As I write this, I'm sitting in the movie theater about to see X-Men: Days of Future Past. I'm pretty excited. I adored the first two X-Men movies as a kid (both directed by Bryan Singer), and Singer is back to direct this one. It looks good, and I can't wait.
IT WAS GOOD! IT WAS GOOD! OH THANK JESUS IT WAS GOOD!
So happy right now. Ever since the day I sat in Grapevine Mills Theater in May of 2003 to see X-Men 2, I've waited for this movie. Actually, lemme back up a bit here.
When I was twelve, I saw a short scene from the first X-Men movie on TV. The film had come out a couple of years prior, but I was ten at the time, so of course I didn't see it then. I'd seen maybe two minutes of the X-Men animated series, but otherwise this was my first exposure to X-Men. It was the scene where Logan and Rogue are in the trailer crash. Logan flies through the windshield, skids across the snow, then slowly stands up as the wounds on his face heal up.
That was about all I saw; I decided I wanted to see the entire thing from the beginning, so I stopped watching then. But what little I saw completely gripped me. It was... dark, but not Batman dark. It was gritty, but not stupidly gritty like so many other movies and comics from the 90s. I'd seen plenty of superhero movies where bullets bounced off Superman or nearly missed Batman, but the idea of a character with a healing factor—someone who would bleed, but heal in seconds—that was fascinating. And it perfectly represented X-Men's appeal. It had both feet firmly planted in the real world, but it was so mesmerizingly... strange.
The following months were very X-Men-heavy for me. After watching the entire first movie, I immediately started watching X-Men: Evolution, the then-current X-Men animated series (which I still love to this day), and got really excited to see X-Men 2 (fully titled X2: X-Men United) in theaters the next year.
I still remember the Sunday afternoon I sat in the movie theater with family and friends to see X2. To this day, it's one of my favorite moviegoing experiences. I'd become a hardcore X-Men fan over the year since seeing the first movie, and I was not disappointed. In fact, I was overjoyed at just how good the movie was. To say that it was satisfying is an understatement. When the DVD came out, I immediately bought it and played the opening title scene over and over again just to hear that awesome theme by John Ottman.
X2 ended with the promise of epic stories yet to come. I spent months and years waiting to see the next chapter. And yet, ultimately, it never really came. I never got to hear that John Ottman X-Men theme again.
As the years passed, lots of things happened with the X-Men. Bryan Singer left the X-franchise to direct Superman Returns (which didn't go so well), and the X-Men movies suffered as a result. The one-two punch of X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine were not only bad X-Men movies, but bad X-Men movies that also ruined the storyline of X2, taking it in stupid directions that didn't make any sense. Then there was X-Men: First Class, which wasn't bad, but somehow I didn't like much at all. Something about it just seemed hollow and frustratingly sub-par for something as epic as X-Men. The Wolverine, which only came out last year, was pretty decent. I liked it. But at best, it's a good Wolverine movie, not a good X-Men movie.
Another weird thing happened in all that time: I became aware that apparently, the first X-Men movie is not held in super-high regard. It's still liked more than disliked among geeks, but it's also known as being very flawed and problematic. And yet, X-Men 2 is still regarded as one of the best comic book movies of all time. That's still the X-Men gold standard: the childhood love of mine that's always stayed solid.
Now we have X-Men: Days of Future Past, the triumphant return of Bryan Singer to the franchise he made great. And for the first time since 2003, I feel that same sense of satisfaction. This is, in essence, the true return of X-Men. The true sequel to X2. And I couldn't be happier about it.
Oh, and what's this? Playing over the end credits of Days of Future Past?
The John Ottman X-Men theme.