Today, I explain why the “yellow spandex” joke in X-Men was so indicative of a larger problem with superhero movies for years.
In Remember to Forget, we spotlight pop culture stories that I wish I could forget, but I can’t, so I instead share them with you all, so you’re stuck in the same boat as me!
July is Remember to Forget month!
In 2000’s X-Men” rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”>X-Men, Logan joins the X-Men, and as a result, is given a costume like the rest of the team. He mocks the matching outfits, and Cyclops mockingly jokes, “What, would you prefer yellow spandex?”
(And amusingly enough, as I noted in a recent post, Wolverine now IS wearing a yellow costume in Deadpool 3)
Discussing the scene with SyFy Wire for the 20th anniversary of the film, producer Ralph Winter noted:
“At that time, we did feel like we did a good job. We limited the amount of time in the wardrobe. Of course, there’s a joke in the movie about yellow spandex, which was directed at the fans. It wasn’t to [irritate] them but to say ‘Hey, we hear you. We understand what you want. We understand you don’t like the idea of Wolverine being taller than 5’4″. We understand you’d rather have everybody in the traditional garb. But we also have to make a movie that reaches a wide audience to justify the budget.'”
He added that the trick was “always to bullseye the hardcore Marvel/X-Men fan, but do it in a way that doesn’t alienate an average moviegoer that might enjoy, or start to enjoy, these types of stories.”
I really and truly don’t mind if people want to joke around with the fans a little, but this really just struck me as such a great example of why so many superhero movies never really hit the level that they should have, because the simple matter of it is that they truly did not believe in their source material. It’s akin to what I noted recently, which is, “Don’t adapt a property you don’t actually like.”
So much of those early superhero movies were essentially, “What can I CHANGE to make this appear as little like the actual comic book it is adapting as possible?” Look at the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie or the From Hell movie (I actually liked the From Hell movie for what it was). They were nominally respectful of the source material…and then promptly changed as much as they possibly could.
Not only that, but as noted from that quote from the producer, the filmmakers seemed to take the attitude that you were lucky that they even acknowledged your fandom by joking about how dumb your expectations were. Listen, I get it, it’s not really meant to be that deep of a comment. It’s not some aggressive “eff you” to the fandom, but instead, it’s really more of a PASSIVE “Eff you,” as they truly DID believe having a line about how dumb the idea of putting Wolverine in a yellow spandex outfit was, in fact, a NICE thing to throw in there for the comic book fans to show that they at least know that Wolverine DID wear a yellow costume.
It was this idea that OBVIOUSLY no one would ever expect the movies to TRULY adapt the comics, but hey, at least we know what we’re NOT doing! That’s something, right?
That attitude lasted for waaaaaaaaaaaaay too long in the world of superhero movies.
If anyone else has an idea for a future Remember to Forget (I’m going to do a month’s worth of them, so I could use plenty of ideas!), feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org