Midlands Movies Best Scenes from the X-Men Franchise
By midlandsmovies, Sep 29 2014 07:01PM
*Some spoilers if you haven’t seen the films*
With the imminent release of the seventh film in the X-Men franchise, Days of Future Past in summer 2014, I thought it was time to go back and look at some of my favourite scenes from all of the films which started back in 2000 with Bryan Singer’s X-Men, a film that paralleled real life and historical discrimination with a group of fantastical super-powered mutants who were not only in battle with human ideologies but also with each other. With that in mind and with 6 previous films (X-Men, X-2, Last Stand, two Wolverine spin-offs and the First Class prequel) there are plenty of top-notch mutant-kind moments to make a choice from.
So, use Cerebro, dust off your berserker claws and then teleport yourself back into some of the best sequences from the largest modern superhero/comic franchise of the 21st century.
12. The Intro Montage (X-Men Origins: Wolverine)
An absolute dud of a film – that cannot be stressed enough – as we sit through 2 boring hours of love story, talking, horrid versions of classic characters (Gambit, “Deadpool”) and messy continuity but it did have one moment that I think hinted on what could have been. After a very brief sequence involving the young Logan and his brother as children the film skips over a few hundred years as we witness a glorious montage of wars that the slow-aging characters take part in. Containing a brilliant operatic score and slow motion explosions alongside a scrolling camera tracking them through the US Civil War, 2 World Wars and Vietnam too - it’s a shame they did not tell that particular story in what I feel is the real mess of the franchise to date.
11. Wolverine and Jean Gray (X-Men: The Last Stand)
I am a proud apologist of The Last Stand and enjoy the guilty pleasures of the third film – I feel it contains some standout sequences despite some bad acting (Vinnie Jones) and an inconsistent tone throughout – and for this entry I’m picking the ending of the film set on Alcatraz Island. Firstly in the sequence, we see a great scene of the young X-Men from Xavier’s School finally come of age and join the group for a large fight against the rampaging Mutant Brotherhood before the army shows up to attack Jean (now the Phoenix) who begins destroying them and the surrounding facilities. After a great Swordfish-esque slow-mo F/X shot (a film also starring Jackman), Wolverine uses his healing ability to advance on her and put her out of her pain as the flesh is ripped from his metal skeleton. With great action, effects and a genuine sense of remorse for these long-term characters I thought this was one of the highlights of the admittedly sub-par threequel.
10. A coin going through Shaw’s head (X-Men: First Class)
The beginning of the prequel takes us back to the concentration camp of the first film where we witness the young Erik/Magneto unable to save his mother from evil Nazi Sebastian Shaw who bullies the boy into moving a coin he has placed in front of him. Throughout the film, the coin symbolises his first small attempts at manipulating metal which comes to a climax at the movie’s end when Shaw (momentarily catatonic owing to Xavier’s mind tricks) is finally killed by a floating coin Magneto sends through his brain. The slow motion here makes the audience focus on the agony alongside a brilliant cross-cut with Xavier himself screaming in pain/begging Erik to reconsider. A truly great sequence - that a Star Wars prequel could only dream of - as we see Erik finally succumb to his vengeful predisposition.
9. Wolverine on top of the Statue of Liberty (X-Men)
The pinnacle of the first X-Men is the film’s ending atop the Statue of Liberty in New York where Magneto plans to abuse Rogue’s powers and force distorted mutant qualities upon humans before the X-Men show up to thwart his plans. As Wolverine fights Sabretooth on the statue’s crown, the fist fight shows Logan’s menacing muscle before he unleashes his claws and with one great CGI shot, saves himself from falling from a great height before leaping back to ferociously defeat his attacker. A great mix of old school fisticuffs, mutant powers and inventive computer generated shots combine to give the audience a thrilling ending to their first meeting with the mutants.
8. Magneto and the missiles (X-Men: First Class)
Set against the (ultimately non-violent) Cuban missile crisis confrontation of the 60s, First Class goes one stage further and has a flotilla of warships actually unleash a torrent of missile and bombs towards the warring mutants who finally realise their time may be up. However, Magneto who had recently pulled a submarine from the water (itself a fantastic shot) uses his abilities to stop the incoming barrage Matrix-style in mid-air. Unlike Neo though, who drops bullets to the floor, Magneto’s inner wrath gets the better of him and he sends them back towards the now defenceless boats before a tussle with Xavier sees him direct a bullet into his old friend paralysing him. This scene echoes a later choice in the list as Magneto controls deadly projectiles from the authorities throughout his life.
7. Berserker rage at Xavier’s School (X-2)
Wolverine’s fighting is a large part of the comics and we got a taste of it in the first movie but it wasn’t until the sequel where Singer decided to showcase his full range of violent skills protecting his fellow mutants. After a late night chat with ice-man Bobby, livid Logan sniffs the air to detect the night time intruders to Xavier’s School for the Gifted. Without thinking twice he unleashes a rage of attacks against the elite force and takes no prisoners. Protecting the students he finally gets a hint at his unexplained past from Stryker before only being stopped by Bobby himself with a wall of ice. Mad and bad, furious and curious, Jackman shows why he was the perfect choice for this character with audiences now finding it hard to imagine anyone else coming close to his brilliant screen persona.
6. Magneto’s bullet time (X-Men)
Despite some floating metal platforms and a few instances of bar-bending, at the halfway stage of the first X-Men film we really hadn’t been introduced to Xavier’s or Magneto’s full powers but after the train station fight we get to see McKellen deliver a great evil performance when Magneto not only lifts and drops multiple cop cars he manages to use his powers to turn the police’s muscle back on themselves. Removing the guns from all the law enforcers aiming at him, he then turns them around, cocks their barrels and suddenly he’s holding them hostage. As Xavier “talks” to Erik and his henchmen via his telepathy, Magneto raises the stakes by letting one gun go off. Singer, the master of suspense turns the camera to show one poor cop with a bullet twisting into his forehead being simultaneously tortured and “saved” by Magneto. Similar to the warship missiles from his earlier encounter, Magneto’s intelligence is offset against his utter ruthlessness to reach his evil ends and this is a great scene that showed that the X-Men films would definitely go to difficult moral places throughout the franchise.
5. Recruitment montage (X-Men: First Class)
Easily the funniest entry in the entire list, First Class’s swinging setting enabled it to poke fun and immerse itself in the music and fashion of the era and no better was this done than when Erik and Charles use the newly created “Cerebro” to find and recruit teen mutants to their cause. Some quick edits by director Matthew Vaughan show us the two going from the back of a cab to a prison picking up mutants “in hiding” and exposing their own powers. At the gentlemen’s club private room, the two lounge back on a 60s-style bed as Magneto floats over a metal Champagne bucket quipping, “More tea vicar?” A brilliant time-saving sequence, it ends when they try to recruit a whisky drinking, cigar chomping man at a bar who tells the two to go f*ck themselves. Who is this rude chap? None, other than Wolverine himself! X-cellent.
4. Golden Gate Bridge (X:Men: The Last Stand)
By the end of the third film the audiences know Magneto can move cars, bullets, Wolverine (!), trucks and even the X-Men’s plane so how do you top that for your film’s climax. Well, in a literal “building bridges” metaphor, Ratner decides that his film needs a huge structure and they don’t get bigger or more iconic than San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. Lifting the crimson bridge from its anchoring, Magneto’s goals at this point is to get his band of mutants across the bay to stop the humans sharing the “cure” from incarceration on Alcatraz. Despite the film’s critics, this is a memorable scene that for me is a great highlight from all the movies – an iconic image that has been sadly missing from the Wolverine spin-offs and I’m hoping for something even more impressive in the next instalment.
3. Mystique fights Wolverine (X-Men)
Two of the greatest characters in the franchise clash as Wolverine with his adamantium skeleton goes up against the shape-shifting Mystique who is disguised as Logan himself at the Statue of Liberty’s visitor centre. The two clash in a great old school fight and after Wolverine get the upper hand we get a brilliant shot from Singer as Mystique jumps to kick Wolverine before spinning and changing back to her true blue-form self in mid air. The fight continues with chains, doors, jumping and once done trading blows we get the icing on the cake. Cyclops asks if Wolverine is who he says he is. “You’re a dick”, is his reply which is good enough for Scott Summers it seems.
2. Holocaust Intro (X-Men & X-Men: First Class)
A trick pulled by Peter Jackson in The Two Towers was to start his sequel using a scene from the previous film and then take it into a different direction. Matthew Vaughan brilliantly combines this idea by creating young Erik’s first encounter with his angry metal-moving powers as he and his family are dragged towards a concentration camp in 1944 Poland. Vaughan uses this as his movie’s starting point followed by Kevin Bacon’s evil Shaw asking the young boy to again show him his powers. Credit mainly goes to Singer however, as a director who placed the X-Men in a real world with real history from the outset. I was sceptical to say the least about an X-Men movie when it was first released – not being a fan of the comics/cartoon and unsure how you could “ground” such crazy characters, Singer went for realism, persecution and the notion of the “outsider” from the beginning and set up the franchise we all know today.
1. Nightcrawler at the White House (X-2)
At number one is an X-cellent intro, an X-treme fight and an X-citing character all directed in an X-hilarating style by Bryan Singer – the White House attack by newcomer Nightcrawler is my favourite moment in the films to date. It tops the list of X-Men sequences for me with an attempted assassination of the President by the teleporting mutant who jumps, twirls and disappears and reappears within the Oval Office as he attacks the bodyguards endeavouring to protect their Commander in Chief. The role was played brilliantly by Alan Cumming and he used his own fluency in German to nail down the character as a misunderstood but kindly blue demon. Nightcrawler's makeup design usually took around four hours to apply but without his shirt this rose to nine hours and the stunning look helped the sequel film’s opening become a visual treat for the whole audience and one it has yet to top in the subsequent sequels.
Well, that’s it, sadly there was only room for 12 in my list and there are many more that just missed out including sequences such as Wolverine’s first “un-clawing”, Senator Kelly’s death and Magneto on the train (X-Men), moving the satellite dish and N*zi hunting (in First Class) and even Xavier’s “death” in The Last Stand. Let us know what your favourites are and whether you agree with our choices by tweeting us your own lists and feedback. (Click pic to enlarge).
Midlands Movies Mike