Superhero movies are full of classic conflicts: The X-Men vs. Magneto, Superman vs. Lex Luthor, and now: actor Nicholas Hoult vs. superhero movies. Hoult, who has played Beast in the X-Men movies since X-Men: First Class, had some harsh words for the genre in a recent magazine interview.
There is no doubt that comic book-based movies are big right now, from the Marvel Cinematic Universe to the soon-to-be-shared cinematic worlds of the DC Extended Universe, starting (technically) with Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice. The X-Men have been on their own over at 20th Century Fox, victims of a licensing agreement Marvel made before deciding to start producing their own movies, but they've been holding their own against the competition, and Hoult felt confident enough to lay a little smack talk down.
Speaking to NME, Hoult was not shy in providing criticism. "At times I’ll see superhero movies and admittedly be frustrated by them," he said. "It does feel like some are just packaging and they’re not trying hard enough because they know it’s a bankable formula." Of course, there is an exception to the rule:
"I love the X-Men films because they have a heart to them and you have actors like Michael Fassbender who brings so much to the characters. The superheroes in that world aren't smug. You don't want to watch someone who you know is going to win from the start just being awesome for two hours."
There's little doubt that there is a formula to superhero movies. Marvel in particular has a distinctive style that has at times not been a great fit for directors with strong ideas of their own. It's arguable the movies wouldn't have reached their current popularity if the first X-Men movie hadn't paved a path for them with its release back in 2000. Whether or not the most recent X-Men films stand apart from their contemporaries, however, is surely up for debate.
Screen Rant liked X-Men: Days of Future Past a whole lot, giving it 4.5 out of 5 stars. There have also been plenty of quality superhero movies from Marvel in recent years, though, such as the intense Captain America: Winter Soldier and the intensely likable Guardians of the Galaxy. As for Warner Bros. and DC... well, they definitely have set a high bar with regard to audience expectations. So, was Hoult justified in his condemnation of the genre? To some extent yes, but there's another X-Men movie on the horizon, and a popular saying about stones and glass houses comes to mind.
In the end, a little friendly competition is a good thing. If Hoult's comments rankle a few feathers, then maybe they hit a little too close to home. Regardless of his opinion of them, though, superhero movies are here to stay, and he's certainly not turning down the paychecks he's receiving as a result.
X-Men: Apocalypse is scheduled to hit theaters on May 27, 2016.