X-Men Apocalypse is a mediocre film in an otherwise outstanding series. While sure, it may be riddled with questionable character motivations and plodding plot points, to me its most egregious offense is the complete mishandling of one of the coolest X-Men characters of all time.
I’m talking, of course, about Jubilee.
If you have any familiarity with the X-Men animated series of the 90s or the comic book reboot Marvel put out last year, then you’ll know exactly who Jubilee is. She’s the spunky, yellow-jacket wearing mutant who is begging for the big screen treatment—her quirky attitude being a perfect point for writers to create a compelling, funny female superhero. But no, her most memorable line in the film is when she is talking to the ACTUAL MAIN CHARACTERS, who barely listen, but instead use what she says as a springboard for a punch line about how Empire is better than Jedi (because 1980s.).
But this isn’t even the first time Jubilee has been used as a background character. Across the first three X-Men films, as well as Apocalypse, she has been portrayed by none other than three different actresses. If you don’t count the main X-Men’s (Man’s?) appearances as children across the series, Jubilee ties with Storm for being portrayed by the most people, beating out Jean Grey, Cyclops, Wolverine, Magneto, Beast, Gambit, Nightcrawler, and Professor X. Across the six main franchise films, she has been included, at least briefly, in five of them.
So the filmmakers know that people want Jubilee, at least enough to keep including her. But frustratingly, they just never use her for anything other than set dressing.
As a longtime X-Men fan, I was ecstatic when they initially revealed that Jubilee was going to be in Apocalypse. Even going into the film, I was so happy that, along with a rebooted timeline, my favorite childhood mutant would finally get some substantial screen time. And who wouldn’t think that? She was heavily featured in the marketing campaign set photos, as well as a viral informercial for the film:
To be fair, it is a pretty cool video. Harkening back to the cheesy day-goo world of the 1980s, and even throwing in what sounds like a little Stan Lee at the end—it works pretty well as a one-off piece of advertising. But as screen time for one of the most memorable X-Men of the era, it doesn’t work quite so well.
She is a core member of the 90s X-Men, Jubilation Lee deserves better. Hell, the series starts with her joining the spandex squad. So why has she been relegated to an easter egg for so long? As a lifelong fan who saw a glimmer of hope for this character going into Apocalypse, I was severely disappointed, and I don’t think I’m the only one.
Still, I have hope for the next entry in the franchise. All signs seem to point towards the next film centering on the 90s incarnation of the superhero team. After all, some of the best/most interesting things about X-Men: Apocalypse was the special care put into the sequel-bait fan service, such as the inclusion of a sentinel-filled Danger Room, and a direct lead-in to the Dark Phoenix Saga. Even little touches, such as the subtle hints of the team’s comic book costumes found in Mystique’s and Cyclops’ gear at the end of the film, seem to point towards trying to do a more honest adaptation of the material, and hopefully, that includes putting Jubilee into the lineup.
If not, I am definitely writing a strongly worded letter.
You’ve been warned, 20th Century Fox.