Tag Archives: X-Men

With Geeks it's Personal

I think most of us agree that geeks are passionate people. They don’t just watch a film or television show, they adore it. Rooms become temples to other-worldly beings, superheroes and time lords. They dress up as their favourite characters. They declare their love from the rooftops (or on twitter at least).

It’s a beautiful thing.

But it can lead to some very fiery arguments, especially online.

As somebody who has sometimes stumbled into these arguments, I’m often surprised at how nasty they can get.

“Anybody who doesn’t like this is lacking a soul!”

“This is a pile of **** and only appeals to ****tards!”

Etc.

I’ve been wondering why this might be. I think that when people criticise a story that we love, it feels that at the same time they’re criticising us (even though they often aren’t). So, “That film is rubbish” becomes “You are rubbish”.

Naturally we want to defend things we’ve identified with.

When I declare a love of a book (like Dune for example) and other people say, “Yay! I love that book.” There are mutual feelings of love and happiness. This person ‘gets’ me. They are clearly of good taste.

Conversely when my English teacher told me I should be reading ‘proper’ books and not Dune, I had this feeling of not fitting into the world and of being stupid for not liking more literary classics.

So where am I going here?

Well, there are a lot of things people rave about that I think are pretty terrible, for example:

X-men: First Class

Star Trek (2009)

Doctor Who

When people say how great they are I get the urge to argue with them. I want them to understand that these are not great works at all.

I want them to understand me.

But maybe there is something darker at play here too. Because I think I’d rather enjoy writing a post that demolishes the Star Trek reboot*. I also think there’d be something nasty and triumphant about it too. An attempt to prove superiority.

Opinions are just opinions. You may love all of the above when I don’t, and that’s cool.

I’m just going to try and keep my cool next time we talk about it online** and be careful to add some of the following addendums to anything I say:

I found it…

In my opinion

This did/didn’t work for me

Because when I’m talking to fellow geeks about sci-fi or fantasy, what I’m really talking about is love. And it doesn’t get any more personal than that.

 

*I’ve already ranted about X-men: First Class and I’m too scared to wake the sleeping Whovians. I’d also like to add that I get angry with these things because I love the characters so much.

**If we’re in the pub however, all bets are off!

My thoughts on X-Men: First Class (Warning: I rant and there are spoilers)

Last night I finally got round to watching X-Men: First Class. I’d heard so many good things about it. I’ve always liked the Magneto / Professor X relationship and so expectations were high.

When it was over I raged for some hours and went to bed. I tweeted my irritation this morning and was encouraged to rant free by a certain individual who I’ll not name to protect his identity. However, you know who you are!

So why (according to me) was the film so bad? The actors were reasonable, the effects were fine and yet it somehow failed miserably to engage me.

Well here are a few reasons:

  1. There were too many characters that didn’t have any character. The bad guy’s sidekicks for example, barely said a word throughout the film. The supporting super team also had very little meaningful character development.
  2. The plot was awful. Why was the bad guy trying to start a nuclear war? I mean sure, he was well protected against radiation but the rest of mutant-kind wouldn’t be so lucky. And why bother anyway? If he was trying to shatter regular power structures to establish his own I might have swallowed it but he mainly just seemed to be doing it because he was bad.
  3. Too many ‘stupid moments’. By this I mean unrealistic stuff. Yes ok, we’re talking about a film starring blue people but within the confines of the film’s ‘reality’ things still need to make sense. For example, there’s a scene where ‘Angel’ (I think that’s her name, confusingly) is flying over an American warship spitting fiery bolts at the heroes on the ship. Not one marine shoots her or even at her, not one. Ridiculous! And don’t even get me started on the whole gliding whilst doubling your weight…
  4. Hard to care. I really didn’t like any of these characters much. And there were a heck of a lot of them not to like.
  5. Professor X. Ok he is very powerful, that’s cool but if he can speak directly into people’s minds why did he freeze that poor agent just so that he could speak to Moira without being noticed!
  6. Metaphysics? So there’s a part in the film where the White Queen can sense Professor X using Cerebro, moreover she is aware he is ‘reaching out’, to the point she can deduce he’s trying to recruit other mutants. Really? That seems like a stretch as it is but then later she doesn’t notice the Professor possessing a guard five feet away from her.
  7. The whole, “place between anger and serenity” thing…

It made me think about the previous X-Men films which were far from perfect but more charming somehow. I think they are at heart, simpler. The first film focuses primarily on Wolverine and his relationship with Rogue and Professor X, Jean Grey and the others. His character arc is tied to the main plot and by the end of the film both he and Rogue have come on a journey.

Batman: The Dark Knight, which I love is also much more tightly focused. It also has people acting in a psychologically interesting way rather than a “wouldn’t it be cool if this happened!” or just using walking cut-outs to paste super powers onto.

So in summary, X-Men: First Class, was a poorly plotted, weakly characterised, inadequately thought through ode to disappointment. It makes me angry because they clearly had a budget and the means to do something amazing.

If you like comics I advise you not to see this.