Weathering the Storm: How the X-Men films have failed Ororo Munroe

I have two confessions:

– When X-Men was released in theaters back in 2000, I had little detailed knowledge of the X-Men comic books or Storm’s portrayal in them, even if I had the very basic ideas of both. Essentially, I didn’t know enough to be outraged by how Storm was portrayed in that and subsequent films when they were released.

– I don’t think Halle Berry is solely to blame.

Lets not be mistaken, Ms. Berry is terrible as Storm and she shares a large piece of the pie graph for that. Not only is she miscast as the weather slinging goddess, but she also does little to nothing with the role to make it memorable, at least in any good way. I don’t really want to get hung up on the “how much does Halle Berry look like Storm” argument because I think most of us would rather have a good actor in the role then a 1 to 1 match of how they were drawn, as long as it doesn’t betray an important aesthetic of the character. This isn’t Zoe Saldana / Nina Simone territory folks. Even if I don’t agree with the casting of Berry for Storm, I can certainly understand it. Whether we want to admit it or not, Halle Berry was the most popular Black Actress on the planet in the late 90s to early 2000s. Lets not forget, when X-Men showed up in theaters, we were getting Jungle Fever, Losing Isiah and Boomerang Halle Berry. She had just turned in an amazing Dorothy Dandridge performance the year before. It wasn’t till after X-Men that we got Swordfish, Catwoman and Die Another Day Halle Berry (though to her credit, Monster’s Ball got her the Oscar in 2001). My point being, Bryan Singer went out and cast the most popular Black (and general consensus confirmed, beautiful) woman in film to play the most popular and beautiful black woman in comics regardless of what kind of fit it was. So, I’m sorry, I get it. Was he wrong? Yeah, he really was, but I see how it made sense at the time. Here are my five most egregious errors that the X-Men movies have made in handling Storm.

1. The Halle Berry vs The Role vs “What did she do to her hair now” problem.

Here is where I’m sure people want to push back, but frankly this much is true: Halle Berry is (or at least was at one time) a very good actress. Seriously. Now, she’s a very good actress that has done plenty of terrible films, but she actually has ability. Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, Frankie and Alice, Their Eyes We’re Watching God, Monster’s Ball, Jungle Fever…you don’t stumble into those roles without some chops. The problem with her as Storm is that because of her popularity, they probably gained some popularity pre-release, but that quickly dissipated once people saw the movie. Part of it is Halle not being very good in the film. Part of it is the atrocious writing for Storm. And part of it is how marginal a role Storm has been given. This was basically filling up your Ford Pinto with premium gasoline. Because of her name and rising star, there was an expectation for Halle as Storm that was never fulfilled. If you are going to have Halle Berry as a “major” character in your film, give her more to do. If not, give the role to somebody else with no expectations.

People forget why the X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie is named that way; it is because it was supposed to be a series of Origin films with Storm getting the next one. While that sounded like a terrible idea on the surface (and one of the reasons it never got made), I think I actually would’ve welcomed it just to let Halle stretch and try to do something with the role besides look worried, then raise her arms and make her eyes go white. But then, you’d have to do a story of this beautiful African woman with alpha mutant powers and you know…Hollywood. Speaking of which…

2. Storm was once worshipped as a Goddess and we shouldn’t forget that.

Every back story worth its salt (especially during her reign over Wakanda…I know, I know, sore subject) talks of Storm being thought of as a Goddess to her people and others because she possessed the godly ability to control the weather. And really, what’s more godly than turning clear skies to dark and vice versa? Even presently, there is still an awe for many people when Ororo is in their presence, that they are lucky to be witness to such divinity. Get any whiff of that from these X-Men films? I don’t think they should make everyone bow when Storm enters a room (I mean, I think they should, but I don’t expect it), but there should at least be some of those “Oh shit, you’re Storm, I am not worthy” moments sprinkled throughout the movies. Right now, she’s just homegirl at the weird school who can turn her eyes inside out.



3. Storm was once a master thief and we shouldn’t forget that.

One of the reasons people love Storm through all her history in the comics is that she is so versatile as a character. Goddess. Rogue. Lover. Rebel. Leader. Brawler. Yes, brawler. The movies have really missed an opportunity with Storm, especially with the fight scenes. With the pretense of the beautiful cover girl that is Halle Berry or how they validated it in the movies, I’m sure some believe that Storm is too cute to break a nail.

The reality is, Storm isn’t afraid to mix it up or get into a street fight. We’re not selling any delicate porcelain Storm dolls over this way.

4. That’s Headmistress to you, plebs.

Even if they failed to play up the Goddess aspect of Ms. Munroe, can we at least see that she’s in charge of some shit? Storm is such an afterthought in these movies, you’d think her power outside of controlling the weather was bouncing down some stairs with a very Halle Berry haircut. Not only is Storm a much more important presence in the Xavier School for Mutants than portrayed in the films, but she’s also led her own teams, headed mutant organizations and resistances. In the movies, she’s along for the ride in case the jet encounters heavy rain.

5. So, we shippin Storm or nah?

Look, I am the first to admit that I hate seeing love stories shoehorned into stories or for people to unrealistically be linked to love interests for the sake of getting a certain group of people to the theater, but let’s look at this from the movie producer side for a second. The foundation of the X-Men movies are basically built on a love triangle of Jean Grey, Cyclops and Wolverine (don’t get me started). Then you have the Bobby Drake / Rogue situation (still not getting started) which makes them more memorable than either of their movie versions probably deserved. Basically, Storm is sitting up in her room like Brandy, while the other less pretty people find love. I’m not saying you can’t have characters who are basically asexual or not attached to anyone else in an intimate way, it just doesn’t make any sense for Storm. When it comes to relationship status, she basically is the same as Professor Xavier without any of his respect, relevance or power. In the comics, Storm is rarely alone and is highly desired by those around her. So if you’re scoring at home, Storm, goddess, played by Halle Berry in the movies, not only has no interest in being involved with anyone, BUT NOBODY IS INTERESTED IN HER? Aiight. Admittedly, this gets tricky as her three most popular love interests from the books have been the Black Panther, T’Challa (IF YOU ALL GET ME STARTED I WON’T BE ABLE TO STOP), Nightcrawler (doable, though I would’ve liked a little more confident Kurt Wagner in X-2) and Wolverine (lesigh…we should be thankful for some things not happening I suppose).

At the end of the day, when the X-Men are inevitably rebooted with a different cast, lets hope our Goddess gets a little more VIP treatment. And you know, maybe a Mohawk.

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  • William is the Editor-In-Chief, leader of the Black Knights and father of the Avatar. With Korra's attitude, not the other one.

  • Show Comments

  • Johnny Storm

    Storm is not an all that character. I’m glad they killed her in DOFP.

  • Daniel

    Totally agree. I think Angela Basset would have made the perfect Storm. If they got the character right a movie would have been easy to do. Storm is visually impressive which suits cinema. I’d like to see the story of her with Forge and the Adversary retold.

  • ladylavinia1932

    Storm is not an all that character. I’m glad they killed her in DOFP.

    Oh gee, I could have sworn that she was alive at the end of that film.

    I’ve noticed that whenever Bryan Singer gets his hands on Storm as a character, he screws up. Of the four X-Men in the 2000 film, she was nearly shoved aside as a supporting character. She actually became the supporting character with hardly no lines in “DAYS OF FUTURE PAST”. In “FIRST CLASS”, her character was at least 10 years old . . . in 1962. I could have sworn that Storm was more or less around the same age as Scott and Jean. For “X-MEN 2”, Halle Berry had to fight tooth and nail to give Storm a bigger presence in that film. And for “X-MEN 3”, she didn’t have to deal with Singer. And in this latest film (with Alexandra Shipp in the role) she starts out as one of Apocalypse’s villainous followers in this latest film.

    Yep. Singer really doesn’t like her.

  • Kidd

    I know this kinda late, but if they were to reboot the X-men movies [Which I doubt would happen], I think Tomiko Fraser, Tika Sumpter, or Camille Winbush (from the Burnie Mac Show) would be a perfect choice as Storm.

  • Kittykat

    Don’t get me started with the Storm Halle berry thing .
    I’ve said this from day one Halle berry sucks as being storm .the whole storm character sucked. I’m a loooooonnnnnngggg time marvel comic / xmen fan. Jean Grey they got right
    Wolverine perfect
    Cyclops dead on
    Professor x perfect
    Magneto perfect
    Beast perfect
    But storm ???????
    Gabriel union’s sassy ass attitude would have been perfect
    I can see Tika sumpter
    Storm needs a actress who is tall and statuesque goddess like
    But can get down and dirty to kick some butt and talk crap while doing it

    • SC

      @Kittykat
      Agree with some of your anaysis, except:

      Wolverine – not perfect; he should have been been at least a foot and a half shorter in height with hairy arms
      In terms of Storm, two things:
      1. There may have been an interview where Halle mentioned her initial plan to bring an intensity to the role based on books and she expressed being marginalized by the direction.
      2. In terms of casting, specificity and authenticity is key. Ororo is East African. The only actress in 2000 that had the looks, height, accent, movement, and presence was /is IMAN. (Period) Although Iman is Somali, not Kenyan, she is conversant in Amharic (Ethiopian) and is able to adapt other languages of the region. Given the lapse in time since 2000, a current actress who could fill the role is the actress on the latest Heroes tv series reboot (character tracks mutants).
      Tika, ok. Zoe Saldana, possibly. Gabrielle? She is a great actress. The issue is delivering the experience of traversing East African landscapes to New York’s underground Punk Rock scene.

  • SC

    Judi Shekoni (Heroes Reborn) or 80s footage of Grace Jones

  • SC

    Remember, in the comics, Storm used to tower (in height) over Wolverine. Neither Halle Berry nor Alexandra Shipp tower over Hugh Jackman.

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