Since its inception in 1963, the much-loved X-Men franchise has kept us all looking toward the next installment. Whether it came in the form of comic book, movie, or game, the action-packed cast of characters and villains alike have warmed our hearts, incited feelings of vengeance, and toyed with themes of racism and identity crisis. As a tribute to the opening of the newest film, X-Men: Days of Future Past, I propose a toast to the most well-known and loved pieces of X-Men memorabilia across medium.
Beginning as a comic in 1963 to compete with and hopefully earn the same fan base following of other comic book classics of the day including Amazing Fantasy, The Hulk, and Thor, creator Stan Lee took a stab at the superhero with a band of mutants, who, being so misunderstood, were afraid of what they could actually achieve. Enter Professor Xavier and his Westchester Mansion, who united the myriad mutants and gave them a home, a purpose, and an education.
Tackling themes of racism and, as some have reported, allegorically, LGBT struggles with identity and acceptance, the comic book series has brought out and posed serious questions to its audience since the Civil Rights Movement in the ’60s, and even in the 2010s we see hard questions asked and explored visually, mirroring some of the most prevalent movements of our time. Obviously, the intelligent X-Men franchise has arrived at “classic” status for more than cool points.
The strong and moving X-Men franchise saw video game releases as early as 1989, a bit after the industry recovered from the crash in ’83-’84. With the industry only just on the rise and in a different bit era, bringing games over to the video game medium was undoubtedly a financial risk. Still, developer Nintendo, whose quality standards are credited as the remedy to the industry’s crash, chose to take that risk, and put out the first X-Men title, “The Uncanny X-Men.”
However, as well all well know, the series has garnered immense player attention and following, exposing the X-Men to new move sets and relationships with one another and with their inherent enemies. The games that followed have been featured on a variety of platforms, including PC, Commodore 64, Arcade Cabinet, PS3, Xbox 360, iOS, Android, Mega Drive, NES, SNES, and Sega Game Gear. Genre has been a mixup for the games as well, from side-scroller to one of Betfair’s slots, where the narrative reaches a brand-new dimension being part of a real-money gaming experience. With each iteration we see a new face for the team and new obstacles to overcome that more often than not do in fact reflect those difficult, deep questions for which the franchise has come to be loved and respected.
The X-Men franchise’s movie list is absolutely impressive and has always included a star-studded cast. Since X-Men was first released in 2000, there have been exactly six other feature films produced that carry the X moniker in some fashion. This, of course, includes the newest X-Men: Days of Future Past title, and brings the total feature count to 7. This, of course does not reflect the films dedicated to Wolverine or other specific characters, and also does not include any animated portrayals, of which there are many.
Thus, with an expansive pool of lore and history, X-Men as a franchise has pushed its IP out into the stars, literally. If you haven’t had a chance to catch the newest flick, be sure to pay homage to the clan that started it all and find out how they overcome their newest time-related challenge!
Doug Reynolds is a freelance writer whose current obsessions include the X-Men, Deadpool, and cats named Lloyd.