Earlier last week, Phillip Bouette Jr. — costume concept illustrator for several major blockbuster films including X-Men: Days of Future Past — set the fandom into a tizzy when he released early concept art for the latest X-Men film, which included unused concept designs for Jubilee. That’s right, Jubilee.
I adore Jubilee. Jubilee is my girl. Obviously.
So you’d think I’d be delighted at the notion of Jubilee showing up (wearing Jaime Chung’s face, perhaps?) in the latest X-men movie, right? You’d think I’d be furious that she got cut from the slate of future mutants, right? Wrong.
I gotta say, folks — this concept art left me decidedly underwhelmed. My whole reaction to the concept art was a blase “meh”. I’m actually really glad that my girl Jubes never showed up in X-Men: Days of Future Past, and here’s why.
This post contains spoilers of X-Men: Days of Future Past. Read on with care.
First of all — and with all due respect to Bouette and Mingenbach — these costume designs kind of suck. They fail to capture anything iconic about Jubilee.
Sure, Jubilee has gone through quite a few costume changes over the years, but most comic fans who would be delighted by a live-action Jubilee want to see the Jubes we grew up with: and that would be the yellow raincoat, the hipster pink goggles, the high-waisted mommy jean shorts, and the blue galoshes. Sure, that’s not in-keeping with the dark and gloomy art direction of the future mutants — don’t get me wrong, I get the use of black — but there’s nothing in regards to form language in these designs that signify the iconography of Jubilee: no sunglasses or raincoat shapes or nothing.
Look – I already had to put up with a pretty lacklustre interpretation of Blink (another favourite character of mine), who had maybe three speaking lines, and whose face markings read more “clown” than “elfin”. But at least they managed to capture the Medieval fantasy appearance of that character by clothing her in a whimsical robe thing with gold along the shoulders that reminded of her sleeveless green costume from the comics; also, her Portal 2 powers were a nice choice. Bishop got a red poncho and a big gun, hearkening to the red turtleneck/scarf thing he wore throughout the 90’s. And even Warpath’s look was reminscent of some of his comic book iterations.
This costume for Jubilee, on the other hand, is basically a generic future mutant SWAT team costume, with Jamie Chung’s face slapped into it and some fireworks Photoshopped on the side. Ugh.
Aside: every fan who has ever given DC shit for the excessive piping of the New 52 Justice League costumes had better just shut up and sit down: can we please focus for a minute on the absurd plethora of buckles, belts, and baggy cargo pants on all of the designs for the future mutants in X-Men: DOFP? Why does Jubilee even need a gun shoulder holster thing?
So yes, there were some pretty terrible costume direction choices made in X-Men: Days of Future Past — Quicksilver looking like he stepped out of my closet from twenty years ago when I was going through my “everything must be shiny and plastic” Le Chateau phase, for example — but had I seen this poor excuse for a Jubilee on the big screen, I earnestly think I might’ve walked out of the theatre right then and there. So yeah, I’m glad Jubilee didn’t show up in that film looking like… that.
I’m also really glad that the production team decided not to go with this “flying squirrel” version of Storm.
But, the rough costume decisions aside, I’ve got another reason I’m glad Jubilee wasn’t in X-Men: Days of Future Past. I’m glad Jubilee wasn’t subjected to what I consider pretty much a hate crime of a movie.
That’s right, you heard me right. X-Men: Days of Future Past was a damned hate crime of a movie.
Much ink has already been spilled over how Kitty Pryde was basically edited out of her own major storyline; in the comics Days of Future Past storyline, it was Kitty that was sent back in time to warn the mutants of the post-apocalyptic future. But, in this live-action adaptation, Kitty is not our hero; Wolverine is. To add insult to injury, Kitty is relegated to literal sidekick status — she is given the deus ex machina power to send people’s consciousnesses back in time (that makes absolutely no sense given her existing powerset) and spends the entire movie facilitating Wolverine’s adventures in the past. For feminist nerds who yearn to see strong female characters take center stage in our comics, watching Ellen Page sit still and concentrate. really. hard. for two hours in a movie that should’ve been her time to shine was a veritable slap in the face.
Secondly, the premise of the film — the future mutants are able to reset time using Kitty’s powers to prevent their own deaths — enables a movie that was at least 45 minutes of graphic violence porn featuring the gruesome deaths of all the future mutants. Many times. And not just any mutants; mutants of colour.
Yeah, did no one else notice that while Bobby, Kitty, Magneto and Xavier hunker down inside the temple to help send Wolverine into the past and Save the World ™, it was our mutant diversity quotient that was throwing themselves into the jaws of certain death? Colossus leads a charge that includes African American mutants Storm and Bishop, Afro-Brazilian Sunspot, and Blink and Warpath, both transracially played by Asian actors. Virtually none of these characters get any speaking lines — nearly all of Halle Berry’s speaking scenes, for example, were left on the cutting room floor. Instead, they just get a lot of death. So yeah, whether intentional or not, the future scenes basically involved watching the United Colours of Benetton get murdered very horrifically (and graphically) in order to save the White folks.
The movie was like two hours of uncomfortable reveling in violence against the bodies of women and people of colour.
And speaking of graphic deaths, it did not escape my attention that every single female future mutant in that movie was graphically impaled to death. That’s right. Every. Single. One. Kitty is stabbed by Wolverine when he has night terrors; both Storm and Blink die after they are gruesomely impaled through the torso by the sharp arms of a giant Sentinel. If that’s not phallic, I don’t know what is.
Look, I get that a ton of people really liked X-Men: Days of Future Past. I too thought it was very sparkly, and yes, I too liked seeing Bobby ice up. But, otherwise, I think this film just reinforces my belief that the first X-Men was a flash-in-the-pan; that Bryan Singer is only going to ruin the X-Men franchise that was briefly resurrected by First Class.
X-Men: Days of Future Past was terrible.
So yeah, I’m really glad my girl Jubes wasn’t in it.
Let’s please save her for a film that doesn’t stink, and where she won’t get metaphorically raped by Sentinels?
I’m all for diversifying comics. But, not like that.