The Dark Phoenix Saga And The Sexist Treatment Of Jean Grey: God Dammit, She Deserves Better

I’ve talked about how much I hate how the X-Men movies thus far have treated Jean Grey here and here, and I think a lot of that is rooted in the way the Phoenix has completely taken over Jean’s character, both in the comics and public knowledge.

Even though the actual Dark Phoenix saga was much less sexist and oh ho, ho, look at that crazy chick than people tend to remember it, the way the comics treated Jean after that was still gross. I don’t have a fundamental objection to an exploration of a movie about power corrupting, except it’s always the women. Throughout comics, heroic characters destroy a lot of things for a variety of reasons. But somehow, Jean is one of the only people that has ever had to pay a price for it. Everyone else? They’re forgiven incredibly easily, no matter what their crime. Jean’s death may have made The Dark Phoenix arc iconic, but it wasn’t fair and it wasn’t right.

Xavier has the power to use people as marionettes and has canonically manipulated and gaslighted people for years. He’s never “gone crazy from too much power”. Magneto has been having a Heel Face Revolving Door in both the comics and movies for decades and the list of people killed by him on the Marvel wiki is five pages long. He gets immediately forgiven and hasn’t had to spend decades trying to make up for it. Wolverine has been a raging hypocrite that kills people whenever he deems it necessary, both when he’s been mind controlled and not. He’s never gotten called out for it (He once went on a self righteous rant about none of the people he killed mattering in front of one of the people that he killed. That guy didn’t call him out, either.)

Jean has expressed huge amounts of remorse for what she’s done. At times, so has Magneto, even if he’s never had to pay an actual price for it. Xavier and Logan, not so much. Every comic she’s been in since then has had references to that time she lost control and time dedicated to her guilt and need to atone for “what she’s done”. Even her younger self freaked out about not wanting to become her.

Pretty much no character can stand on the same level as Jean and beat her in a straight fight, unless you count her various children and other hosts to the Phoenix. Especially not when she’s at full strength. But no X-Men movie has had the courage to give Jean the full use of her power and let her use it without going into the gross sexism of the oh, this woman has too much power for her own good and can’t handle it! For all my issues with Apocalypse, that at least came kind of close – though it’s negated by the movie that immediately follows being Dark Phoenix. What I’d love is a movie about Jean Grey, who’s worth a whole lot more than just her powers, that gets to be more than Wolverine’s out of control, telepathic lust object, where the story is about her. The manipulation by the Hellfire Club would be awesome, if she got to survive! If she got to be the hero. In my eyes, the best way to adapt the Dark Phoenix saga would be to make changes to both the original comic and to the way we remember it. I doubt that Dark Phoenix will make those changes.

The Dark Phoenix saga was a well written,  interesting story that wasn’t originally about Jean having more power than she could handle. I agree with that. But she also deserves to be able to live that down. Jean Grey was one of the original five X-Men. She’s existed as a character for longer than Wolverine, Storm, Gambit, Rogue, Kitty. Longer than countless other popular characters. But the Phoenix has dominated her narrative for years. Her whole pop culture identity is based on it. It’s the focus of adaptations. She’s had other stories, but writers act as if the Dark Phoenix is the only comic she was ever in, and like I pointed out here, they often remember it wrong.

One of the reasons I find X-Men Red so refreshing is that it’s not about the Phoenix, it’s about Jean. It’s taking a step back from all of that nonsense and going back to the basic principle of X-Men comics – human mutant coexistence. Jean deserves more respect. She deserves to stop being regarded as the person that’s constantly coming back from the dead, because that’s not even true, it takes her years. Other characters have come back way more times. X-Men Red is providing me with good material for her in the comics, so now I just need a movie focusing on her as she is and demonstrating how much value she has aside from being the host of the Phoenix, the chick Wolverine thinks is hot, and a way for Xavier to show off how great a teacher and parental figure he is. She’s existed for 55 years – it’s time.

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Canon Foreigners in Comics Adaptations

There are plenty of reasons to create a new character in a comic book related work – to add diversity, to tell a story set in the universe but separated from the main characters, to flesh out the cast, to make a distant prequel or sequel, and so on. But opinion on these original characters tends to be polarized. While there are plenty of people that like them without hesitation – usually non-comics fans – there are many that cling to their source material so much that they hate them for existing.

We need new characters, but therein lies the rub – oftentimes, the audience doesn’t like said new characters. And they continue to dislike said characters for not being canonical. With time, these characters could get redeemed in the eyes of the audience, especially if they were introduced into the comics and became a canon immigrant, but why introduce a character in the comics when they weren’t liked? We need new characters to appear in comics and their adaptations, because how boring would it be if the only characters we ever encountered were the original casts? Without new characters in adaptations, we wouldn’t have Harley Quinn. We wouldn’t have X-23. We wouldn’t have Kaldur’ahm. Hell, we wouldn’t even have Jimmy Olsen or Barbara Gordon. Not all new characters are as immediately liked like these were. But they can be redeemed, and it’s better to have the conviction to try to make that happen than to just cram already canon characters in roles they don’t fit.

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Sometimes, writing a new character is just easier. That’s not bad. It just is. In The Dark Knight trilogy, Bruce’s love interest for the first two movies was an original character. Rachel Dawes. She was okay. I personally found her a little bland and forgettable, as well as being bothered that her primary role was to die, but that’s fine. My opinion. What I found more interesting than her as a character, though, is that she existed at all.

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Batman’s iconic love interest is Catwoman. She’s the one most people think of when asked to name Bruce Wayne’s love interest. She appears consistently throughout Batman related media, because like Superman and Lois Lane, there’s Batman and Catwoman. And yet she doesn’t appear until the third film in the trilogy. Rachel was introduced because the writers wanted a romantic subplot in the first two movies, but didn’t want the complications that would arise as a result of using Selina or Talia or any of Bruce’s canonical love interests. She was new and therefore malleable. She could be anything. She could be anyone.

I fully support the creation of new characters. Comics and their adaptations are a unique medium/form of storytelling. It’s just as valid to introduce a new character in an adaptation as it is to do so in a comic. Comics aren’t static, and new characters and new interpretations of old ones are how they evolve. It even makes sense to do it for a specific purpose. Marcos Diaz from The Gifted; Laura Kinney from X-Men: Evolution; Harley Quinn from Batman: The Animated Series; everyone from Powerless, that gorgeous comedy that was cancelled far too soon. All likeable original characters, created to serve a purpose in the plot, but more than just plot devices.

But when the creation of new characters is handled poorly, you get Sara Lance, who could be a good character, except for how much she embodies white feminism. I want to like Sara much more than I do, to the point where she pushed me away from a show I used to enjoy. You get Felicity Smoak, who started off well and with potential, but then had everything good and interesting stripped away from her when the writers turned her into a love interest at the expense of her character. While I can’t say Felicity is the reason I stopped watching Arrow, she was definitely one of them. You get characters that are boring and forgettable – like the previously mentioned Rachel Dawes, more plot device than person.

What I hate more than the creation of new characters, though, is when an already canonical character is completely changed in a new medium. I take issue with the changing of random aspects of a character to fit them into a premade box. Call me crazy, but Arrow turning Dinah Lance into a lawyer felt like a terrible move to me. It was fine when we were just talking about her working for a nonprofit. That was fine. That was good. We were talking about a woman using the legal system to fight for the marginalized. But then she became a prosecutor, and while she was a prosecutor, she was also breaking the law through the pursuit of vigilante justice. I didn’t like that change. I could accept it, though, because her personality was identifiable as Black Canary.

There are changes that I get and accept, even if I don’t necessarily like them – take Laurel instead of Dinah. Yes, it’s weird to have a name change for such an iconic character. But it also makes some amount of sense. Dinah is quite an old fashioned name, Laurel is a gorgeous one, and you’re much more likely to encounter a Laurel today than a Dinah. But Arrow‘s version of Oliver Queen shares a name with his comics self and little else. Zari Tomaz from Legends of Tomorrow has absolutely nothing to do with her comics counterpart. Scott Summers from Apocalypse has none of comic Scott’s backstory or personality. It’s lazy. It’s a clear sign that someone isn’t actually interested in writing the character they were given. If that’s what a writer does, it seems like they want to have it both ways – they want the freedom to write a character however they feel like doing it, but they want to take the already paved road to get there by using one that’s already canon and thus has a fanbase/name recognition.

New characters aren’t fundamentally good or bad, they just are. But they’re much easier to accept in original properties than adaptations, where viewers go in with a set of preexisting expectations and opinions. And the visceral dislike for them that so many people have results in writers altering canon characters to avoid it, which may end up being even worse. I’ll admit that I’m not always quick to embrace the original characters myself. But I think we all need to work on getting better at it, because I’d rather see any number of poorly written new characters that could get better eventually than an already established character twisted beyond recognition to fit a role that they shouldn’t be in.

5 of the Best Fight Scenes in Superhero Movies

Mostly when I talk about superhero movies, I’m talking about one of two things. One, the X-Men, with all that goes along with a superhero story featuring characters analogous to persecuted minorities. Or two, Zack Snyder’s work, filled with philosophical questions and allusions to mythology, art, and literature. But the most recent superhero movie I saw was Justice League, which while credited to Snyder, screamed studio interference so loudly, most of it didn’t feel like his movie anymore.

I’m still disappointed about that. I had a good time watching it, I did, but for me, it didn’t come close to measuring up to Batman v Superman or Man of Steel. But in the spirit of positivity, I figured instead of talking about why Justice League disappointed me, I’d instead discuss something I think we can all agree on: modern comicbook movies have awesome fight scenes. And everyone loves a good fight scene, right? So in no particular order, here are five of my favourite of such scenes.

1. Nightcrawler in the White House (X2: X-Men United)

A fantastic demonstration of Kurt’s mutation, set to Mozart. I loved this scene. X2 and Days of Future Past are my two favourite X-Men movies, and by a huge margin. None of the others even come close. This opening sequence was one of the contributors to that. It’s absolutely stunning. A great choice in music, beautiful choreography – what else is there to say?

2. Batman Warehouse Fight (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice)

Brutal.

This is the most Batman fight scene ever. This is a version of the character that’s lost everything that’s mattered to him, and he’s just found something worth fighting for again. This was just a no-holds-barred beatdown. And it was the precursor to him saving Clark’s mom, which just makes it more awesome.

3. Quicksilver at the Pentagon (X-Men: Days Of Future Past)

Does it count as a fight scene if it’s really just Quicksilver running around the room and moving things to less dangerous places? Probably not, no. But I’m counting it anyway, because it was close enough, dammit, and  it was awesome. Quicksilver got a couple people to hit themselves in the face – that’s good enough for me. It showed off his powers well. It had great music. It was a whole hell of a lot of fun to watch. In short, I love it for the exact same reasons I love the Nightcrawler scene.

4. Batman vs Superman (Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice)

So I know I probably shouldn’t give the same character in the same movie two of the slots on my list. But everything about Batfleck in BvS was so awesome I had to.

This was the fight we all signed up to see. I adore Batman v Superman. I could make a case for that being my favourite movie ever – I can’t think of a single other film that has impacted me as much as BvS. The reason for that wasn’t the fight. But the fight was what got most people to the theatre in the first place, and as divisive as the rest of the movie still is, it delivered.

This fight is why Batman belongs in the League. He’s smart enough and skilled enough to disable Superman. His superpower is sheer determination. We got to see Batman prepping. We got to see how dangerous he really is when he has a goal. We got to see Superman not initially wanting to fight, but Batman being so unwilling to listen that he had no choice. We got the brilliance of the moment where Superman loses patience with the guy that keeps attacking him when he’s trying to ask for help. It was fast paced, violent, horrifying, and absolutely amazing to watch.

5. No Man’s Land (Wonder Woman)

The last one was a tough slot for me. A large part of me wants to go with the Superman Zod fight from Man of Steel, or maybe the one with Clark facing off against Faora. I could fill this list with Superman scenes alone. But in the honour of the first live-action Wonder Woman movie, and because Clark already has a role in one of the fights on this list, I thought I should show some appreciation for the Amazon princess.

The No Man’s Land sequence is the most instantly recognizable scene from Wonder Woman, and I loved every part of it, from the colour palette to the music to the slow climb out of the trenches. The other action scenes in the movie are fine. They’re good. But this one is by far my favourite.

When it comes to the DCEU, Clark had his first flight, Bruce had the warehouse scene, and Diana has No Man’s Land. It’s easy to see why. This scene is fantastic. It might be too soon to call it iconic, but I suspect that’s what it’ll become. It’s spectacular, and it absolutely deserves to be remembered for being as  brilliant as it is.

X-Men, Avengers, and Discrimination

In both the comics and the movies, Marvel has spent years pushing the idea that Captain America is a righteous hero that stands up for all that’s good about the United States. From my perspective? Captain America doesn’t represent the best of America, he represents it as it is. He simultaneously represents white liberalism and American imperialism.

In Avengers vs X-Men, he invaded a sovereign country that was also a sanctuary of mutants that had faced relentless persecution with an army because of the Phoenix Force, which he knew nothing about, to arrest a teenage girl that hadn’t committed any kind of crime. He says a lot of pretty words, but never does anything to actually help the mutants that need it. He talks a big game about freedom, but that never applies to people that oppose him and American interests. He supports mutants – but not mutants fighting for their rights in a meaningful way.

Steve has killed people. One of the people he brought to Utopia was Logan, who has killed hundreds of people and never faced any consequences for it. His team includes Black Widow, a literal assassin. He forgave Wanda for decimating the mutant population no questions asked. But Scott? Scott, while possessed by the Phoenix Force, killed one man that was attacking him and his nation full of a persecuted minority. For that, Steve decided he was a criminal and a terrorist that deserved to go to prison for his so called crimes. Steve seems to honestly believe that the life of one single soldier on his side is worth more than those of sixteen million children and civilians. He uses mutants as tools and only likes those that take his side or don’t actively work to make the world a better place for other mutants. That’s why he likes Beast, Wolverine, Scarlet Witch, Professor X – they’re either on his side directly, or ignoring the fact that their methods to “help mutants” aren’t helping.

He claims to not be a bigot because he sometimes has mutants on his team. But that’s a question of power, not giving a damn about mutants. He only cares about damage caused by mutants by mutants that stand against him. The damage that he and his team cause don’t matter, because they’re government sanctioned. They can go wherever they feel like and wreak whatever havoc they want, because they’re doing the right thing. That there has been the American justification for military intervention for decades.

Scott has called Steve “Captain Hypocrisy”, and that there was one of the truest statements anyone has ever said. Steve reminds me more than anything of all the times the US has propped up dictators around the world for supporting American interests, of the coups staged by the CIA. Of the proxy wars and illegal actions carried out due to a lack of regard for minorities and people from different countries. Of the way politicians that approve said actions are still looked at positively, praised, and admired for doing it with charm, or being likeable, because too many citizens don’t empathize with the people being harmed.

Maybe Steve’s actions in stories solely about him or the Avengers show a more positive side of him. But the way in which he acts in all the stories involving the X-Men or mutants in general paints a picture of a character that I can’t bring myself to like or respect. His actions don’t support humanity, they support a specific subset of people in one country. And it horrifies me that this is the character we’re expected to believe is the pinnacle of morality.

How The X-Men Movies Did A Disservice to Jean and Scott

Jean Grey and Scott Summers are one of the most iconic couples in all of Marvel. Marvel isn’t like DC in that superheroes and their love interests are inextricably linked – the characters tend to have a wider range of romantic partners, or they break up with their love interest much more often than in DC. Superman has Lois Lane. Batman has Catwoman. Even people that have never picked up a comic in their life know that – these are pop culture icons, a staple in not just comics, but movies and TV shows. The Marvel equivalent is Spider-Man and Mary Jane. Jean and Scott aren’t on that level of iconic, but they’re still one of the couples that a member of the general public will be able to name. I’ve talked before about how Jean and Scott individually got raw deals, but I think a lot of the reasons they were portrayed badly are tied together.

Jean didn’t have much of a character of her own in the original trilogy, as I pointed out in my other post. Most of her scenes were about how Logan was attracted to her. I heard an argument once that Scott was also a part of this – that Jean’s character had to do with him, that he and Logan were just having a pissing contest over her in the first movie – but I don’t think that’s true at all. In the first movie, Scott was perfectly polite and friendly until Logan manhandled him for no reason and started harassing Jean. And his active dislike for Logan didn’t start until, you know, Logan stabbed a student under his care in the chest. And in Last Stand, Scott was grieving, and he was doing that because he knew her. Not all grief is manpain. This was him having lost the woman he loved and not knowing how to deal with it. Jean was his fiancee, his partner, his friend, and the woman he had a psychic connection with. Logan’s so-called love for her couldn’t compete with that – he knew her for a week and came up with some idealized image in his head that had nothing to do with who she actually was. We can’t equate those relationships at all.

This portrayal of them – barely interacting, Jean as so passive with few real stances of her own after Logan showed up, Scott as a jealous child that was so dependent on her he literally couldn’t survive with her gone – was a disservice to them and the years they’ve known each other. They aren’t just random people that barely know each other that are dating because it’s convenient. They’ve known and loved each other for years. They were friends, partners, and X-Men.

The Last Stand partially adapted the Dark Phoenix Saga, and in doing that, failed to do the most famous Jean Scott story justice. It tried to do two things at once, and it didn’t end up doing justice to either of them. Neither was well developed, and either could have been a good movie on its own. It tried to make a story centred around the mutant cure, and it tried to make one about Jean becoming the Dark Phoenix. Because they tried both, Jean as Dark Phoenix was pretty much just her siding with Magneto instead of Xavier and having stronger powers. The tragedy that defines the Dark Phoenix arc wasn’t there for me, and the deep philosophical issues that should be involved with a story about the mutant cure were barely even touched upon. The Dark Phoenix arc revolves hugely around Jean and Scott and how much they love each other, but Scott was killed off rather than being the reason for Jean coming back to herself. They had all the parts necessary to make something amazing, but the movie we got was instead borderline incoherent.

It could have been a story about the mutant cure and all the mutant rights issues going along with that. That would have been great. It could have been about Scott having to deal with grief over losing Jean and still having to teach and lead the team and protect his people, while also confronting the fact that as much as he hates his powers at times, he won’t ever even consider taking the cure because he’s needed. The leader of the X-Men, and the general of all mutantkind, has to be a mutant. One of the flaws of the X-Men movies was that Scott, the leader of the X-Men, was mainly portrayed as Jean Grey’s jealous boyfriend who goes down first in every fight. He’s so much more than that. He loved Jean, and there is some canonical evidence of him having a hard time functioning outside a relationship, but she wasn’t the only thing in his life. Having a movie centred around him dealing with the mutant cure and civil rights would have established him as his own person, while also paving the way for a future movie about what Scott as the mutant revolutionary he’s been for years now.

It could have also been Dark Phoenix story, with Jean losing control of her powers and being brought back to herself because of love. The Dark Phoenix Saga is a beautiful tragedy about a woman trying to find her place in a world that hates her for what she is. She’s manipulated and hurt and still wants to protect the innocent – we saw that clearly with her stopping the Hellfire Club from attacking the newly manifested Kitty. It’s about love, and how much Jean loves her family, the world, Scott. It would have been an amazing exploration of who Jean is as a person. It would have focused on her. It would have been more of a straight action movie and character piece than the philosophical civil rights issues that would be raised by a cure story.

I think it would have best had they done both. I’d have wanted the cure storyline first, because it should have been Scott’s. It’s a concept that ties in beautifully to who Scott is and what he does. Scott’s character can be summed up as “guy that loses people he loves constantly and has to protect mutants from persecution regardless of any personal issues”. By all rights, The Last Stand should have been about Scott mourning Jean and having to keep fighting for mutants despite having lost her, and the franchise as a whole should have had more Scott. In the comics, Scott is always the important character when it comes to the existential threats mutants face. He’s the one that keeps them alive. Not Logan, not Xavier, not Mystique. And despite being what I consider a better, more complex character than any of those three, the original X-Men films cast him aside for them and play to the common misconception that he’s boring, while the alternate timeline changes his character to something completely different to make him conventionally interesting – and that’s an oxymoron if I ever heard one.

I love Jean. And I do love the concept of an awesome, powerful woman whose boyfriend/husband/whatever loves and adores and respects with all his heart. But I hate the idea of that being the extent of it, of there being nothing more to said woman’s partner than loving her and following her to the ends of the earth, just as much as I hate it when female characters are flat and exist to be a romantic interest. That’s not Scott at all. Killing Scott would absolutely be a valid story choice, but it has to be for a reason. He needs to be dying for a cause, or to protect someone else, or while doing what he does – not murdered by his fiancée after being so grief stricken after losing her that he couldn’t teach his classes or lead his team or focus on anything he had to do. He loves Jean, but he’s not just her boyfriend, just as she’s not just his girlfriend. Both the cure story and a properly done Dark Phoenix story would have showed that off beautifully.

Both these stories would have revolved around Jean and Scott loving each other, something we barely saw in the movies we got. And that’s a damn shame. These two characters comprise what’s arguably the single most iconic X-Men couple, and the conclusion to a film trilogy about the X-Men, an adaptation of a movie about them, portrayed their relationship badly for the third consecutive movie.

5 X-Men Characters That Deserved Better

From the beginning, the X-Men movies have shunted aside most of their characters in order to keep the focus on just a select few of them. In the original trilogy, it was Wolverine. In the alternate timeline, it was Xavier, Magneto, and Mystique. That’s not to say it’s always bad – despite all my frustrations with the X-Men films, I’ve genuinely enjoyed most of them. I’ve had my complaints, but if I don’t think about it, they’re always good for at least one watch. However, there were a lot of characters that got cast aside that deserved to be a more prominent part of the films.

1. Jean

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Jean Grey deserved so much better than what she got in the original trilogy. She was a person. She was a fully grown woman with a life, a job, a family by the time of X-Men (2000). She was going before Congress and testifying on behalf of mutants. She was working at the school. She and Scott were engaged. She moonlighted as one of the X-Men. But somehow, she got reduced to Logan’s lust object that we were somehow supposed to believe he was in love with. In the comics, during the Dark Phoenix arc, Jean chose to kill herself over risking the lives of the people she loved. The Last Stand took away her agency, and made that Logan’s choice, not hers, and her death ended up being about him, not her – how much he supposedly loved her, how much guilt he had over killing her.

The fact that Logan didn’t know the first thing about Jean was made incredibly blatant in The Wolverine. His hallucination of her wasn’t her or anything like her, it was just his perception of her. Logan considered himself more important to Jean than he really was. Sure, she liked him, and thought he’d be a good ally in a time when the X-Men needed all the help they could get and as such, wasn’t going to do anything to alienate him, but she didn’t know him, either. Her telepathy might have meant she knew him better than he knew her, but they still only interacted for a week. They were barely even friends. She certainly didn’t love him. Yet so often, she was reduced to the hot chick that he liked. He’d decided he knew her when they’d first met, and the narrative decided to go with that, despite it making no sense.

In X2, Jean got to do things and be a real person. She interacted with Scott and Ororo. Her full potential was unlocked and in the end, she saved everyone else. She made her choice to sacrifice herself because she was the only one that could. She deserved to be that much of a fully realized character in all the movies – to be the woman that loves her students, her friends, and her fiancé, that is an enormously powerful mutant that’s fiercely dedicated to the cause of advancing mutant rights, that’s willing to give up her life to do what she thinks is right. That’s Jean. That’s a great character that I want more of. As Scott put it during the Dark Phoenix arc, she is love.

2. Scott

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Scott is the X-Men. I’ve talked about how much I love him before, and I’ll inevitably do it again. Similar to Jean being more than that woman Logan thinks is hot, Scott is more than just Jean’s boyfriend. I’m not sure exactly what it was that made the directors, producers, studio, whoever decide to shove him aside to centre the movies around Logan instead. Maybe it was that the work on these movies began at the height of the ‘90s Anti-Hero in comics, when everything was getting darker and edgier and Scott didn’t seem like he belonged in that. Whatever it was, Scott was barely an afterthought. Every single movie involving him also involved a string of bad decisions in regards to his character.

To be clear, I think a lot of Scott’s attitude towards Logan in the first movie was justifiable and in character – he was initially polite and friendly, only to get increasingly irritated by 1) Logan manhandling and patronizing him, 2) Logan harassing Jean, who wasn’t about to alienate a potential ally, and most importantly, 3) Logan stabbing Rogue, who by this point was a student under Scott’s care, through the chest. His behaviour in The Last Stand was also reasonable – as much as I disagree with that interpretation of Scott after losing Jean, his response to Logan condescendingly telling him to move on was completely fair. However, the lack of follow through in all the movies made him come across to a lot of people as a jealous boyfriend, not a man with very understandable reservations who’s something of a control freak that is uncomfortable with this stranger with anger issues and impulse control in his house and on his team.

In The Last Stand, rather than trying to help Scott with his grief at all – grief that everyone could see very clearly – everyone just went on with life without him. Logan talked to him, but Storm didn’t. Xavier not only didn’t talk to him, he essentially asked Storm to replace him because losing Jean had changed him – obviously he was a changed man, he was grieving. I can imagine that from comics Xavier, who was always a deeply manipulative person that used the people around him and spent years treating Scott poorly, but movie Xavier is a much nicer person. And yet he didn’t spend any time mourning his surrogate son after his death or caring about him at all besides in regards to his usefulness.

Arguably the worst offender, in terms of how Scott was handled, was Apocalypse. They took Scott Summers – straight-laced, law abiding, responsible, awkward, dorky, ultimate good guy Scott Summers – and on top of cutting out his entire comics backstory, they portrayed him as…not that. It seemed almost like they wanted to give themselves a shortcut for potentially a movie about him as the leader of mutantkind that he is in the comics without doing the real work to make it Scott. He may have gotten more screentime than the Scott in the original trilogy, but that Scott was at least recognizable as Scott.

In the comics, Scott becomes the leader of not only the X-Men, but of all mutants – he becomes their protector and general. He doesn’t do that because he’s a natural rebel that’s instincts are to fight and use force to achieve his goals. He does it because nothing else works, because he wants to protect his species. I’m willing to give Apocalypse Scott a chance to become that man, but I’m going to need him to become a genuinely responsible, good adult before he can push the boundaries to challenge the government and Xavier.

3. Storm

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Storm was always there in the original trilogy, but it mostly seemed like she was there because the creators thought it would be weird to exclude her. She had some good moments, but it seemed pretty clear that Bryan Singer didn’t know what to do with her at all. He didn’t have a clear vision for what he wanted out of Storm, whether that clear vision was her role as a minor character or a major one. Halle Berry made a weak attempt at an accent for part of one movie, then dropped it the rest of the time. She barely had any lines. In X-Men, it seemed as if she was there mainly to help fill out the roster so it felt more like a team movie than a solo plus allies one. In The Last Stand, while she got a bigger role, it was also because with Jean and Scott gone, someone had to take up the extra space.

X2 was my favourite of the original trilogy by far. Part of the reason for that was that it had a better balance of characters than the others, even if it was still heavily tilted in favour of Wolverine. The characters got to interact with each other – Storm and Jean went on a mission together. They had a few great moments together and with Kurt. The scene where Storm and Kurt were talking about humans and the persecutions mutants face was excellent. Berry’s delivery of the, “I gave up on pity a long time ago” line really showed off what she could have done with the role if she’d gotten more out of the directors or the script. Quite a few of her scenes in the first two movies were about her fear of humans – with Kurt in X2, with Senator Kelly in X-Men. That would have been a fascinating direction to take her character – this is a woman who in the comics, was revered as a goddess. She’s one of the X-Men, and she fights to protect people that hate and fear her – people that she fears, despite her powers. But it was never really expanded upon.

I don’t know much about comics Storm. I find a lot of her behaviour frustrating, mainly because of how in a lot of comics, she’s used as more an author mouthpiece to complain about Scott than anything else. She’s more than that, though, and even if she wasn’t, she’d still have the potential to be. The movies didn’t care to go into all the things she could be at all. I guess when it comes down to it, you know she deserved better because the entire time Halle Berry was in the role, the name Ororo was only mentioned once.

4. Rogue

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Rogue got completely cut out of Days of Future Past. In the rest of the movies she was in, she alternated between being an afterthought and being a pretty major character. Her treatment really bothered me in The Last Stand.

X-Men: The Animated Series also featured the mutant cure and Rogue’s temptation to take it, and in some ways, I think they handled it better. Both her taking the cure and not taking it would have been valid choices. But they should have been made for her. Logan said that she should make sure it was what she wanted and not something she was doing for some boy, but through some combination of the script and directorial choices, it came across to me as something she was doing because of Bobby. Because she was jealous of him spending time with Kitty and that Kitty could touch him.

Rogue’s issues with her powers aren’t just about some boy. They’re about fear. They’re about a girl that wants to live an ordinary life and wants to be able to get close to people. Rogue gets the same fear and ostracization that all mutants do, but unlike many of them, she doesn’t even get a cool power that she wants to use with it. She can take anyone’s power she likes, but she doesn’t want that, because she doesn’t want to hurt people. She’s isolated. That’s certainly tied to her inability to touch people, but it’s not just about that – it’s that she’s constantly alert and afraid and having to be careful to not accidentally come in contact with someone’s skin. That would have been a cool way to justify her wanting to get rid of her powers – she wants to be able to relax, to not be afraid, to not be hated or to hate herself. It’s tied into wanting to touch people, but it’s not just for the sake of touching them.

In X2, we got a glimpse of Rogue starting to be able to control her powers – she kissed Bobby and got some of his powers without hurting him. She grabbed John to control the fires he’d set, and there seemed to be no negative side effects. Had they continued to pursue that, we could have seen her struggling to control her powers but refusing to get rid of them because they’re a part of who she is now.

5. Kitty

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Kitty is an odd case, because in the comics, she’s somewhat of a creator’s pet. Her presence in the comics increased ridiculously because of how writers that grew up on comics loved her. That’s totally fine – it’s always good to see a wider range of characters – but it would have been nice for that to translate to the movies as well.

Three different actresses played her. Ellen Page eventually stuck around to be more than a cameo, but the repeated recasting suggests that they didn’t care about her being there and just wanted some recognizable students to fill out the school. Kitty was certainly that.

As much as I love Days of Future Past, I had a major issue with how it handled Kitty. I didn’t mind that DoFP revolved around Xavier. I thought it was extremely well done, and that McAvoy pulled off a fantastic performance. But Logan’s role? As the heart, as the one motivating Xavier to be better? That should have been Kitty.

They simplified the story a great deal from what it was in the comics, but doing that resulted in it not exactly making sense. Kitty, the girl who walks through walls, got some completely different power out of nowhere that had nothing to do with her actual power set so that Rachel Summers could be cut out of the story. I get that Rachel’s backstory needed to be cut, because Jean and Scott both died in The Last Stand and seeing as they didn’t have kids, it would have taken more time than they had to explain who she was, but the obvious solution would be to either use a new character with similar powers or to just not go into her backstory at all. Giving that part in the story to Kitty didn’t make any sense, especially when her role in the comics version was what they gave Logan.

Was it really necessary for Logan to be the hero again? I think DoFP would have been much more interesting with Kitty in her comics role. She’s a genius and can phase through solid objects – she’d probably be more useful than Logan, and she cares about Xavier, the school, and mutantkind just as much as he does. The ending, at the school, where Logan sees Scott and Jean back from the dead was a great ending. I loved it. But it’s one that I’d have found that much more emotional from the eyes of one of their students.


There are certainly other characters that got shafted – Warren and Jubilee come to mind, as does Piotr – I can’t even remember if Piotr got a line at all. Really, most characters that weren’t Logan, Raven, Charles, and Erik got kind of sidelined. That’s not necessarily bad – several of the movies were excellent anyway. But I think developing the other characters would have made the stories much richer. They had so much potential and were played by great actors, but instead, got used as props rather than driving the story themselves.

Scott Summers: Best Character Marvel Has Ever Produced

When it comes to superheroes, I’m mainly a DC fan. That being said, I love the X-Men. And I love their leader, Cyclops, the most. Which is what makes it so frustrating that he’s made the designated villain again and again, when he just does what’s right, what’s necessary to ensure the survival of mutantkind.

People claim he became a criminal, a terrorist, an extremist, a general, but he’s not any of those things. In most of the ways that matter, he continued to follow Xavier’s dream more than anyone else. Protect those that hate and fear them. It’s an iconic line about what it means to be an X-Man. And Scott does just that. He trains his students to use their powers and to fight, because that’s what they need to do to survive – it’s what the X-Men have always been about. That doesn’t mean he’s leading an army. It just means he’s not going to sit back and let people kill them.

The most ridiculous thing to me was Death of X. Marvel spent a year leading up to it, a year of trying to make people wonder, what did he do?! And what did he do, to merit being called a criminal and a mass murderer and equated to Hitler? To supposedly be the reason that no one trusted the X-Men or wanted their help anymore?

He…stopped the Terrigen cloud from being dangerous to mutants. Wait, what? That’s it? Yeah. And the Inhumans killed him for that. And then none of that even happened because it turned out Emma did all of that, but the world thinks Scott did.

So let’s say he did. He stopped his people from being gassed to death. What the hell, Marvel. He did that, and you’re calling him Hitler? Yeah, that’s literally the opposite. It’s especially bad because they acknowledge it – they have Magneto, a Jewish character, say that his people will not be gassed to death.

I love the X-Men with all my heart, but they’ve always been a somewhat problematic, flawed allegory for prejudice. And that’s partially because for most of their history, even as some of the non-Xavier aligned characters were portrayed in a somewhat sympathetic light, it was Xavier that was always depicted as the ultimate good guy, despite the fact that his message was in a lot of ways a, “don’t rock the boat, be patient, be nice to your oppressors, not all humans” thing. And that was kind of okay before Scott started stepping up to lead mutantkind, because the opposing view was Magneto, who went beyond fighting to protect mutants and into the land of mass murder of everyone that opposed him. But that’s not what Scott did, and he was treated as a supervillain.

The second Scott started actually making steps to achieving Xavier’s dream, beyond just words, by fighting for what was right, by fighting back instead of trying to demonstrate that mutants aren’t dangerous by letting humans hurt and kill them, people accused him of being a villain and straying from Xavier’s dream

The Avengers have a history of treating the X-Men and mutants in general terribly. They never help the mutants when they need help; they never take responsibility for their own actions while at the same time insisting that Scott needs to be brought to justice; they create most of their problems themselves while the X-Men have to clean up after everyone, not just themselves. One of my favourite panels was when Scott told Captain America to go to hell. It was ridiculously satisfying to see that hypocrisy finally called out.

I hate it when fans call Scott boring, because I don’t see that at all. He’s deeply disciplined. He’s responsible and principled. He’s filled with self doubt, and as Emma said, he hates himself so much he doesn’t understand why anyone else wouldn’t. He’s far from perfect – he can be ruthless and manipulative, but he’s also a decent guy that’s trying really hard to do the right thing when there are no right options. He’s a more nuanced character than anyone else in the Marvel universe.

I like Wolverine, but when it comes down to it, Wolverine is not now nor will he ever be the X-Men. That’s Scott. He’s their face and their spirit and he has fought for them for so long. It’s time he got some more credit for that.