The Sci-Fi Podcast – Episode 48: Chris Claremont’s X-Men

Welcome to The SciFi Podcast, a wretched hive of scum and villainy a bi-weekly podcast focused on in-depth discussion of all things science fiction. The SciFi Podcast features three hosts—Mattroid, Solo, and Station!—and frequent guests. Each episode we look at a science fiction theme or franchise and take the discussion where no show has gone before.

When we think of comics, the X-Men are up at the top of the list that comes to mind. We conjure images of a berserker Wolverine, Cyclops’ optic blast, a torrential Storm, and of course Jean Grey and the Phoenix. We think of these characters, and we thank Chris Claremont for bringing them to us as never before, and for creating some of the greatest superheroes since their inception.

With Chris Claremont’s X-Men we learn about the franchise and how Claremont came to spearhead a new direction for the team, taking the fabled mutants from whatever to nothing better. While the documentary might suffer from some unfortunate production issues, the material is wonderful. Check it out and let us know your thoughts in the comments section. There might even be a little give away…

Theme music courtesy of i hear sirens, featuring Matt on bass and Liz on keyboard. Hear more of i hear sirens ethereal, instrumental, post-rock at BandCamp. Podcast production by Mattroid; artwork by Eric Chung, altered by Mattroid.


Mattroid – 5
Station! – 5

6 thoughts on “The Sci-Fi Podcast – Episode 48: Chris Claremont’s X-Men

  1. I’ve got Kitty Pryde
    And Nightcrawler too
    Waiting there for me, yes I do!

    I don’t think Chris Claremont created those two, but Psylocke isn’t in the Weezer song.

    I love the Phoenix storylines. I like Warpath. I wish they’d stuck with Adam Beach in casting him for the films. Of course I love Sabertooth and Wolfsbane – because SpaceWolf. Gambit is tied for my all-time favorite of the X-Men with Nightcrawler. Didn’t love Taylor Kitsch’s portrayal of Gambit in Origins – although I can see him pulling it off under the right circumstances, especially if you compare Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool in that film to his later effort – but the thought of a Channing Tatum Gambit makes me want to heave. I really hope that never materializes.

  2. I hate those cringe-worthy moments that you just can’t out of your head. But I don’t think that’s so bad, dude. You just have to throw the comic book store under the bus. Yeah, I’m seeing Aliens: Renegade and Aliens/Predator: The Deadliest of the Species for Dark Horse Comics. I’m really curious which one you gave to him. You gotta find that.

    • It’s around somewhere. I’ll look for it. I put the picture of the cover up in the notes. And I didn’t communicate or evoke my emotions well enough because it was AWFUL. Super embarrassing. Liz can vouch. But thank you. 🙂

      And I’m with you on Tatum as Gambit. I really, REALLY hope that doesn’t happen. But I’m pretty disappointed with a good chunk of the movies; Last Stand was atrocious, I thought Apocalypse was a missed opportunity, primarily with the titular character–which sucks because O.I. is a great actor. Didn’t like Origins much at all.

  3. I didn’t say it was coming out in April, did I? I think I said there’s a good chance it was coming out this year. I was thinking this Fall. here’s what I know: The filming has been completed. Review whatevs you guys want. I was just tipping you off.

  4. I think you guys are being WAY too harsh on this doc. 50,000K is nothing for a feature-length film. I’ve made a 20,000K doc. It’s no better than this on a technical level. Probably worse. You’re not only hampered by having less options for getting the film shot, you’re hampered by not having any money to fix your mistakes.

    Yes, we had to have been watching a rough cut. Which is a bad idea for a critic screener. There were place-holder title cards across the screen like “Young Shooter Studying Comics” … uhhhh.

    I thought the interviews looked very nice, for the most part. There were three that were very poorly lit. I’d have tried something different with those in post … find a way to justify going black and white … something. It’s so difficult when not shooting a doc in a studio like a Errol Morris might. When you’re going into people’s private spaces, you often have very little control over the environment and it’s run-and-gun. I empathize.

    I wouldn’t have used the red wall interview with Claremont in the beginning because the quality is so much lower. You can do that later, once the audience is in, but it gives a bad first impression. And I defintely would not have shown that footage back to back with the better looking interview. That was an objectively bad choice. That’s a great place to use additional b-roll and only show your best work.

    The basic editing is fine. The story is clear and straight-forward. The fine-tune editing, including the music editing, was defintely a major weak spot (but again: rough cut). The music makes it drag quite a bit too. So often dower and plodding when there’s no emotional reason for it. Better music could have improved the feeling of the film by 25-50%.

    I’d agree that the character cos-play shots were unnecessary and weird. Maybe a bad choice. The style in which they were shot and used was defintely bad, but I’m trying to figure out why the filmmakers included them and, giving them the benefit of the doubt, trying to decide if there is a way they could have been utilized in a more effective way. Certainly they could have been done in a more visually appealing way, but they make sense on a narrative level. The early Storm shot made sense. The Phoenix shots precedes the Phoenix segment. Wolverine shot precedes the Wolverine segment. I don’t know why you don’t just use a cool shot of Wolverine from the comic their discussing OR show a cos-player who looks like the Wolverine from the book. This guy looks like Hugh Jackman. That seems like a waste. Clips from the film of Wolverine “popping his claws in pain” for example would have been great illustrations. But then, we haven’t discussed the films yet. The lawyer may have said that wasn’t a good use of fair use. There are so many things that go into a choice like that. But why aren’t we – AT THE VERY LEAST – seeing the moments from the comics that Chris is talking about?

    I liked the interview look for this type of film. I REALLY liked the shots of people reading the comics with the extreme lighting. It felt comic-booky to me. It worked when you could see the edges of the pages and the hands and get a sense of the blackness and light. The close ups looked kind of grungy. I think some motion comics effects would have potentially added a lot to the close up shots or at least scans of the books.

    I would say calling this “amateurish” is going too far. I get the instinct. As documentary filmmaking goes, this isn’t very sophisticate. There not much cinematic about it. The b-roll isn’t creative at all. “Here is an image of exactly what they’re talking about. Haircut? Here’s one random shot of a barber shop.” There’s no flow to the visual storytelling to create distinct scenes. It’s just talking heads and b-roll. There’s no move to the movie. Even those cos-play shots are static and seemingly slow-motion. Movies have to move.

    But I don’t think the filmmaking does anything to detract from Chis Claremont’s story. It just doesn’t do much to enhance it. As a straightforward video essay I might watch on YouTube, it works. In fact, it’s great. It communicates the information. And I’m not sure the tweaks I’d suggest as a filmmaker to make this the best version of what it is would ultimately make it a great film, if that makes sense. Even the best version of this doc is still going to be dry. This is only an hour long and can be a slog at times. Still, if what we saw is indeed a rough cut, better music and better b-roll could significantly improve the viewing experience and may have by the time people see this.

    While admittedly not very exciting or cinematic, I’d say that anyone interested in the history of the X-Men comics can’t go wrong with this film as an overview. The interviews with some of these folks are priceless and it’s refreshing to see someone besides Stan Lee. And people who will really dig into the gory behind-the-scenes details, rather than talking to us like children. I learned a lot and I’m glad I saw this, as only a moderate comics fan. I’d think hardcore comics fans would get a lot out of it. Of course, that’s you guys and that doesn’t seem to be the case. Your aural review seemed very harsh to me, but I agree that a 5 or 6 is a fair rating, as documentaries go, and I’d call it a solid rental for anyone interested in the behind-the-scenes of Marvel.

  5. I loved the stuff IN it, but it was not well made, in my opinion. And I confirmed that it WAS the final cut, too. I think any comic fans would get a lot out of it for sure, but qualitywise I was really shocked. Really shocked. I’m not a filmmaker, but I have a hard time believing it couldn’t have been much better with the same restrictions/budget.

    I might have had a rough night because I was hard on it, but I stand by most of what I said. It just wasn’t well made.

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