Although the Uncanny X-Men may have debuted back in 1963, without a doubt, their golden age was actually during the 1980’s. Back in the sixties, Jack Kirby’s and Stan Lee’s team couldn’t compete sales-wise with their other, more popular creations like Spider-Man, Thor and the Fantastic Four. In 1970, due to sales not matching the rest of the Marvel line, the book was quietly cancelled. In 1975, probably just in an effort to keep the copyright secure, the team was revived with an almost totally new cast, including modern mainstays like Wolverine and Storm. Although it was very well received by fans, it wasn’t an instant hit by any means. But as the decade neared its end, the creative team of writer Chris Claremont and artist John Byrne had raised the profile of the book significantly. As the seventies came to a close, X-Men was Marvel’s most buzzed about book, and very soon, the sales would match the buzz.
By 1980, the X-Men creative team of Claremont and Byrne were on fire, and most of that year was spent building towards The Dark Phoenix Saga, which remain’s book’s signature storyline some thirty years on. After the Phonenix saga was over, They capped off the year (and their creative partnership) with Days of Future Past. The comic might not ever have as good a creative year as that one again, but the work was done — X-Men had gone from just another Marvel team like the Defenders to Marvel’s premiere book, and the rest of the decade, they owned comicdom.
The massive success of Uncanny X-Men in the ’80s led to many things we now take for granted as comics fans; for example, the concept of franchising teams began when X-Men spun off into other titles like New Mutants, X-Factor and Excalibur. Of course, the comic book success story of the 1980s led to the Jim Lee adjective-less X-Men title of the early ’90s which sold millions of copies, which itself then led to the cartoon show of the early ’90s, which made the team a household word to millions of kids who never picked up a comic book in their lives.
With X-Men: Apocalypse to ve set in the team’s comic book heyday of the ’80s, here are six distinctly 1980s things from the X-Men comics I’d like to see incorporated into the movie.
#1. Comic Book Inspired Costumes
I’m not one of those fans who has a major beef with the X-Men movies due to their lack of “comic accurate” costumes. (there are some fans who are really hung up on that to this day.) The simple reason why it has never bothered me is this: unlike characters like Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man, the X-Men have had constantly evolving costumes. They don’t have that one identifiable, iconic look like the other heroes I just mentioned. (With the notable exception of Wolverine; would be nice to see him use the mask at least once.)
Take Cyclops as an example; in fifty years, he’s had something like fourteen different looks, and that’s not even counting one-off costumes. The only common denominator in Cyclops’ looks is that he’s always a skinny white dude with red glasses and a visor. When adapting something as complicated (and convoluted) as an ongoing superhero saga that’s had literally decades of stories, you gotta pick and choose which parts are essential to that character’s visual iconography. With characters who have had as many different costumes over the years as the X-Men have, just what counts as essential to their looks comes down to a handful of things.
Having said that, we’re in another era now, where movie audiences have shown they have no problem with colorful costumes. (Hi there, Avengers.) Add to that, that the 1980s was a time known for, shall we say, extreme fashion choices, and you have the perfect opportunity to introduce some of the more comic booky elements to the looks of the characters. At this point you can have, at the very least, outfits inspired from that 1980s era of the comics, if not directly lifted from them… after all, I’m not so sure we need to see Scott Summers in blue tights with bright yellow underwear on the outside anytime soon. But if there is one character I need to see in their exact comic book accurate look from the period, it would be the lady who is our second entry on this list…
#2. Badass Mohawk Storm
To this day, I still love the Bryan Singer X-Men films, especially X2. But there is no denying that while the X-Men movies excelled at casting with people like Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart and Ian Mckellen… Halle Berry as Storm was an enormous miscast. Even her best moments, which probably come in the second X-Men movie, are just her showing off her power set in cool ways and just not talking. Because whenever she does open her mouth, it’s like “Ohhh…right. You are very much NOT from Africa, aren’t you?” Chris Claremont’s Storm was one of the best developed characters of his entire sixteen year X-Men run, the den mother of the group who was never ashamed of her mutancy or wanted to be “normal”, and could switch from kindly mother figure to fierce weather goddess in the blink of an eye.
With X-Men: Apocalypse being set in the ’80s, you have the perfect excuse to recast Storm (once again, Lupita Nyong’o really needs this part) and to do her right, and make her more like her comic book counterpart. A perfect way of using a visual cue to let everyone know this ain’t your mama’s Storm is to use her punk rock inspired look, which she used during a seminal part of the ’80s run, during which she became leader of the team over Cyclops and embraced a leather mama bad ass look, complete with mohawk. This look is so beloved by fans that recently she started wearing it again. So c’mon Fox. Make that one happen.
#3. Mr. Sinister
Over the course of seven X-Men films, we’ve seen a lot of the X-Men’s major villains covered in some capacity. Unfortunately, a lot of the X-Men’s biggest foes from the eighties heyday probably wouldn’t work so well on the big screen for a variety of reasons; the Brood are pretty much a knock off of the xenomorphs from Alien, Loki and the Asgardians are kinda tied up elsewhere, and Arcade and his giant pinball Murderworld? Yeah, just no. Mojo and Mojoworld are distinct possibility, but we just introduced the concept of time-travel to the movie-verse. We might wanna hold off a little bit before we get into alternate dimensions with corpulent yellow skinned monsters who run everything like one giant reality television show. At least for the immediate future.
Having said that, the other major X-Men villain introduced in the ’80s besides Apocalypse was Mr. Sinister. A kind of mad scientist figure, obsessed with playing God with the powerful bloodlines in the mutant gene pool and creating the ultimate mutant. With the comic book versions of Mr. Sinister, a/k/a Nathaniel Essex, having close ties to not only Cyclops and Jean Grey, but also Apocalypse himself (who in the comics gave Sinister his abilities) now would be the perfect time to introduce him. He has a memorable look that would translate well into movies if done right. Well, the white skin and red eyes at least; you might wanna ditch the weird tassley things he wears that make him look like a carnival dancer in Rio. Just sayin’.
#4. Rachel Summers
After killing off Jean Grey in 1980, Chris Claremont then spent a lot of the rest of the decade finding ways to replace her with other similarly powerful redheads to stand in for her. First there was Madelyne Pryor, Jean’s clone who would end up marrying Cylops and having his child (who grows up to become Cable, fyi). Second came Rachel Summers, the daughter of Scott and Jean from an alternate future, who would take her dead mother’s name and powers as the second Phoenix. Rachel became a member of the team in the mid-80s, before taking off to England with Kitty Pryde and Nightcrawler and forming Excalibur.
My only problem with introducing Rachel at this point is that she might be one character too many; X-men: Apocalypse will feature young Xavier, Magneto, Mystique, and Beast, and almost certainly Wolverine as well. Add to that Cyclops, Jean, Storm, Gambit and maybe Nightcrawler, and that’s enough characters for one movie. It could be fun seeing Rachel making some sort of cameo though, maybe doing something to help ensure her own parents meet as youngsters so she can be born in the future. I know, I know, how very Back to the Future. But since that movie is a seminal eighties film, why not make a nod to it?
#5. ’80s Style Marketing
Here’s where Fox can really embrace the ’80s aesthetic of the brand. With the movie set in the ’80s, let’s see things like the classic X-Men comic book logo at the beginning of the movie…you know, this one:
And also, how about some classic X-Men covers from the era recreated as movie posters? The ones below are just some examples of classic X-Men covers that could be re-created with the actors and fans would go ape-shit for them. Some characters would have to be exchanged for others, but that’s ok. Just like with the costumes, with the movie being set in period, this would be the perfect time to take advantage of that opportunity in creating some very cool marketing ideas for the film. The marketing guys at Fox missed a huge opportunity to make at least one poster for X-Men: Days of Future Past into a recreation of this iconic image… doing a retro comic book themed marketing campaign for Apocalypse could be incredible, and a great way for the franchise to fully and finally embrace its comic book roots.
6. A Dazzler Cameo
Ok, so for a lot of people the mutant pop star who can turn sound into light, better known as the Dazzler, with her roller disco look, is the epitome of the 1970’s, not the ’80s. But Dazzler actually made her first appearance in late 1979, just as the Disco craze was breathing its last breath. For the first few years of her own comic series, Dazzler was a throwback to a fad that was very much over. At some point during the mid ’80s however, Dazzler ditched the roller disco skates and the Kiss style face paint for an Olivia Newton-John aerobics Let’s Get Physical look, with a dash of early Madonna/Cyndi Lauper thrown in for good measure. If Dazzler makes a cameo in X-Men: Apocalypse, I want to see that version of the character make a cameo; maybe seeing the team at a Dazzler show or something would suffice for me. Last April 1st, Bryan Singer tweeted Lady Gaga would play Dazzler in Days of Future Past; turned out to be an April Fool’s joke, but I for one would love to see that happen for real for the next movie.
Who are you hoping to see in X-Men: Apocalypse? Let us know in the comments below.