Sunday, June 5, 2011
Some thoughts are running through my head now that I've returned home from seeing X-Men: First Class. The first thought is that you NEED to see this film. Matthew Vaughn is the director and he does an awesome job (he was also the director on Kick-Ass...another great "superhero" film). The story is tight, the special effects are superb and all the actors are great. I'm not going to do a full scale review of the movie (I tried that with Ghostbusters and I think I failed miserably), but I do want to talk about the X-Men briefly.
Products of the "next phase" of human evolution, the main characters in the X-Men all have "special" or "enhanced" abilities due to random genetic mutation, the same process by which humans have evolved over MANY MANY years (and by "MANY MANY" I mean decidedly more than six thousand). They have the ability to read minds or manipulate metal with their thoughts (each character is unique...hey, maybe they aren't that different). But they are seen as outcasts. The people who run society (mostly politicians) are scared of these "unique" individuals, and they concoct things like "Mutant Identification Programs" or even try to kill the mutants off (this may or may not be part of the story line in X-Men: First Class...I'll never tell). Nothing scares people in power more than individuality. And if you've been exposed to any of the comics or movies you know that not all of the mutants respond to these threats the same way.
But even as a fan of comic books, I don't think I've been exposed to them enough!!! The themes covered in the stories (racism, diversity, antisemitism, religion, LGBT, etc.) are important and worth thinking about more. The message I take from the X-Men is this: We are ALL different and we each have our own quirks and "weirdness", but that doesn't make any of us better or worse than anyone else...just different. It also doesn't make one group right or one group wrong (this was written about much more eloquently by Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch this weekend in the L.A. Times, check it out here). But don't take my word for it, or anybody else's for that matter. Check them out yourself. You certainly don't need me to interpret them for you (there's nothing more insulting then someone telling you how to interpret a story...you don't need to go to a big fancy building and put money into a plate to have them explained to you). The best art teaches us about life, and I think the X-Men do that in a fun and amazing way. And while I've always been a casual fan, I don't think that I have given them the attention that I should (I mean, comic book characters whose powers arise from genetic mutation?!?...what have I been doing all this time?). This doesn't mean that the guy who wields that green ring won't be my favorite comic book character anymore. It just means I'm gonna get a little deeper into the world of Professor X and Magneto. MAN, that seems like a good thing!!!