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Is the Next 'X-Men' Movie Titled 'Supernova'?

The X-Men franchise has seen a lot of abuse over the years.

The movie series that kicked off the modern era of superhero films has had a hard time maintaining its quality with such strong competition from all sides.

The problem that these movies face is one of scope creep, as comic book movies up the ante faster than Fox can keep up.

The original X-Men seemed pretty outlandish at the time of its release. There’s a fight on the top of the Statue of Liberty, and a glowy magic science machine that turns people into goo – all classic science fiction spectacle.

The problem was, the next big comic book movie was Spider-Man, and suddenly, audiences wanted bright costumes and over-the-top Power Rangers villains.

This is why, by today’s standards, the early X-Men movies seem so tame. Every time the Avengers gain a new quirky teammate, a group of leatherbound mutants look increasingly dull by comparison.

Even the relatively recent Days of Future Past had a climax that needed to be cut together with clips of shapeshifting futuristic robots murdering Sir Ian McKellen in order to balance out relatively lackluster scenes of Wolverine and Beast jumping around in a baseball stadium.

The problem is, whenever the X-Men franchise tries to match its peers for outlandish, comic book-style action porn, the result is a weak movie.

First there was X-Men: The Last Stand, in which Magneto picks up the Golden Gate Bridge and Jean Grey explodes pretty much everyone. It’s a lot less fun than the movies that came before.

Similarly, X-Men Origins: Wolverine almost looks like a parody of Roger Rabbit, with an incredibly cartoonish Logan jumping over helicopters and Gambit bouncing around without a single regard for the laws of gravity.

And then, there was X-Men: Apocalypse, in which a grieving Jewish Concentration Camp survivor uses the power of Auschwitz to rip apart the tectonic plates in a bid to destroy the world.

First off, that’s a really problematic concept for any movie, and secondly, everything that comes after that scene (and a lot of what comes before) is just utter nonsense designed to visually stimulate audiences without a single thought for storytelling or emotional weight.

The thing that makes X-Men movies great is the large, overarching metaphor for man’s inhumanity to man. Mutants have plenty of parallels in cultures around the world, and everyone can identify with the feeling of being ostracized and mistreated.

Some groups more readily identify with mutants than others, but it’s up to the individual viewer to decide what those groups are.

X-Men movies are better when they focus on people, and the consequences of legal decisions that impact lives. Think of the scene where Bobby Drake “comes out” to his parents in X2—it’s powerful, humorous, emotional stuff with which many around the world will sympathize, empathize, or both.

Then Wolverine takes a bullet in the head, because it’s cool, and this movie is still supposed to be fun.

It’s not enough for an X-Men movie to have funky characters and explosions and future tech. These stories need to be grounded in realism, with a spark of humanity in them.

Oh, what’s that? There are rumors that the next X-Men movie will be called Supernova, and will see Professor X’s team head into outer space to battle aliens?

Hot dang! That’s going to be awesome! Screw grounded stories, let’s see Cyclops versus the Shi’ar Empire!

Suddenly, Apocalypse seems slightly more worthwhile, if it’s designed to set up a true Dark Phoenix Saga, with all the space battles and galaxy hopping that entails.

It seems that, just as with the magical elements of the X-Men comic book canon, Fox might be letting loose with the incredibly important cosmic side of the stories.

This is probably a response to Guardians of the Galaxy, and the anticipated hype surrounding Thor: Ragnarok and Infinity War. Fox has seen a trend, and they’re going to ride it as best they can.

Star Wars movies are the new comic book movies. Again.

If you don’t have the rights to Star Wars, you shoot your Transformers into space, or you dust off the rights to Lilandra Neramani that you thought you’d never use.

Superheroes in space! It’s all the rage!

Except, please, Fox, don’t get ahead of yourselves.

From the looks of what James Mangold has done with Logan, it seems that at least one upcoming movie from your studio is returning to the idea of a grounded, emotional, relatable comic book movie story.

Don’t let that slide. It’s not enough to show giant battle stations exploding or to give us a look at the Crimson Gem of Cyttorak or some other awesomely weird comic book thingy.

Give us characters that we actually care about, with clearly defined story arcs, and we’ll like the movie.

Also, put in Quicksilver defeating the entire Shi’ar army in the space of a single pop song, because that’s kind of the only reason people turn up for your movies anymore.

Matthew loffhagen

Matthew Loffhagen

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