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X-Men: First Class Screenwriter Confirms LGBT Subtext as Totally Intentional


Sorry, fanficcers, he wasn’t talking about the tenderly presented friendship between Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr. What we have here is a case of the internet bringing people together… even if those people are a random commenter and the screenwriter who can immediately and authoritatively tell them they’re wrong.

We begin with Alyssa Rosenberg’s essay for ThinkProgress.org, which was a lovely deconstruction of the ways in which X-Men: First Class continued the subtextual messages of all the good X-Men movies before it: Mutants as an allegory for the LGBTQ community.

And honestly, who could argue with that? Even Fox News commenters have figured out what all those pinko commies at Marvel have been trying to say with the X-Men for years. But the tl;dr argument is strong with those who object to the critical or textual deconstruction of so called “lowbrow” entertainment.

Yup, that’s Zack Stentz, writer behind First Class, Thor, and Fringe. Here’s the facebook page that comment linked to.

Random? Yes. Awesome? Yup.

Stentz even stuck around long enough to give some recommendations:

The internet: bringing people together. For science comic books.

(Thanks, Anon!)

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  • Anonymous

    Awesome.  I’m glad to see that one minority’s struggles were represented in the movie in a way I personally see as eloquent.  I’ll admit that I didn’t notice this in the slightest while I saw the movie, as I’m thick as a reactor wall when it comes to anything subtle. 

    I hope the folks planning on writing the sequel pay attention to the comments in the earlier Mary Sue post on the movie re: race and gender issues, as I think their attempt to address those minorities was poorly done and I hope will be done better in the next installment.

  • http://natface.tumblr.com natface

    I think restricting it to an LGBTQ subtext is absolutely single-minded. The mutant theme, the alienation theme, has been present from day one of the X-Men series, which was nigh wholly constructed around Civil Rights. And I’d think and hope a screenwriter for X-Men First Class, which is set in the everloving 60s, for God’s sake, could grasp that angle. But I don’t have much hope for Mr. Stentz, as it were.

  • http://ladymercury-10.livejournal.com/ Maiasaura

    Wow, I think it’s really classy of a guy who’s been affiliated with Marvel to recommend DC comics.  Not just about money, you know?

  • http://www.extremelydissatisfied.wordpress.com Adam R. Charpentier

    I think it works as an allegory in many ways and has most recently come to be a representative of the LGBTQ community. X-Men 2 took a character, Reverend Stryker, out of the arc he was originally in, wherein he is a cult leader that terrorizes mutants and crucifies a few of the weaker X-people onto crosses outside of the school.

    First Class was full of gay allegory. It was like “I Spy” for chrissake. I think the most obvious representations were in Xavier’s relationship with Mystique, her kiss with Magneto (if you can imagine that they shared a sex rather than an X-gene, though I admit it’s as difficult to imagine Fassbender as a woman as it is to imagine Jennifer Lawrence as a man), then her full frontal reveal.

    I still think the full frontal shots were less about plot and subtext and more about having the film share a bit with Bryan Singer’s X-flicks, unless the message is, as Reverend ”why haven’t I died yet” Phelps probably fears, that you shouldn’t just come out of the closet, you should come out of the closet naked and then demand future bald paraplegics and big blue monster geniuses join you in your wonderful nude world.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JVUR3HVKDTXVRYUWCL74ZYQUYY jlkj

    “I think restricting it to an LGBTQ subtext is absolutely single-minded.”

    Agreed…so it’s a good thing that Stentz refers to other parallels in his comment.  Or did you miss the part where he says, “gay rights/ post-holocaust Jewish identity / civil rights allegory stuff”?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kristin-Frederickson/852880113 Kristin Frederickson

    @natface My first response to your post is, why does a franchise that looks to represent the struggles of one population automatically have to include the struggles of ALL oppressed and/or minority populations? Aren’t gay rights important enough to deserve their own series?

    Secondly, it’s a false statement to say that X-Men restricts itself to LGBTQ subject matter. In the Zack Stentz Facebook post above he clearly mentions “post-Holocaust Jewish identity” and “civil rights” allegory in the series.

  • http://natface.tumblr.com natface

    But to remove the other histories is to ignore exactly where the X
    canon came from, where it was always about an umbrella cause with
    splinters within. I think First Class ignores the history in many
    veins and this is just one.

  • http://twitter.com/Shalliw Shannon Halliwell

    This made my day! And reminded me once more why I love X-Men so much! Go LGBTQ!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_U2TKZ373YWXVO5YD7HFDBEYS5Y JamesT

    Gross.

  • http://www.thechildhealthsite.com/clickToGive/home.faces?siteId=1 Edcedc8

    no shit there was a bromance. in other news; water is wet.

  • Anonymous

    WOW! I’ve read comics, watched TV series and all movies for almost all my life  and I never thought that there was some “hidden” message. I always looked at it like a comic with a very good story. I guess I need to read between the lines a lot more. But it is nice to know that there was even more thought put into this.

  • Anonymous

    WOW! I’ve read comics, watched TV series and all movies for almost all my life  and I never thought that there was some “hidden” message. I always looked at it like a comic with a very good story. I guess I need to read between the lines a lot more. But it is nice to know that there was even more thought put into this.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7G4SWUX2MCWWXLMYNN347JMIZY Frodo Baggins

    At the rist of being That Guy, can I just add that it’s a freaking action movie? There’s a reason they call these themes “subtext.” It’s because the film is not a sociopolitical treatise, it’s an entertainment delivery method. While it certainly references real-world issues to enhance its emotional resonance, expecting it to lay out a comprensive representation of intersectional oppression is just silly. It would turn into Crash, and God knows we don’t want that.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7G4SWUX2MCWWXLMYNN347JMIZY Frodo Baggins

    I’m picturing Willem Dafoe yelling, “THERE WAS A BROMANCE!” like in the shootout scene in Boondock Saints.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Allison-Scott/100001423885098 Allison Scott

    as the B in the LGBT community myself i loved this i honestly did! i saw first class and thought, wow its like they are talking to me, why should i hide who i am because others don’t get it or like it! and seriously i always felt that Professor X was at least bi, i mean seriously come on, he loves the ladies yet at the same time, he’s madly in love with Magneto, who appears to be gay(and thats OK) its great to see such diversity in a movie especially a blockbuster kind. i mean we have Torchwood which characters are either gay or bi(which is another reason why i love the whole show) and Doctor Who has some Bi tendencys, which is AMAZING! i just love that he out right said it and was all, yeah it is so what? totes cool to me Mr. Stentz, totes cool with me!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Allison-Scott/100001423885098 Allison Scott

    ALREADY!!:D

  • Anonymous

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  • http://twitter.com/Yunabunaboo Mia McKinley

    You’re homophobic. Get the fuck out, asshole. 

  • Anonymous

    It’s a little hard to miss, at least in my opinion… “You didn’t ask, so I didn’t tell” was about as subtle as “Have you tried not being a mutant?”
    Regardless, it’s awesome that a mainstream action/superhero film can preach about something other than simply “use power responsibly/act for justice!” I think that’s why I’ve always liked the X-Men. And First Class is definitely my favourite X-Men film thus far.
    Especially interesting are Raven and Hank. While the others are mostly part of an invisible minority (like lgbt folks), these two are naturally part of a visible minority. Both have the means to hide it (at least until Hank’s serum backfires), but the question as to whether or not they should is something not well understood by a (young and inexperienced) Professor X and allows Magneto to empathize with Raven (and thus creates sympathy for Magneto). Hence one of the other reasons I like this movie – it simultaneously paints the righteous Professor X as a bit of a douche and the bad guy Magneto in a more sympathetic light.
    Anyway, long story short… First Class: better than your average superhero flick.

    P.S. Love what James McAvoy had to say – “It is a little bit of a mini-tragedy that [Xavier] and Magneto don’t, you know, have sex and become married and become best friends,”

  • http://twitter.com/rosiedoes Rosie

    I thought that perhaps Raven and Hank were representations of the trans community – unhappy in their physical bodies and perhaps not feeling that they are on the outside who they are on the inside?

    I’m bi myself and have grown up with the X-Men; I love the fact that directly and indirectly the various canon have given young (and not so young!) people some pause to think about what it’s like to be different, either feeling forced to or unable to hide aspects of ourselves which we should embrace.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ladyblacktronika Akua Adaeze Grant

    It would have been better if they just made some TBGLIQ characters. Magneto and Xavier were totally giving me that vibe. I was hoping they would have let them be lovers. Especially since Lady Miss Sir Ian McKellen for the original Magneto is gay. And I am not just the President I am a member of the TBGLIQ community

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jason-Cummings/1353063683 Jason Cummings

    I love the fact that it’s so suprising to the average reader (aka the public) that the people who would be most interested in writing about what it’s like to be different happen to be different themselves. Perhaps there is hope for our species after all. Lets face it, if you liked the storylines before realising their political/social context and rooted for those who would defend themselves because they are different then perhaps those differences aren’t so evil or in need of being avoided after all.
    If you would fantasize about being a superhero and defending those who can’t do it for themselves casue their “different” maybe you could just go with that and not wonder how or why they are who they are.

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