Three Things About ‘X-Men 3’ That Didn't Suck (Thank God This List Doesn't Go to Four)

To gear up for Hugh Jackman’s return as Wolverine, it’s time to revisit the Fox X-Men movies — yes, that includes ‘X-Men: The Last Stand.’
Three Things About ‘X-Men 3’ That Didn't Suck (Thank God This List Doesn't Go to Four)

He’s back. Despite telling us dozens of times that Logan would be his last time as Wolverine, Hugh Jackman announced that he’s putting the claws back on (and his abs back out, presumably) for Deadpool 3

Honestly, at first, I was a little bit skeptical about the news. I love Logan — I thought it was such a perfect, poetic ending that I didn’t ever want to see Jackman cheapen it with another outing. But then I watched the announcement video on Ryan Reynolds’ Twitter page, and I couldn’t help but get giddy with excitement. 

We’ve still got nearly two years until the movie is released in September of 2024, but the announcement alone is enough of a reason to revisit Hugh Jackman’s previous X-Men movies. 

Or, at least, most of them. 

While X-Men Origins: Wolverine is an unwatchable trainwreck and Jackman’s cameo in X-Men: Apocalypse isn’t nearly enough to redeem that shitty movie, I’d argue that Jackman’s other maligned X-Men movie, X-Men: The Last Stand, has just enough going for it to stomach a rewatch. 

Don’t get me wrong, the movie is bad. With a 104-minute runtime, it totally rushes what should have been the epic conclusion to a successful trilogy. It completely botches the Dark Phoenix story. It’s stuffed with characters that don’t get enough screen time. Professor X and Cyclops die for absolutely no good reason. But, it does have three really, really good things going for it that hopefully can carry you through the entire film. 

Everything with Magneto is Fantastic (Especially the Golden Gate Bridge Scene)

Ian McKellen was always a perfect choice to play Magneto. He brought to the role a resonance that not only made him the perfect complement to Patrick Stewart’s Professor X, but McKellen made you understand why half of mutant-kind would want to follow this guy. He made sense and was well-rounded in a way that many villains still aren’t in superhero films. 

In X-Men: The Last Stand, a mutant “cure” has been developed that causes mutants to lose their powers. While the cure is announced as voluntary, Magneto accurately predicts it’ll be used against mutants by force, robbing them of their identity. When this happens, it becomes a rallying cry for Magneto, who builds a mutant army to follow his lead.

In the first X-Men film, Magneto’s Brotherhood of Mutants is simply a rag-tag group of three bad guys and in X2, he mostly joins up with the X-Men. But in the third film, we finally see Magneto lead a movement, and it builds to something truly epic.

Just before the final fight with the X-Men — which is okay — Magneto uses his powers to relocate the Golden Gate Bridge so that he and his mutants can get to Alcatraz, where the cure is being held. Back in 2006, this was one of the most epic scenes in the history of film and even today it holds up really well (so much so that 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past duplicated the scene pretty much verbatim when Magneto lifted RFK Stadium).

Then there’s the final scene of the film. After the X-Men use the cure against Magneto, we see him as a withered old man sitting in a park, staring at a chess set. The scene is a callback to the first film’s ending, where Professor X and Magneto calmly play chess in Magneto’s plastic prison. In X-Men: The Last Stand, Magneto has been robbed of his powers and is an all new kind of prison: the body of a regular human being.

But, in the last second of the film, we see Magneto move one of the chess pieces a tiny bit. The movement was so miniscule that, at the time, it made nerds like me debate whether or not it actually moved at all. Of course, it did move and it hinted that Magneto’s powers wouldn’t be gone forever and that there was still some cool shit to come for Magneto in future X-Men films.

Wolverine Killing Jean Grey is Emotional as Hell

In the X-Men comic books, the Phoenix Saga is one of the most important stories in the history of the series. There’s a lot that happens, but basically, Jean Grey gets possessed by a giant evil firebird from space. In the third X-Men film, this was adapted into what is basically a multiple personality storyline where Jean Grey goes crazy because Professor X once put a mental block on her to help suppress her powers, then she went nuts when that block was broken.

Now, among my fellow X-Men nerds, I'm in the minority on this, but I actually prefer the multiple personality idea over the silly space firebird thing, particularly when it comes to the Fox X-Men films where space travel doesn’t really fit into the type of stories they were telling. However, just because I think the multiple personality thing was a good idea, doesn't mean it was well-executed. Any way you slice it, the Dark Phoenix saga was short changed as a mere B-plotline in a movie that is really about the mutant cure.

That all being said, Jean Grey does have a pretty awesome, epic, emotional death at the end of the film, which almost redeems how underwhelming her Phoenix story is. 

At the end of X-Men: The Last Stand, Jean Grey’s Phoenix powers are in full force and she is killing people left and right. She pretty much dusts them like Thanos did in Avengers: Infinity War, but she doesn’t need any Infinity Stones to do it. 

Because of his healing factor, Wolverine is the only one who can get close to Jean Grey because he’s healing as fast as she’s tearing him apart. When he finally gets to her, we see a glimmer of the old Jean, who begs Logan to “Save me.” He then says “I love you” before stabbing her with his claws. 

Whereas every other death in the movie is rushed, Jean Grey’s feels tragic and appropriate for both her and Wolverine. It would get retconned later, of course, just like so much else in the Fox X-Men films, but this moment is the most well-earned death in the whole franchise and definitely should have stuck.

Sorry Nicholas Hoult, But Kelsey Grammer is the Perfect Beast

Ever since I was a kid growing up watching the 1990s X-Men animated series, Beast has been my favorite X-Man. I’m also a huge fan of Frasier, and I’d argue that choosing Kelsey Grammer as Beast is one of the most dead-on perfect casting choices in the history of superhero films. 

Not only was Kelsey Grammer big enough to look the part of Beast, but by casting a guy who was immediately associated with being an intellectual, the audience understood who Beast was in an instant. This was especially important for Beast since he was one of the most short changed characters in the original X-Men trilogy.

Beast was supposed to be in the very first X-Men film and, being that he was one of the founding members from the comics, he would have fit in nicely. Unfortunately, budgetary constraints at the time caused him to be cut from the film and, even though he should have been there from the start, he didn’t appear until the third film. 

When he’s introduced, they establish that Beast had been part of the X-Men’s founding, but left prior to the events of the first film. Since then, he became the first mutant to serve in a President’s cabinet as the Secretary of Mutant affairs. All of this was well within Beast’s character and, for me, it was like seeing Beast from that 1990s cartoon directly translated into live action. And, since he’s got Kelsey Grammer’s golden voice, he could recite Shakespeare while the X-Men are heading into battle and not make it sound goofy as hell.

We didn’t get nearly enough of Beast in this movie, and he only appeared once more, for a few seconds at the end of X-Men: Days of Future Past, but he was the perfect representation of a very important X-Men character. While I find it unlikely that the MCU will find room to stuff Grammer’s Beast into Deadpool 3, Marvel has swung that multiverse door wide open and I am holding out hope that, one day, we’ll see Kelsey Grammer’s Beast again. Let’s just hope he’s not too busy with this new Frasier reboot. 

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