Tuesday, 14 June 2016

'X-Men: Apocalypse' and Me & Marvel

This afternoon I finally got round to seeing 'X-Men: Apocalypse' on the big screen and my immediate reaction is WOW! Special effects heaven with superpowers galore. This is a big tale with lots of characters and lots of back-story changed for the film but it works superbly. We even see Prof X losing his hair at one point. Where to start?

My personal history with Marvel goes back to 1970 and The Avengers and X-Men. Imagine my joy in the mid-70s when I discovered a newsagents that regularly stocked the monthly comics as well as the 'specials' and reprints. I bought them. And I was there for the amazing Phoenix saga in the early '80s, waiting month on month for the next episode. Then discovering Forbidden Planet on New Oxford Street for my Thursday evening hit from it's huge stock of comics. Forbidden Planet has moved and I no longer feed my habit but I'm still loyal to Marvel films, particularly The X-Men and The Avengers. The back-stories in the films don't always match the original comics but I don't mind that since it creates a new avenue to explore.  

My addiction was confirmed in the early '80s when I bought my fix in a Saturday market in Cardiff, with the comics carefully displayed in plastic covers. I was reading Jung at the time and so much of the content of these comics resonated with his theories of archetypes and cultural recurrences and that added another level to my thinking about these comics. Are comics art? I think that's another blog for another day but they're more than just colourful paper and they can touch you quite deeply.

When watching the films you've got to remember that these are films, not comics, and need to follow their own disciplines. That might mean they don't follow the narrative of the comics and that's ok. This film introduces us to Prof Xavier's (James McAvoy again) school and a range of new mutants, some of whom have more air-time than others. Since it's set before the original films then we also meet the young Cyclops and Marvel Girl (who is so much more than a mere Marvel Girl). Other characters return, like Mystique and the Beast, along with an American Quicksilver who has a great sequence saving the entire population of the X-Mansion before it blows up (as it does with depressing regularity).

Some of the characterisations I didn't agree with, like Storm being a rather incompetent thief and then a Horseman - as if! And Psylocke without pyschic powers - what's that about? But I loved the continuing story of Magneto and Mystique as leader of the X-Men - never in the comics but it works here. And seeing Charlie's hair dropping off was quite strange. And the rather gratuitous use of Wolverine was a bit unnecessary - he doesn't have to be in every X film.

But Jean Grey, o yes, Jean Grey, always a pivotal character, and this time played by Sophie Turner, aka Sansa Stark from Game of Thrones. I didn't know she was in it so it was a nice surprise to see her and I thought she got the role just right. It was also nice to see he kick off after the sedate character she plays in Game of Thrones. Seeing her explode into Phoenix and flames was great and left me wanting more.

I will patiently wait for more. Just as I sat through the credits to see the teaser at the end - yes, there's always a teaser...

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