Being an X-Men Fan is Great
I want to get real and talk about the X-Men.
Back in 2000, I hadn’t read a single comic book. Fourteen years later, that seems ridiculous, but it was true. I was just a geeky thirteen year old who was into Pokemon and Animorphs. It was a random article in my Disney Adventure that turned me on to the X-Men movie. I remember reading the article and thinking back to a picture book I had as a kid that had the X-Men. There was also the old 90’s cartoon that I only ever watched an episode or two of, but those few had stuck with me.
This was also around the same time that we had a computer that could get on the internet regularly so I could start looking into the movie. I think the first X-Men movie was the first movie based website I ever visited. I checked it out, read about the characters and I slowly starting getting into the world. ABC Family even started showing the old cartoon series again. It seemed like the right time but there was still too much information for me to get a hold of. I used to think that Gambit charged items with electrical energy. I was a fool.
When I discovered that my library at the first three Essential X-Men, you can bet it was a big deal. It was like they for placed there just for me to find them right then. These were the first Claremont issues, meaning I didn’t have to lose interest in the X-Men like I would have if they were the Stan Lee comics. These issues introduced Storm, Colossus and Nightcrawler, and brought Wolverine, Banshee and Sunfire into the mix. Because of this era, I have a soft spot for the two latter characters, and my personal favorite team includes this era. The second volume of the Essential line had what would become some of my favorite stories, with Alpha Flight, Days of Future Past, Proteus, the Dark Phoenix Saga and the Wendigo, and it all lead to other great stories in future volumes.
Seeing the X-Men movie was huge event for me, even though I was a newly minted fan. It was the first superhero movie I went to as my own choice, the only other one before that was when my whole family saw Batman Forever. It was also the first movie that wasn’t a Jurassic Park movie that I went into with prior fandom, no matter how new. It had the X-Men, it was cool and it made me want to believe Xavier’s school was real.
I even use the first X-Men movie as a flagpost in my life, that I can divide my years in before and after that movie. It’s crazy to think that I was fourteen when it came out, and now it’s fourteen years later when the new one is hitting. I’ve lived the complete second half of my life as an X-Men fan. After the movie, I devoured as many comics as I could, buying back issue from my local store and using ebay to get whole chunks of certain series. One of the first complete runs I had was the Age of Apocalypse event and that was as awesome as I could have hoped.
X2: X-Men United nearly broke me into pieces. The first time I saw the trailer, I wasn’t expecting it and my leg started shaking like crazy. When I rewatched the trailer, I basically had an adrenaline rush that made my whole body fall apart. I couldn’t handle the wait; in between I worked on some X-Men fan fiction, reread my favorite stories, played the fighting game on the PS2, watched the animated series on VHS tapes my mom found online and watched the little clock I downloaded on my computer tick away to that Friday night. In the theater, I thought I lost my ticked and had a near heart attack but it was just hiding in my pocket. When the movie started, and Xavier started speaking and Nightcrawler started taking out the White House, I couldn’t stop smiling and that didn’t change until the end of the movie. No longer was I just some newly won over fan with no idea what was going on, I was a hardcore fan with long boxes and fanwork to prove it.
I even edited this together because I love the movies so much.
I love the X-Men. When I was a teenager (and now) I wanted nothing else than to find out I was a mutant and to go live with them. Coming from a broken home that was going through even rougher moments than what broke it, the surrogate family that the X-Men made was a wonderful dream. I wanted to have friends I could trust with my life and they would trust me with theirs. I wanted to fight for a cause I believed in and Xavier had won me over. Being an X-Man would have given my seventeen year old life the meaning I was looking for.
But even now, knowing what I refused to believe back than, that I will never get to be an X-Man myself, I still love the world. The characters are my favorite, the world is incredibly rich and complex, the villains are misunderstood and the heroes are conflicted. I’m never going to be not an X-Men fan. Even after being burned by X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine I still found excitement for the series, which was good since the next two were much better. I still have hope, however slim, that I can finish a few books, get noticed by Marvel and be given the chance to write for the X-Men. But even if that never happens, I’m still happy knowing they’re out there.