Linking the X-Men

I've seen First Class twice now, and while it's my current favourite flick of the year (being the X-Men fan that I am), I'm more interested in where the series will turn next. Specifically, I'm trying to piece together a better idea of where each character fits within continuity and how they can better link the First Class era to the modern X-Men era. Ignoring Wolverine of course. Completely.

So here's a few theories. Suggestions if you will. Though I may be close, or not even close at all, I'd like to suggest that if anyone from Fox Studios needs my advice for the script I'd be happy to lend a hand ...

The beauty that surrounds the very first X-Men movie is that it doesn't give an exact time frame of when it happens. The not too distant future is all we have to go on, and that could easily be right now, compared to the date the movie was 'actually' released. The cuban missile crisis, a key element to the First Class plot, occurred in 1962. If we put the original movie into context with that, it's a 40 year gap. That means that the movie's key characters, Professor X and Magneto, are both in their seventies (or late sixties) within this canon. So that makes sense.

Then again, that leaves a lot of years to catch up on. The obvious question now is, does Magneto and Xavier team up again? It's rather clear at the end of FC that they are on opposite sides, but the original trilogy suggests that they maintain a friendship of some kind long after the events in Cuba. In their late 40's, for example, they meet a young Jean Grey. Earlier than that, supposedly, they create Cerebro 2.0.

I can think of one solution to the above problems, a higher being out to destroy all. Someone powerful enough that both sides of the mutant problem must co-exist in order to fight back. It's a story angle that was slightly used in X2, but by that time Magneto is a fully fledged bad guy, there's no turning back for him. As an earlier self, he could struggle to grasp his full capacity of who he wants to be. He wants equality for all mutants despite the threat that they now pose.

Mutants are still a secret to society at this point, only the highest government authority are aware they exist, so there's elements to play such secrets close to the chest. Magneto could begin his underground movement to convince X of the plight. What could turn his thoughts around is a mutant so powerful it threatens all, leaving him with no choice but to unite Mutantkind. That can easily lead to a truce, in turn the discovery of Jean and the creation of Cerberus to find more mutants to defend Earth against the threat.

It's mentioned in X-Men that Storm, Cyclops and Jean (and please, call her Marvel Girl) are X's first students. Clearly that isn't true now, although you could argue that they are the first students of an open, available school. It still may take some time before Xavier opens the institution, it's also possible that very few students initially appear within the compound. Others may leave without seeing things through. Therefore, Xavier could be suggesting that these three are the first X-Men to graduate from the school, becoming leaders in their own right. Banshee, Havoc and Beast all part ways at some point, so that would be a decent way to tie things up.

For a while I did consider the possibility of Havoc being Cyclops' father, but it's more likely a role reversal from the comics, where instead of being his younger brother, Havoc could be Cyclops' older brother, one that hasn't been seen by the family for some time. That would explain how Cyclops gets involved with the school, a family reunion of sorts (again, ignoring Wolverine's plot).

As for Storm, if you check out First Class again and take a closer look at the sequences involving Cerebro, a young Storm appears in cameo form for a split second. She could easily fit within the movie canon as one of the first recruits, finally allowing a chance to explain her African roots (a severely lacking subplot not explored in the original trilogy aside from a bad accent.)

As for other mutants to bring into the fold for the next movie (and Fox would be silly not to), I'd first suggest not to deviate too far from the more realistic portrayal of mutants in a human world. Unlike the Marvel Avengers movies which are working closely to recreate Asgard and possible alien threats, I'd keep the X-Men movies grounded and avoid such things as time travel. That would negate something silly (though cool) as Cable. I say silly since it's far beyond any concept the current movies have portrayed. Apocalypse, too, should be avoided.

No, what I'd like to see are characters with abilities that can exist within the realms of the current movies without becoming too far fetched, and beyond what will happen time line wise with Jean. I'd also prefer female characters with a different kind of edge to them, darker in spirit and tougher in ability. Marrow would be a perfect fit, something out of left field but in a vein not far from Wolverine in physical ability. Psylocke would also be a welcome addition, perhaps as a bad guy turned good for once.

Since Darwin made it into this movie, on the strength of who he is as a mutant and not on being a fan favourite, why not add Petra or Sway. Their abilities would be unique in movie cannon, earth manipulation and time control respectively.

Meanwhile, there's always been a suggestion that Mystique is Nightcrawlers' mother (it's common knowledge in the comics), so that too can now be confirmed movie wise if she and the red skinned teleporter Azazel get it on in the next movie, which would mean giving him a bigger role. Perhaps there's some in fighting between Mysty and Emma Frost for Magneto's affections as well, leading to the living diamond's departure.

And there's a character I'd love to see more of. Frost is a modern bad-ass in Astonishing X-Men, it would be just as piss poor as the Cyclops trilogy arc if they ignore her abilities further in another movie or two. Round her off as someone with her own agenda, maybe replace the actress with someone who can hold her own in a decent fight sequence. Or, allow her to create a splinter group as tension mounts with Magneto's new regime.

This is all speculation, honest hope of a geek who loves his mutants. I'm already aware that certain story arcs I love, such as Gambit and Rogue, will never come to pass on the big screen. But at least now, with a somewhat fresh perspective and a cast young enough to play the parts for some time (if they choose), there's plenty of stories that can be told to bridge the long gap.

I think, of all the series out there, X-Men is the only one that can retain a level of excellence over time because of its vast character lists and unique perspective on the world. Yeah, they kind buggered things up there for a while, but three movies from five ain't a bad record.

Just, please, don't go overboard. We're just now getting over Wolverine thanks to this, so don't bugger it up again!


Wii U Mii Hee Bee Gee Beez

Okay. So the Nintendo presentation and the subsequent introduction of the Wii U may not have been as big as we all hoped, but there's still much to discuss, and a lot more to be excited about.

First, though, here are the many gripes I've heard so far:

* It's all about the gimmicks again.
* No games. Nothing. How do we know what it will do?
* Nintendo want the best of both worlds, and they're not even close.
* The name sucks.
* Seriously, the name sucks.

I can understand all those gripes. There's high hopes with this console, and from the opening stanza there's a lot more questions than answers, and what answers we have so far are short, sharp and not very likeable in most cases. But there's a major problem here that many seem to be forgetting, a key fact that's been overlooked at this point ... this isn't a launch, it's barely a reveal. Nintendo's Wii U is so far away from release, this is nothing but a tech demo.

And that's why I have confidence.

So there's no big Nintendo games to look at yet ... so? There's NOTHING to look at yet. The only thing Nintendo are showing off at E3 this year is the controller and what it can do in terms of advancing the Wii's motion control in a new way. Everything else is filler, a majority of it won't see the light of day beyond this week. Even all the games announced for the console are. Why? Because no-one's designed, developed or written anything yet. But here's where it gets interesting.

Have a look at some of the names attached to the console right now. Arkham City, Darksiders, Smash Brothers, Pikmin, Tekken, Assassin's Creed, Ninja Gaiden. Are they all hardcore games? To a point, but that's not what I'm talking about. Whatever's under the hood of the WiiU, it's powerful enough to get these games on board. How well they'll look compared to a PS3 or 360 version of the game is another story, but one that will be revealed in full next E3. But here's the other key point.

If these titles are on a WiiU, the chances of other franchises crossing over to a Nintendo console are high. The big N realises now, more than ever, that strong relationships with key industry partner's is the key to ensuring the WiiU can maintain a high level of sales beyond the odd jump thanks to a 1st party release.

What's more interesting, however, was EA's cameo. Not only did they mention their sports titles, they mentioned Battlefield and the Frostbite engine. Though there wasn't a confirmation, nor a 'yes, it's going to happen', the fact that it was mentioned within the same breath as 'Nintendo' bodes hope in the graphical capabilities of the system.

As long as that talk exists, the opportunities are there. There will still be casual games, there will still be high quality Mario and Zelda titles among other Nintendo franchises.

Speaking of talk, ever since the launch, the WiiU seems to be everywhere already. Good, bad or indifferent, it's on people's minds. That, if anything, is a win for Nintendo. If the console hasn't even shown off what it can do, but it's already at the forefront of conversation ahead of Sony's handheld or Microsoft's Kinect games, imagine what might happen when we finally get to see the results?

So in answering the above gripes:

* Just like the Wii, gimmicks are only if the developers use them. This one, however, is actually more appealing than motion control. And yet, motion control also exists. So what is the WiiU? An all-rounder. It's a console with options aplenty, but again, it's up to how the games make use of these options that determine the results.
* Yes, no games. That's next year, and it'll be worth the wait.
* Nintendo are actually closer than they've ever been, and the 3DS will aid towards that. EA are the biggest publishers of content out there. Also of note, developers such as Retro 'Metroid Prime' Studios are co-working on Mario Kart, a sign that Nintendo are branching out from their humble norms to get some much needed extra points of view. Like I said, casual will always be there, but the console will hold its own against the competition graphically, and that will make a world of difference in itself.
* Yeah, the name kinda sucks. But it makes sense. Why walk away from a brand name that's so engrained in the senses of all games. The Wii took some time to get used to, just like the DS or the 3DS. The WiiU (if you pronounce it quickly enough, it sounds a little like Ryu) will stick in time.
* IN TIME! Geez.

This will work, I have a confidence that I never had with the Wii. Why? Because the last three consoles Nintendo released, I was sceptical. I wasn't sure about dual screens, about motion control, or about 3D in a handheld. And yet they worked. And so will this. But let's allow this to simmer for a while, we've got a long way to go before we fully understand what this console is capable of. Hold onto that resentment and concern until the day we see Zelda in HD. I am.


E3 - Electronic Entertainment Extraveganintendo

I'm waiting for the Nintendo conference to start. You'd think that at my age ... wait, wait, wait ... I've forgotten how old I am. Damn. Just, just wait here a second, I'll go check my birth certificate.

Huh. Older than I thought.

Anyway, it's been a while since I've been this excited over a conference, and I've seen a lot of them. But this time, there's something different in the air. Anticipation so big that if it fails, the entire gaming world will cry in unison. Or maybe just me, but it'll happen! That's how big this could be, how the entire shape of the gaming industry can change in one night, just like it did six years or so ago when Nintendo launched the Wii. It was a game changer, so much so that Microsoft's entire E3 2011 conference was motion controlled based. As of tomorrow morning, motion control could be a thing of the past.

Tell you what, I'm going to pause this post here and write up a sequel tomorrow. I'm hoping it'll be full of expletives of the excited nature. If it isn't, be prepared for an onslaught of the bad kind.

Nintendo, don't let me down.


Beyond Gaming

I've got twenty five minutes left on my laptop battery. Yes, I realise I can just plug it in, but I prefer writing to deadlines.

Huh ... you know, in my head, that opening line sounded funnier. Probably because I had more time to write it at the start and took it for granted.

I take a lot of things for granted, the world around me doesn't always work for me because of it. It's something I'm happy to fix, but it just never comes together. It's the reason why I continue to find myself alone on most occasions. Please, don't confuse me with a loner here, I have no interest in receiving 'oh you poor thing' replies. If anything, I'm just trying to make more sense of my own life.

I do consider myself happier on occasion if I'm sitting by myself doing my own thing. I don't go out often, not because I don't want to, I just don't. I do what I please. More importantly, I do what makes me happy, not to make others happy. Selfish, perhaps, but at least that way I'm not holding people up, nor sitting in the corner looking like an idiot because I'm not enjoying myself (trust me, that's happened too often).

So I play games. I play them because I want to avoid reality, which I hate with a passion. It hurts both physically and mentally, the heart can't keep up. It's expensive, it's dirty, it's demanding. Egotistical. Melodramatic. Other words longer than three letters. It gets you down more than it attempts to impress, it's a wonder our population is increasing not decreasing. Or is it?

More and more gamers are turning to online games every year, spending countless hours and just as much money on their World's of Warcraft, DC, guilds, heroes and villains. It's getting so big, it's become an institution all it's own. There's laws, traders, certain communication guidelines. Lives revolve around what time the next raid takes place, or how long it will take to dig enough pieces of eight to trade for that shield you need to take out that character just to get an even better shield to beat that other character. It's far more than just a game, it's a living. A professional addiction, if you will.

I'm not bagging MMO's. I've played them, I understand the enjoyment of them. But I worry for those who put so much time into it, that any life spent outdoors exists simply to go down the road for milk. Unless they're lactose intolerant. Maybe just water, if they don't have a tap to get it from in the first place. Or they prefer bottled water ... you know what, let's move on.

So yes, I play video games, but I know my limits. I don't play for hours on end, I do have a social life per se, but it's not the most important thing in my life. If someone came up to me and dragged me out for a drink, I wouldn't argue against it. I wouldn't crave the thought of being at home judging who should die by my giant hammer of death while pretending to like beer.

Of course, it would be nice if someone did ask me out every once in a while, instead of my poor attempts of doing it myself. But that's a different story. Safe to say, I'm not entirely lost to the world of the imagination. Although, I am a writer, so let's just put me on the edge of insanity for sanity's sake.