Written By Cadeem Lalor
2016 has already been a great year for comic book films. Deadpool became a record-breaking R-Rated comic book film, which can hopefully cast aside the mentality that comic book films need to be PG-13 to be profitable. Deadpool was also exciting since it takes place in the X-Men film universe, meaning we could potentially see a crossover in future X-Men films or maybe even the last Wolverine film. The untitled finale will be R-Rated – a decision allegedly not impacted by Deadpool- but the rating does make it more likely that a Deadpool cameo or team up film could happen.
With the exception of X3 and the Wolverine solo films, I believe the X-Men films are some of the best comic book films to date. As a minority, X-Men’s themes of discrimination and oppression have always resonated with me. At the simplest level, the stories are about a group of people who were born different from most of society and are simply fighting for acceptance. LGBT director Brian Singer also drew out another interesting parallel by creating scenes that mirrored homophobia, especially a scene where Bobby Drake (Shawn Ashmore) reveals his powers to his parents in X-Men 2. Drake’s mother can only respond “Have you tried not being a mutant.” After Days of Future Past, I thought X-Men Apocalypse would easily beat out Suicide Squad. I was fine with less Wolverine, and I know that many viewers (even those who loved the films) still wished they focused on Wolverine less and let other characters shine.
Which is why it was disappointing to see the first trailer for Apocalypse and realize that Jennifer Lawrence has apparently been given a bigger role. Step aside Wolverine, make way for Mystique. I used to like Jennifer Lawrence. I enjoyed the first Hunger Games film and also enjoyed her performance in Silver Linings Playbook. As time passed though, Lawrence quickly became the Taylor Swift of Hollywood: ridiculously overrated and overexposed (in my opinion). For that reason I refuse to watch any more of the Hunger Games films, American Hustle, Joy or any other films she will appear in.
Lawrence was already an A-lister and every teen girl’s idol when the script was originally written. Therefore, I do not think it is a coincidence that the most marketable actor in the film, now has a much bigger role. This would be understandable, if the move was really necessary. X-Men First Class still managed to make a decent profit, despite the absence of the franchise’s most marketable character and actor (Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine). Additionally, Apocalypse was in a position to build off the hype of Days of Future Past instead of pandering to one actor’s fan base.
Lawrence’s acting was a weak link in Days of Future Past and the few lines in the trailer make her sound like she’s half-asleep. Hopefully they sound better in context, but if Days of Future Past is any indication, they may not. What makes Lawrence’s position even more frustrating is the fact that her character does not have to be an important figure in this storyline. First Class revamped Mystique as a central heroic figure, as opposed to a super-villain or anti-heroine. Days of Future Past transitioned her into an anti-hero and X-Men Apocalypse could have continued by having her as a periphery figure who is deciding which side to join (Apocalypse or the X-Men). Instead, Mystique will now replace Wolverine, wasting an opportunity to develop other characters. After the version of Cyclops we had in the original trilogy, I was hoping this film would help to flesh Cyclops out more. Instead, that might be pushed aside for more Lawrence, or Sophie Turner (Jean Grey), who is best known for portraying Sansa Stark on “Game of Thrones”. Turner’s few lines in the trailer make it clear she has brought her whiny Sansa Stark voice over to this film, so my hopes are not too high for her performance. Then again, we will see. Perhaps I will be proven wrong: Turner and Lawrence will be great, and all of the characters will get their chance to shine. However, I doubt it.
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