The 10 Worst Adaptations of X-Men on Film (so Far)

By Matthew Catania in Comics, Daily Lists, Movies
Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 6:00 am

5. Silver Samurai


Silver Samurai is an oddly sympathetic villain in the comics because of how the deck is stacked against him. He's eager to inherit his father's criminal empire, but it's bequeathed to his law-abiding half-sister, Mariko Yashida, because he was born a bastard. His archfoe is the one character who's least vulnerable to his deadly power. He battled Spider-Man and the cast of Saturday Night Live when his teleportation ring was sent to John Belushi in an epic mail screw-up. Even his attempts to turn over a new leaf backfire. James Mangold's The Wolverine takes this sad-sack theme several dozen steps further by removing everything that makes him a unique character & divvying up those aspects among the other characters just to rub it in.

In the comics, Kenuichio Harada is a mutant swordsman in silver armor. So naturally his movie counterpart is a human (contrary to his name appearing in Stryker's files of known mutants in X-Men 2) archer in black leather. (Meanwhile, the previously human Yukio & Viper got upgraded to mutants.) There is a really cool Silver Samurai mech armor in the movie, but Harada doesn't get to pilot it. Instead a character who doesn't even exist in the comics is the movie's Silver Samurai. This switcheroo is supposed to be the film's shocking twist, except audiences are never led to believe Harada would be The Big Bad & it's clearly telegraphed that Mariko's thanatophobic grandad was playing possum. Harada is also no longer Viper's partner in love & crime, having to settle for being Mariko's jilted childhood stalker (hopefully they're not still half-siblings in this continuity). Harada winds up reduced to the obnoxious leader of stock ninjas employed by Grandpa Yashida, meaning he could've been cut from the movie entirely without affecting a damn thing.

4. Cyclops


X-fans are divided on their opinion of the X-Men's field leader, Cyclops. Half think he's a boring killjoy whose real superpower is self-righteous repression.The rest liken him to Batman (minus the billionaire bank account & awesome spirit animal) because of his strategic mind and extreme determination. The filmmakers are unwaveringly the former camp. So if you ever thought Cyclops was cool, the X-Men movies will try their damnedest to cure you of this delusion

In the first X-Men, there's zero evidence that he deserves to lead the team or Jean's love. (There's a deleted scene where he commands Wolverine to wear one of his old leather uniforms, which shifts the dynamics of the love triangle.) His need to wear a ruby quartz visor to contain his optic blasts because of a childhood brain injury isn't explained well, making it look like Professor X sucks at his job rather than Cyclops overcoming a disability. In X-Men 2, he spends most of the movie kidnapped by Stryker and brainwashed into committing domestic abuse.

Any hopes that his and Jean's relationship would take center stage for the adaptation of The Dark Phoenix Saga were dashed when James Marsden signed onto Singer's Superman Returns (a.k.a. The Worst Thing to Happen to Both Franchises). Following a glorified cameo, Cyclops gets disintegrated by Dark Phoenix offscreen, and you'll miss his cenotaph if you blink. To make it up to Cyclops fans, a younger version of him (that already has ruby quartz glasses before manifesting his eyebeams) appears in X-Men Origins: Wolverine ... where he is promptly kidnapped by Stryker so his powers can be grafted onto Deadpool. Cue Nelson Muntz!

3. Storm


Unlike Cyclops, Storm is the X-Men's field leader that fans generally like. You wouldn't recognize that, though, from the way the movies treat her like an afterthought. Comic Storm has gone through so many dynamic arcs that she never feels like the token Affirmative Action mutant. She's extremely claustrophobic from being buried in rubble with her dead parents. As a child in Egypt, she was forced to pickpocket by the Shadow King. Before joining the X-Men, she was worshipped as a Goddess for using her mastery of the weather to fight droughts. She saved her teammates and won control over the Morlocks by wrecking Callisto in a duel. In addition to rocking an awesome punk makeoever (including a genuine Mohawk unlike the wimpy fauxhawk she sports in the DoFP movie), she also had a heavily implied tryst with Yukio. Even after her powers were temporarily stripped from her, she still kicked Cyclops's ass in combat for leadership of the X-Men (he was forced to spend time with his wife & newborn son as a result). None of these character-defining events happen in the movies. Once Cyclops and Xavier are finally out of the picture, Storm recedes into the background behind Wolverine and Beast rather than taking the team's reins.

Sadly, Oscar-winner Halle Berry is unable to provide the regal screen presence to compensate for being criminally underwritten. Berry even stopped attempting an accent after the first film, which is a shame because a diverse array of cheesy accents is an X-Men hallmark. She could at least proclaim everything like a grandiose drama queen in the vein of '90s animated Storm so she'd leave some kind of impression. Just imagine how much more passion & gravitas Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong'o, or even Beyoncé would bring to the role! For a character of her calliber, it's a travesty that uttering Joss Whedon's worst one-liner is the only memorable thing Storm's done in all the movies.

2. Deadpool


Is there anything left to say about how awful movie Deadpool is? The only reason he didn't nab the top dishonor is that he's more of an auxiliary X-character than a longstanding core mutant. He was off to a good start, with Ryan Reynolds (who will take every a role in every comic book movie so long as he's not directed to emote beyond wooden sarcasm) slicing bullets in half with katanas. All they had to do was give him with gruesome skin lesions, a red and black tactical ninja costume, and some dialogue that's actually funny. Of course, Fox's infinite wisdom knew that Deadpool could be "improved." As Weapon XI to Wolverine's Weapon X, Deadpool's codename is explained by Stryker implanting a variety of mutant powers into him from a pool of dead specimens. (A) That's not how dead pools work, (B) some of his gene "donors" were still alive, and (C) that character sounds more like Mimic.

The character appears so briefly at the beginning they don't explain that he volunteered in an attempt to cure his cancer, so his surprise reveal as the final boss falls completely flat. Somehow nobody involved with the movie realized that having giant katanas sprout out of his arms like Baraka is both impractical & ridiclous looking. His wisecracking mouth is fused shut and he's remote controlled by Stryker because moviegoers can't get enough of characters with no personality or agency. He ends up being a flashier version of the equally charisma-free Lady Deathstrike. As far as ultimate weapons go, he's not that hard to vanquish either. Only Fox would think the key to launching a fan favorite character into his own spin-off movie series is to remove everything about him that makes him a fan favorite. Let's hope that if he's ever redeemed in the proposed solo flick written by Zombieland's writers that Deadpool is recast with Sam Rockwell, because he does what his surname promises.

1. Rogue


If you look up "rogue" in the dictionary you'll see that it's the polar opposite of how the character is depicted in the initial X-Men trilogy. Many fans viewed Rogue's decision to nullify her powers by taking The Cure in Ratner's X-Men 3 as a betrayal of her character, but her choice was actually completely in line with how Singer established her in his movies. Movie Rogue has absolutely no reason to be proud of the powers that brought her nothing but misery. Singer could've easily found room for Rogue to become an asset to the X-Men. Had she been taken captive in X-Men 2, for instance, she could've freed her classmates by permanently absorbing some Ms. Marvel-style powers (Fox doesn't have the rights to her, but DoFP's Warpath seems to have the ideal powerset for her to drain) and become the team's heavy hitter. Instead he opted to devote precious screentime to the secret origin of her skunk-stripe hair! Movie Deadpool stole her "borrowed power combo" shtick, and her biggest action scene is being sucked out of the Blackbird & rescued by Nightcrawler.

The only time Rogue comes close to being as badass as her comic book counterpart is when she's suited up for promotional photos that don't reflect her usage in the movies. She's such a milquetoast that it felt overdue when her spot on the team was finally outsourced to former cameo queen Kitty "I'm nothing without Lockheed" Pryde. Pairing Rogue up with dull movie Iceman didn't help. Anna Paquin might not've been the ideal casting, but why waste her Oscar-winning talents on a superheroine who's only allowed to be mopey & useless?

The core problem with movie Rogue is she was forced into the role of audience surrogate by cutting off all her edges. The focus on her as a metaphor for teen sexual frustration ignored all the other facets of her character. Rogue is an compelling character in the comics because she debuted as a member of the Brotherhood (of Evil Mutants) with cool hair who hands the Avengers their collective asses! She was a hardcore terrorist because she had Mystique & Destiny as mommies. It's only after abuse of her parasitic powers drives her insane that she selfishly defects to the X-Men for help. Then she grows to realize that Xavier's dream of peaceful coexistence is the right path. Her arc is the inverse of the one they gave Pyro to compensate for him missing his Cockney-Aussie accent. Rogue redemption validates the X-Men. Not only that, comic Rogue & Gambit are a sexy & fun (at least when their angst isn't ramped up for maximum drama) power couple of reformed Southern outlaws. Who wouldn't rather see that Rogue onscreen?

When Singer announced that Rogue's solitary DoFP scene had been cut for pacing issues, fan reaction was split between "Yay! She sucked anyway!" and "Yay! At least they can't ruin her anymore!" A minuscule segment was disappointed because they still held hope that her scene would've course corrected a trilogy of bad characterization. When the cinematic adaptation of a beloved character elicits such a response, it's clear that character is a mammoth failure.

You may remember Matthew Catania from such Daily Lists as:

10 Ways to Make a Wonder Woman Movie Not Suck

Top Ten Reasons X-Men and Doctor Who Are Secretly the Same Franchise
Eight Reasons Why a Superman/Batman Movie Might Not Be Such a Great Idea

The 10 Best Elseworlds Stories

The 10 Worst Fictional Psychotherapists

11 Rather Risqué Male Superhero Outfits

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