We’ve talked about Spiderman 3 and how much of a mess that film was; however, it’s time to discuss the film’s hated counterpart: X-Men: The Last Stand. This time, Brett Ratner jumped on board the third film and the latest X-Men property tried to tackle the Dark Phoenix saga. However, that wasn’t the only plotline at play as the mutants had a storyline featuring a cure for their powers. So how can this film be fun and disappointing at the same time? The Last Stand is the perfect popcorn movie. The plot is solid, the one-liners are more hit than miss, and the action is pretty cool. However, the disappointment continues from the wonky storytelling, the abundance of unnecessary mutant characters, the failure to tell the Dark Phoenix story correctly, and some corny and often cringe-worthy dialogue. The Juggernaut is completely wasted here. In the comics and cartoons, the X-Men villain was always treated as a nearly unstoppable monster.
In fact, the Juggernaut could’ve easily been the sole villain of the third film. Instead, the Juggernaut is more of an afterthought who acts like a musclebound meathead. He wasn’t taken down by one of the main X-Men. The Juggernaut was beaten by running into a wall. I know people despise the way that The Dark Phoenix saga was treated; however, The Juggernaut was given the worst treatment here. It’s okay that he isn’t the unstoppable monster that he was in the comic book but turning him into a buffoon was completely disheartening. Speaking of which, there are simply many villains in this movie. None of the new mutants are truly given a chance to shine because the film doesn’t have time to slow down and dive deeper into everyone introduced in X3. Angel is pointless. Sure, he kicks off one of the main narratives of the film; however, he’s a prominent character in the world of X-Men, yet he doesn’t do anything important in X3, which makes his addition to the film worthless.
Rogue’s story was also a huge disappointment. Following her introduction is the first installment, the character has been flattened out in the sequels. It’s understandable that these films can’t focus on every single mutant. This was the Magneto/Wolverine/Jean Grey show; however, her easily deciding to get the cure effectively killed the true potential of her character. Her reasoning makes sense, but the X-Men films failed to truly dive deep into her psyche following the 2000 film. Of course, that statement could be said about the other core X-Men characters, though the most baffling and underwritten X-Men is Scott Summers aka Cyclops. In the live-action series, Summers has felt like nothing more than Jean Grey’s loverboy; however, the quick murder off-screen of the X-Men character ended a very disappointing arc for Summers. I do understand that James Marsden was killed off quickly because of his commitment to Superman Returns but that doesn’t explain how lackluster (and that’s putting it nicely) his character has been since the beginning. Scott Summers is the leader of the X-Men and again, I understand that changes can be made, but the fact that he essentially does nothing of note throughout the entire franchise means that Cyclops should’ve just been kept out of the X-Men live-action films altogether.
Now, the Phoenix story. First, Jean Grey’s Dark Pheonix should’ve been the focal point of the movie. The cure saga should’ve never existed. When Phoenix does get a considerable amount of time, it’s mainly to serve the necessary beats of the plot to prove that she’s a villain. We don’t truly examine the overall character because the film has too many directions to focus on. There’s a rich story with The Dark Phoenix and Famke Janssen does what she can with the character, but the narrative of trying to make her the bad guy so quickly falls flat. She kills both Cyclops and Charles Xavier, two major characters in the X-Men universe, and yet their deaths felt hollow and desperate because of the lack of focus on her A-story. Still, I didn’t hate X-Men: The Last Stand once the credits rolled. It’s frustrating that such compelling material feels like nothing more than a mindless popcorn affair, but it’s wildly entertaining nevertheless.
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