Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

I admit- I'm intrigued by X-Men: First Class. I have a few complaints, too. I mean, I see a lot of things happening that have been happening with the X-Men movies all along that is probably going to bother me.

Too many characters, too many different ‘eras’ of X-Men just crammed together. You know, Angel is Grant Morrison’s rather coarse and rude incarnation, not the original of Arcangel fame. Havok is in the movie: Cyclops isn’t. And no, don’t be fooled by that trailer- I don’t think that’s Nightcrawler. It’s some other guy… (Okay- it isn’t just ‘some other guy’. It’s supposed to be ‘Azazel’- who is actually Nightcrawler’s father. But.)

So yeah. Not sure about the planning on this one, again. I mean- it at least looks like it’s gonna FEEL like the old X-Men comic. And I give it credit for that. It looks a little 1960’s to me and I dig that. And I’ll also say this: a movie about Magneto and Xavier is a movie worth watching.

I’ll be willing to forgive all aforementioned flaws if this is done with the grand scope that it really deserves (which, I’m starting to expect, it might). I love Xavier, but honestly, some of my favorite X-Men stories really blur the line between who’s right and wrong in the Magneto-Xavier debate. I mean, I don’t think the debate is about whether or not prejudice is right or wrong- neither of these towering figures has any real debate over that prospect. In the modern incarnation, the argument boils down more to: is humanity good enough to OVERCOME prejudice.

See, I love looking at the debate this way because it isn’t quite as simple as Xavier is the good guy and Magneto is the bad guy. To some Magneto is actually the savior of the mutant race, willing to step up to the plate and do the things that have to be done to change the world.

Magneto doesn’t espouse mutant superiority because he’s just a horrible, racist jerk (although, in the original incarnation of the character- and Grant Morrison’s- this is certainly the case). Magneto is more rallying mutantkind to overthrow humanity and begin a new society. A Utopia.

And really- who’s to say he’s wrong? I mean, the human race IS fearful of mutants. They build Sentinels, hunt mutant children in the streets, and blame any petty problem they have on them. Hell, before that the holocaust exterminated millions of Jewish citizens, the United States enslaved and oppressed Africans for hundreds of years… I mean- there’s a lot of evidence pointing in the direction that Magneto is RIGHT, isn’t there?

So I think one way to ‘read’ Magneto’s actions is kind of like this. If things stay the way they are now, the way they have been, the world we live in will never get better. We need something BIG. Something to bring the whole thing down and pull it on course, so that we can rebuild. And build something better. It’s interesting, isn’t it? When you look at it in that light, Magneto isn’t so vile. But he’s got a different vision about what needs to be done. Now- Xavier.

I haven’t written about Charles much on the site, although I’m perpetually fascinated with the guy. You know, it’s easy to forget since Xavier’s one of the most powerful mutants on the entire planet. I think one of the most interesting things about him is that he’s disabled. This always kind of brings the ‘dream’ home to me. Because it’s sort of like Xavier’s really saying: there’s room, for everyone, in our society. It doesn’t matter- your race, your gender, your strengths and weaknesses…everyone has something good they can contribute.

Xavier’s dream is to ‘bridge’ all cultures and people together, into something better. Of course the kind of world that Xavier wants to build is going to require sacrifice. It requires patience and planning and, well, suffering. See, Magneto is willing to sacrifice all of human society in order to build his vision. Xavier is asking mutants- his friends- to struggle. To suffer. To fight for something better.

Maybe that’s Magneto’s best argument against Xavier: it sounds noble, sure, but LOOK at what he asks you to do? He asks you to tolerate them being afraid of you? To tolerate being treated badly? Don’t you deserve BETTER than to have this old man ask you to ‘suck it up’ just so HE can feel good about the world? Is Xavier’s vision just a dream? Is all the sacrifice and pain the X-Men go through for an ideal- just that- an ideal without any real payoff, just so Charles Xavier can feel good about himself when he gets into bed at night?

That’s the only moment, I think, when it goes off the rails and you really wonder about what the hell the X-Men are doing. When someone spins it that way. Does Xavier ask the impossible instead of facing up to the way things are? And is that right? Wrong? Better or worse?

That's not to say that I write all of this in support of the Brotherhood’s terroristic activities or something. My point is just this: the relationship here, between Xavier and Magneto, their conflict- it’s complex. And part of the reason X-Men was launched to such stardom to begin with. And it’s much more sophisticated than good vs. evil. So, if the film we’re going to watch has even a hint of that in it…hell, I’ll watch.