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Fox recently announced that they've ordered a pilot for a new live action series set in the world of the X-Men. As hardcore comic book nerds, that should have us excited. But instead, we find ourselves worried. Why? Glad you asked, because we've been waiting to get this off our chest.
The small-screen budget
One of the hallmarks of the superhero genre is big everything: big effects, big action, big spectacles. One problem: television is the "small screen" for a good reason. Fox seems to be trying to keep down the level of special effects it needs by developing a premise based on character, not special effects. The series apparently focuses on a family who has to go underground when they discover their kids have powers. That might keep the budget down, but does anyone really want a low budget X-Men series? We want to see mutants using amazing powers, and that requires spending money that a TV show probably won't have.
The X-Men are played out
Much as we love the X-Men, there comes a time where enough is just too much. We may have reached that point with pop culture's most ubiquitous group of mutants. Between the main X-Men films, the prequels, the Wolverine solo projects, and Deadpool, the X-Men have racked up nine feature films so far, with at least three more in the pipeline. And that's just movies — when you consider the cartoons, TV shows, video games, and comic books, we're not sure there's anything left that can really excite us. Hopefully, Fox can somehow prove us wrong.
Speaking of fatigue, the new X-Men show faces an uphill climb even if it's good, simply because there are just so darn many superhero shows on television. The CW alone has a superhero show for almost every day of the week, between Supergirl, Flash, Arrow, and DC's Legends of Tomorrow. Add in Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., all of Marvel's Netflix shows, and outliers like Gotham and Heroes Reborn, and there simply may not be enough viewers out there to support them all.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. syndrome
The premise of the series seems suspiciously low on actual X-Men, which makes us fear the show might be doomed to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Syndrome. Agents is supposed to be the linchpin of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the connective thread that holds Marvel's properties together between movies. But for some reason, there's almost no Marvel in Marvel's Agents of SHIELD. Once in a great while, you might get a cameo from a supporting character, like Sif or Maria Hill. Otherwise, everyone you actually care about in the Marvel Universe is conspicuously absent. Here's hoping they don't make that same mistake with this X-Men series.
The characters are spread too thin
Even if the show does decide to actually feature some X-Men, the question then becomes "which ones?" Right now, the franchise's characters seem to be spread way too thin. Just look at Deadpool, which prominently features the X-Men as a plot device, but only Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead actually show up. Deadpool even makes wisecracks about how they couldn't afford to get any of the real characters to appear. With dozens of X-Men already occupying multiple franchises and timelines, who exactly is left for the TV show anyway? Marrow? Maggot? Adam X the X-Treme? If that's what we're in for, count us out.
Fox has tried this before
This isn't the first time Fox has tried to leverage their rights to the X-Men franchise by making a live-action TV show. Anyone remember Generation X? No? Well, that's for the best. Twenty years ago, Fox aired a made-for-TV movie featuring Emma Frost and Banshee as teachers for a new class of students at Xavier's School For Gifted Youngsters. It was a mess, and no sequel or series ever came of it.
More recently, Fox tried to develop an X-Men spinoff project called Hellfire, which focused on the villainous mutants of the Hellfire Club. That got scrapped earlier this year as well, never even making it to air. And it's not just the X-Men that Fox has struggled with — other live action superhero TV shows the network has tried have either burnt out (Dark Angel) or never caught fire (Gotham). We'd feel a lot better about this new show's chances if the network had any kind of decent track record to show.
The "Burn Notice" guy? Really?
Finally, and no offense to writer/producer Matt Nix, but we're just not sold on his ability to bring the mutants of the X-Men to life. To date, his biggest credit is the USA series Burn Notice. That's a cool show, and we do tremble at the thought that maybe Bruce Campbell might land a role on the series (Black Tom Cassidy maybe? Corsair?!). But it's a long way from the Marvel Universe. One plus is that Bryan Singer will be involved as an executive producer, so there's that. But still, given how iffy Fox's track record has been with superhero TV shows, we'd feel a lot better if the person in charge of this one knew what he was doing. We're just not sure that Nix does.
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