From Comics to Movies: Visual References in the X-Men Franchise

Back in March, we debuted the first in a new article series “From Comics to Movies,” focusing on the visual language of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy and the inspirations that it took from its comic book basis. Now, we have the next entry in the series focusing on 20th Century Fox’s long-running “X-Men” franchise, though this one will be a little bit different in some cases.

Something that is easy to forget about the “X-Men” films is that it’s the current longest-running comic book film franchise. The series got its start with the first film in the year 2000 and despite attempts at rebooting or reshuffling the continuity, it has remained a singular (mostly intact) franchise. Looking back at the start of the series, it began in a time when comic book movies didn’t adapt specific story lines from the source material and instead chose to focus on aesthetics and characters with an original story formed around them. Bryan Singer‘s original X-Men has moments that can be found in comics, but overall its narrative is a unique construct. 

That changed with the sequel, X2, which takes elements from the graphic novel X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills, and combined it with the second arc of Ultimate X-Men, a series that launched just seven months after the first film opened. They would continue this tradition with X-Men: The Last Stand, combining the “Gifted” arc from Joss Whedon and John Cassaday’s Astonishing X-Men with the fan-favorite Dark Phoenix story line, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine by combining Origin with the “Weapon X” arc.

X-Men: First Class is an interesting departure as it shares a name with a number of comics but has little to do with any of them and is once again a mostly original plot. 2013’s The Wolverine is at its core an adaptation of the Chris Claremont/Frank Miller Wolverine series, with other elements tossed in, and last year’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, while sharing a name with the most popular story in X-Men history, is pretty different overall. All of that is to say that there are certainly instances in the “X-Men” films where the shots in them align with the comics, but some of the slides we’ve included aren’t direct visual matches. Some of what you’ll find below are the scenes in comics from where the film took narrative inspiration, a kernel of a story that was mutated into what was needed for the script.

Check out the slideshow and compare the comic book panels with shots from the movies, and let us know your thoughts below!

Click Full Screen to see the full images!