In the comics and television show, Rogue is an incredibly complex character. There are plenty of versions of the popular mutant in the media landscape. More so, Rogue is connected to Mystique, who adopted and took care of the young girl, and she became a villainous force in the Brotherhood of Mutants. However, the live-action feature never really explored that route with the character. When we first meet Rogue in the first film back in 2000, she’s more so a scared girl with mutant powers. Rogue isn’t the super being that’s she’s mostly in the comics, so she doesn’t have flight or super-strength, but she’s given a nice spotlight throughout the first feature. Given the capabilities of Rogue’s powers and the history of the character, there are plenty of avenues that the filmmakers could’ve taken in terms of Rogue’s character, but she’s mainly sidelined once the original X-Men film is said and done.
In the sequel, X2: X-Men United, the focus was more so on her relationship with Iceman, not her overall powers. Rogue still has issues with her abilities, but it’s not a major plot point that’s focused on. The same thing can be said to her character in The Last Stand, where she was battling the decision to get a mutant cure, which ends with her relinquishing her powers by the very end. The next time Rogue would make her appearance in the world of X-Men is in the Rogue Cut of Days of Future Past, but she’s not given much to do. The backstory of Rogue is actually interesting. The X-Men are forced to break her out of prison to absorb Kitty’s abilities, but she’s never a focal point as Rogue is basically a cameo. Let’s fast rewind back to X-Men: The Last Stand; Here’s the thing, the idea of Rogue wanting to get rid of her powers is actually a pretty good story that could’ve had its own feature. The problem is the reasoning behind Rogue’s actions. The live-action films make the mistake of giving Rogue a silly love triangle plot in X2.
It’s in the vein of most dystopian young adult films where the female protagonist is caught in some unnecessary love triangle. Instead of going into the psyche of Rogue and taking interesting directions with her character, the live-action character was focused was subdued because the films were mainly the Magneto, Charles Xavier, and Wolverine show. I do understand that not every character is going to get their moment in the spotlight because there’s only so much you can do within a two-hour time span. However, the main reason that Rogue’s arc in The Last Stand doesn’t work because mainly stuck on neutral. We get that she doesn’t exactly like her powers and longs for her intimate and personal connection, but why not give Rogue something meaty than a silly love story? Why not explore the opinion of her power getting out of control beyond her capabilities? Yes, I know this was a focal point in the first film, but Rogue wasn’t a true villain in the movie. Perhaps her powers have grown to the point where she starts to genuinely like her abilities and gets a sick thrill out of sucking the energy out of people? Or she’s forced to absorb one of the villains and her mind is corrupted by the power, thus making her the main antagonist who needs to be stop?
Or a strong and more in-depth story about her surrogate mother Mystique and their dynamic? The purpose of me listing these ideas isn’t to say that they’re better than what the live-action films gave us, but the abundance of options that would’ve allowed us to really take advantage of the complex nature of her character. Rogue is arguably the most powerful mutant in X-Men. It’s a shame that the avenue that the films took didn’t dive into the roots of who she truly is in the world of X-Men. That emotional beat of Rogue finally being able to touch her boyfriend just didn’t have that strong connection it should have because Rogue’s character hasn’t been from hell and back. Her journey feels like a set of cliff notes that has a beginning, middle, and end, but it forgets the genuine meat of a story which is great characterization. Rogue is actually given a better treatment than most in the live-action films, but the filmmakers never took the time to play with this unique mutant following X-Men. The live-action films are disappointing for plenty of reasons, and one of the biggest is letting a strong character like Rogue slip through their fingers.