After the release of X-Men: Apocalypse, the X-Men franchise is definitely struggling. The film came out to mixed reviews. While the film will be successful financially, it still comes in much lower than the previous entry in the movie. Many are now wondering as to what is wrong with the franchise and where does it go from here. Earlier in 2016, Deadpool was released into theaters and became the highest grossing X-Men related film so far and was also a critical darling to boot. So the X-Men franchise with the X-Men proper are in desperate need of a kick in the pants. It is easy to see what exactly is wrong with the franchise:
- Over reliance on Wolverine: Wolverine is the most popular X-Men. There is no question about it. However it is easy to call most of the X-Men films, “Wolverine and Those Other Guys” as most of the movies tend to focus on Wolverine while shunning the other characters. This may have worked at first but it has seemingly run its course. The last solo Wolverine movie was the lowest grossing X-Men related film. Many felt that the character’s appearance in X-Men: Apocalypse was one that fell flat. Hugh Jackman as the character was a triumph but it’s obvious that the character is overexposed and needs a break.
- Shunning of other characters: As previously mentioned, unless your character is Wolverine, Professor X, Magneto or Mystique, the character probably does not get anything worthwhile to do. Cyclops is probably the most egregious example of this. The unabashed leader of the X-Men was featured well enough in the first X-Men film but each movie his role was reduced before being unceremoniously killed offscreen. Jubilee is another character who is popular enough to be featured in most of the X-Men films but unless you don’t know who the “young Asian girl in yellow jacket” is, you would have no idea that is Jubilee.
- Continuity issues: Nothing about the continuity of the X-Men films makes sense. At first the series was pretty straight and narrow but by the time of the third film, X-Men: The Last Stand, it soon became a mess. Further films such as X-Men: Origins – Wolverine made it a bigger mess. An attempted reboot with X-Men: First Class seemingly streamlined things but that movie did not make as much money as they wanted and then the reboot became ingrained with the previous X-Men films and once again made things confusing. X-Men: Days of Future Past was another reboot movie but with X-Men: Apocalypse things got muddled once again. Just how old are some of the characters supposed to be?
- Too much too late: In the modern day age of cinema, a cinematic universe is something of a norm and wanted by most studios. The X-Men films could have had that from the get go. After the first film was a success, it was another three years before a sequel and another three years before another sequel and then another three years before the first Wolverine solo movie. The X-Men movies are filled with a myriad of characters and Fox did not capitalize on the success. But now after the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Fox is now seemingly wanting to play with other characters in the X-Men franchise. They were hesitant on the Deadpool movie which turned out to be a huge success. There are rumors of a New Mutants and X-Force movie but nothing concrete just yet. The whole complicated timeline issue does not make anything easier.
So where does the X-Men franchise go from here? Many are clamoring for a hard reboot of the franchise. This would help solve many of the continuity issues in the franchise. However, there are many plans going forward that rely on the things that have already been at play and even though X-Men: Apocalypse wasn’t the success they wanted, it certainly wasn’t a disaster that would warrant such a reboot. Needless to say, the X-Men film franchise is going to be an interesting one to watch. Will the series find itself once again or will it flounder and be due for a massive retooling. Only time will tell.