Our starting premise: X-Men Apocalypse has a 52% on Metacritic and a 7.4/10 on IMDB. Independence Day: Resurgence has a 32% on Metacritic and a 5.6/10 on IMDB. Conclusion: Everyone is an idiot.
Many of you know that my taste in movies is not really to be trusted. I like explosions and superheroes and fast cars. I like spaceships. I like aliens. I like it when the good guys are good and the bad guys are bad. I could make an argument for these movies, but that’s not this blog post. This blog post is to say that given these two disaster movies, anyone who picks X-Men over Independence Day is an actual crazy person.
Let’s start with X-Men Apocalypse, shall we? The women are lamps. All of them. The only female character who has any influence on the plot at all is Mystique. In a movie that is supposed to introduce the new generation, Storm (raging, powerful, beautiful, awesome Storm) hides for most of the climactic fight scene. Moira, the CIA agent from X-Men: First Class (who barely served a purpose there) has no purpose in this movie except to kiss Charles, because god forbid the most important relationship in the franchise be between two men (who definitely want to make out). Psylocke has two lines and I don’t remember what either of them were. At the end of the movie, in the psychic battle between Charles Xavier and Apocalypse when the whole world is about to fall apart, Jean Gray has to wait for Charles to give her permission to save the world. Jubilee is so much erased from this movie that I didn’t even know I was supposed to care about her until Taekia started ranting about it after the fact. Michael Fassbender’s skeptical expression mirrors the viewers’ – none of us have any fucks to give. Which is particularly note worthy because they give Magneto another family, a wife and daughter whose sole purpose is to die. As if the horrors of the Holocaust weren’t motivation enough for Magneto’s understandable pain and fury to keep cresting and falling over and over again.
I could keep going, but, well, I lost you for a little bit, didn’t I?
For it’s sins, and it has quite a few, the women in Independence Day are fighter pilots, researchers, and presidents who contribute to the plot, have their own motivations and experiences. The main relationship in the movie is between two male best friends (who also want to make out) – no contrived romantic drama, no tearful waiting around at home, no letting the men go off to destroy the alien ship. We’ll take our own fighter jets, thanks. There’s romance, sure, but it’s just there. It’s not the plot, and it’s nobody’s purpose.
I don’t want to argue that Independence Day is a good movie, but its homage to the first is clear – it’s a funny, dumb, disaster alien movie in which things get blown up and people make out, and giant space ships descend on the skyline. It tries something – to tell a story, to engage its characters, to entertain its audience. It gives its women something to do. They don’t wait around for permission to save the world. They take a seat on the plane whether it’s being offered or not.
X-Men was a slog – it was poorly constructed, poorly written, choppy and uncertain. But more importantly, its women were forced to tiptoe, to ask permission, to die before we knew them. Independence Day might not be doing anything particularly interesting, but it isn’t lazy. It doesn’t fall back on old tropes, on old silences, on old stories and old hurts. Instead, it tells a story with characters, flawed and fleshed out, and most importantly, active. I wouldn’t argue that either movie is good, exactly, but only one of them was bad. And dangerously so.
I can’t believe there are so many people who can’t see that. Or maybe the worst part is, that I can.
Independence Day image source: it is also notable that this was the closest I could find to Maika Monroe being a BAMF, which she was.