Image via CBR, art by Paul Smith
I’ve had a few jokey pitches for shows and movies on here. This post is not that. I’ve been an X-Nerd since I was in single digits. Fox is working on a live action X-Men show, and the last thing I want to see is another Generation X situation. The X-Men deserve a damn good show. Something that captures the spirit of the property that Chris Claremont perfected.
There’s a few essential factors in getting this right. You need the Xavier/Jean Grey school in some capacity. There’s a few approaches to do here. You could do the original five X-Men, which would be awesome. Odds are, however, that Fox won’t want to take that approach given their already (appropriately) muddled X-Men continuity.
There is a way to work this show into the movie X-Men continuity and have a fun school story in line with the comics. The ideas for this can be found in the runs of Grant Morrison, Joss Whedon, and Jason Aaron.
Don’t be fooled by the name, Aaron’s Wolverine and the X-Men is less about everyone’s favorite Canuck than the title implies. Fox’s X-Men show could focus even less on Wolverine, and make the excuse that he’s off doing Wolverine things (like drinking and stabbing) and keeping the school from harm so he’s not hogging the screen and story time from the other characters. The focus of an X-Men show should be best placed with the wonderful Kitty Pryde.
In Wolverine and the X-Men, she’s the headmistress of the Jean Grey School, running its day to day operations. Kitty’s a great everywoman. She’s smart, but doesn’t necessarily have her shit together. She’s sarcastic, funny, and wonderfully flawed. Joss Whedon has gone on the record previously, citing Kitty Pryde as a key influence for Buffy Summers. Plus, she’s got so much history within the team. She was basically Wolverine’s sidekick for years. She’s dated both Colossus and Iceman (the mutant Xander Harris more or less). She has a rivalry with Emma Frost. Hell, John Cassaday already drew the perfect opening shot.
The school is pure chaos. Even the ground its built on is alive. A showrunner can pick and choose whatever mutants they want, both to run the school and be enrolled in it. It’s an ideal setup, chock full of drama and fun. Look at Grant Morrison’s run on X-Men, considered one of the best ever. There’s a great deal of focus on the Xavier school and mutant culture as a whole. You need to feel like the mutant community is alive and its own thing to really hone in on the clash with humanity.
Quentin Quire could be a breakout star. He’s a troublemaking punk with telepathic powers and a need to rebel against anything. You’ve got X-23, a female clone of Wolverine in her teens. Imagine all the mental issues that come with that. There’s Idie, a super Christian, self-hating mutant who believes that mutants are abominations. There’s the Stepford Cuckoos, which is what happens when you make two copies of Regina George from Mean Girls and give them all telepathy. If you’ve got a story to tell, there’s a mutant in X-Men continuity that you can use to tell it.
While such a show would focus on the school, there’s still the opportunity to tell other stories. Rick Remender’s recent run on Uncanny X-Force dealt with a covert X-team focused on taking out threats to mutantkind under the radar. Cyclops has split off and formed his own school after going through some, um, issues. These could all be involved.
At this point, people know the X-Men pretty well. There’s no reason to go through origin stories for characters that we already know yet again. Chris Claremont played the long game with his decade plus run on Uncanny X-Men. He built these characters up using long form storytelling. I want to see the depths of Storm’s personality. I want to see Colossus as more than just dark-haired muscle guy. I want to see the new crop butt heads with the old guard. I want to see the X-universe beyond Xavier, Magneto, Mystique, and Wolverine.