was a bad editing job? It didn't make any sense - and you're right, I figured Logan would say, "Well, I stopped her from destroying the whole compound and almost died in the process - what have YOU done?"

Still liked it, though. Will probably see it again via rental.

Kid Sis said...

Everybody's got such great points, it's depressed me too much to comment. A + everyone.

The "What have you done?" line really struck me as off, too. What I love about it is the way it felt like Hugh Jackman recoiled from the putrid dialogue, instead of Wolverine reacting the admonishment.

Bri, love the Star Trek catch. Good job! That wily Zak Penn.

Kristen, it definitely felt too often like the writers' convenience and not the will of the characters. Could hear Hal Ackerman's voice in my head through much of the movie. Also could easily tell who asked for too much money for the next trilogy. Though why they think it's a good idea to keep Halle Barry around after trying to hand two movies to her now is beyond me. It's just not working.

Meg, 20-30 minutes would have made a world of difference. Too bad they rushed production. I mean, it's just ludicrous to not have any reaction to Scott's disappearance and death. They didn't even talk about going looking for him, did they? Totally illogical.

Kristen wrote lovely X3 haikus on her blog.

MIM said...

You think 30-40 minutes would've made a differnce here? Check out the Director's Cut DVD for... oh, sorry, I already sent you that email. ;-)