Why does the ‘X-Men’ franchise continue to stick with Wolverine?

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1:45 pm EST, January 27, 2014

by FinnM

After watching a video concerning Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine standing in for Ellen Page’s Kitty Pryde, I suddenly felt an unrelenting frustration and confusion with regard to the choice made by the writers of X-Men: Days of Future Past.

In the video, we see one of the screenwriters, Simon Kinberg, explain to Total Film that Wolverine is “the protagonist of the franchise, and probably the most beloved character to a mass audience,” but he went on to say “obviously in the book it’s Kitty… But you’re talking about an actress who, in the age of Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy, would have been negative 20 years old. So we started thinking again, and the first reflex response to that was a character who doesn’t age. Wolverine is the only character who would look the same in 1973 as he does in the future.”

After listening to this, one can’t help but wonder if they telling us, of all the changes that have been made to the film already (i.e. Gambit existing in the wrong time line in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, when he’s supposed to be part of the infamous relationship between he and Rogue), that the filmmakers are simply incapable of handling the issue of Kitty Pryde not existing in the film’s 70’s era? They could have, perhaps, enabled her to travel back in time by the same means Bishop arrives to the present, thus accommodating the use of her character?

Seeing as how Bishop is going to be introduced into the present day X-Men anyway, could that not be one of many other ways in which to depict Kitty as the main protagonist, as opposed to ending up with Wolverine as the main character again?

If that seems unsatisfactory, then perhaps the writers could alter the timeline a little further, showing her character as a slightly more mature woman, currently married to Colossus.

Using Wolverine again sounds a little nonsensical and, to be honest, a little lazy at this point when you consider the creative liberties many adaptions have taken in the past for various reasons. An example of such changes occurring in adaptions would be the Harry Potter films in which Dobby is absent (between Chamber of Secrets and Deathly Hallows) when, in fact, he is present in the books, mentioning Winky the House Elf and her drinking problem, among other things.

The writers were given a golden opportunity to expand on Kitty Pryde’s character, a female no less, but instead it feels as though they chose what appears to be the easy way out by opting for Wolverine to take centre stage once again. Considering Cyclops is, at times, thought of as the “leader” of the X-Men (yet the whole group seem to be individual leaders, enabling them to work effectively as a collective group), why Wolverine was initially chosen to be the protagonist of the whole series is beyond me.

While he is a complex enough character with a unique past, he is not, in my opinion, so interesting to deserve the spotlight once again after receiving so much of it already.

Looking through a retrospective eye on things, the first film is the only exception with the introduction of his character; the second film was not as good because his backstory and his feelings for Jean Grey were given a little more attention, in addition to the general mutant-capture-and-rescue plot line. In the third film, he receives the spotlight again after the death of Cyclops, giving him more camera time to act as more of the tortured soul while his mind is plagued by Jean’s voice. Finally, there were two stand-alone films to add to the list of many other male superhero films which exist today.

These films, and others like Man of Steel and The Avengers, will continue to overshadow the overwhelmingly small amount of superheroine-centric films that are badly needed. Not just for more female representation for younger audiences, but simply because films which follow the usual tropes and consist of male-dominated casts are becoming increasingly boring, i.e. The Avengers, merely consisting of one superheroine and (the immediate) Justice League, in which a lot of the time the men outweigh the women in numbers depending on what issue you’re reading.

I thought X-Men: First Class was much better than its three predecessors (not a perfect product but better than the others), and was hoping it was a starting point for the franchise to move into a more updated and improved direction from then onward. I still am hopeful about this upcoming film, but I’m starting to think that hoping is all that I’ll ever be able to do for a good while until, by some miracle, the X-Men films are rebooted.

Please bear in mind that this is strictly my two cents on the issue of underrepresentation of female characters.

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