X i l. V. l- l. l .’

Left to right: Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart), Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), Cyclops (James Marsden) and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman)

on creating a story that would be interesting, entertaining and provocative to all the new fans as well. I called it “designing the evolution of the evolution". That is, we set the story against the backdrop of the early days of the X-Men. This helped me set up the exposition needed to introduce the characters to those who are unfamiliar with them. Then as the story unfolds, we delve further and further into elements that

the die-hard fans have come to know and love about these characters.‘

X-Men manages the balance between fidelity and interpretation by taking itself both seriously and flippantly. While avoiding the kitsch and camp of superhero clichés (exemplified by the Batman television series and ill-advisedly revisited in Batman And Robin), it takes ironic swipes at them (there are jokes about Spandex costumes and heroes' code names). More importantly, the film mixes

the spot

special effects-driven action set-pieces, in which rival super-powered mutants, led by Patrick Stewart's telepath Professor Xavier, do battle with his arch-foe and master-of- magnetism Magneto (Ian McKellen), with an allegorical story in which they are subjected to prejudice and intolerance by the American government and public.

'The story of the X-Men is quite political,’

says Singer. 'It's about differences and similarities. Because the comic was born from the tumult of the 60s, there are political and sociological issues and messages inherent in X-Men lore.’

'It's Martin Luther King and Malcolm X and the next wave in human evolution,’ says Singer's creative partner, executive producer of the film and lifelong X-Men fan, Tom DeSanto: ‘Xavier's dream of humans living together in peace versus Magneto's Darwinist

view that mutants are superior and survive by any means necessary.’

X-Men isn't a milestone in either blockbuster filmmaking or comic book adaptations. But, like the Marvel comics back in the 605, the X-Men film has got the mixture of action, melodrama and message just right, neither taking itself too seriously nor playing it too flippant. Good news, then, for a future

Comics and films have had a troubled history, but X-MEN, adapted from Marvel's top-selling title, gets it just right. Words: Miles Fielder

that‘s full of comic adaptations. On the way are Ronin, From Hell, Ghost World, Wonder Woman and an addition to the ailing Batman series (to be revived by Pi director Darron Aronofsky), as well as more Marvel heroes: The Fantastic Four, The Silver Surfer, Spider-Man, Iron Man and a Blade sequel. In the immortal words of Stan Lee: 'nuff said'.

X-Men opens Fri 18 Aug. See review next issue.

10—1 7 Aug 2000 THE usrs