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Ben Foster In 'X-Men: The Last Stand'

X-Men: The Fanboy's View

X3 Thoughts From An Online Expert

POSTED: 9:07 am EDT May 24, 2006

Go ahead, call Ron Richards a "fanboy." You'll make his day. A fanboy, according to Wikipedia.com, is defined as a person who "immerses himself in the fictional worlds of comics and the culture of comics fandom." That being said, Richards is not a clone of Comic Book Guy on the Simpsons. Richards, 29, is everything CBG isn't: polite, cheerful and in his right mind.

But that doesn't mean he can't talk Star Wars or X-Men hours at a time. Especially X-Men. The not-so-merry mutants have been his comic faves since 1989.

Excalibur: The Gateway Drug
"I've been reading X-Men for 17 years," the native New Yorker said in a recent phone interview. "I actually got hooked on the X-Men not through X-Men, but through one of their family of books, Excalibur. Excalibur No. 19 was my first X-Men comic book, and that issue actually featured the X-Men as a team. It was kind of a gateway drug."

Yep, he was hooked -- a proud X-Men junkie who now sports about 7,000 comics in his collection -- a third of those of the X-variety. And it doesn't end there. Richards is also the co-star of his own comics-related podcast on his own Web site, www.ifanboy.com. Richards and two pals from Ithaca College -- Conor Kilpatrick and Josh Flanagan -- maintain the site, which welcomes other fanboys to hang out and talk comics. The podcast centers on a "pick of the week." Every Wednesday, comic shops across the U.S. get in new product, and the fanboy trio is quick to put up their impressions of what they feel is the best stuff on the market.

Podcast Power
"We have seen significant traffic on the Web site since we've been doing the podcast," Richards said of his show, which just celebrated its 25th episode. "Some of the bigger podcasts out there get hundreds of thousands of downloads. That would be a dream if we got those kind of numbers."

Compared to other sites like it, ifanboy.com is known for it's unfanboy feel. People who write in are reasonable, and the podcast is a quick, comfortable chat among friends -- with little hyperbole. Of the three, Richards is the resident X-expert -- a guy who can't wait for the third installment of the movie series.

As for what has gone before, Richards loved 'em both -- but favors the sequel over the original.

Gaining Momentum
"I got a little impatient with (the first X-Men movie) because it was pretty much made for people who weren't familiar with the X-Men, so there was a lot of establishing and getting things moving," Richards said. "(The sequel) had a lot more momentum. Eveyone knows who these characters are and what the story is. That's why I'm even more excited for the third one, because I think it's going to continue that momentum.

"I think it's been true to the vision of the source material. Translating comic books into movies is a tough job, because you can never truly translate it completely. So, what I look for is: Does it have the same tone, does it have the same voice, does it have the same vision that the comics have? And I think the X-Men movies have."

Ratner Vs. Singer
On the Web, a lot of fanboys are ticked that Brett Ratner, not Bryan Singer (who passed to direct "Superman Returns"), is directing X3. Superfan Richards, however, is here to say that'll he'll cut Ratner some slack.

"I know there's a lot of venom against Ratner," Richards said. "But I'm reserving judgment until I see the movie. That's the least I can do. I don't blame Singer for doing what he did, because it was a great opportunity. I just wish they could have worked out a way for them both to get made (with Singer at the helm)."

If so, who goes first? The Man of Steel or the Uncanny X-Men?

"Superman could have waited," he admitted, unashamed of hurling kryptonite at Warner Bros. summer cash cow.

The X3 Cast
As for the X-cast, Richards -- like many fanboys -- has concerns about "Fraiser" star Kelsey Grammer as Dr. Hank McCoy, the fabulous furry Beast.

"When I saw Kelsey Grammer in the makeup, I did cringe a little because it's not what my minds eye saw in the comics," he said. "But again, I think the casting as him as an actor -- you can't deny it. He can do the intelligent voice. I'm just very curious to see how he handles the agility and acrobatics of being Beast."

Getting Giddy
Again, a reasoned unfanboy response. On the Grammer question, a lot of fanboys will blurt out, "No freaking way, he's too tall. Grammer is going to ruin this movie!" Not Richards. Too poised. But that doesn't mean he isn't counting the seconds before the first screening.

"I'm excited," he gushed. "Edge-of-my-seat excited."

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