Rewatching X-Men: The Last Stand

How does Warren Worthington even warrant so prominent a place? Image found on http://xmenmovies.wikia.com/wiki/X-Men:_The_Last_Stand

How does Warren Worthington even warrant so prominent a place? Image found on http://xmenmovies.wikia.com/wiki/X-Men:_The_Last_Stand

So recently, I took the opportunity to rewatch X-Men 1 and 2. I stopped myself before I put in X-Men: The Last Stand, the infamous third film in the series. This was a movie that bothered myself, and a lot of fans, when it came out.

However, the next day I put it in and watched it too. And you know what? Better than I remembered. When it seemed like this was the end of the series, it was not as good – now that the series has doubled and with more to come, it does not feel like the painful end to the series, but like an odd middle that they have an opportunity to work their way out of.

So let’s consider this movie, in a world that now has X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men: First Class, and with The Wolverine and X-Men: Days of Future Past coming!

The Problem as I Saw It

So first, I originally remember walking out of this movie feeling like they had painted themselves into the end of the series. Professor X was dead, Cyclops was dead, Jean was dead, Magneto powerless…

I knew how I would end it, too, rather than that goofy Professor-X-in-a-comatose-man bit. I would have had Bishop show up, from the future, and say that the world had gone to hell in a handbasket with Xavier gone. Because that’s how I felt as a fan, and I think how a lot of people kind of felt. Something very wrong had happened.

But then, we got X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and got to feel like they had made a movie that was worse, that had even more betrayed characters (poor Deadpool), and which even more failed to meet expectations.

Then, there was X-Men: First Class, which was fantastic. A little awkward with the timeline of when all the movies happened and how old people are, but whatever, the comics are just as odd about that, so what can I say?

So now, the Wolverine is coming out next week, and I am torn – torn between my expectation from the goodness of First Class, and the badness of Origins. But something else is happening, too: this is a plot that is happening after The Last Stand. So we get to see what they envision that world as.

And then, coming next year, is the sort of plot I wanted to see come out of The Last Stand, the plot that could redeem everything that happened and that we felt as fans: Days of Future Past, the future reaching into the past with portents of doom. Sentinels and humans victorious and time travel – and they’ve gotten the cast back.

The series did not die with The Last Stand, and that is maybe the main saving grace.

Better than I remember

So I guess to get more specific on The Last Stand, it was better than I remember. For one part, it had something I remembered – fantastic visuals. Back at Alkali Lake, the Danger Room Session at the beginning, and especially Xavier versus the Phoenix.

They were working carefully with the plots, though, really. The movie I had wanted was just the Dark Phoenix saga, and they had set it up in the previous film. However, they had a longer plot going, really the whole plot of the comics, still not resolved today: humans versus mutants. Magneto’s agenda.

And so they made that the plot too. So all of a sudden, they had two plots they were working on, and they combined them, and I have to say, they did a better job of it than I remember. They build to a big fight, a last stand, as it were, of the X-Men on the side of the humans versus Magneto and violence.

Yes, there’s some cliches and catch-phrases, and that could have been better. The joke in the first film about wearing yellow spandex is much better than having Beast say “oh my stars and garters.”

Overall, I would say, in the spirit of preparing for The Wolverine, give X-Men: The Last Stand another chance. I think you might be surprised by what you get.

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11 responses to “Rewatching X-Men: The Last Stand

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  2. It is truly astonishing just how much better X-Men: The Last looks in a post-Origins Wolverine universe. I, too, re-watched all of the X-Men films around the time The Wolverine came out, and it was the first time viewing The Last Stand in years. Yes, it’s still flawed – the Dark Phoenix and Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men cure storyline were both too big to be stuffed into the same film together. Plus, in its costume designs (e.g., the Juggernaut) it just feels way more comic book-y than the Bryan Singer X-Men films. However, when you remember just how screwed that film was by the actors getting to renegotiate their contracts and demand more screen time (e.g., Halley Berry), Bryan Singer bolting on them for Superman and taking his writers, editor/composer, and James Marsden with him, and Matthew Vaughn quitting the project as director precariously close to the beginning of filming it’s amazing it’s not way more of a mess. In fact, re-watching it reveals that it’s actually a perfectly competently made action movie…and that is waaaaaay more than you can say about Origins Wolverine.

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    • I remember most all of those problems, yep. Halle Berry wanting to be the lead in an ensemble cast was particularly frustrating, especially when she went on to give us a movie like Catwoman (which I still haven’t seen).

      However, you mentioned Joss Whedon, which really just makes me want to ask: What could this movie have been if Joss Whedon had directed it?

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      • If WIkipedia is to be trusted, the backstory is that actually at one point Joss Whedon was a candidate to direct the X-Men film. After all, the mutant cure storyline they were using was being adapted from his brief run as a writer for Astonishing X-Men, and at that point Serenity had just come out and done decent business. However, actually turned down the offer to direct the third X-Men because he was too busy developing that Wonder Woman of his which never ended up happening.

        These things have a way of working themselves out, and he was the absolute perfect guy to do The Avengers. However, it is fun to think about how awesome The Last Stand might have been had Whedon directed it. Then again, Fox may have been more hands-on with him and not allowed nearly the amount of freedom to make a Joss Whedon-style film the way Marvel was with The Avengers. Either way, Brett Ratner did a perfectly serviceable job as director, but Whedon would have likely been amazing.

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  3. So I sadly missed seeing The Wolverine at the cinemas, due to being incredibly ill for the last few months. Pretty much every time I had organised to go and see it, I’d end up bedridden again that morning. But I do watch my favourite comic book films on a fairly regular basis (actually just finished watching Kick-Ass, after having seen Kick-Ass 2 last night).

    I actually always enjoyed The Last Stand. I had some issues with it, but all of them were really symptoms of my one major issue with the film, that it was too short for what they tried to do it. They introduced so many new characters, and had two massive storylines… then tried to cram it into 90 minutes. It didn’t work. The movie needed at least 2 hours, and probably could have gone much longer.

    Origins is a movie I try to pretend doesn’t exist. Overall my rankings of the movies probably go X-Men, First Class, X-Men 2, The Last Stand, Origins. I’m hoping The Wolverine will at least sit above Origins in this list.

    One final thing though. As much as I hated Catwoman, and consider it one of the worst comic book adaptations I’ve seen – with the others being Green Lantern, Ang Lee’s version of The Hulk, X-Men Origins: Wolverine and the second Fantastic Four film (going to be honest, I liked the first one purely for Julian McMahon as Doctor Doom… Loved him in that role) – there is one thing that has to be said for it. Halle Berry was actually the bright spot in that film. She was acting her leather clad booty off, and doing everything she could to save it. Unfortunately, with what she was given to work with, there was very little she could do.

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    • There are a number of comic book movies I still need to see, just because I do commentate on the genre so much… like Catwoman (which I had friends who swore I had seen it just because it was the sort of movie I would see), the Ghost Rider films, Ang Lee’s Hulk…

      I’ve been considering a new recurring element on the blog, a “Catching Up” category, where we talk about catching up on movies that we’ve always meant to see, or reading books we’ve meant to read, games we’ve meant to play… maybe not timely for blogging, but could be interesting still to look at some of these things years after they’re out.

      As for The Wolverine, definitely don’t let Wolverine: Origins stop you from seeing it! That was a great one.

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