Posted by: CJ | June 19, 2011

X-Men First Class

Just saw X-Men: First Class. It supports my idea that the media aimed my generation, the millenials, is growing up emotionally along with us. The movie is about mutants, and politics, and the complications that arise with disunified factions trying to achieve similar but not identical goals. And it’s all set in the middle of the Cuba Missile Crisis, of all things, though that’s really just for emotional appeal it seems like.

Matt Yglesias has commented elsewhere that the movie paints Magneto as the liberal-type hero, an advocate of equal rights and acceptance of diversity. Magneto’s the one that recognizes non-mutants will fear mutants, and that because of this fear the mutants will be targeted, fought, oppressed, murdered, and in general not left alone to live their lives. In response Magneto advocates full mutant equal rights be militantly protected by the mutants themselves, and is fine with a first strike policy regarding the protection of their rights.

Xavier is not even really in favor of mutant rights. He’s more of the mindset that everyone should get along and everyone’s the same. This fails miserably in the movie in the face of everyone not being the same, and they make some not-so-veiled intimations that his ideas only seem reasonable to him because of his extremely wealthy and sheltered upbringing. He grew up with the authorities always on his side.

In any case, the movie was fun and reminded me that, surprisingly, several super-hero worlds have a great deal of depth to them. And the depth can be part of the broader storyline rather than just an add-on. In comparison, I’m not sure if some of the great sci-fi or fantasy worlds created in classic sci-fi novels can say that. A good number of them are simply too foreign in setting or too limited in scope to create the sort of depth. (I guess I’m specifically thinking of things Heinlein, Clarke, and Asimov wrote. Asimov’s robot ideas seem best able to be explored, but even there I think you’d quickly run into limits. The robots are fundamentally different from the humans, so it’s difficult to make them protagonists to explore but still have human enough goals and interactions to make it possible to explore complex human-related themes. I think Middle-Earth and Star Wars can also run into this problem a lot, too, and for similar reasons.)

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