Hey, you know what Optician's Handbook hasn't had in a while? One of those painstakingly nitpicky articles where I fixate on a pair of frames in popular culture and dissect every element of it. Those are fun, right? Well, at least it’ll give you a conversation starter with your patients.
Like about 90% of the American moviegoing public, I recently went to see X-Men: Apocalypse at the theater; unlike about 75% of those people, I really enjoyed it. I mean, it was not First Class, but, it was no Last Stand, either. I think we all just got spoiled by Days of Future Past; what WAS going to live up to that, right?
Image from Fox Movies Website
One thing that DID perturb me about the movie, though, was Cyclops. While I haven't had the opportunity to be AS obsessive as I'd normally be and dig through the internet to see if anyone else has fixated on this, I'd like to think that I'm simply making OH the latest in a long line of optics-related sites currently tearing a hole in "Apocalypse". Those of you who've seen the movie-- you all know what I'm talking about, right? This should be the scourge of the movie-going, superhero loving, optics community. After all, Cyclops is perhaps the one super hero in the popular canon whose power is "glasses”— he must wait a pair of frames containing ruby lenses that prevent his eyes from emitting deadly laser beams. While most of his comic incarnations have featured him wearing glasses that look more like a visor, the creators of the X-Men films decided to do some product placement and put James Marsden in a pair of modified Oakley Juliets in the original film. The look stuck, and the modified Juliets would become the characters’ standard eyewear for Marsden’s next three cinematic appearances as the character.
Image from Fox Movies Website
Apocalypse, though, is set in 1986, and, as with First Class, the creators attempted to recreate the aesthetics of the era. Unlike with First Class, they’ve failed. Aside from some broad-strokes details like analog TV sets and New Wave music, much of the film looks like it could take place today, with modern hipster fashion standing in for the unique aesthetics of the era. It’s almost as though the costume department thought today’s youth are perfectly recreating the look of the mid-1980s and just decided to copy what they saw on a night out in Austin. That’s nowhere more evident than in Cyclops’ glasses. Any optician with even a periphery knowledge of 1980s frames knows what I’m talking about. This was the age of Ray-Ban—the decade when a single frame manufacturer became synonymous with sunglasses. Through a meticulously crafted product placement campaign that put Ray Bans on the faces of the decade’s biggest stars and in some of its’ most beloved movies, Ray Ban brought themselves back from the brink of bankruptcy. While the Ray Ban Aviator may be well loved and remembered for its’ appearance in Top Gun, the frame that made the 80s was the Wayfarer. Tom Cruise in Risky Business. The Blues Brothers. Miami Vice. No other pair of frames radically screams THE 80S like the Wayfarer. Had the costume folks wanted to give Cyclops an appropriately hip pair of frames, they needn’t have looked any further than the classic Wayfarer.
Which, of course, is why they put him in the New Wayfarer.
Images from Ray Ban website
Yes, the New Wayfarer, which is markedly not the Original Wayfarer. The New Wayfarer, which did not come out until over a decade following the events of this film. Just look at it: For one, it’s got the tell-tale shorter B measurement of the New Wayfarer, which was designed to appeal to sunglass wearers at the end of the 20th century who’d gotten accustomed to the 1990s trend of squatter frames. Even more apparent, especially on the big screen, is the tell-tale Ray Ban logo on the temples: In 1986, Wayfarers still had the metal rivet covers on the temple. It’s a dumb decision that smacks of laziness and an effort to make the movie look cool and hip by playing to modern audiences’ love of retro culture and their expectations of what the decade looked like, rather than what it really did look like. (Another example are Beast’s very, very 2010s semi-rimless browlines. Yes, browlines were a stereotypical geek frame in the 80s, and it would’ve been very simple to be both period-appropriate and draw a modern parallel by simply giving him Clubmasters or Ronsirs, both of which were available at the time. Rather, he’s wearing what I’m almost certain is a modern frame. Though I have seen examples of older semi-rimless browlines, they were very rare, more popular in European countries, and mounted to the frame with a clip, NOT the nylon wire clearly holding Beast’s lenses in place). In the big picture, it’s a small problem, but it’s the little details that make up that picture in the first place. I wouldn’t expect an ’87 Trans Am in a movie set in 1965, and I certainly don’t expect 2000s frames in an 80s movie. In a perfect world, they’d reshoot all of the appropriate footage prior to Apocalypse’s DVD release in order to restore period authenticity. I know that won’t happen, though. So, instead, I’ll just hope that Fox reads this article and puts me in charge of all things eyewear related in future X-Men productions.
Preston Fassel was born in Houston, Texas and grew up between St. Charles, Missouri and Broken Arrow, Okla.
In 2009, Preston graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Liberal Arts. In 2011, he graduated Cum Laude from Sam Houston State University with a Bachelor's of Science.
Preston currently works as an Optician in the Houston area. His interest in the history of eyewear goes back to his time in high school, when he developed an interest in all things vintage.
In addition to his writing for The 20/20 Opticians Handbook and 20/20 Magazine, Preston is a featured writer for Rue Morgue Magazine, where he reviews of horror and science-fiction DVDs. His fiction writing has been featured three times in Swirl magazine, the literary arts journal of Lone Star College and Montgomery County. He is the author of the definitive work on the life of British horror actress Vanessa Howard, Remembering Vanessa, which appeared in the Spring 2014 edition of Screem Magazine.