TV Special Showdown: Generation X
Think the current 20th Century Fox X-Men movieverse is the most messed up, convoluted clusterf*ck representation of the popular comic book franchise?
Yes, believe it or not (see what I did there?), before there was the First Class Trilogy or even the 2000 X-Men trilogy, there was an X-Men film which somehow managed to be an even bigger train-wreck than any of those films combined. It’s the subject of today’s TV Special Showdown: a made-for-TV movie based on Marvel’s Generation X.
For those who don’t know, Generation X was a made-for-TV film directed by Jack Sholder, which aired on FOX on February 20, 1996. It was based on the Marvel Comics comic-book series of the same name, a spin-off of the X-Men franchise, in which X-Men characters Banshee and newly reformed Emma Frost (the artist formerly known as the White Queen) starting a new Xavier School for Gifted Children in upstate Massachusetts. The TV special was produced by New World Entertainment and Marvel Entertainment, and it imitated the comic it was based on the same way that a castrato imitates a man. X-Kuteer Droll Call:
The first thing you’ll notice about this TV movie is that half the cast of the comic were nowhere to be found, and the other half were barely recognizable. Gone from the get-go were the characters of
Chamber (Jonothan Starsmore) is a crazy powerful psionic whose immense psionic energy powers have already blasted a huge gaping hole from his jaw to his upper chest, with free-floating energy oozing around inside it.
So bang goes his application. Next was Husk (Paige Guthrie, younger sister of Sam Guthrie, X-Force‘s Cannonball), whose mutant power was the ability to rip away her skin, revealing a new form underneath (either animal or mineral) each time.
I’m sensing a pattern here. Also absent was Penance, a Yugoslavian mutant (originally, anyway, but more on that later) whose entire body was diamond hard and razor sharp.
The final character not to make the cut was Synch (Everett Thomas) who possessed a bio-genetic aura which allowed him to synchronize with and duplicate the powers of other mutants as long as he was in their proximity.
I guess this character isn’t within the budget either, right?
-Now let’s move on to the characters “lucky” enough to make it into the film.
First up, fan favorite Jubilee, who actually was featured in the Generation X comics and was already a popular character on the X-Men cartoon series which was enjoying success on Fox Kids at the time.
THIS is the movie’s version of Jubilee.
Word. FOX freakin’ whitewashed Jubilee. A fan favorite character, and one of the few Asian characters in popular fiction who isn’t a stereotypical computer nerd or a martial artist, and they give the part to a white girl with neon yellow lipstick that makes her look like she just French kissed a lemon!
I can understand altering the character’s back story so as not to include Wolverine, but changing Jubilee’s race was unforgivable. Jubilee is Chinese-American, not Caucasian. If you’re trying to honor the character and/or please fans of the comic, casting a white actress in the role is not going to do that. Not only is Jubilee the wrong race (as these executive geniuses probably didn’t know, the character’s code name is merely a portmanteau of her actual name, Jubilation Lee, and her mutant power is a nod to Chinese fireworks, so being Chinese-American is part of the freaking character, ya morons! You DON’T change that!), but the rendering of her power is also totally wrong. Cheap yellow sparks that look like they were done in Mario Paint.
Hey movie producers, you may not have been aware of this, but Jubes’ fireworks are MULTICOLORED. They’re not all just yellow.
The First Class trilogy at least got Jubilee’s look down,
Of course, the one scene in X-Men: Apocalypse where she uses her powers ended up on the cutting room floor.
OK, rant over. Back to discussing this joke of a movie.
We also got M (Monet St. Croix), who was about as necessary to this film as an 11th finger.
In the comics, M’s powers were basically being superstrong, a genius, psionically powerful, invulnerable and able to fly, but all of these abilities were merely offshoots of her true power*, which I’ll get to in a minute…
Here, we get this chick, who basically fell into the ‘high school bitch’ stereotype and did literally nothing other than the occasional display of super-strength.
*Incidentally, comics writer Scott Lobdell, M’s creator, didn’t originally plan for there to be an actual Monet at all, but rather the character known as ‘M/Monet’ was in reality prepubescent twin girls, Nicole and Claudette St. Croix, ‘Monet”s younger sisters, assuming the form of the originally made-up Monet.
…This explained many facets of the character: the reason for her childlike mannerisms and habits, such as enjoying climbing trees and having the handwriting of a 1st grader despite being a genius, was because ‘she’ was in fact a pair of little girls, and the characters period bouts of catatonia were due to one of the twins, Claudette, possessing a bit of autism. But Marvel later retconned all that away, and I think that sucks, as that was much more interesting than the whole “the twins were just posing as Monet while the ‘real’ Monet was revealed to be Penance trapped in that form by their brother, the evil empathic vampire known as Mplate” BS they changed it into later.
-Where were we? Oh yeah, this crappy movie…
We also got Skin (Angelo Espinoza), a kid from the LA ‘hood who possessed several extra layers of skin which we could stretch and contort (Angelo couldn’t stretch his bones like Reed Richards, so the extra skin was always there), but unfortunately this made him look like a Chinese Shar Pei.
You know, in retrospect, this might have been why the comic lasted such a short time: it wasn’t very marketable since so many of the characters were grotesques.
Of course, this movie didn’t have the budget for anything like that, so instead we get…This guy.
The final member of the comics’ hit parade was Mondo, who in the comics was a fat, easy going Samoan who could assume the physical properties of whatever organic object he touched…
…But here was a cocky, loudmouthed douche-nozzle played by an African-American actor, Bumper Robinson (presumably because no suitable Samoan actor could be found, though that doesn’t explain why they gave Mondo Skin’s personality)…
And whose sole scene using his powers was so limp that he literally had to inform everyone that he did it (“Hey I picked up a rock and absorbed it”), otherwise we would have missed it entirely.
As an added bonus, we got 2 other X-Teens who didn’t even exist before, but were stand-ins for Chamber and Husk, whose powers were too expensive to portray on screen. On the boys’ side we had Kurt “Refrax” Pastorius, some dude with a Billy Idol hairdo who possessed controllable eye beams and X-Ray vision.
To be fair, Refrax’s power was kind of cool: X-Ray vision and heat vision…
For the girls, we had Arlee “Buff” Hicks, who possessed super-accelerated musculature, giving her amazing strength and an incredible physique, as well as body issues up the wazoo.
Not to mention how since M here was so Nerfed that the only power we saw her do in this movie was super-strength, so M and Buff were more or less interchangeable power-wise. Given how extraneous M actually was to the “story”, they could’ve written Monet out and it wouldn’t have made a lick of difference.
Trivia Time: Generation X was the first FOX X-Men movie to use the Hatley School for the exterior shots of the X-Mansion.
I know I haven’t said much about the plot of this movie, that’s because there isn’t much to say about the plot, other than it was gobbledeygook. Instead of Mplate or Bastian or any actual villains from the comics, we got Matt Frewer as some psycho named Russel Trech…
There was some nonsense regarding virtual reality and jumping in and out of people’s minds and invading their wet dreams…
And I hope you like this shot…
…Since it’s at the very end of the movie and the ONLY time we see any trace of the team’s costumes. And Buff is covered up again. Surprise, surprise.
Generation X wasn’t just a bad TV movie, it was also a bad pilot for what was planned to be a bad TV series, but alas, the movie earned dismal ratings and the proposed series never happened.
And we’re all the better for it. This team of super zeroes was so lackluster, I’d have rather gotten a TV movie starring these guys.