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.