Sunday, June 25, 2006

Today's Epiphany

After reading the ten billionth complaint about how X-Men 3 should have picked either The Cure or The Dark Pheonix storyline instead of trying to do both, then wondering for the ten billionth time how in the hell the writers/director/producers could manage not to see this, I realized exactly how this happened.

It's the Evita syndrome.

No, I'm not referring to Eva Peron herself, nor the movie really, and not Madonna either. I'm talking about the original musical by Andrew Lloyd Weber.

One of the fantastic things about going to a small, expensive, stuck-up, academically inclined, liberal arts college is that you get to take classes on weird but fun shit like "Musicals by Andrew Lloyd Weber and Stephen Sondheim" just because you feel like it - and still get actual credits for it. Ok, well, it was only one credit and it was an J-term (interim) class, but still - how many (non music majoring) UC students get to take interim classes where they study Sweeny Todd?

(Where was I again? Oh, right. Evita.)

It's even better, of course, when such classes are taken at a feminist-leaning women's college because then your professor isn't shy about pointing out the fact that Evita's biggest flaw is ALW's sexism - or the industry's, take your pick. Evita is supposed to be the story of Evita and Argentina. Or, rather, the story of Argentina told through Evita's experiences. However, ALW didn't think that a musical with a woman as the lead, rather than just a lead would work (for whatever reason). He didn't think her husband's character was really the right one to pull it off either, so he created Che, Antonio Banderas's character.

It should have been a good idea, actually. Che represented the working classes, Juan Peron the upper classes, and Eva Peron was the woman who fought her way from Che's world to Juan's. The problem is that Che's purpose was to take some of the focus off of Evita when he should have been simply used as a foil to highlight certain aspects of her character. So instead of an elegant story about class, corruption, and conflict, you get a schizophrenic mess that can't decide who the main protaganist really is.

X-Men 3 is the same kind of mess - it can't decide if it's setting up the younger generation to take over, dealing with the morality of a "cure" for something that may or may not be a disease, or the story of Jean Grey and why she is the way she is. It tries to do all of these and more and ends of doing none of them well.

It also suffers from the same underlying sexism - the belief that a woman (or a storyline centered around a female character) can't carry the movie.

100LittleDolls wrote:

I agree with others out there that the movie should have just been "the cure" storyline. A Dark Phoenix storyline is too big and should have had it's own flick.
I'd heard people say before that they should have picked one or the other, but if they'd stated which I'd missed it. The problem is, the powers that be probably felt that they couldn't do the cure storyline instead of the Dark Pheonix saga because Brian Singer's ending for X-Men 2 got fans all excited about the Dark Pheonix. (Damn you Brian for leaving before the trilogy was over! I have no idea if you would have been the best person to bring Dark Pheonix saga to the big screen, but you would have done so much better than the mess that ended up being made.)

Unfortunately, not only did all the new people have all their own pet ideas they wanted to use (and this was a big part of why we got the mess we did as well) but there aren't very many people in the movie business that think that a female lead can carry a movie the way a male lead can. So, no matter what, they would have been looking for another story to fill in the gaps of the one they were not capable of writing well- just like Andrew Lloyd Weber did back when he wrote Evita.


100LittleDolls said...

Yes! And your Evita analogy works perfectly.

Also, I've been so tired of people telling me that I was expecting the movie to be too much like the comics. Did they not see the first two movies? Singer had set up the Phoenix saga all too perfectly--the cynic in me knew it was too good to be true.

Mickle said...

yeah, that's rather like someone trying to tell you that you think episodes 4-6 are better only because of nostalgia factor

(ok, now I feel geekier than I ever thought possible)