Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Days Of Future Past (review coming soon) just crossed the $500 million dollar barrier, making it the highest grossing of the X-Men films (the link contains spoilers. If you have not seen the movie, ignore it).
And my response is: So what.
What people seem to be missing is that 20th Century Fox is mismanaging the X-Men (though not as badly as Sony and Spider-Man) because the X-Men are the creme de la creme of Marvel superheroes, literally the top of the line.
That one of them has managed to break the $500 million dollar barrier shouldn’t be that much of a surprise.
In fact, if I were 20th Century Fox I would not ask why X-Men: Days Of Future Past managed to be more profitable than the other films in the series. Instead I would ask what they are doing wrong that the other films in the series haven’t been as profitable.
- Too Great An Emphasis On Wolverine
This has to be the film makers greatest failing. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is certainly a dynamic character, with his swagger, defiant attitude and razor-sharp claws, but for some reason in the movies everything seems to revolve around him, even when they (probably) shouldn’t.
So, despite the fact that there are numerous characters that could benefit from the exposure–such as Storm, Cyclops, Beast and Magneto, to name a few–it’s not going to happen any time soon, because the filmmakers apparently aren’t interested in investing in any other characters besides Wolvie.
This is an opportunity to expand their X-Men universe in a fashion that turns each team film into an event–as Marvel Studios has done successfully with their individual films leading to The Avengers–yet for whatever reason Fox refuses to do what’s necessary to make it happen.
And to set events in motion all they would have to do is understand that Wolverine is part of a team, and no team is stronger than his weakest member.
The format of X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a great way to introduce other members of the team, by the way. This way they could have smaller films, let’s say X-Men Origins: Storm, X-Men Origins: Iceman or X-Men Origins: Havok (you can probably tell where I am going with this) that are bookended by the massive team films.
Now X-Men Origins: Wolverine’s relatively weak box-office performance may have soured 20th Century Fox on such an approach (it cost $150 million to produce, and earned just over $373 million dollars. When you take in the advertising–which I imagine cost at least $50 million, and I am sure that I am lowballing it) it ended up a bit of a letdown financially.
Though that doesn’t mean that Fox should abandon the idea. In fact, they should double-down and take their chances.
And speaking of X-Men Origins: Wolverine that movie didn’t need to perform as (relatively) weakly as it did, either. As Marvel Studios has shown in no uncertain terms, all that’s necessary to make these types of movies a success is the respect they show the material, as well as the primary audience of those films, which are initially the hard-core fans.
Even Gavin Hood, an Academy Award-winning director, wasn’t enough to salvage the project from mediocrity. And it was sort of lame not because of Hood, but because the film makers, particularly the writers, didn’t seem like they knew enough about the characters, never mind respecting the sensibilities of the fans (better looking special effects would have also been very helpful).
It should go without saying that if you go about alienating the biggest fans of your movie, it’s going to be an uphill climb in terms of profitability.
Conversely, because a movie is highly popular with fans doesn’t guarantee financial success. After all, Pacific Rim should have done significantly better domestically than it did based if the enthusiasm it generated at Comic-con.
- Premium Characters Should Get Premium Box Office
Every films (so far) produced by Marvel Studios has done better than the one that proceeded it. By which I mean Captain America: The First Avenger did OK, earning over $370 million dollars, while it’s sequel Captain America: The Winter Soldier was slightly more expensive ($140 million vs. $170 million) but earned significantly more, so far pulling in over $709 million dollars!
No wonder Marvel Studios isn’t apparently nervous that Captain America 3 sequel is going up against Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice when they have been able to handily beat Man Of Steel (which earned just over $668 million).
I should go without saying that Superman is one of the most iconic characters in comics. There is no way that Captain America should do better him. No way, no how.
And yet it happened.
As I said, Captain America in the comics is not an A-list comic character like the X-Men, Spider-Man, Superman or Batman. Neither is Iron Man. Or Hulk. Or arguably, The Avengers, yet their box office would seem to indicate the latter.
That’s because Marvel apparently manages to do something the other studios have a problem with, which is to balance the needs of the hard-core fan base with those of the general public.
- It’s About The Story, Stupid
And an even more telling fact is that, when Fox’s license to Marvel’s Daredevil was going to expire, Marvel was willing to extend them for the use of Galactus and the Silver Surfer.
Galactus and the Silver Surfer? Do most people even know who Galactus and the Silver Surfer are? Probably not, but for purposes of storytelling Marvel wanted the characters, though I’d be foolish if I were to say that they weren’t in it for the money. And Fox said ‘No.’
I can see why they did , they hold the license to The Fantastic Four, and Galactus and the Surfer are deeply tied into the universe that those characters exist in.
But it seems to say to me that Marvel still has interesting stories that they want to tell, and such a desire to tell them that they’re willing to go as far as allowing Fox to keep a license to a character that would be better served back in the fold.
That’s pretty powerful if you ask me.
- X-Men: Days Of Future Past
To indicate how much of a problem this fixation with Wolverine is, in the latest film he’s sent back in time to stop the ‘birth’ of the Sentinels, despite the fact that they also establish a character doing the same thing–Bishop–at the beginning of the movie.
The reason that they give for going with Wolverine was because they believed that no one else could stand the strain. The problem with this idea is that Bishop was using the same method quite frequently (though how Kitty Pride/Shadowcat was actually able to do so is beyond me since the only power I was aware she had was the ability to ‘phase’ through solid objects.
20th Century Fox, with X-Men: Days Of Future Past has gone a long way to cleaning up the mess made by X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, though it didn’t of far enough. In the movie, the reason given for Wolverine going back in time was because his mutant healing factor protected him from its rigors.
This was silly because we had already seen that Bishop has already been though the process (though admittedly not as far in either the past or future) though what would make Wolverine so impervious, especially since his physical body wasn’t involved (which has everything to do with his mutant healing factor)?
Once again it was shown that the film makers can’t let Wolverine’s go (in as much as they needed to stop emphasizing him so much) which has the unfortunate effect under emphasizing everyone else; the same mistake they made prior.
Supposedly the next film that Bryan Singer is going to introduce Apocalypse, which the button at the end of the movie (after the credits) lead into.
Hopefully this also means that the other characters will get at least as much screen time as Wolverine.