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Mutatis Mutandis

Some Concerns About X-Men: First Class


This is not a review. If you’d like to know whether I recommend X-Men: First Class I can say simply: It was good. You should go see it. Matthew Vaughn manages to put together the cerebral, subtextual X-Men film that we’ve been missing since 2003. First Class moves through it’s paces swiftly, deftly, and though by the end of the film I wanted to take its musical composer aside and explain that not every use of mutant powers in the movie needs to have all the string and brass instruments in the orchestra thrown at it, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

But precisely because First Class was good, and because it played the allegorical stand in for prejudice-targeted-minorities the X-Men were meant to be like a fine aria, it is also important to point out the places where it fell short of the mark with actual, real, prejudice-targeted groups. (The rest of this post contains spoilers.)

First, there’s the matter of minority characters in the movie, which is a fairly simple one to explain. By the end of the film every single non-white mutant allies themselves with Magneto or Sebastian Shaw.

If I may play Devil’s advocate against myself for a moment, the Chronicle makes a very interesting and legitimate argument for why this would be so, and it’s all about privilege and the different and legitimate responses to prejudice:

The film also explores the privilege that often play out in marginalized groups and mutants being no different. For instance, there’s a privilege dynamic between mutants who can pass for human: such as Magnus and Xavier and those who are visibly a mutant: Mystique and Hank… Just because you’re marginalized in one respect, doesn’t mean you don’t have privilege in another..

…I believe Darwin chose to stay and fight for a government that fears and hates him for the same reason Jackie Robinson played baseball for an all-white team. For the same reasons blacks have served in the military and fought to protect a nation that actively oppresses them. Or for that matter gays who aren’t even allowed to be visible. It’s easy for us to say they were stupid/wrong to make those decisions but the truth is, Darwin wasn’t blind or naive… He knew the score and understood the dynamics. I surmise he believed that his sacrifices would make things better for future generations or at least gain ground in the struggle for equality…

Just as I can’t fault Angel for abandoning the government to side with Shaw and later Magneto. She gets denigrated for being a woman, a person of color, and a mutant, even by the CIA agents who were supposed to be protecting her. Why the fuck should she stay and fight for a nation that should burn in hell? She’s not wrong for saying fuck that noise and siding with her people.

This is a legitimate argument, and, if those themes were intentional, a brilliant depiction of the myriad and unconnected ways in which a person can be considered “other” and how they might respond to oppression. However, it would have been nice if the one non-white mutant who decided to ally himself with Professor X’s peaceful, cooperative mission wasn’t killed outright by his own kind in the same scene. Darwin’s death in the first act crisis is the first mutant death of the movie, and, in fact, is the only mutant death in the film other than that of the Big Bad, Shaw. It’s an incredibly head-deskable moment in a film that not only is about the treatment of unjustly loathed minorities, but is set during the Civil Rights era. With his death, and the defection of Angel, the X-Men become an all-white team.

No, blue does not count, and it seems an even more obvious stumble as you finish the movie and realize that Havok, Banshee, Angel, and arguably Darwin could have been replaced with any other mutant characters. Shuffling the characters around so that the team didn’t wind up lilly white would have been very possible. Their character arcs and powers had no effect on the plot. Just make sure one mutant on each side can fly, and you’re done.

 

Moving Along

X-Men: First Class skims over the Civil Rights Movement’s contemporary ties to its setting, i.e. smack in the middle of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Matthew Vaughn has acknowledged this in interviews, saying (with a legitimate storyteller’s concern) that the Civil Rights was too big of an issue to offhandedly hint at in a movie already widely concerned with a specific political event, and that the Movement might become part of a sequel, should a sequel get made.

But the movie does hint at the inequality of women in the era… and it does so offhandedly. Moira McTaggert, a woman who has already managed to defeat enough prejudice to become a CIA Agent, wears full on Emma Frost Playboy Bunny style lingerie while on a stakeout (it is possible that she planned it, knowing her targets would be inside a casino, but the movie does not imply this). The transgressions of male characters against the women around them are played mostly for laughs: Moira’s gender is routinely mocked by her superiors in front of her as if she was not present, Shaw snidely asks Emma Frost to freshen up his drink, and while we are certainly not invited to side with the jerks at the CIA or Sebastian Shaw, neither are we invited to see Moira and Emma’s struggle for equality as being in any way a parallel or similar struggle as that of the mutant race.

The only characters who were are invited to think particularly badly of for shaming women are Professor X and Beast, who spend many of their interactions with Mystique body shaming her blue form.

Jane Goldman, co-writer of the movie, actually adressed this before the film’s opening:

Unfortunately sometimes, when a film is edited you end up with a thread seeming that you’re not following all elements of all threads. There was much more of story about Moira being oppressed… Moira was a woman, so in the minority in the CIA, and in that sense was an outcast in her own way, just as all the mutants are. She was a victim of prejudice. That story line was supposed to reflect what was echoing and reverberating throughout the film, including with Raven [Mystique].

I believe her, not because I am an optimistic human being, but because X-Men: First Class was an incredibly tight film, top to bottom. There wasn’t a single scene that didn’t advance the plot or the emotional arcs of the major characters, and so I readily believe that a story arc that was only connected one character, and a non-mutant at that, was left on the cutting room floor.

However, it would have been nice if that stuff had made it in. What we’re left with is a movie does a good job of subtly making a couple major “good guys” look like slightly misogynist, privileged jerks when you compare them to Magneto’s proto-Brotherhood of Mutants, with it’s natural-beauty-positive, reactionary, take-no-shit from non-mutants philosophies.

And here’s where I remind you that X-Men: First Class is still really good an you should go see it. Really! Go read my first paragraph again.

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  • Anonymous

    I agree with you on the composer thing. Too many strings for everything that didn’t really need it. It was still a good movie :)

  • Anonymous

    I agree with you on the composer thing. Too many strings for everything that didn’t really need it. It was still a good movie :)

  • Anonymous

    I agree with you on the composer thing. Too many strings for everything that didn’t really need it. It was still a good movie :)

  • Anonymous

    Darwin’s death in the first act crisis is the first mutant death of the movie, and, in fact, is the only
    mutant death in the film other than that of the Big Bad, Shaw. It’s an
    incredibly head-deskable moment in a film that not only is about the
    treatment of unjustly loathed minorities, but is set during the Civil
    Rights era. With his death, and the defection of Angel, the X-Men become
    an all-white team.

    This is exactly what I thought.  I seriously face-palmed in the movie theatre when Darwin was killed and Angel joined the Hellfire group.  Totally agree with the fact that that was easily preventable.  The method in which Darwin died might be singular, but they could have replaced Havok with Storm (a much earlier introduced mutant in the comics anyway) and fixed that outright.  Of course, I would be disappointed if they allowed a poor rendition of her as in the earlier movies sooooo…

    I find the treatment of the women in the movies, the outright sexualization of 3 of the 4 main women characters, much less surprising, since this sort of sexism is so pernicious in society today, and especially in showbiz, that I was prepared to be thoroughly disappointed on that front, as I almost always am.

    However, it would have been nice if that stuff had made it in. What
    we’re left with is a movie does a good job of subtly making a couple
    major “good guys” look like slightly misogynist, privileged jerks when
    you compare them to Magneto’s proto-Brotherhood of Mutants, with it’s
    natural-beauty-positive, reactionary, take-no-shit from non-mutants
    philosophies.

    Now all they need to do in the next movie is match the asshole-ishness of the supposed “good guys” with the same shitty behaviour by Magneto and the Brotherhood and we’ll have an accurate representation of reality.

  • Anonymous

    *SPOILERS SORTA*

    Well written.

    There was one point in the film which very, very slightly hinted at  the Civil Rights Movement:  When Shaw breaks into the CIA agency to invite the new recruits to join his team, somewhere in the speech he mentions not being enslaved”and he looks at (and the camera basically zooms in on) Darwin. 

    I was okay (in the frame of storytelling) that Darwin “died” early on, but I was upset that Xavier’s final team was all-white, all-male.  I love X-men, but one of my major issues with the franchise (in the comics and in other mediums) has been the lack of minorities as central characters.  I realize I can say this about most other Marvel (and now) DC titles, but as a series aimed at tackling the marginalization of the “other”, I hold it to a higher standard; and, as a film that completely ignored all continuity, I was hoping that First Class would be a bit more daring in that respect as well.

    I only hope in the (more than likely) sequel, that the issue is tackled.  Whether it is done through the experiences of Moira, a young Storm, or some other minority, I trust it will be done well.

    Note: I was REALLY annoyed at the end of Moira’s debriefing with the CIA.  “The Kiss” line and the response just irked me.  I assume they will also get their comeuppance in the sequel.

    That being sad, it Is still a good movie.  GO SEE FIRST CLASS!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/amedeus8 Nick Gotshall

    tl;dr: they didn’t pay enough attention to race, so they’re racist.

  • http://twitter.com/KomiIsDrawing Kate Ashwin

    I did come out of that movie thinking that not a single woman in the whole movie had any agency, they spent their whole onscreen time being led around by men, physically and emotionally. They were pretty much told what to think, even at the end, Mystique basically confirms with Charles that she should go with Erik.

    Poor January Jones looked uncomfortable as hell in Emma’s outfits, too.It was a shame, since it was a great movie otherwise.

  • Anonymous

    I liked what Magneto’s team looked like at the end. It wasn’t just all the non-white characters, it was all of the non-white male characters. Basically, everyone in the movie who would have been discriminated against in some way even if they weren’t mutants.

    It made sense to me that the people who belonged to another minority group would side with the guy who preaches being accepted at all costs and not taking no for an answer. I know Magneto’s supposed to be a ‘villain’ but this movie was very pro-him and, for the most part, Xavier was being a privileged white dude the entire movie. Raven needs to not drink and not interfere with him hitting on women and put some clothes and white face on. Magneto needs to forget the Holocaust happened because it couldn’t have affected him that much. Moira needs to get mind wiped because she’s a threat and while I’m doing that let’s maybe kiss her because chicks dig that right?
    As for the sexism in the movie, it happened at the time. I felt like it was something the male characters were doing because it was something a lot of men did during that time period. When Shaw basically replaced Emma with a younger model (something that never gets mentioned verbally) I thought it was saying something about his character and the sexism of the time and the sexism that still exists today. How many men in history have fought for minority groups but neglected women? 

  • Anonymous

    I think you may have misinterpreted the purpose of a tl;dr. It’s a philanthropic act of giving people who haven’t read the post a sense of its overall message, not to illustrate that you were to lazy to read the post in the first place.

  • Anonymous

    That enslaved bit should have either not happened or probabaly gone after one of the other pans. Because they all made sense (“with us” = Mystique, “against us” = Beast, “fear us” = Havok). And if they didn’t pan to Darwin they would have panned to Angel, who was a non-white, female, sex worker (which would have been a tad bit more uncomfortable for me personally). I forget if they panned to Banshee at all. 

    But when that happened in the movie, the theater that I was in freaked. It seemed more like a poor editing choice than anything.

    The other one that got me was Magneto gesturing toward TV JFK with a gun. 

  • http://twitter.com/KomiIsDrawing Kate Ashwin

    I find it interesting that you say 3 out of 4 of the female characters were sexualised, when I kinda think they all were, to some degree. There was a literal stripper, a bikini-clad lackey, a CIA agent that pulls off her clothes as soon as we see her (she was wearing her stakeout suspenders!), and a lady who walks around ‘naked’.

    I guess there was Magneto’s mum. We didn’t see her bra. She’s the only one.

  • Anonymous

    Agreed.  That was one of the things that ticked me off about the movie–every single woman takes her clothes off, either to her underwear or completely nude.

    I could understand it in Mystique’s case, since they were tying it in with the first X-Men movies where she did run around naked.  Plus it was actually supposed to be part of an actual character arc, not played for titillation (well, the nudity itself wasn’t, although the way it was shown–with the camera slowly panning over her form and pausing on her breasts–did come across that way).

    And I could have accepted Emma Frost in her skimpy outfits since that’s what she wears in the comics (not that they needed to keep to the comics, of course–since in the comics, Mystique does NOT run around naked, but I digress).  But I recall the scene where she’s in her underwear, writhing on the (naturally fully-clothed) Russian general’s lap and making out with him, and then the camera moves over to reveal… Emma Frost sitting on the couch!  Ah, it’s all a mental illusion she’s creating!  But she’s still stripped to her underwear, for some reason.

    So, I could accept those two characters, but there was no reason to have Moira’s first scene involve her taking her clothes off, or making Angel an actual stripper.  There are ways to have women in the movies without them taking off their clothes!

    It is also possible for black characters to be in the movie and not die first.  Particularly when that black character’s superpower is NOT DYING.

    Also, the article mentions that every mutant of color joins with Shaw or Magneto (except for Darwin, who died fighting Shaw), but doesn’t point out that every single female mutant does, as well.  Emma Frost starts out on Shaw’s side; Angel joins Shaw when he shows up and does his “join me” speech; and Mystique goes with Magneto in the end.

  • Anonymous

    Also, that oh so subtle “look! there’s a black guy in this movie in case you didn’t notice” pan to Darwin when someone mentions slavery was just soooo cheap. I almost face-palmed especially when it was followed by about 30 seconds of quiet titters throughout the theater I was in. Uuuggggh.

  • Anonymous

    My theater laughed for about 30 seconds after that. I nearly face-palmed. I’ll say it forever, it was cheap in an otherwise, pretty good movie. Just cheap.

  • Anonymous

    As for the sexism in the movie, it happened at the time. I felt like it
    was something the male characters were doing because it was something a
    lot of men did during that time period.
      See, I just don’t buy that the sexism in the movie was intentional, because I found the sexism in the movie on par, in level and form, to…just about every other media representation of women in modern times.  I don’t buy it, I don’t give the people who produced the movie the benefit of the doubt because I simply can’t see a difference.  The behaviour of the men in the movie is exactly the everyday interactions that occur today.

    As for the responses to my previous post by Kate Ashwin and Skemono, you’re both totally right and said it way better than I did.  And yah, all four main characters were sexualized and their characters revolved around the men.  And Xavier wiping Moira’s mind — that pissed me off like whoa.  Total asshole move to take away her agency like that.  Really, this can’t all be intentional.  Just your everyday misogyny, folks.

  • Anonymous

    Not to lessen anything you said there, but it should be pointed out that January Jones always looks uncomfortable in everything she’s in. The girl cannot act. There, I said my piece.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=614151436 Donna Dickens

    I’d also like to give a ray of hope here for Darwin. If you know anything about the character’s comic arc, there is a distinct possibility that he is not dead.

    In the movie you watch him evolve to deal with the energy Shaw fed him and then disintegrate. If they stay true to the character, he has simply involved into a pure energy being that will need a new body.

    As to the female issue, considering Jean Grey was supposed to be Xavier’s first female student, I don’t know why they didn’t just tackle the issue of finding her as a child other than to stay away from the sour taste of X-Men 3 still in the hive mind.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=614151436 Donna Dickens

    Would it have been an asshole move to take away her agency if she had been a him? Xavier was trying to protect his people from a world that just tossed a metric shit ton of missiles at them. To think the CIA wouldn’t have tortured Moira to get the information out of her would’ve been naive.

  • Anonymous

    Would it have been an asshole move to take away her agency if she had been a him?
    Yep.

  • Anonymous

    No one read the script and thought, “hey, maybe this time we *shouldn’t* kill off the only black character first/only!”, the woman of color (singular) was portrayed as a hyper-sexualized stripper and otherwise the film was as lily-white as Emma Frost.  So yeah, they wrote a move that centralized and normalized the white male experience while marginalizing, belittling and erasing the experience of men and women of color, and exploiting the characters of color as objects to advance the white character’s stories.

    That’s systematic racism at work, right there.

  • http://twitter.com/daviticus daviticus

    Earlier comments mentioned that three of the four named female characters acted as strippers / escorts and the fourth was naked. Other seemingly gratuitous stuff I found disturbing: Why did Havok need to practice his power by blowing up models of naked women? And, why did the script call for TWO of the four named female characters to be subdued by choking? (That didn’t happen to any of the men, and there’s no particular reason it couldn’t have.)

    Yeah, I was bothered by many of the choices made in this movie.

  • Anonymous

    I think you’re reading two much into the choking thing, at least for Moira. She was choked, by Magneto, with her CIA dog tags. I think that’s intended to be emblematic both of how she was being choked because she was the only human Magneto could take out his angry on, and how the CIA didn’t care about her anyway, much more than it was “Haha! Look at the scrawny women get dominated by the man! Evil!” I don’t really have much of a defense for Emma Frost other than that the bed was metal, Magneto controls metal, and they went with what worked.

  • Anonymous

    “…even by the CIA agents who were supposed to be protecting her.” Dumbest part of the movie, and invariably any movie close to this. “Haha! Those guys have super powers! What a bunch of losers!”. Come on, what kind of idiot would say something like that? For one thing, ffs, they have super powers, one of them could kill you with a whistle! More than that though, come on, everyone wants superpowers, that’s why they’re super powers!

    Although, maybe that wasn’t dumb as “Blargh! Stupid women! A MAN couldn’t be mindwiped by a mutant telepath, no siree!”

  • http://www.facebook.com/amedeus8 Nick Gotshall

     I think you may have misinterpreted the meaning of “tl;dr”. It stands for “too long; didn’t read”. So yes, it is *specifically* to illustrate that I was too lazy to read the post in the first place. In this case, because god it was so boring.

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

    well, panning to alex summers to see the sting that the word slavery would have on an aryan archetype like him would be stupid.

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

    shaw was manipulating a black man in the 60′s by trying to  tell him he [darwin] would end up a slave if he didn’t join, he was intoning to darwin, OF COURSE they are gonna show darwin’s face. he was pissed off at the prospect. it sucks that he had no real name in the movie tho.

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

    but by just going by pedantic strawman logic; the movie would be considered racist against white people, what with Moira and Emma in their knickers. but that would be stupid, right?
    the movie was a little bit bigoted towards russians [who according to this movie are red skinned or buffoons] but I suppose the movie was essentially Vaughn’s bond movie, so I can cut him some slack there, maybe. same with having a characteressensially intruduced in her undies – it’s a play on those old movie tropes. however the real problem is that the only character other than the villain that was killed was an african american.  that cannot be argued as a commentary by the filmmakers on ‘the black experience’ because it was badly done. to be honest, it felt like the writers were saying ‘ok, we can get rid of the black guy now, don’t worry’. just kinda weird, especially if you consider the potential for having a black guy on the  team who was possibly even treated badly by some members of the team itself, that would make for an interesting story.

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

    I’d argue that with that scene after Prof X was shot, she was making sure he was ok, and he was telling her that he got why she was acting different, she had taken up mag’s cause.
    the  bad part of that scene was that after she says her line about  promising to read her mind, he should have said he didn’t have to.

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

    on that chronicle blurb for a moment; I wasn’t aware that ‘teh gays’ could look different from anyone else.

  • Anonymous

    Shaw was saying it to everyone. I understand why they panned to him, I just feel like it could have been softened for the audience if they hadn’t gone to that statement/pan to actor choice first. When that one comes first, you don’t have the pattern in your head so it looks like he just threw a reference to slavery at the only black character in the room.

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

    oh, I getcha. good point.

  • http://twitter.com/seawall Angela

    Agreed that this film humanized Magneto in a big way. I always thought there was a hint of sympathy for him in previous films, and this confirmed it. Violent methods aside, he did not like the idea of “his kind” being rounded up by the humans for understandable reasons.

    Also, I suspected that Moira only pretended to be mindwiped, throwing in the snatches of “romantic” imagery knowing she’d be groaned at and dismissed promptly. She was no dummy.

  • http://twitter.com/daviticus daviticus

    I think that saying being choked by CIA dog tags is intentionally symbolic of the CIA’s attitude towards her is reaching a bit. That’s a level of subtlety I think there’s just no evidence for, especially since her connection to the CIA was largely irrelevant at that point in the story. And for both Moira and Emma, Magneto could easily have restrained them (as he demonstrated with basically everyone else on the beach) _without_ choking them, so the fact that the metal was convenient isn’t enough to explain it. (I do think Magneto’s convenient-for-restraining-people power is the reason that he was the individual responsible in both cases, but again, that doesn’t require anything about the particular method of restraining.)

    I also think it doesn’t need to be as intentional as you imply. I’m not saying that anyone involved in the production did this because of a conscious enjoyment at seeing women physically dominated by a man. I think it just seemed to them like a natural dramatic storytelling convention for a woman to be restrained in that way. That’s the problem — not that people are deliberately subjugating women, but that this form of violence often seems to people like a natural way for the story to proceed, and no one is aware enough to question it.

  • Anonymous

    Agreed.

  • Anonymous

    Agreed.

  • Anonymous

    That’s the problem — not that people are deliberately subjugating
    women, but that this form of violence often seems to people like a
    natural way for the story to proceed, and no one is aware enough to
    question it.

    Bingo. 

    This goes for the sexualization and objectification of women in media as well.  I don’t think most of this is intentional in any malevolent way.  It’s simply a reflection of how permissive society is in dehumanizing and abusing women in various ways.

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

    Hang on a second. This is going to be long and probably repeat what others have said, but I’m going to go ahead with it anyway:
    The Chronicle article is speculative fiction at best. Although I agree with the resolution, that Darwin definitely suffered from a symptom of 1980′s Horror/Action exploitation that was eye-rolling and cring-worthy. Orlando Jones put it fairly well in Evolution: “I’ve seen this movie. The black dude dies first.” That line was the first thing that came to my mind when Darwin somehow managed to entirely fail to adapt despite that being his goddam mutant ability (bad writing, perhaps? Sebastian Shaw’s power fails to stop Erik from shoving a coin through his head, so either they all have misfiring abilities or they failed to explain properly how those abilities work). Although, I have to admit, Darwin’s death wasn’t nearly as eye-rolling as the moment when Sebastian Shaw’s speech culminates in a close-up of Darwin just as Shaw lets slip the word “enslavement.”
    However, the Chronicle’s expressed motivation for Darwin’s actions (and, I think, they’d like to paint him as a civil rights martyr rather than a guy who had lived for at least twenty years sure that his body could adapt to any danger and no harm could come to him) are a stretch. Viewers are given absolutely nothing to go on. Like the other mutants, Darwin is a young adult that has one brief scene in which to enjoy the company of his fellow mutants, then he’s killed because someone had to die. He was attempting to save Angel, yes, defeat Shaw, sure, and there’s the whole Nazi thing lest we forget, but I feel like the bout should have gone another way. Azazel should have ported Darwin away, or something along those lines…The Chronicle describes both Darwin and Angel as being persecuted by the government because of their ethnicities, states that Angel was further denigrated because she was a woman, and does so on the basis of, again, nothing. Nothing in the film supports either accusation. Now, obviously, the 1960′s were a hot bed for this sort of thing and, yes, their lives were probably those of persecuted people, but none of that is in the film. I’m not just calling out The Chronicle for its imaginative ideas, though. All of that subtext SHOULD have been in the film. Instead, we’re given a sort of retro racist (but mostly sexist) vibe. Moira strips to go undercover, Emma’s literally a prostitute, Angel is a stripper, Erik’s response to finding Mystique in his bed is to compel her to strip naked (I actually think that was entirely nonsensical, more a product of: we have to get Mystique out of her clothes because she’s nude in the original movie)…My point, if I have a point, is that the movie didn’t give nearly enough material to speculate on whether Darwin and Angel made their decisions based on anything other than Sebastian Shaw’s immediate presence, threat, and offer. It was sloppily done. Oh, one last thing: when Moira is debriefed and she mentions a kiss, that asshat from Washington says, “This is why women shouldn’t be in the CIA,” which I assumed was going to lead to a joke or some kind of verbal or visual backhand. Instead, nothing. A few years ago, I saw The Taming of the Shrew for the first time. It was enjoyable up until the moment when the so-called Shrew serves her family dinner, apparently Learning Her Place: the end. I had no idea that was how it was going to end. I felt cheated. The ending wasn’t earned, made no sense, went against character (I felt), and was such an outdated perspective that, for the first time, I wondered why people read Shakespeare at all. That moment, after mentioning the kiss, the response from Mr. Asshat, felt the same way.The movie wasn’t all bad. I’m not saying it was. I just don’t buy for a second any so-called speculation on the motivations of Darwin/Angel.

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

    Then don’t pan to anyone. Skemono and dolph122000, I agree with both of you wholeheartedly (and said the same thing, at length, after you did. Sorry!) I agree that Mystique was stripped simply because they had to get her naked because she’s nude in the original film, but Xavier’s reaction is what through the whole scenario out of whack for me. In the original, we’re shown a blue, scaly Mystique that apparently doesn’t need to wear clothes, but that’s fine: no orifices are showing, there are no nipples to titillate (pun unintended, I promise) the kiddies, and no one stares at her for any other reason that she looks bizarre (being blue and all). Xavier’s reaction in this movie is clearly, oh my god, my sister is naked, put some clothes on! Then he immediately has a conversation with her while she continues to be naked but now he’s okay with it. Still, that reaction…immediately and ever after, I will look at Mystique and my mind will boggle: how does she poop? Is she concentrating just to cover her privates? Is that any different from concentrating to look human? Yoda wouldn’t think so. Does she have a built in bum shield and if so, why isn’t that mutation on her file? Sean Connery has been trying to invent one of those things for years.

    Also, Emma Frost: prostitute to Soviet military men. Whether they’re banging her or just soiling themselves against a mental projection of her, she’s still involved, it’s still prostitution, and she seems fine with it. 

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

    Yes! The kiss! Thank you. I mentioned this elsewhere but I didn’t think anyone else had. Like I said (elsewhere), it reminded me of the ending to The Taming of the Shrew, which I saw for the first time and was immediately surprised by. I thought it had to be a joke. I waited for a punchline: no punchline. The punchline is women shouldn’t be in the CIA. What the hell?

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

    “the movie would be racist aainst white people, what with Moira and Emma in their knickers.”

    Seriously, that’s your move?

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

    Agreed. I thought that was exactly where they were going with it: I didn’t have to. Too bad. 

    And, yeah, Kate, January Jones would make a passable action figure, but she was semi-expressionless for most of the flick. Emma Frost is introduced as a dominatrix, she was RE-introduced as a socialite, and now she’s fallen somewhere between the two. Bored, powerful, intelligence, and vengeful, are words that describe the Emma Frost we’ve read about. I never imagined that she could be successfully doubled by a cardboard standee, but that’s pretty much the performance we’re given. 

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

    No one has mentioned how absolutely terrifying it is that Xavier has no problem popping into your head between kisses to wipe out a week or two of your life. Also, it should be pointed out that Magneto accepts a multiculture, multilifestyle (if Mystique isn’t a nudist then Magneto is playing a four-film Emperor’s New Clothes-style practical joke on her that no one has been sympathetic enough to explain) group, and replaces Xavier’s telepathy with Emma Frost’s without so much as a quip about whether she’s easier on the eyes.

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

    Interesting! I’d like to believe your interpretation of Darwin. Maybe they’re going to combine him with Proteus for the next flick…

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

    Now that you mention it, Storm and Magneto are choked in the first movie…is this a running theme? X-Men: We Like Choking

  • Anonymous

    tl;dr:  I’m an asshole and a troll.

  • Anonymous

    I never thought about it that way. Didn’t Xavier say something though, a sort of line about ‘I know’ that, when accompanied with that segue, seemed to indicate she had actually been mind wiped?

    Midnight showings are not the best place to pick up every detail. I need to see the movie again. 
    If there is any opening for interpretation on that though, it would be fantastic. Mostly because it doesn’t make one of the main heroes of the movie look scuzzy.

  • Anonymous

    I came out of the movie wondering if Magneto could qualify as a villain. Antagonist, new enemy, ‘fallen hero’ (as TV Tropes said) are all words you could throw at him. But villain? 

    And it is terrifying that Xavier has no problem doing that. Still, the entire movie he was pretty freaking sexist. And now I’m thinking about the implications of him always hitting on women at bars and having a date-rape friendly mutation and I do not like where this is going. 

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

    I thoroughly enjoyed this interpretation of Xavier, if only because it matches his current personality. Yes, Jean-Luc Picard is the guy I would picture leading the actual first class, as he’s the perfect blend of British accent and good humored smiles, but charming, slimy, date-raping hippie cult leader Xavier is a better fit with this interpretation of the original class.

    It creates a better pairing. If Xavier is always altruistic, peace-loving, and selfless, and Erik is always a murderous, angry, sonuvabitch, then there’s a very obvious division between them. However, if Erik is shown to be passionate, charismatic, and accepting, whereas Xavier is shown to be sarcastic, an unconvincingly gracious partner/barfly/host, more or less a self-hating, closeted mutant, and both of them still fit in the original molds (X: altruistic, etc., E: sonuvabitch) then there’s less of an obvious split. Plus, Erik is right in the end…

    To be honest, I didn’t expect the movie to end the way it did. They setup Xavier’s Shadow-esque ability to cloud men’s minds, so I thought he was going to throw his voodoo over the entire island and everyone would escape together, not draw a line in the sand as they did. The whole thing was so rushed that we subsequently have lots to discuss but the source material lacks depth. It’s implied, yes, but sometimes the implications are odd.

    I keep coming back to Erik/Mystique in his bedroom. He says that she shouldn’t hide who she is. Her resolution is to show Xavier a bit of Smurfalicious full frontal. I’m not sure what the intended message is (and I will forever wonder whether Mystique, in her natural form, can use the toilet) but I bet the wrap party was very, very awkward.

  • Anonymous

    I think it was partly to get his attention and partly because she was now comfortable with her blue body. So she was showing it off and being very blunt about her newfound ability to not care what she looked like.

    And she must be able to somehow. I’m wondering if her and Magneto had sex. It seemed very open either way for if you wanted to think they did or not.

  • Anonymous

    I hated the Emma Frost choking scene, especially as she’s tied to a bed in order to do it.  Plus, shouldn’t her diamond self be stronger than the brass bed?  Except it’s not because he’s REALLY angry.  And a dude.  So he’s stronger than her.  Ugh. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_A27YNHQDB4RYDADMU5NQIHRMSM Galactic

    I think that was the entire point of the scene with the “women shouldn’t be in the CIA” remark and why that was left as the punchline.  You were SUPPOSED to hate that room of stuffy old misogynists laughing at and belittling the one person in the room who was different.  That scene was put in there specifically to make you dislike them.  The more you hated them, the more you could see things from Magneto’s point of view.

    I think the point of the whole movie was to blur the lines between Erik and Charles.  They were both flawed human beings.  It isn’t now, nor has it ever been, purely Good vs Evil.

    The main narrative of X-men: First Class I believe was to hammer home the whole Prof X Luther King/ Magneto-X comparison that has been made many many times in the comics.  They both want what’s best for their people, but their methods vary greatly.  They respect and admire each other, but many times their ideologies are at odds.

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

    pointing out illogical arguments by presenting them in a new light; if the movie is racist against black people for showing 1 black woman in her underwear, the movie is twice as racist against white people, since 2 white girls are walking around in their undies.

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

    then people would complain that they didn’t have the darwin reacting to the word enslaved.

  • Anonymous

    tinyurl.com/2a7usxg

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

    Just speculating, but I think roguishknight’s argument was that at least there were whites on every side, whereas there were black characters cast only in sleazy, evil, or “the black dude dies first” roles.

    I do agree that it’s ridiculous to say that a misogynistic approach to the black actress is racist while the portrayal of ALL of the white female characters was merely sexist.

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

    Why not have all of the characters reacting to all of the speech rather than each individual reaction to the particular line meant for each of them? I don’t accept that there was only one right way to handle it.

  • Anonymous

    tinyurl.com/2a7usxg

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

    “whereas there were black characters cast only in sleazy, evil, or “the black dude dies first” roles.”
    hmm. good point.

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

    speaking of race in XM:fc, nytimes has a great article.
    tinyurl.com/3rx7lem

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

    “but they could have replaced Havok with Storm (a much earlier introduced mutant in the comics anyway)”

    Except they kind of want to keep in line with the continuity of the other X-Men movies, which requires storm to be Halle Berry age… 40 years after this movie. She has a cameo as one of the little kids when Professor X uses the proto-cerebro machine. I think she might be introduced in the sequel, as a teenager.

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

    Honestly, when you’re thinking in depth about how Mystique takes a shit and why her asshole isn’t visible in a PG-13 movie, it’s time to take a step back from the material.

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

    Yes, well, obviously they’re going to save the Mystique takes a humongous dump for Harold & Kumar Go to the Xavier Institute.

    If you’ve never taken a single subject too literally, especially in the realms of fandom (ex. why does Mario jump on turtles, did the Power Rangers ever look at themselves, look at their costume colors, and say, “That’s racist!”, if Frodo Baggins has access to the Internet, couldn’t he have Google Mapped his way to Mt. Doom on a more expedient route that didn’t take him quite so close to the giant spider?) then you’re doing it wrong.

    I mostly heckle naked Mystique because of all the diversions the story took from the comic, her character design seemed like the least cost effective, most nonsensical, specifically designed to show off Rebecca Stamos’s ass rather than merely painting her blue and casting an actual actor that can act in the role.

    I wish you had fallen into the volcano with Gollum.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=725488095 J Dutch Freeman

    I really hate to comic book nerd out but here we go.  As the author stated, yes Xavier and Erik were representative MLK and Malcolm X.  It’s not as “White Man’s Burden” as you might think.  Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and other comic book writers were truly people who tried to reach the masses with their work.  But of course no one want’s to be preached to, but if you can entertain while you teach, most kids are more apt to take to the lesson.  Xavier, like MLK, wielded much power and could influence thousands, and what he chose to do with his power was to try and come to an understanding, we might look different, act different and yes we are different, but that should be no bearing on how we are treated as people.  Erik, as stated by Stan Lee, was never a bad guy, he was just tired of constantly being rejected, hated, and mistreated by “normal humans”.  His goal was for Mutant separatism, and was going to do everything in his power to get that.  Now for Darwin, yeah he was the first to “die” but, if you read the comics, Darwin can’t really die.   He can adapt to anything, it’s just takes him longer to adapt to new things, like gettin blown to smithereens.  He has “died” before, as with pretty much all comic book characters.  I don’t want to get into this too much more, but I hope you understand comic books are more than just a fun read, they really are commentary on society for the times they are written in.

  • Anonymous

    darwin did not even die
    read your comics people! (or wikipedia :)
    then you say: the movie fails at hinting those subplots that you, comic-nerd might be thinking
    i say: they did give some good clues
    so, i think most of the complaints there were actually thought of, if not, as a perfect nerd, i can totally just find excuses around them :)
    but i think the movie was going a mad men route, and the dominant whites are not supposed to be so good guys as our *aham* prejudice-ready minds are so used to believe
    the movie is gray enough to be mostly around magneto (and his killing spree) – of bad guys! every hollywood hero does that – but in his way to become…a villain!
    as said, every scene carries the story through, so i invite people to wonder about charles meeting with the CIA and its outcome, watch again if needed

    oh i’m so presumptuous
    and my text seems really hard to follow…well, if you just think its not even good enough to give it a try, then, keep thinking straight :)

    oh, and emma frost sucked hard – no sexual innuendo there

  • Anonymous

    i agree!

  • Anonymous

     magneto was choked

  • Anonymous

    not hope
    this is exactly what happened in the comics (in a way) he became energy merging with Summers (not Alex, though)

  • Anonymous

     that would have been just cliche
    oh, sorry, you were being sarcastic?
    >:)
    i think they gave enough clues that xavier is actually a dick and might be just mind-controlling everyone

  • http://classbravo.blogspot.com Mark Z.

    “What we’re left with is a movie does a good job of subtly making a couple major “good guys” look like slightly misogynist, privileged jerks when you compare them to Magneto’s proto-Brotherhood of Mutants, with it’s natural-beauty-positive, reactionary, take-no-shit from non-mutants philosophies.”

    Isn’t that the point? That McAvoy’s character is a callow, hypocritical leader who tells a Holocaust survivor that people who acquiesce to evil are innocent bystanders? Forgive me, I’m not an X-Men fan and know nothing about the story, but a friend dragged me to the movie last night (and I enjoyed it), and it was pretty clear to me that Magneto is the good guy and McAvoy’s outward appeal for harmony and willingness to accomodate humans is really just a mask for a lack of self-respect (since he clearly can’t accept Mystique’s appearance) that renders him (literally) immobile and is not an effective way of fighting for equality. I guess that’s different from the way it is in other X-Men movies?

  • http://twitter.com/TheHeartSleeves TheHeartSleeves

    Darwin’s death was troubling. Growing up with 70′s and 80′s movies.. I had long since grown tired and angry about the black friend who dies or the black team member that eats it.. The Shining, Gremlins, Enter the Dragon, Transformers (kinda)… white directors seem to love killing the black man. It’s the main reason I stopped watching Jurassic Park 3 minutes in. Darwin’s death seemed meaningless and also, wasn’t the whole point that he could evolve past anything? I was expecting him to come back.. and they just left him in a flash of light. Was that possibly left on the cutting room floor? Will Darwin return? From what I’m reading about him, it is possible.. I hated how he seemed to just be cast out..but then again they did the same thing to Oliver Platt.. I still loved the movie, but I was hoping for more meaning with Darwin, maybe a scene at the end of the credits.. 

  • Shawn Hill

    Agree completely regarding Darwin and Angel, I was struck in the movie by how stereotypical their fates were. But I don’t think the movie was unaware of the sexism of the time period: all those miniskirts, the cusp of feminism was definitely a subtext. We were totally meant to sympathize with Moira’s up-hill battle with all those men in black suits, and Emma was portrayed as a woman who tried to use her sexuality to her own advantage.

  • Anonymous

    tinyurl.com/2a7usxg

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

    if he were mind controlling everyone, he could have wiped erik’s memory.

  • Anonymous

    I think you hit the nail on the head, actually. The first 3 X-Men movies have the standard setup of Professor Xavier being the saintly headmaster of a school for mutants and also the leader of the X-Men (mainly teachers at the school) who solely uses his powers and influences to preach acceptance and tolerance for mutants to the masses. Magneto is usually who he has to defend the humans from (along with mutants from humans out to destroy either all of them or specific ones). This movie expands on the glimpses we get in the others of reasons some mutants choose to support Magneto & his separatist movement. This shows that the two were good friends (also hinted at) and shows that Professor X had some self-improving to do in order to become a bit more like Magneto in his own level of tolerance for absolutely everyone. It also much more explores Magneto’s motivations (it was originally supposed to be X-Men Origins: Magneto, but Origins: Wolverine bombed hard so I can understand stepping away from that.)

    Now, the movies are also based on (but often step away from) the canon in the comic books, so I’m just sticking to the movies since I think they’re trying to relate to each other. I also think this movie is clearly meant to set up (a) sequel(s), so hopefully some of these loose ends and problems will be tied up/further explored or explained in these hypothetical sequels.

    I think you got it as a newbie because a lot of us are used to Professor X being the infallibly good guy, and I think the writers and director of this film (hell, McAvoy has expressly said it was his goal) to paint him a slightly dirtier shade of cream. (You know, what with white being the color of purity/good in Western society.)