Since stumbling upon it in 5th grade channel surfing one Sunday morning, I became an avid regular watcher of the cartoon as a kid.
Just as Robert Altman films and ensemble shows optimize your attention span by dividing it among multiple storylines, I liked how the X-Men delved into relatively interesting characters and then threw different side and recurring characters into the mix as the universe expanded. We’re usually slow to recognize just how drawn in we are to action scenes and the X-Men had action scenes that involved the laws of science (and puns!). The way each person had different powers and they would neutralize each other in different ways made it more like high-charged chess.
You know that gush of anticipation that every fanboy (or fangirl) feels when something they’ve embraced only in the often-lonely medium of comics becomes translated to the screen when all those comic books were turned into event films? I only felt that once with X-Men and I wasn’t disappointed (with the exception that many of the characters from the cartoon weren’t in the film) because the action scenes and production values were great. But most importantly, the film had such pitch-perfect casting. Halle Berry’s only memorably piece of work outside of Monster’s Ball to justify her Oscar was in the X-Men trilogy, a role which got better and more weighty with each picture. Hugh Jackman has made himself a star worthy of working with the industry’s best directors out of Wolverine and deservedly so. Anna Paquin (also an Oscar winner) was our audience surrogate as Rogue.
The downside of seeing these cartoons fully realized on a live movie screen in such a satisfying way is that in retrospect the cartoon looks ridiculous. Of course, our standards of quality tend to change massively with age to the point where things we liked as kids don’t hold up as adults. This is no exception.
Just watch the first minute and a half of this clip and cringe with me at its ridiculousness:
The action is accompanied by bad puns at a rate of something like 3.5 per minute. It’s as if there’s a rulebook in the X-Men…