X-Men film fan interview with Chris Hartman (@Chart6363): “I love Hugh, but the character is bigger than the actor.”

X-Men fan Chris Hartman (@Chart6363) describes himself as “a regular guy, trying to make a difference in this crazy world we call home!” We had a chat with him about his love for X-Men films and also delved into discussion about common criticisms expressed by the passionate fan community.

XMFC: Hello, Chris! How did you first become a fan of the X-Men? Was it through the comics, animated series, video games or films?

CHRIS: “I first started getting into the X-Men during the comic series that started in 1991, written by Chris Claremont and Jim Lee. This series started with classic battles with Magneto and fleshed out his Acolytes and expanded from there. Plus, it featured an awesome X-Team with Cyclops, Jean Grey, Psylocke, Storm, Wolverine, Beast, Gambit, Rogue, and more. Professor X was more of a teacher in this series. It focused on the team… the family… civil rights. Even as a kid, it hit home and the characters were incredible. I got hooked, became an avid reader and have gotten into every cartoon series and all the movies since. The stories just reel me in.”

Do you consider yourself a super-fan or a casual fan of the X-Men? How active are you in watching the films and participating in the discussion on social media?

“I consider myself a bit of a super fan, although I know there are others that can probably put me to shame! I own all of the films, and find things to enjoy in the “bad” ones too. I try to be pretty active online (although I need to up my participation in the the X-Men Fan Club Forums). The X-Men were such a huge part of my childhood. The more I talk with folks online, I realize I’m not alone. The X-Men stories and characters invoke a passionate response in people and I love it. I am happy listening to, sharing thoughts, and debating other fans. It is a GREAT community.”

What makes the X-Men film fan community great?

“I love the X-Men film community. They have just as much love for the X-Men as comic fans… and they are just as passionate. This is why I adore the X-Men… people just gravitate to them. The film fan community has been great to interact with and I have met some really awesome people. Agree or disagree… I just like the dialogue. We all want the same thing… more good X-Men movies.”

Are you happy with what 20th Century Fox is doing with the X-Men films or do you think Marvel would do a better job at adapting these characters?

“Oh boy… this is a LOADED question and is sure to get a passionate response in people… both ways. The truth is… Fox has been VERY inconsistent. Marvel sold the rights when they were broke, and Fox took a bit of a more realistic spin on one of Marvel’s premier franchises. They were a MAJOR factor in the current comic movie boom we are experiencing. However, there was no such thing as a shared universe and they were afraid to take chances. Here’s the thing… I think it would be great to emulate the experience we had reading the comics and watching the animated shows. The X-Men absolutely deserve to be interacting with the rest of the Marvel family on the big screen, just as they always have on the pages. Marvel / Disney would probably introduce them with care and have a PLAN for the future and their involvement in the larger universe…and would respect continuity! In addition, the X-Men would get the massive marketing boost from the House of Mouse and they would return to prominence… which is where they belong. However, with Disney… there is NO WAY we get the James Bond-esque ‘First Class’, the hysterical and vulgar ‘Deadpool’, nor the realistic and character-driven ‘Logan’. Marvel can only make so many movies per year. My ideal situation is a Spider-Man scenario… Marvel and Fox share the X-Men, include them in the MCU (via Dr. Strange or something), Marvel consults on the movies, but Fox is free to be creative and branch out. Win-win.”

I agree, that would be ideal. I love the bold choices 20th Century Fox is making and think they should continue with that, but if they could come up with a Sony-type deal, it’d be beneficial for both studios.

As a fan of the comics, how do you feel about the changes made in the films vs the source material? Would you rather see a more faithful take on the X-Men or do you think change is good, as long as the core themes stay intact?

“I was a comic fan first and then a cartoon / film fan after. However, I am one of those folks that appreciates artistic license and a film-maker’s vision for a movie. Even the Marvel Cinematic Universe does not adapt the comics 100%. There needs to be some changes to make them work on the screen. I like seeing the changes, as long as the main themes remain intact and they commit to character-driven stories (with a few great action set pieces thrown in there of course)! One thing… they either need a continuity or they need to acknowledge alternate timelines.”

The past three X-Men films focused on Professor X, Mystique and Magneto to show how the X-Men came to be. Many feel like the X-Men themselves have not had the spotlight for so long. That “seems” to be changing with ‘X-Men: Dark Phoenix’. Were you a fan of how they shifted the focus of the story for a new trilogy?

“I really liked ‘First Class’ and ‘DOFP’… ‘Apocalypse’ not so much. The focus on the relationship between Raven, Magneto, and Charles was a strength in ‘First Class’, and seemed pretty closed at the end of ‘DOFP’. They milked it in ‘Apocalypse.’ I liked the shift to focusing on those three at first… but I still feel ‘Apocalypse’ screwed it up. There was no reason to return to the Charles vs Eric dynamic, while throwing Mystique in there for good measure… then making her an idol. If they are shifting the focus to the actual -X-Men and are looking to expand the characterization, I am all for it. I still think they should give the core team a break for a bit and focus on the expanded universe, but if they are going to make X-Men movies… focus on the freaking X-MEN!”

Speaking of Mystique, are you a fan of Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal? Fans seem to be very vocal, both good and bad, about her casting than any other actor in the current series. Do you want to see her play the role beyond next year’s ‘X-Men: Dark Phoenix?’

“Whew… another question sure to get people all fired up! I really liked the innocence she brought in ‘First Class’. While she wasn’t phenomenal in ‘DOFP’, you could see her changing from Raven to Mystique in that movie. Then she changed and we got the soft-reboot. She 100% mailed it in for ‘Apocalypse’. She was flat and looked bored. In addition, it seemed like Fox was simply trying to capitalize on Jennifer Lawrence’s star power and forced Mystique into a leadership role. It’s wrong. I repeat what I said before… I appreciate artistic license… but not at the expense of bastardizing the material. She should have a smaller role moving forward, unless J-Law brings her passion back and they return her to a villain.”

I’m fan of Lawrence, but I think even some of her fans will say that she seemed a bit bored during ‘Apocalypse’ because she didn’t have a very strong role compared to her first two films. Source material aside, one thing I did like was Raven’s evolution from ‘First Class’ to ‘Apocalypse,’ as she had a well-rounded arc. Still, it’s a total deviation from the comics and Mystique as a villain is so much more interesting! Maybe we will see a change in ‘X-Men: Dark Phoenix’ next year, especially since she chose to be a part of the production while not under contract. What are your hopes for ‘Dark Phoenix’ and other upcoming films like ‘New Mutants’ and ‘Deadpool’?

“I simply want to see good stories, respect for the source themes, and solid characterization. Do that, and I’ll be happy. Rush through it and try to jam 100 mutants into each movie, like ‘X3’ or ‘Apocalypse’, and it will fail. Fan service is cool, and it can work (like Weapon X in ‘Apocalypse.’ Not needed, but awesome) … but they need to tread carefully. We know they can nail it, like ‘Logan’, ‘DOFP’, and ‘Deadpool’. Now they just need to be consistent.”

Do you have faith in Simon Kinberg to make a more acceptable ‘Dark Phoenix’ film after he co-wrote a film as divisive as ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’? How do you feel about him making his directorial debut with such an iconic storyline?

“I want to preface my answer with this: I believe Simon Kinberg to be a talented producer. He has been a producer on some pretty entertaining films. He has produced some of the best X-Men films. That being said… I believe his writing to be questionable. DOFP was great, but remember that was a vision Matthew Vaughn had… Kinberg fleshed it out. He was a writer on ‘X3’, ‘Fantastic Four’, ‘Triple X (State of the Union)’, ‘Apocalypse’, ‘Jumper’… those are not high points and most fans feel the X-Movies he has written are not the best ones. Frankly, I’m concerned and I continue to be more excited for ‘Deadpool’, ‘X-Force’, and ‘New Mutants’ than ‘Dark Phoenix’. I absolutely believe Kinberg loves the characters and the X-Men… but I am not sure I trust him with writing, directing, and producing a truly iconic story.”

It will be interesting to see how ‘Dark Phoenix’ develops with him at the helm. Hopefully he’ll surprise us all and make this younger cast of X-Men really soar. As of now, which cast is your favorite? The original trilogy cast or the next generation? Do you think it was a mistake for 20th Century Fox not to continue with the original actors or a smart decision to go the with younger actors?

“Yep, I’m that guy that likes both casts… I just think we have not seen enough of the younger ones yet. Wolverine can and should be recast at some point, as this team needs him in his prime. Give him a rest for a while, however, as we get over Logan’s sacrifice, and focus on the others. (I love Hugh, but the character is bigger than the actor) The original cast was great, but they are getting older and a recast was needed. Now they need to STOP MAKING PERIOD PIECES!! They keep jumping 10 years, and these 20 somethings will be playing 50 year olds and will not be believable. However, they better think of something like Cable time traveling because they cannot remain in the 90’s or early 2000’s with the core team. They should be in our present, not our past.”

In your opinion, what are the high points and low points for this film series?

“I would say ‘X2’, ‘First Class’, ‘DOFP’, ‘Deadpool’, and ‘Logan’ were the highs. Each of these had excellent stories and GREAT moments. Small examples: Wolverine’s mansion rage, the mutant recruiting in ‘First Class’, DOFP’s almost tear jerking ending, the freeway scenes in ‘Deadpool’, and Logan’s forest attack. ‘Wolverine 2’ and ‘X1’ were enjoyable but they also had a lot of weak moments. (that third act of ‘Wolverine 2’, for example.) ‘X3’, ‘Origins’, and ‘Apocalypse’ were just disappointing. Good scenes sprinkled in, but just disappointing. The inconsistency is why I worry about Fox and would like to see a “sharing” arrangement.”

Thanks so much for answering my questions, Chris. I appreciate it!

“Thank you for the opportunity to interact with everyone. Mutant and Proud, folks!”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *