1.Fox Remembered Way Too Late That These Characters Were Based On Comicbooks
If you recall The original X-Men movie their costumes were black leather, which was probably done because the producers thought that audiences wouldn’t accept superheroes in all their technicolor, spandex-clad glory.
And at the time, they were probably right.
Though times change–though thankfully not about spandex–and an upstart studio by the name of Marvel started producing superhero-based movies that interpreted these characters–visually as well as thematically–more faithfully than was typically the case.
By way of illustration, here’s an image of Jean Gray/Dark Phoenix (Famke Janssen) from X-Men: The Last Stand.
And here’s the version of the Dark Phoenix from The Uncanny X-Men comic.
Notice a difference? The movie version tried to reinterpret the comics’ version, but is too tentative to be effective. And that’s not for a moment to be interpreted to mean that the costume would have worked if it looked exactly comics-faithful (I suspect that it wouldn’t have).
Though the design they ended up going with? Too safe by half.
2. The Galactus Cloud
This is Galactus, a character that literally survives by devouring PLANETS! He’s one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel Universe, and instantly recognizable to most comics fans.
And below is the version of that was used in Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer.
Yep, it’s a cloud–a very cool-looking cloud, to be sure, but a cloud nonetheless–though perhaps what’s even worse is that I have seen some concept drawings never used in the film where the cloud was used to obscure Galactus and his space ship.
Which is a great idea that would have made a lot more sense than just the cloud alone, and would have really motivated fans of the Fantastic Four into the theater.
3. The Problem With Wolverine
For a time, Wolverine was as popular in the comics as he was in the movies, though due to the way comics work it’s easier to give an uber-popular character space to grow (perhaps by spinning them off into their own title), while not alienating people who prefer other members of the team he happened to be a member of.
Movies don’t work as efficiently or as quickly as publishing a comic, so when producers of the movies noticed that Wolverine was so popular with moviegoers (as he was with fans of the comics) they made a serious mistake: They made him the center of which all things revolved. There were other characters, though most were treated not nearly as well as Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine (with the possible exception of Michael Fassbender’s Magneto and maybe Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique).
What made the comics such a success–other than John Byrne–was that the X-Men were always a team. Individual members would rise and fall in terms of prominence, but when all is said and done, everyone would share the spotlight at some point.
4. Declining Box Office Receipts
While some may think that reducing movies to box office figures isn’t a good thing–and how enjoyable a movie is doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with how much money it earns–it’s a fact of life that if a movie doesn’t finish its run in the black, the likelihood is that that’s the last we are going to hear about it (until the inevitable reboot) because no one typically sets out to make movies that fail.
That being said what’s surprising isn’t that the X-Men movies have been popular–most of the movies were–but a few weren’t financially successful.
The third film in the series, X-Men: The Last Stand, earned somewhere in the ballpark of $459 million worldwide, on a production budget of $210 million.
Typically, a rule of thumb is that a movie has to earn three times its production costs to be in the black, something The Last Stand did not do.
For that matter nor did its follow up, X-Men: First Class, which earned $354 million on a $160 million budget (which reminds me: the special effects in First Class we’re so bad in places that they looked unfinished, which made me wonder where that $160 million went because whatever it was, it wasn’t toward special effects).
X-Men: Days Of Future Past was one of most profitable of the series, earning $748 million on a $200 million budget, while it’s sequel, X-Men: Apocalypse, didn’t quite fare as well, earning $544 million on a budget of $178 million (profitable, if you use the 3X rule, though not terribly so).
The latest rumor is that Fox intends to reboot the X-Men movies, though what they apparently can’t count on is Marvel Studios saving their franchise in a similar fashion to what will probably be the case with Spider-Man because all signs indicate that it’s not in the cards.