Monday, May 22, 2006

Let's Start at the Very Beginning

For those of you wondering why I'm counting down the days (4) to a movie which I don't really expect to like all that much (X-Men: The Last Stand), it's like this: These mutants are a permanent part of my psyche. It all started at Christmas time in 1979 when there, next to my stocking filled with candy, fruit and other long forgotten knick-knacks, was issue #129 of "The Uncanny X-Men" (pictured to your left). I had read one previous issue purchased at a neighborhood Seven-Eleven (issue #125 I believe) and presumably somebody in my family noticed how thunderstruck I was reading it. And reading it. And reading it some more.

There's a thrill that runs through my body while watching these movies that has nothing to do with the quality, whether they its tentative and serviceable (the first) or confident and exciting (the second) or --well the third movie can wait for its adjective. Storm, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Cyclops... they are as much a part of my biography as Madonna or Michelle Pfeiffer or any 80s cultural figure that I grew up with and became emotionally attached to. Seeing them come to life? Sweet.

But because of this I'll never be completely satisifed. The movie in my head will always be sharper, grander, more definitive and it will be undeterred by budgetary limitations or Hollywood's superhero formulas. And the casting?

Though they obviously done the world proud with Hugh Jackman (Ahhhh, Jackman) the ideal X-Men movie would cast each character as carefully. There would be no examples of "oops they played this character in a cameo so..." or "they have the physicality for it so who cares about the talent" and of course, no "bankability" concerns. For example: Storm. Halle Berry always was and always will be completely wrong for the part. I'm not saying this to offend anyone but I can only think it was a case of comicbook ignorance combined with racial myopia that got her the role.

"Storm is black. Who is a famous and bankable black actress? Halle Berry! The part is yours, Ms. Berry, come on down."

It's as if box office and skin color were enough. Berry's movie star persona (consciously sexy, emotionally fragile, etc...) as compelling as it can be in the right role, is just about the polar opposite of Storm's persona in the comic book pages (regal, a born leader/teacher, completely unconcerned with her own hotness). If they thought that Angela Bassett or Lynn Whitfield or any other known actresses at the time were too old or not secure enough investments, they should have gone straight to an unknown. There are probably hundreds of virtually unknown talented and beautiful black actresses out there that would have done more with the role and become stars in the process. Look how well the larger casting net worked for Wolvie. While it's true that Dougray Scott originally had that role and was better known (at the time) than Hugh Jackman, the shift to unknown as centerpiece hardly hurt ticket sales.

So, yes, I'm counting down. How can I not? But the movie playing in my own head will always be the one and only X-Men: The (Masterpiece) Movie.

Another trip down memory lane? Here were my gushy thoughts preceding the original film's release way back in 2000. Now that I'm sufficiently embarrassed, talk amongst yourselves.

tags: movies, XMen, Comic Books, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, X-Men, Marvel


Anonymous said...


What celebs get to vote in Acadmey Awards?- sorry I'm new to all this an am helping a friend with an Essay. And from this website it seems like the creator and users know their Oscars stuff

1. I heard Meryl Streep gets to vote. So does Susan Sarandon, Nicole Kidman and oh Julia Roberts get to vote too? Or is it is just older generations?

2. I read somewhere Sarah Jessica Parker gets to vote- is that true? Sorry if this comes across as naive but I really want to get this straight.

Anonymous said...

I was a big X-men/X-team fan myself, back in the day. I definitely share your excitement for this movie, but I swear if that director ruins it I'll have to cut him, and Bryan Singer for abandoning the X-men franchise at its potentially finest hour.

adam k. said...

Who the hell is Dougray Scott?

Anyway, I understand, Nathaniel. I was a HUGE X-Men fan circa age 10-14, and they have never quite left my soul, though my X-fever peaked long before the movies began. The Storm thing really pisses me off, to, because (like you said):

a) There was at least one other black female star who was PERFECT and was arguably as famous as Halle at the time if not moreso. Too old, my ass. Ms. Bassett, I'm talking to you.

and b) They also could've gone with an unknown who was even more perfect if they'd just bothered to look, and it would've been just fine (see Hugh Jackman... the most popular and most famous X-Men actor was no one before he got the role).

The hideous incompence of the casting people totally boggles the mind... seriously.

adam k. said...

Man, sorry, now I am all hot and bothered about this and it will not go away... I really happen to think that Angela Bassett was the perfect choice for Storm... no unknown needed... I mean, just look at her. Listen to her speak. She IS Storm. She has that exoticism, that presence, that total lack of regard for her own uber-sexiness; she is an eartmother. And Storm was SUPPOSED to be slightly older than the others, no? Whoever cast that role didn't know what the hell they were doing. They had the perfect actress sitting right under their noses and they didn't take her... unless of course Bassett turned the role down, but I don't think that's what happened (her own career would've benefited considerably from the X-films). It's not really even Halle's fault she sucks as Storm; she's just wrong for it. Why didn't anyone see that?

That is

adam k. said...

...all I have to say.

Anonymous said...

The actress who played Blade's Doctor/semi-love interest in the orginal BLADE (1998) would have been perfect as Storm. Her name was N'Bushe Wright.

Wright was young enough and physically beautiful, and a fine actress. But most importantly, her performance in Blade showed that she had the steeliness and toughness, neccesary to play Storm. Attributes that Berry sorely lacked. They had the perfect Storm all along, in the first successful Marvel movie, and she never got cast.

And I've always disagreed with the casting of Angela Bassett. To me, it's almost as lazy as casting Halle Berry (basically, she was the only other bankble black actress fanboys knew of). In my mind, Storm was never a middle-aged, 42 year old woman, which Basset would have been at the time of the first X-MEN movie.

To me, Storm should be of an age with Jean Grey (her best buddy in the comics). Famke Janssen was 35 at the time she first played Jean, and even then many fans complained about Jannsen being too old for the role. I personally wouldn't have cast an actress over 35 for Storm.

adam k. said...

I still say Angela Bassett would've been perfect. The worst part is that, you're right, it wouldn't even have involved a lot of effort. I don't think she is too old. She looks fabulous for being in her 40s (people of african descent generally age better anyway, it's a skin thing). But N'Bushe Wright looks like she definitely would've been better than Berry.

SimzBrazil said...

I cant believe there was any other choice for Storm other than Angela Bassett! She totally has all the fierceness, appeal, and convincing intimidation that its takes to be the weather woman.

Angie was actually signed on to do the first X-men film back in 1995 but they took so long to start production that when they were ready in 2000 Angela was off filming another movie. So that got Halle. Damn that mess is not fair...