I had a weird sensation watching X-Men The Last Stand for the first time in many years. I found myself, initially, sort of enjoying it.
“Huh, that’s weird,” I thought to myself “I remember hating this. So why am I sorta finding this to be okay?”
The reason, dear reader, is because this movie is a treacherous snake.
It does a passable job of masquerading as a decent X-Men movie. The cast is all here minus Alan Cummings’ Nightcrawler (because the makeup took frickin’ forever to apply and Alan Cummings was all “Fuck this, Alan Cummings’ got shit to do”) and the new additions to the cast were mostly excellent. Ellen Paige as Kitty Pryde? Who could say “no” to that? Kelsey Grammer as Beast? Perfect. Just perfect. You could not cast that role better. Also, like X-2, the movie stakes two very well regarded X-Men stories and works them into a single story, specifically the seminal “Dark Phoenix Saga” by Chris Claremont and Joss Whedon’s “Gifted” story arc from the early 2000’s. Alright! Great cast, strong source material, what could go wrong? Why, God himself couldn’t tank this film!
Yeah, so how did that happen? Alright, so Fox quite naturally wanted Bryan Singer to come back for X3 but Singer had been lured by the siren call of the Distinguished Competition.
Singer had done a little preliminary work on X3 before he left Fox for that tramp Superman, which would have been a re-telling of the Dark Phoenix with Sigourney Weaver as Emma Frost (oh fuck yeah). With Singer gone, the suits at Fox held an emergency meeting to decide who would replace him, with the understanding that they had to get someone lest they had to settle for Brett Ratner, a desperate last resort in the form of a man. And what’s really tragic about this is that they tried. They really did. A veritable directorate of directors were approached for this movie and any one of them could have made a great X-Men flick.
Darren Aronofsky’s X-Men? Sign me up.
Matthew Vaughan’s X-Men? We got it a few years later and it was awesome.
Joss Whedon’s X-Men? Oh, he could have done it in his sleep.
Zak Snyder’s X-Men?……
Alex Proyas’ X-Men? He made Dark City so he’s alright by Mouse.
But a combination of bad luck, scheduling conflicts and ego all conspired against Fox and they were left with a choice: A Brett Ratner directed X-Men movie, or no X-Men movie at all.
They chose wrong.