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Generation X: Why The X-Men's Forgotten First 'Movie' Was Such A Huge Flop

In the 1990s, the X-Men were well-established as some of Marvel Comics' biggest names. The likes of Wolverine, Jean Grey, and Beast had made it into the pop culture mainstream, with fans of their adventures always looking for something more. "X-Men: The Animated Series" kicked off in 1992, bringing the mutants to the small screen, though they didn't make the jump to the big one until 2000. However, "X-Men" — a film that changed movies and no one noticed — from director Bryan Singer isn't technically their first-ever live-action movie. The flop that is director Jack Sholder's television movie "Generation X" from 1996 holds that distinction.

Much like "X-Men: The Animated Series," "Generation X" centers on Jubilation Lee (Heather McComb), whose mutant powers manifest unexpectedly. She's taken to Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, which is strangely run by Emma Frost (Finola Hughes) and Banshee (Jeremy Ratchford). She bonds with several other students at the school as they all try to figure out their mutant gifts. To put it simply, "Generation X" is a tough watch. The costumes appear cheap, the performances leave much to be desired, and, even with a $4 million budget, it fails to put together a compelling superhero story with all the pomp and circumstance comic readers want. Not to mention, all of the main X-Men team members are absent from the story, further contributing to the second-rate feel.

All of these shortcomings led "Generation X" to fall flat, becoming nothing more than an obscure pre-Marvel Cinematic Universe oddity (and a pre-"Iron Man" movie Marvel wants folks to forget). Still, it's worth noting that its influence did live on in one small way long after its air date.

Surprisingly, Generation X influenced subsequent X-Men movies in one major way

All in all, "Generation X" isn't connected to the wider "X-Men" franchise from 20th Century Fox at all — understandably so considering how much of a miss the made-for-TV movie turned out to be. In fact, characters like Jubilee and Emma Frost feature in the Fox movies with completely different actors behind them and in different points in the expansive and oftentimes confusing "X-Men" timeline. With that said, there's one major carryover from "Generation X" to the "X-Men" film series that most fans have no idea about.

Naturally, Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters is a principal location throughout the "X-Men" movies, appearing in most installments if only for a brief moment. "X2: X-Men United," "X-Men: The Last Stand," "X-Men: Days of Future Past," and "X-Men: Apocalypse," as well as the first two "Deadpool" movies utilize the real-life Hatley Castle in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, to bring the school to life. None of them can claim to be the first mutant-centric production to use it, though. That's another first that belongs to "Generation X," as it used it for Xavier's School years before any of them.

"Generation X" can be called many things: A failed experiment, a flop, a forgotten Marvel misfire, and more. At the same time, it will endure as the first live-action X-Men-related movie and the first appearance of the now-iconic Fox "X-Men" Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. It's not an overly-impressive legacy, but it's a legacy all the same.