The release of the new X-Men movie means I'll probably be subjected to another round of questions from folks as to how I liked
it. It probably shouldn't annoy me but it does that these queries are never preceded with the question, "Say, did you see it?" People I know in and
around comics just kind of presume not only that you've seen the film but that you raced to see it Opening Day. Sometimes, they even frame their
question as, "So, how many times have you seen it so far?" and they're almost crushed when I answer, "Counting the next time, once."
I can't remember the last time I saw a movie and promptly paid money to see it a second time. It may have been Network, and then
only because I was then dating a lady who I knew would love it. The only times I can ever remember hurrying to catch a film right when it opened were
a couple of Mel Brooks movies, back when he was in good form. This was not because I couldn't live without seeing the movies themselves but because
Mel tended to turn up at the early screenings in Westwood and put on an extra show, chatting with the audience and heckling the trailers. Right in
the middle of the inevitable ad for L.A. Times home delivery, you'd hear this very Jewish voice from the back of the house yell, "SHOW MY
MOVIE, DAMN IT!" That was worth a battle of Opening Day crowds. Nothing else I can recall ever was to me, and now that movies are so promptly
available on DVD and on my little satellite dish, there seems like even less reason to rush.
Actually, I have no desire whatsoever to see the new X-Men movie, just as I had no desire to see the Daredevil movie, the
Spider-Man movie, the Blade movie, the last few Batman and Superman movies, etc. I saw the previous X-Men movie
only because I was then working for Stan Lee Media and Stan hosted a special screening for the staff. One day in lieu of working, we all trekked over
to a nearby theater and free box lunches were distributed. So I was being paid to be there and fed, and I think that's about what it would take to
get me to the sequel.
I came to the realization some time ago that though I've collected comic books all my life, I'm not particularly a fan of the
characters as they exist apart from certain creators. I love Spider-Man by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, Spider-Man by Stan Lee and John Romita, and
perhaps a few other incarnations...but I'm not particularly a fan of Spider-Man, per se. I haven't read the comic in about...well, for a year
or three after Peter Parker married Mary Jane, I dragged myself through a lot of issues I didn't much care about and finally stopped. I'm not saying
there haven't been some wonderful issues in there — I haven't looked — but my affection for one body of work did not transfer with the
characters. It isn't that I dislike a new version because it isn't the old version. I just feel no reason to automatically like it. I loved James
Bond movies when they starred Sean Connery. When others took over as 007, it was, for me, a brand new ball game. I enjoyed the first few Roger Moore
films but I enjoyed them the same way I might enjoy any new movies: On their own merits and not because they "continued" something for which I'd had
a passion in the past.
The first X-Men movie left me generally cold. I had seen and loved Chicken Run the week before and what with all the
conspicuous make-up and special effects in X-Men, found myself connecting a lot less with its characters than I had with a batch of animated
hens. Others at the screening were just thrilled to see Wolverine and Storm and Professor X and I don't even know all their names up there...but I
was not a huge fan of the comic book, or at least of the version of it that was adapted to the screen. I respect the craft that went into many of its
issues but I'm afraid that I have just read too many super-hero comics in my life. I was starting to o.d. by the time the new X-Men came along
and was never able to give it the kind of attention that it seemed to ask of its readers. Had I followed the comic more religiously, I'm sure I would
have received a certain tingle to see much of it brought to life. But I didn't.
When I described these feelings to a friend, he urged me to go see the Spider-Man movie: "You loved the Steve Ditko version,
right? Well, that's what this is." I'm sure he's right, and I'm also sure that I'll get around to seeing it and that I might even enjoy it. Actually,
there might be a kind of Catch-22 here: The more it resembles the Lee-Ditko version, the more I'd probably connect with what's on the screen. At the
same time, the more of Ditko that's in there, the more I'll probably sit there resenting the fact that he's not receiving a cent for it. It's a
small, perhaps unimportant emotional point but one that is easily deferred. I'll deal with it someday, maybe if the film's on a double-bill with
Chicken Run 2, just as I'll see all of these super-hero movies. Right now, I have other things to do that strike me as preferable — so I'll
do them, and put up with all the questions about how much I liked the new X-Men movie and how many times I've seen it. If I were a better
fibber, I might just tell them, "Six and I'm going back tomorrow to sit through it three more times." I'm sure it would make some of them happy.