X-Men: 10 Ways The Comics Suffered During The Early Fox Movie Years – CBR – Comic Book Resources

Marvel was trying to put out a comic product that could appeal to movie fans as well and in some ways, the X-Men comics suffered greatly.
The X-Men are one of Marvel’s most important teams and for a long period of time were the industry sales leader. For years, fans speculated on what an X-Men movie would look like and then finally got to see that when X-Men debuted in theaters in 2000. The resulting Fox X-Men movies would vary in quality and one of those reasons was that there were some fundamental differences between them and the comics.
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The early years of the Fox movies saw the X-Men in flux in ways they hadn’t been in years, with Marvel trying to put out a comic product that could appeal to movie fans as well and in some ways, the X-Men comics suffered greatly.
Grant Morrison’s New X-Men is one of the most revolutionary takes on the X-Men of all time. Morrison’s approach was to present mutantkind as a new culture, playing up a lot of the body horror and outsider aspects of the property, while also injecting their own madcap imagination into the proceedings. Their book was the undisputed sales king at Marvel but Marvel’s higher-ups weren’t happy with it.
Beyond the black leather costumes, there was nothing for crossover fans to relate to beyond the school aspects that Morrison had played up with the book. They ended up cutting their run short due to Marvel editorial interference, leaving the company to go back to DC.
Wolverine has long been one of the most popular X-Men and most important to the team. He was also the most important character in the Fox movies and so Marvel, who never had a problem putting Wolverine in everything, pushed him hard. After Morrison took over X-Men and it was re-christened New X-Men and Joe Casey was put in charge of Uncanny X-Men, he was put in both books.
Later, after Morrison left and Joss Whedon and John Cassaday’s Astonishing X-Men was started, he was put in all three X-Men books and New Avengers. Wolverine was everywhere, which was good for his fans and not so good for anyone else.
The Fox movies never went with traditional X-Men costumes. At the time the prevailing attitude among film execs was that audiences wouldn’t like bright-colored costumes, even putting a joke in the first X-Men about it. Marvel, never one to miss a chance to capitalize on outside success, decided to do away with the traditional X-Men costumes and go with a look more akin to the movies.
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While Morrison made it make sense in the context of the comic, a lot of fans weren’t happy at all about the X-Men losing their traditional looks. After Morrison’s departure, costumes came back.
Marvel’s first movie, Iron Man, didn’t premiere until 2008 but these sorts of things take time to coalesce and Marvel had been planning to get into the movie business for years before that. Their biggest properties, the X-Men and Spider-Man, had been farmed out to stave off bankruptcy in the ’90s, so they planned on using what they had. That meant pushing the Avengers.
House Of M was Marvel’s way of starting to marginalize the X-Men. By drastically reducing the number of mutants and pushing them into their own corner of the Marvel Universe, they could keep them out of the spotlight as much as possible and build up the characters whose movies they would be in charge of.
The Fox movies all pretty much had the same villain for a long time and that was either Magneto or racist humans. While this made sense in a lot of ways, it also had a weird effect on the comics as for the first half of the 2000s, classic X-Men villains beyond Magneto disappeared. For Morrison’s New X-Men it made sense but for the other books, it was kind of mystifying.
Magneto would make an appearance, of course, and there were more racist humans than one could shake a stick at. While the stories were often good, losing villains like Mister Sinister, Apocalypse, and so many others for so long was a blow to the franchise.
After Morrison left, New X-Men would revert back to X-Men but another New X-Men book would rise in its place. This one was more akin to New Mutants or Generation X, highlighting a new generation of mutants. After House Of M, Marvel needed to drastically cut down on mutants, so they killed a lot of these young mutants.
At the time, it felt gratuitous and for shock value. Looking back and seeing how Marvel would treat mutants in the future, and taking into account leaks from inside the company, it was done to spite Fox, cutting down on characters they could use in the movies and limiting the crossover appeal of the X-Men.
Morrison’s New X-Men was truly something new, taking the trappings of the old and reforging them into revolution. Whedon’s and Cassaday’s Astonishing X-Men had its strengths but after Morrison’s more dynamic take, it felt like a step into the past. It wore its early Claremont influences on its sleeve and while it felt like the X-Men, it didn’t have the oomph that Morrison brought to the X-Men.
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The whole thing felt motivated by a spiteful Marvel editorial trying to wipe away all of Morrison’s work on the property. Astonishing X-Men wasn’t bad but it was just more of the same for the X-Men, a safe choice during what could have been a great growth period for the team.
The first ten years of the Fox X-Men saw a lot of changes to the X-Men line and in the back half of those ten years, the real detrimental changes began. House Of M laid waste to Morrison’s mutant boom and cultural ideas and the death of the New X-Men destroyed the next generation of mutants. Marvel transformed the X-Mansion into a mutant reservation and then destroyed it.
From there, they’d move to the West Coast and eventually be put off on an island consisting of Asteroid M and Alcatraz. It was a telling statement on the property, imprisoning them outside of the center of the Marvel Universe, New York.
Chuck Austen’s Uncanny X-Men and X-Men are widely considered the worst X-Men books. Austen became a big deal in the early 2000s as an artist and was given the reins of Uncanny X-Men. While his run had a few okay moments, for the most part, it was oversexualized and schlocky. The dichotomy of Morrison killing it and Austen’s work made for a strange time.
Because it was Uncanny X-Men, the book sold and once Morrison left, Austen moved over to X-Men. Eventually, Marvel would listen to readers and critics and get rid of him but not before he had created some of the most hated X-Men stories of all time.
Chris Claremont is responsible for the X-Men becoming a force in the comic industry. His seventeen-year run is the longest a Marvel writer was ever on a book and made him a legend. When it was announced he would be coming back to the book in the year 2000, fans got excited. Claremont introduced a new mutant sect, the Neo, and brought a lot of change to the team.
Claremont’s second run was full of big ideas but didn’t fit the corporate synergy that Marvel wanted with the movies, as it eschewed all of the things the movies were going for. The whole thing was cut tragically short and while it allowed Morrison to start New X-Men, it’s a shame Claremont never got to finish his story before being shunted off to X-Treme X-Men.
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David Harth has been reading comics for close to 30 years. He writes for several websites, makes killer pizza, goes to Disney World more than his budget allows, and has the cutest daughter in the world. He can prove it. Follow him on Twitter- https://www.twitter.com/harth_david.

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