If you are a real Marvel Comics fan, I want you to pay particularly close attention to today's column, because I'm going to ask for your help at the end of it. I don't mean you read some comic books and you like the X-Men; I mean you are a True Believer. You know who you are, and I know you are out there. Here's the deal: I'm going to offer up a few thoughts for you regarding the soon-to-be released X-Men 3 film, and when I'm done I'm going to issue a challenge/call for help to you, the reader. The topic? The controversy which has surrounded the new X film since Brett Ratner took over directorial control from the popular Bryan Singer, who departed to make the Film of Steel.

The X-Men film franchise has been one of the most successful comic book story lines to appear on the silver screen, and was in fact largely responsible for the current comic book to movie Renaissance we are living in today. However, It's no secret comic book fans have been very skeptical about the new film -- many of us have been very vocal in voicing our concern for the direction we've seen it heading. Everything from the Juggernaut costume to the disappearance of Nightcrawler to the plot in general has met with snorts of "yep, this one is going to be a disaster."

Am I worried? You bet I am. If nothing else, learning that the very poorly cast Halle Berry will be playing one of the largest roles in the film makes me shudder to the core. The treatment of the Phoenix Saga looks to be ridiculously short-shrifted (it's a tough story line to attempt all in one movie, especially when it has to share the main plot of the movie with another storyline). A large amount of attention seems to be focused on flash and pizazz, which is good -- comic books are chock full of flash and pizazz -- but the threat of a poor story looms large. Naturally, much of the blame for this falls (fairly or not) to Brett Ratner, as he is the most obvious change made between films.

Here's the rub. I've written before about the odd dichotomy that exists within my geeky soul regarding comic book movies. Even when they are obviously terrible ruinations of my precious Marvel books I find myself enjoying them on some level. I mean hey, even if the Fantastic Four film sucked eggs I still got to see the Human Torch out fly a heat sinking missile and DANG was that cool. The existence of the Ultimate universe has proven fans are fully willing to accept alternate versions of traditional stories if they are done well and maintain the "feel" of Marvel comics.

I've also previously written about the possessive feelings we comic book geeks often find ourselves dealing with when it comes to our sub-culture heroes suddenly becoming pop-culture icons. Sometimes, this lends to us becoming more elitist than we already are as a group. Which is pretty elitist, you've got to admit.

Here's my idea, I'm going to throw it out to you and see if it floats. I want to take a quick geek pulse on opening weekend regarding the new X-Men film. To do so, I need the help of Marvel geeks from everywhere. What I'm suggesting is not a "movie review" in any traditional sense of the concept -- there will be legion movie reviews offered for X-Men from people who are much better at it than you and I. Critics will dissect it from every possible film-going angle to determine its worth as a movie offering. What I want to provide is more of a gut-reaction, a true fan-base observation from the people most familiar with the subject itself; but I want to do it in a more organized and even-handed way than your average fanboy message board filled with trolls and spammers. You'll be able to turn to any newspaper in existence for a critical review of the film; I want geeks coming to Cinematical for a true sub-culture reaction. Call it a meta-comic geek opinion, if you will.

The deal is this: if you are willing to help me out with this, you must meet the following two criteria. Do so, and you'll get your thoughts shared with the world via yours truly.

1. You've got to be a real Marvel geek. I really need you to KNOW your stuff. Provide any sort of details you feel will qualify you.
2. You will see the film opening weekend. We've got to be quick about this, after all. We want an instant and honest reaction; not a well-crafted and tailored response after you've had some time for the rest of the world to tell you what you should think.

If you think you qualify, just leave me a comment proving your geek credentials. Make sure you fill out the little box asking for your email when you comment, because that's how I plan on getting in touch with you. I'll select as many qualified applicants as I get, and I'll let you know quickly just what I want from you. Remember, this isn't a movie review, it's just an opinion survey. I want you to be witty, but mostly I want you to be honest and open. I'm really interested in learning how the comics community truly reacts to the flick. Stay tuned ...