X-Men: First Class

Posted by Bushel Basket in , , , , ,

Like many nerds, I was quite impressed by the movie X-Men: First Class. It is easily the best movie in the X-Men franchise. What has impressed me almost as much as the movie itself are the number of reflections that I've seen regarding the justice issues in the movie and parallels with contemporary issues.

It's no secret that the struggle for mutant rights in the X-Men franchise has parallels with the civil rights, women's rights, and the gay rights movements. As a straight white male geek, this franchise gives me another way to talk to my people about the struggle for equal rights that goes around a lot of the stubbornness that comes with privilege. There are many entry points, like looking at Professor X and Magento as parallels for Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X, or the idea of being "outed" as a mutant as an example of being in the closet as a homosexual.

If exploring this film from the perspective of equality and justice interests you, I have come across some stimulating reviews. The first is from Ars Marginal, and reflects on the movie from the perspective of a person of color and a homosexual. The second is from Comics Worth Reading, and has a section that talks about women's rights in the film. The third is a review of the movie by a psychologist blogging on Psychology Today, exploring some of the psychological theories that come up in the movie. While the movie does revolve around issues of equality, it is not a film that achieved equality in it's production.

SPOILER ALERT: Don't read further if you haven't seen the movie.
It is a pretty white washed cast, with the one black character predictably dying soon after he is introduced, and the one latina character quickly siding with the "bad guys". The treatment of woman in the film is not that impressive. It is a period piece in the 60's, so some sexism is to be expected for accuracy's sake if not condoned, but for all the concern about mutant rights, even the mutant leaders are pretty backwards when it comes to gender issues. There is little overt reference to homosexuality in the film, though the interaction between Professor X and Magneto has long had homo-erotic overtones. Read this review for a further exploration of this idea.

In short, this film is quite enjoyable and can provide great fodder to talk about justice issues with individuals who might not otherwise think about such things. But, it's easy to ask, "who was right, the Professor or Magneto?" without raising too many hackles, at least initially.

Creative Commons License