This Friday, the mutants are returning to the big screen in yet another grand slam adventure. It's mutants versus the society that rejected them and only sees them as a plague on the world. In the upcoming sequel, X-Men: Days of Future Past, will focuses on their struggles with the normal human race in the past and what could happen to them in the future. Of course, things are not looking too good for our beloved heroes as giant mutant-hunting machines called Sentinels are hunting them down.
The reviews are in and multiple reports state that the movie has a unique approach to a time traveling story, but it may have some moviegoers wondering what is actually going on. The Guardian reports that the film channels other cinematic films such as “Watchmen”, “The Terminator”, “The Matrix”, “Life on Mars” and “Independence Day.” Like most time traveling films, however, the plot tends to get jumbled at times, but it’s still a fun popcorn movie for any X-Men fan.
For those who would like a quick refresher of who the X-Men are, lets travel through time, while the Examiner will give you a mutant history lesson.
X-Men: The Beginning
The mutants had a very humble beginning by making their debut in their very own self-titled comic “The X-Men.” Marvel Comics published the comic series on September 1963, which became the longest running series within the X-Men franchise. The series follows a group of teenagers who were born with different mutant superpowers, led and taught by the Professor Xavier. The series was created by Marvel’s mastermind Stan Lee, the man who gave life to other famous characters like “The Fantastic Four”, “The Incredible Hulk” and “Spider-Man” to name a few. With Jack Kirby behind the artwork, the pair took readers on a journey of good versus evil. The first issue featured the original five members of the team: Cyclops, The Beast (Before becoming a beastly creature), Iceman, Angel and Marvel Girl.
Their teacher, who goes by Professor X, sends his team to stop their arch nemesis Magneto and his own team The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. The title started off as a bi-monthly, and later the comic series became a monthly starting with issue #14 in November 1965. The book went through several stories and subplots which includes Xavier being killed off in 1968 (a move that was intended to be permanent). X-Men had a pretty lukewarm reception in the beginning, which led the title to eventually get cancelled in 1970.
X-Men: The 1970’s – ‘80s:
X-Men had been on hiatus for a few years when the series was re-launched in May of 1975, with the title “Giant-Sized X-Men” issue 1, by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum. The revived title featured a bunch of fresh ideas like a new, international team and a host of new characters (like Nightcrawler, Colossus, Storm,Thunderbird, Sunfire, Banshee) as wells as returning favorites such as Cyclops, Jean Grey and Professor X as the new set of X-Men. Let’s not forget the most popular character that came into the fold, Wolverine. It was said in a history channel documentary “Comic Book Superheroes Unmasked” he was one character that wouldn’t have worked in the 1960s due to his bad boy attitude.
X-men gained popularity throughout the ‘70s but it manifested through the 1980s for tackling issues such as hate crimes and race, even just by being different. Like “Spider-Man”, The X-Men reached its audiences. Stan Lee expressed his thoughts and his reason for making the mutant team so relevant.
“The only point that I was trying to make in the X-Men was that we shouldn’t hate or fear people because they’re different.” Stan the Man said in a PBS documentary, “Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle.”
The artist for this new X-Men run, Phil Jimenez, talked about how the readers relate themselves to these characters and felt connected to them: “You can find in the X-Men the metaphor you are seeking because it’s all about difference.”
Wolverine Fun facts: “I’m the best there is at what I do. But what I do best isn’t very nice.”
This breakout hero made his first appearance in the last panel of “The incredible Hulk” issue #180 but made full appearance in issue #181 going head to head with the jolly green monster. It’s been reported that Wolverine is a hero only by restraint. People love the character because he does things that most heroes would never do… but he does them for the right reason. Wolverine's original height in the comics is 5 foot 3 but due to actor Hugh Jackman playing the character on the big screen, some fans think the character is super tall.
X-Men: 1990s and Beyond: Hitting the mainstream
The X-Men comics were extremely popular, but it was artist Jim Lee - the force that helped create another popular mutant character, Gambit - who created the style of the characters as fans know it today. “X-Men No. 1,” the 1991 spinoff that Lee had penciled and co-wrote with Chris Claremont. As of today, reports say that the book remains the best-selling comic book of all time according to the Guinness World Records. The mutants also dabbled into the animated world for kids.
“X-Men: The Animated Series” debuted on October 31, 1992 part of the Fox Kids Saturday morning lineup. Margaret Loesch, the head of the Fox Children’s Network had set up an order for 13 episodes for the series. The series was originally set to premiere over the Labor Day weekend in September. Due to a minor production set back it was pushed back to the end of October.
AKOM Production Ltd., was in charge of the animation for the series. But when the studio turned in the first two episodes before its deadline, it contained hundreds of animation errors that were aired as a sneak preview on Fox Kids. By AKOM refusing to fix these errors, Fox threatened to sever the production studio’s contracts. When Fox re-aired the pilot episode in 1993, all of the errors were corrected. The series ran for five successful seasons from 1992 through 1997.
Fun Facts: This wasn’t the first time X-Men had an attempt with animation. With the pilot and only episode “Pryde of the X-Men,” which originally aired in 1989 on the “Marvel Action Universe” television block.
X-Men: Cinematic Universe
In 2000, X-Men made its big screen debut with a unique cast that started it off with the mutant cinematic universe. But like every comic book movie, it’s never easy to get the ball rolling. the Development for the X-Men film began back in 1989 with James Cameron and Caroloco pictures attached. In 1994 the film rights went to 20th Century Fox. At the same time, scripts were commissioned by several film writers including “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” creator (and future Avengers head honcho) Joss Whedon. In 1996, Fox signed Bryan Singer to direct. While the production start dates kept getting pushed back, Fox decided to move the film release date from December to July of 2000.
The X-Men movie opened to positive reviews and became a monster hit which paved the way for future Marvel superhero franchises to hit the big screen. X-Men spawned two sequels in 2003 and 2006, and lets not forget about the Wolverine spin-off movies. The franchise was rebooted with 2011’s “X-Men: First Class,” and now, "Days of Future Past" is reuniting some of the original cast members and new cast members to travel through time to save the world for all mankind and mutants.