So a few years ago, they made an X-Men movie. Despite having played an X-Men video game for the NES in the 80s, I really knew nothing about them except that Nightcrawler was fun to play in that game and Wolverine was supposed to be pretty cool. Comics and me have never really gotten along to the extent that I would expect them to, considering how much I enjoy the movies and games and other trappings of the comic book industry, not to mention how much I enjoy, y’know, books and television. So, there I am, with no expectations. And the movie met or exceeded them. It was fine for what it was, but nothing crazy exciting or groundbreaking. Then they made another one, and man, it was really good. Meaningful character interactions, tough choices with tough consequences, that storytelling meme where the guy that you used to dislike turns out to be really stand-up and helpful when compared against the new opponent that hates all of the characters equally, so the established people have to put aside their petty squabbles and face the new thing together. That’s an idea that has rarely failed to wow me.
And now, the trilogy has been completed. X3 is kind of a weird movie to me. I mean, not the plot. The plot was fine, with its paired external struggles of mutants against government and mutants against mutants and internal struggles between certain sets of key characters, its allegorical hearkening back to the original film, and its pyrotechnics and combat by virtue of leaping through a lot of air at your opponents. So, that was all fine. (Okay, I’m lying about the leaping through the air thing. It didn’t take very many such leaps to start looking really dumb. But, whatever.)
No, X3 is weird to me in that it has so many successes and so many failures. On the one hand, you’ve got the subtle brilliance in the contrasting character development between Magneto and Wolverine, even including an ironic mention of it in conversation between them. But on the other, you’ve got reference to the comicbook love triangle between Rogue, Iceman and Kitty Pryde that goes absolutely nowhere despite ample screen time to make some kind of point. Mix that in with a choppy editing job early on, and I’m forced to conclude that although the spectacle of it was almost total greatness and although the story from all three movies was wrapped up cleanly by the conclusion of this one, it nevertheless falls well below the bar set by X2. Still, though, far better than the original. After all, unlike that (and unlike a lot of first entry comicbook movies, really), it had a plot with deeper complexity than good guys versus bad guys.