Angel is a founding X-Man, and one of the most complex. He’s had a stunning amount of tragic character arcs compared to the other founders, perhaps even more than Cyclops and Jean Grey. Remember all of his mental anguish when his wings were ripped off and he was brainwashed into being Apocalypse’s Horseman? That’s a lot to go through. So what does Brett Ratner do with him?
Well, he flies out of a window at one point. Does he fight in the final battle? Does he fight at all? Does he have lines other than “dad I don’t want to give up my powers?” Angel doesn’t do anything in X3. He doesn’t even get to toss around money like he does in the comics. There’s no cool plot twist where the mutant cure accelerates his evolution and makes him into Archangel or something. He shows up, does a fly by, and… Well, he’s a character introduced in X3. What did you expect?
Did you expect a giant, obvious homosexual metaphor? We get it; the X-Men franchise has always been an allegory for prejudice, but that’s more of a subliminal message that holds the series together. It should never be so in-your-face or take up so much screentime, especially when it also means wasting a perfectly good founding X-Man. There is literally an entire subplot about “curing” mutants and mutant-shaming. Did we need a figurehead to that story other than, say, Rogue? As stated before, she really had nothing to do in X3. Combine her character’s story with Angel’s!
Also, I was discussing this article with a friend, and he brought it to my attention that Angel’s actor was cast because one of the executive’s daughters thought he was cute. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it would explain a lot.
It’s Storm! The sometimes-leader of the X-Men! Except in the movies! Wolverine is the leader in those! Because he’s popular! It’s not like Storm has any fans or tons of character development to work with. It’s not like she’s Marvel’s premiere African American female superhero. It’s not like Halle Berry is an Academy Award winning actress. Just stick her in the background! She can make weather-related puns!
Storm might be the most disappointing aspect of any of these movies. It seemed like after the first one Halle Berry just stopped trying. Her African accent disappeared along with her relevance in X2. After having to deliver the line “what happens when a toad gets struck by lightning,” she probably decided she should just collect the paycheck and go.
It’s a shame; Storm had the potential to be one of the coolest parts of the franchise, but she ended up being “just another mutant.” After Cyclops died, she should have taken over the team instead of Wolverine, who is better off being portrayed as a loner who is still learning to work with a team. Even after X2 he still wasn’t too comfortable working with the X-Men, and Storm had been second-in-command since the beginning. What happened? You don’t have to make Wolverine the leader just because he’s at the center of every movie poster.
Cyclops sucks. About one in every ten people like Cyclops and about one in every ten people actually enjoyed Grown Ups 2. Is there a correlation there? Maybe. Yes. I don’t know. Grown Ups 2 is awful and so is Cyclops.
My first exposure to the character wasn’t in the animated series or the 90s comics; the first time I read about Cyclops was actually in Stan Lee’s original run of X-Men. Very early in the series, the X-Men “graduate” and become full-fledged mutants. Or something. What exactly goes on your degree when you graduate from the Xavier School For Gifted Youngsters? Is it even an accredited college?
After the ceremony concluded, the X-Men decided to have a party on the campus green with music, dancing and, I dunno, roller skating or whatever teenagers in the 60s did. Cyclops, however, declared that he now had too many responsibilities to have fun, and went up to Professor X’s new office, where he… sat. All day. In the dark. Waiting for a big console with super villains’ names on it to light up and indicate trouble.
Cyclops is just a big, wet towel. He hates fun, and he doesn’t want you to have any. Somehow he gets to date both Jean Grey and Emma Frost, and now he’s the super villain that murdered Professor X. He’s a huge dick at best and the most boring character in Marvel at the most.
And the movies got him completely right! But they somehow made him even more boring, so even those one-in-ten Cyclops fans weren’t happy. His stoic determination and devotion to being the leader of the X-Men isn’t explained, nor is it really apparent, so he’s just kind of… there. Leading the X-Men. For some reason. Then James Marsden left to be in Superman Returns so Cyclops exploded in the beginning of X3.
But he came back in Origins, throwing off the timeline and continuity, so there’s one more thing that Cyclops screwed up. He didn’t even have a major part; Cyclops was kidnapped right after being introduced, and then he had a minor role leading the X-Men out of the facility. Also, Deadpool got his eye beams. Is that why they included him? So there could be more eye beams? That’s… not the worst reason, actually.
Speaking of Deadpool, he’s number two on this list! The subject of Deadpool’s cinematic neutering has been beaten so much that not even a healing factor can make it relevant again. They got him wrong, plain and simple, and it was so wrong that the Deadpool movie every 13-year-old wants has been postponed indefinitely.
Remember when Rob Liefeld tweeted that the movie was still happening a few years ago? Remember how it didn’t happen? Remember Origins Deadpool not having a mouth even though he’s the Merc with a Mouth? Remember how he had eye beams? Remember how the “X” in “Weapon X” actually meant “10,” and Deadpool was “Weapon XI?” Remember the after-credits stinger where Deadpool broke the fourth wall? Remember how in the scrapped Deadpool script they had several scenes where Deadpool made fun of Origins? Remember how Fox announced an X-Force movie that could have had Deadpool in it and then dropped the subject?
Remember all of that? Do you remember? Are you crying yet? I don’t even like Deadpool much and I’m tearing up. Deadpool is a ridiculously lucrative franchise, and he’s probably at the peak of his popularity right now. Yet Fox somehow doesn’t have a Deadpool movie as their number one priority. Put him in Days of Future Past or something! On that team with Blink and Warhawk! Just a cameo! He doesn’t age! He could be in the future segments fighting the Sentinels! Just a cameo! Just a cameo! Do you want money, Fox? Do you? How are you wasting your third biggest Marvel property?
Black eyes! Bulging veins! Red trenchoat! She’s evil, you see. Evil! Can you tell? She destroys planets! Wait, planet-eaters don’t wear red trencoats?
Famke Janssen did a great job with Jean Grey in the first two movies, and aside from Hugh Jackman and Ian Mckellen, might actually be one of the best-cast actors in the series. Then X3 happened, and everything went down the drain. While Famke Janssen should save Jean from being number one, being the figurehead of everything wrong with X3 bumps her up to the top spot.
The idea that Phoenix was some kind of untapped, crazy split-personality that was sealed inside Jean wasn’t bad, but after it was unleashed, there was no awe-inspiring terror. Phoenix didn’t eat planets, she didn’t cleanse the earth with her flame.
There was no trademark Phoenix symbol. No undertones about a woman’s unleashed sexuality (which was a huge aspect of what Chris Claremont was going for in the original Dark Phoenix saga). No cool fire powers. No threats to the galaxy. No feelings of despair. She kills Professor X and Cyclops, the audience gasps, and then she does nothing. She doesn’t use these world-breaking powers to destroy “the Cure” in an instant. Wolverine just stabs her. “JEEEEEAN!”
The Dark Phoenix Saga should have been its own movie. X3 was such a mess, and of all the humongous wastes of character, Phoenix was the most egregious. Deadpool can always be salvaged due to the nature of his character, but Phoenix has now been written as a personality-less void with a bad fashion sense. Other than Apocalypse, Dark Pheonix was the greatest foe that the X-Men had ever faced, and we’ll most likely never see her truly realized on the big screen.
Honorable Mention: Quicksilver