Top 10 Aspects of X-Men: The Animated Series We Love

In commemoration of the X-Men ’92 series hitting stands today, we’ve taken some time to share our Top 10 list of things we loved about the original animated series that inspired the book:

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1. Serious plot points and continuity among shows that had none.

X-Men: The Animated Series was one of the first shows to hold plot continutity for nearly the whole series. Due to production taking place in multiple studios, and some episodes being finished before others, in later seasons episodes were shown in the order they were finished instead of how they were written, but thankfully we have the power of DVD today, where everything fits together much better as one full story.

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2. The series is heavily inspired by the comics

This series covered almost every major X-Men event up to the time the series started, giving up 1/4 to almost half of a season to cover certain stories. This happened most heavily with The Phoenix Saga, but we also got to see Days of Future Past, The Phalanx Covenant, The Legacy Virus, and Episode 3 is an adaption of X-Men #1 where we first saw our heroes.

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3. The use of the most obscure characters of all X-Men and Marvel

This series had small camoes, from big names like Spider-Man and War Machine, and then a whole episode of Wolverine and Captain America, but Beast was seen wearing a Howard the Duck shirt in an episode. Even some of the most obscure X-Men show up, like: Longshot, Domino, Shadow King and Alpha Flight!

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4. Tackling heavy subjects while not shoving them into your face constantly

This series covered a lot of heavy topics – not just for kids, but adults, too. There was an episode focused on religion that showed viewers conflicting views of both belief and non-belief. There were multiple episodes based on duty, friendship, family, social, economic and even heavy political issues. Then there’s the one issue we are humans still haven’t gotten the hang of – equality.

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5. Plot points started from episode 1 end in episode 76

This stems from the character of Morph “dying” in the first few episodes, only to show up later, resurrected by Mr. Sinister as his evil henchman. He later rejoins the X-Men, but after realizing that he is affected by some crippling PSTD, leaves the team to be alone. His reappearance near the end of the whole series as a current student of Xavier’s School leaves Morph fans from episode one pleasantly pleased at his story by the end, despite seeing him seemingly die before we even got to a second episode.

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6. The complete Phoenix Saga is 9 episodes long – over 10% of the whole series!

The Phoenix Saga is a massive story within X-Men lore and quite possibly the most iconic. The amount of episodes definitely is smaller than the amount of comic issues, but this is the closet adaptation we will ever get of this story in any cinematic form… we all saw how they worked it into the movies; it didn’t end up well.

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7. Delving into Professor X and Magneto’s friendship.

Professor X and Magneto get some side stories together that really give you the impression that these two revolutionaries are friends, first and foremost; even the darkest forces could not split up the best of friends. That is not to say Magneto is not a antagonistic adversary for most of the series, but seeing how close these two are gave kids the first glimpse into that anyone can be a good person, even the maddest of men.

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8. Not afraid to make viewers dislike our heroes and give them faults.

The series made sure our heroes were not one-dimensional, exploring the wrong had done in the past. From delving into Wolverine killing Lady Deathstrike’s father, Gambit and his thief past, Rogue conflicting with curing herself, Angel’s fall to the dark side (thanks to Apocalypse) where he becomes Archangel; many others have their faults as well. It was great for kids to see that even with mistakes and wrong doings, anyone can be a hero.

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9. One could almost say X-Men: The Last Stand is loosely X-Men: The Animated Series, the movie.

The third film of the X-Men franchise heavily explores The Phoenix Saga, a sizable part of this series, but this series also was the first time we saw the mutant cure as a viable option. Despite being very different (Rogue wanting the cure? Really), we got to see Leech a lot, who was the catalyst for the cure in the film. So much of the important plots for X-Men: The Last Stand are what made this series great. Too bad those amazing stories didn’t keep the film from sucking.

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10. A kid’s show filled with diversity and meaning.

Science-Fiction and fantasy are usually well-known for diversity, but the X-Men are the team in comics and cinema that pioneered it. Storm, who is second in command after Cyclops in most incarnations, was one of the first main members of any team to be African-American, let alone a female African American. The X-Men saw people of all backgrounds across the entire United States; not only this, but with the addition of Colossus, Nightcrawler, Banshee, Shadow King, Silver Samurai, and many more, fans got to see all parts of the world represented in a mere 47 episodes. While some of these characters may be evil, this series never strayed from this fact: we are all equal no matter what our differences. If that isn’t the best message for an action cartoon, I don’t know what is.

Bonus: The X-Men Theme Song

Of all the classic TV show theme songs to make it out of the 90’s, there are few that have had the longevity of the X-Men series. If ringtone’s were a thing in 1992, this jam would have set the record. It’s probably stuck in your head right now, isn’t it? Diddly-diddly-DOO-do-do-do, Diddly-diddly-DOO-do-do-doon, DEE doon- Doot-DO. Or something like that… Anyway, you can thank Ron Wasserman for that. Wasserman is also responsible for the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers‘ theme, and a ton of other Power RangersDragon Ball Z, and VR Troopers stuff. If you had two ears connected to a brain in the 90’s, you know his work.

The Fault in Our Stars Movie Review

Genre – Drama/Romance

Director – Josh Boone

Cast – Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Nat Wolf

Alluring element –  Based on the New York Times Best Selling novel by award winning author and noted nerd, John Green.

Scorecard:
Plot – 9
Acting – 8
Representation of Genre – 8
Cinematography – 7
Effects/Environment – 7
Captivity – 9
Logical consistency – 8
Originality/Creativity – 9
Soundtrack/Music – 9
Overall awesomeness – 9
 

I was lucky enough to see an advance screen of The Fault in Our Stars last week and I am still dizzy from the emotions it surfaced for me. I’ll admit that I am a bit biased when it comes to this movie. The Fault in Our Stars is my favorite book and it means a great deal to me, personally. Author John Green shares a YouTube Channel with his brother Hank called “The Vlogbrothers,” of which I am a massive fan. Their fans are called Nerdfighters (fighting for nerds, not against them) and they are some of the most passionate, intelligent, caring people you will ever meet. While writing the novel, John documented his progress as well as read the first two chapters to his fans via Livestream before the book was even published. The Nerdfighters were even able to catch a mistake in the book before it was printed. So when I say I’ve been with this story since the beginning, I mean the very beginning. Seeing this story finally hit the big screen feels like a triumph.

Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) is an atypical teenager living with cancer, oxygen tank trailing forever behind her. While medication and frequent doctors visits have extended her life quite a bit, she is very much aware that she is dying. After being deemed depressed by both her mother and doctor, Hazel begins attending a cancer support group. It is here that she meets Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort), a charismatic, sly, metaphoric loving cancer survivor determined to make his mark on the world. Together they find “a forever within the numbered days,” a love that transcends their illness, and an adventure that makes them both feel infinitely alive whilst on the border of death.

Lovers of the novel will be extremely satisfied with the adaptation. Countless scenes have dialogue directly pulled from the book. The casting could not be more perfect. I personally can not see anyone but Shailene Woodley playing Hazel and Ansel Elgort makes the perfect Augustus. While the movie was actually shot in Pittsburgh, set designers and cinematographers were able to make it feel very much like Indiana, scouring out every flat piece of land they could find and recreating the sculpture “Funky Bones”with such detail that the original curator Sarah Green couldn’t tell the difference. Watching the film felt like reading the book all over again. The few scenes they cut I didn’t even notice until later watching an interview with John Green. It is clear that the people behind the movie cared for the book just as much as it’s diehard fans.

While Augustus may be “on a roller coaster than only goes up,” this film takes its audience for an emotionally diverse ride, so much so that DFTBA.com sells a “TFIOS Preparedness Kit” – tissues included. Witty dialogue and ingenious timing create a laughable atmosphere throughout the movie, allowing the audience to believe everything is going to be okay just long enough that when things take a turn for the worse, it cuts all the deeper. However, despite how much the movie made me cry, I still wouldn’t classify it as a sad movie. The Fault in Our Stars is just as much about life as it is about sickness and death. The characters are joyful through much of the film. They are falling in love with each other and with life, despite how little time they have left. In fact, it may because of their mortality that they are able to do this so freely. One thing should be made clear; this is not a cancer story. Yes, it’s a love story about two kids with cancer. Yes, Hazel’s oxygen tank and Augustus’prosthetic leg makes it abundantly clear they’re ill. Still, The Fault in Our Stars is a story about people faced with their own mortality and the mortality of their loved ones. It’s about laying things clean and dry on the table to stop beating around the bush. It’s about two young adults realizing that this life is all they are going to get and that that’s just fine. Their lives are not perfect, in fact they’re far from, but they are still lives that demands to be lived to their fullest. This is a story about overcoming pain and finding joy despite it. This is not a cancer story.

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The soundtrack alone could warrant a review. Ranging from big names like Ed Sheeran and Birdy to lesser known, but just as talented artists such as Afasi and Filthy, the album’s mood fluctuates similarly to the film but still manages to be cohesive. “Bomfelleralla,” a personal favorite of mine, may be the only song that doesn’t seem to quite fit until you see the film. It’s plucked directly out of a scene where Van Houten (Willem Dafoe) plays the song for Hazel and Augustus.

The Fault in Our Stars is an important story because it shows that cancer patients are not their illness and have lives outside it. It shows sickness in a light we rarely get to see. So often we look at someone with a cannula and all we see is their sickness. We visualize them as “the other”when they are very much just like us. The Fault in Our Stars breaks down this “otherness”with a story about two lovers who are like every other couple. They just happen to have cancer.

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The film comes out June 6th but if you hurry, you can see it early. Theaters all over the US are hosting “The Night Before the Stars”where audiences can see the film the day before it comes out as well as a following livestream including cast members Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort and Nat Wolff (who plays Issac) , Author John Green, Director Josh Boone, Producer Wyck Godfrey, and performances from Birdy and Nat and Alex Wolff. Attendees will also receive a commemorative charm bracelet and exclusive movie poster. Tickets are $25 and going fast.

Even if you haven’t read the book (though I sincerely recommend you do) The Fault in Our Stars is a film you will find yourself thinking about long after the credits roll. From the brilliant cast to the heart wrenching plot, this film is destined to be a Summer hit.

 
All photos belong to 20th Century Fox and Marvel Comics

X-Men: Days of Future Past Movie Review

Genre – Comic Book/Action

Director – Bryan Singer

Cast – Hugh Jackson, Jennifer Lawrence James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, a bunch of other people that you never see

Alluring element – A classic X-Men story that tries to make up for The Last Stand

**check out our review of the graphic novel if you’re interested in reading it.

Scorecard:
Plot – 8
Acting – 9
Representation of Genre – 6
Cinematography – 7
Effects/Environment – 8
Captivity – 7
Logical consistency – 6
Originality/Creativity – 6
Soundtrack/Music – 7
Overall awesomeness – 7
 
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After the foul tail-end of the original X-Men trilogy, followed up with two more poorly-received Wolverine movies, Bryan Singer and company attempts to start all over with Days of Future Past. Do they succeed? Yes, but like its source material, it is not without its flaws.
When Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the X-Men in the 1960’s, the team was spawned from a reflection of the Civil Rights movement. Social commentary through badass super-powers became the norm. So when Chris Claremont progressed the subject into one of total annihilation with Days of Future Past, it was as much a nod to the mutually assured destruction of war as it was about saving the world from evil sentinels.
That’s not to say that I wanted the movie to be preachy, but at the heart of the X-Men concept is that of a team. The idea that everybody can have their own favorite X-Man, and they were all useful tools in the struggle, was one that appealed to me as a kid, watching the X-Men animated series. However, this movie was really boiled down to four main characters: Professor X, Magneto, Wolverine and Mystique. The movie was marketed as including a slew of side characters from the future, as well as a reunion of the original cast; instead, they showed up to be collateral – with their forced dramatic deaths failing to make me feel the gravity of the situation.
Meet the cannon-fodder, er, I mean crew
Meet the cannon-fodder, er, I mean “supporting cast”
 
X-Men has always been a team concept, and this movie turned it into an excuse to flaunt their biggest stars. We get it; Huge Jacked Man and the glory of Jennifer Lawrence’s Bloobs are hard to pass up, and the McAvoy/Fassbender chemistry feels just as authentic as Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen do. However, if you’re going to sell this as X-Men movie, can we get some more X-Men in there? Not every team movie needs to be The Avengers (thanks Joss, for setting the bar impossibly high), but the camaraderie here doesn’t even hold a candle to the original X-Men, or even First Class.
"I thought you liked my bloobs..."
“I thought you liked my bloobs…”
All of a sudden, having an all-star cast is more important than a well-rounded cast – a sentiment I’d be fine with on almost anything that wasn’t the X-Men. They do a decent round-about way of making Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine the centerpiece over Ellen Page’s Kitty Pryde, until you realize that Kitty Pryde never had the ability to send anybody else’s consciousness back in time. It’s not that I’m that upset Singer’s Kitty Pryde didn’t get the main role, since Bishop filled in the role quite well in the animated series. There were a ton of other logical brain-farts we saw throughout that seem to be credited to tying in the horrible Last Stand in order to make the whole saga canon – a valiant effort, but still a sham.
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One place DOFP absolutely succeeds is in the portrayal of Quicksilver, who helps the team break into the Pentagon and free Magneto from imprisonment. Played by American Horror Story‘s Evan Peters, Peter (Singer felt his comic book name, Pietro, isn’t a realistic name for a teenager) Maximoff is self-indulgent and hilarious, but is intrigued by the challenge of the prison break. There’s a particular sequence where Quicksilver shows off his skills that gave me the butterflies like a superhero movie is supposed to (something I definitely did not feel throughout the rest of the movie), and was around just long enough to make me want more.
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Mystique also takes center stage here, and she kicks ass. Jennifer Lawrence absolutely owes it to her stunt double. Lawrence herself is not believable as Mystique, often coming across as a rebellious teenager. There’s just something about her face that doesn’t fit the look (we debated on whether it was the chin, cheeks or her large forehead that we didn’t like), but the fight scenes were incredible. She isn’t the only character that falls flat with me; Michael Fassbender’s Magneto, who had one of the most amazing displays in First Class turns into nothing more than a caricature of himself here. It’s a shame to see a character so complex turned into a one-dimensional bad guy.
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For being a movie based off a two-issue comic book, Days of Future Past does a good job of spacing the story out over its 2 hr 11 min runtime. There are a handful of awkward stares off into the distance I could have done without, and there’s a Magneto scene involving a entire stadium off the ground that feels forced and anti-climatic, but that’s neither here nor there. The sentinels looked spectacular (both past and future), and Peter Dinklage’s Bolivar Trask was a great addition to the movie. In the comics, he is the creator of the sentinel program, and his role is practically a seamless swap for Senator Robert Kelly (the target in the books).
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Cleverly enough, the DNA swipe of Mystique, which is used to create the chameleon-esque sentinels of the future, isn’t impossible to believe. The genetic engineering process as we know it, “the direct transfer of DNA from one organism to another,” was invented in 1973, the same year the past events take place. The snippets of 70’s style reel film to capture the mutant attacks were also a nice touch. Some of it didn’t really work for me. Weeks after the new Godzilla film blamed Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Godzilla himself, Magneto takes the fall for the assassination of JFK. Nice try, guys. What’s next? Did Aquaman knock over the levees in New Orleans, too?
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This was supposed to be the resurgence of the X-Men franchise. To be fair, a lot of the complaints I had about the movie were fanboy-driven, but I feel like this formula is really starting to wear on me. The need to make this an “epic,” detracts from the point of the story, and clutters it with a bunch of nothing. I mean, when the half-hour animated episode does a better job at telling a story than the $200 million budgeted film, I can’t help but leave disappointed.
The magic of Days of Future Past comes from Peter Dinklage as Bolivar Trask and Evan Peters as Quicksilver.  Those aside, its been over a decade later and we’re still relying on special effects to sell creativity, forcing dramatic stare-offs to make people feel like important scenes are unfolding, and using Scott Summers to cock-block Wolverine. The more things change, the more they stay the same. And that’s the problem…

All photos belong to 20th Century Fox and Marvel Comics