Taylor Lautner, X-men First Class, Girls and Comics

Taylor Lautner

Showbiz411 is reporting that Fox has looked into the availability of the young Twilight star, in hopes of him joining James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender in X-men: First Class.  No other specifics have been made public and we are not aware how seriously Fox is pursuing Lautner.  I’m not going to sit here and rant about Twilight (I think I did some of that already) or outright criticize Lautner’s acting.  It Showbiz411 is correct, it tells us a lot more about the production. 

Fox has become a bad word in the mouths of geeks. After the disappointments of X-men: The Last stand, and X-men Origins: Wolverine, many fans don’t want to give Fox another chance.  While those movie’s made money, some of their more resent endeavours have not. Both Knight & Day and the A Team grossed less than the Fox suits expected.  Big names like Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz didn’t bring in the money.  So, Fox wants to go with a working formula.  The Loosers, Kick Ass, and Jona Hex proved that being a comic book adaptation doesn’t necessarily translate into cash. What does?  Being Twilight.  The teen market is still willing to shell over big bucks.  Fox wants a piece of it. Enter X-men: First Class.

The X-men franchise has been lucrative for fox, and although fans have complained from the beginning, I hardly expect Fox to stop, roll up their sleeves, and hand the rights back to Marvel.  But the comic book demographic doesn’t seem to be enough anymore. The R rating proved fatal for Kick Ass’s Box Office revenue.  Loosers was created from a lesser known book, marketed poorly, and reminded trailer views too much of the up-coming A Team movie. While, in my opinion, both movies deserved more attention, they didn’t receive it. Jona Hex was marked to high heaven, but viewers and reviewers couldn’t get past a nonsensical plot and poor execution.  Fox want to broaden his audience.  Make it younger.  Make it more teen  friendly.  Forget Iron Man and Dark Knight, which appealed to everyone because of story and substance.  Fox has decided to go after a new market and there is nothing wrong with that…in theary.

As a woman working in a comic book store, I see the people who buy X-men titles.  I know the people who come in every Wednesday and empty out the box we have on hold for them.  I see the people who browse the shelves, and talk comic book movies to the staff.  The majority is men, men over thirty.  There are kids who come in looking for Sonic the Hedgehog, Transformers, Bone, and the Simpsons.  Some venture over to the superheroes.  Some pick up the toys.  Yes there are girls like me who read their weekly titles, but we’re a minority.  X-men has more female readers than some titles, but the percentage is not high and the number of teen girls is lower still.  I wish it were different, but very few tween girls read comics in the same capacity as men do.  This may cause Fox a problem.  Will X-men: First Class, even with a young cast, be able to draw in this demographic?  Yes, the twilight fans want to see Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner, but that didn’t make Remember Me a hit.  Pattinson’s romantic drama with Emilie de Ravin, and Pierce Brosnan flopped like so many movies this year. X-men is recognizable but with characters like Emma Frost, Banshee, and Multiple Man being tossed around, do these characters have the same appeal as say…Wolverine? …and I’m in no way saying bring Wolverine back. 

I don’t mind a young cast.  Magneto and Xavier should be older than their class, and McAvoy and Fassbender have proven themselves capable actors.  I only hope the x-men story isn’t overshadowed by teen romance and Lautner-esque abs.  Yes there is romance in the books.  Everyone wants Jean Grey.  The entire first class fought for her attention, but that’s what made the x-men human not entertaining.  There needs to be something else too.  If Fox can find a way to bring in the teen girl market without alienating the core fanbase, I say do it. I would love nothing more than to walk into a comic shop and see dozens of little girls flipping through the racks, trying to find a story for themselves.  Attempts to bring girls into comics has failed miserably (Her-oes?  What were you thinking Marvel).  If a new X-men movie can help, I’m okay with it.  BUT, and it’s a big but, if Fox forgets its main audience this will fail.  If they produce a movie without a recognizable plot this will fail.  If they cast actors who can’t do the job this will fail.  Do not underestimate the power of Comic Book Fans and Teen Girls.  Both will tell you exactly what they think, tell their friends, and spread the word.  If Fox is going for both demographics, they better make it good.

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