Talkin’ Nerdy: Beauty of the Beast
We saw X-Men: Apocalypse in the theater last week. First, let’s get the gripes out of the way:
- After re-aligning the timeline in Days of Future Past, the next movie should’ve been in the present day, with the current set of actors. I’m ready to move on from the Charles, Erik, Raven and Hank Show now.
- OK, can we stop pretending that Mystique was ever an X-Man now? I know Jennifer Lawrence has since become Big Stuff at the box office, but why even have Mystique in the flick at all if she’s hardly ever going to be seen as the blue lady and she’s going to be completely out of character? I kind of puked in my mouth twice: when they had Storm saying that Mystique was her hero, and again when Mystique became the team’s drill sergeant. Can we go back to evil blue Mystique now?
- No, movie. Storm did NOT get her trademark white hair from Apocalypse. She was BORN with white hair. Storm is a descendant of a line of African tribal priestesses and sorceresses who have white hair and blue eyes. I get that it’s a Hollywood adaptation, and no comic book movie is going to be 100% accurate to the comics, but kindly cut that shit out.
- Quicksilver is fun, but the mansion scene in this flick was just a rehash of the prison scene in DoFP. Also, I know it’s likely an ownership thing, but I can’t stand that we keep getting Quicksilver without so much as a mention of Scarlet Witch. Pietro (I refuse to call him Peter) without Wanda is like Donny without Marie. And if this movie takes place 10 years after DoFP, then why is Quicksilver still a teenager?
- If you’re going to put Jubilee in a movie, have her use her freaking powers already, dammit! But to the producers’ credit, at least this time they remembered that Jubilee is Chinese-American, not white. I’m looking at you, Generation X TV movie!
Good. Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, on to what, or specifically who, this article is really about. One of my favorite X-Men, nee, one of my favorite Marvel characters or one of my favorite fictional characters of all time is and always has been Henry “Hank” P. McCoy, aka The Beast.
Like many I presume, my first real exposure to X-Men was the FOX cartoon series (though I glanced at some of the original comics prior to that) and from the start, Beast was the character that I immediately latched on to. I enjoyed and related to him more than any of the others. Beast wasn’t an angst-filled, scene-chewing rage-a-holic badass like Wolverine, he wasn’t the super-serious, straight-arrow leader like Cyclops, he didn’t rock the sexy like Rogue and Storm, he wasn’t crazy-powerful like Jean Grey or Professor X or Magneto, his powers weren’t mega-cool and dazzling like Jean’s, Wolverine’s, Cyclops’ or Jubilee’s, but Beast was always my guy. Why?
From the start, Hank has had to deal with a unique appearance; at first, he just looked like an ape/human hybrid…
…Then later he was transformed into a true, blue-furred beast after an experimental serum gone wrong, a move which I both liked and disliked (more on that later)…
But throughout it all, he’s maintained his sharp intellect, an extensive vocabulary and good humor. His situation would occasionally get to him, but he rarely wore it on his chest. Even Wolverine once said of Beast: “Hank’s usually as steady as a rock”. He didn’t have the coolest set of powers or the biggest fanbase, but Beast was always the mutant I admired and related to the most. More of a thinker than a fighter and always around to keep spirits up and never letting things get to dark and murky. THAT’S the Beast that I’ve always admired.
I’ll confess something to you all: I think the X-Men prequel movies were OK (not great, I have yet to see my ideal X-Men movie), and many of the actors in them have played their parts well, but I’ve never been crazy about the movie’s version of Beast. I have nothing against Nicholas Hoult; he’s a decent actor and he’s done good work (he’s great in those Jaguar commercials), but his take on the Beast has never clicked with me. I actually felt that Kelsey Grammer did a better job as Beast in X-Men: The Last Stand (he was one of the few good things about that movie).
Kelsey’s Beast was much closer to the character I wanted to see than Hoult’s ever was. It helps that Grammer’s like that in real life. Kelsey’s Beast was scholarly, he was erudite, he was verbose, he was composed, he was renowned for his intellect and still able to hang upside down and kick some ass when action was called for. THAT was what I wanted to see: the scary-smart super-genius with the body of a big blue gorilla. (DC fans, basically imagine Gorilla Grodd, but as a good guy.) THAT’S Beast, not some awkward nerd who basically functions as a Nerfed Bruce Banner/Hulk who’s macking on Mystique, is dorky and the butt of everyone’s jokes and is only blue sometimes. The Beast I admired would never cling on to some serum to keep himself human all the time; Beast has his moments of being uncomfortable in his skin (who with his particular mutation wouldn’t?), but generally he’s come to accept what he is. I want to see that Beast on the big screen. When we got a brief glimpse of Kelsey’s Beast at the end of Days of Future Past, I smiled at the thought of what could have been.
Part of the reason it may be so hard to get a decent portrayal of Beast in live-action is may be because the part requires so much special effects and makeup. To which I offer 2 solutions:
- Make Beast a CGI character with a famous voice, or
- Not have him go blue and furry at all, just keep his original look, with the ape-like stance and big feet.
Again, this might require a lot of complicated costuming and animation, so this too might be better accomplished with CG. As long as we get Hank’s real character, his big brain, his big words, his cheerful, thoughtful demeanor, his quiet confidence, his unspoken nobility and his likable goofiness, I’m cool with any portrayal, really.
-Finally, anyone familiar with Wolverine’s female clone, X-23? This got me thinking about something recently….
I imagine a female character with Beast’s particular mutation would be close in translation to Shalimar Fox from the syndicated series Mutant X (give yourself a bonus gold Geek Star if you’re one of the 5 people who remember that show).
She probably wouldn’t be blue or furry, since hairy chicks typically don’t test well with audiences (hence why there were no female Lycans in the Twilight or Underworld movies). I imagine that she would be basically like Shalimar: she’d have the heightened strength, speed, agility and senses, prone to the odd bit of animal-like behavior…
And since Marvel has recently given Hank a ‘secondary mutation’, making him a sort of gorilla/cat hybrid creature (though admittedly I’m not a big fan of the secondary mutations myself; 1 mutation should suffice), again like Shalimar she could physically display her mutation with the occasional flashes of cat-like eyes.