X-Men: First Class And The Civil Rights Movement [SPOILERS]

X-Men: First Class And The Civil Rights Movement [SPOILERS]

<i>X-Men: First Class</i> And The Civil Rights Movement [SPOILERS]

One blogger's review of X-Men: First Class draws parallels between the movie and the Civil rights movement.

Keep in mind that this is not my review so if you want to whine about it dont bother :). The author, who i think is insanely brilliant, happens to be a fan of the comic series and wrote this review. With her permission, i am posting the review here just to give a different perspective from all the reviews we have read thus far.

X-Men (2011)...You have my attention

Up until this weekend, I wasn't really into the X-Men films. But it seems that after 11 years (can you believe it's been that long), they're finally getting them right. Not totally right, but on the right track. One critic on Rotten Tomatoes said the film was a bit "talky", but that's the whole point. This wasn't all about actions and CGI and abilities; science fiction is about making a point, about commenting on social issues. That's precisely why it's the genre of choice for nerds.

The lil sis and I went to see First Class this Saturday. She didn't know that Professor X was originally inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr. and that Magneto was inspired by Malcolm X. But once I told her this, she started to see the whole franchise anew, and began pointing out things in the film I would've missed.

It seems that writers, director, and even the wardrobe staff were determined to make fans understand once and for all that yes, two of their favorite comic book characters were based on Black Civil Rights leaders. And when I say determined, I mean determined.

"Love thy neighbor."

In the film, whenever Xavier touched his temple to use his power, it reminded me of this pose by MLK (Malcolm used it too), and MLK's personality matches Xavier's ability to a T. Remember that MLK was charming, charismatic, educated, insightful man who was said to be able to "talk you into anything." This is similar to Xavier's ability to see into the minds of the others, as well as influence their thoughts and actions.

At the beginning of the film, Xavier preaches peace, tolerance, understanding, and is naive enough to think humans will feel the same way about mutants. This is similar to how MLK spoke at the beginning of the Sixties, the "Pre-1963 Phase," if you will, from which white folks in particular love to quote MLK. But by the end of the film, Xavier learns that not only can he not trust humans, but any humans, not even his dear Moira, hence his wiping of her memory. As a mutant, even a peaceful, responsible one, he's still branded Public Enemy #1 by the government. This is similar to how nearing the end of the Sixties, MLK was touted as the "most dangerous man in America". The FBI tapped his phones, and eventually, he was assassinated.

"Blue-eyed devils."

The jewel of this film, of course, is Michael Fassbender as Magneto. While James McAvoy (the lil sis's new husband, by the way) really channeled Xavier and gave an award-worthy performance, his character was somewhat annoying. He came from a privileged background, where he was so wealthy his own mother never even stepped foot in their home because she had maids and nannies to care for her child. This is similar to how MLK grew up with both parents in a loving, stable family.

Malcolm/Magneto...not so much. Malcolm lost relatives to the Ku Klux Klan, his father died when he was thirteen, and his mother was committed to a mental institution. Malcolm lived through a series of foster homes, and ended up in prison. Similarly, Magneto survived being a lab rat in a concentration camp, and his family (namely his mother) was murdered by Nazis. So we tend to understand where these folks are coming from.

"Mutant [Black] and Proud.""

The lil sis had very interesting commentary about Mystique and her mutation. Whenever Mystique talked about not needing to hide what she really looked like, or struggled with accepting the beauty of her blue skin, the lil sis said it was akin to black women not wanting to straighten our hair or bleach our skin, and simply be accepted for the way we look, especially back in the Sixties. Of all the men in the film, only Magneto was willing to accept Mystique for how she really looked (he calls her "perfection"), and again this is similar to how Malcolm X constantly discouraged Black women from straightening their hair.


The film was rife with wonderfully chosen imagery. Xavier and Magneto play chess quite often, with Magneto always playing the darker pieces. At one point, they're even playing a game on the steps of an Abraham Lincoln statue, discussing their next move and their differences in opinion. And every time we see them, we see the marked difference in their clothing. Xavier dresses much like MLK often did, even in his choice of sweaters, while Magneto dresses pretty much like a Black Panther. One critic on Rotten Tomatoes described the outfits as "groovy", which I'm guessing is a sign the choice in wardrobe went right over their head.

"By any means necessary."

Some critics also complained that the people of color all joined with Magneto's side, leaving Xavier with an all-white crew. I see nothing wrong with this; in fact, it makes perfect sense. Magneto is not the villain here; humans are. Furthermore, Magneto a Jewish Holocaust survivor. His newfound team members are POC living in America during the Sixties. They already know what it's like to be discriminated against while simply looking human, and by people who look like Xavier himself, no less. If they had rushed to side with Xavier instead of Magneto, it would've been highly unrealistic.

R.I.P. Darwin

And now for the biggest flaw in the film. *shakes head* When I first saw Gathegi onscreen, I paused to wonder why he hadn't been in the trailers. Then he was hastily killed off and I had my "Ah" moment.

You'd think in 2011 folks would know better, but I'm guessing not. After all, it took 11 whole years just to get this franchise on the right track. Hopefully, the next two films will show marked improvement in this department otherwise I will lead the boycott my damn self. This "movie about black people...but without black people" shit is not kosher. Get it together, Matthew Vaughn & Co. You have my undivided attention now and not all the bad-assery from Magneto will be enough to make me overlook something like this in the future.

And by the future, I mean the casting of the young Ororo Munro. No Halle Berry Jr.'s, please.
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