Have you seen X-Men: First Class? I did last week, and loved it! Best of all because it was, thankfully character-driven, not overdosed with special effects (like X3 was). I found myself absorbed by Xavier and Magneto’s journeys, individually and together. Best of all, amid all the action, the longstanding themes of X-Men, discrimination and self-acceptance, were very skilfully handled.
Here are 5 of the more memorable moments (in thematic, not chronological, order). And don’t worry, no spoilers here!
Beast: You have no idea what I’d give to feel…
Beast & Mystique [together]: Normal.
I found this powerful. We go through life longing for acceptance (I’ve blogged on this before, in There Are No Normal People) It’s a legitimate human need, too, except for one small problem: most people tend to accept only what they find familiar. Which probably wouldn’t include you in your truest form. What will you do about that?
Magneto [to Mystique]: If you’re using half your concentration to look normal, then you’re only half paying attention to whatever else you’re doing. Just pointing out something that could save your life. You want society to accept you, but you can’t even accept yourself.
You know, I never really thought what it must cost Mystique to maintain regular human form. That she’s used to it (she probably doesn’t even think about it), doesn’t mean there’s no mental effort involved. The effort to fit in really is effort, and even if it does work (very debatable) you have to wonder: what else could you be pouring all that energy in?
Xavier [to Magneto]: Your power lies between your anger and your serenity.
Rage used to drive Magneto. So, naturally, he took the obvious path of maintaining a permanent state of bottled-up fury. And until Xavier took him in hand, it apparently didn’t occur to him that it could be otherwise. We’re like that too, aren’t we? We feed negative emotions to achieve positive results. (It’s even almost a recognised path to stardom. And I’m not talking about rising above pain here – that’s different.) But the “productivity” comes at a price…
Xavier: Listen to me very carefully, my friend. Killing will not bring you peace.
Magneto: Peace was never an option.
Whatever grouse you may have with Magneto, you have to give it to him: the man understands the stakes. I’ve posted before (in What Are You Willing to Trade? – and the sequel, which you can find here), how understanding the consequences of our choices includes understanding what we’ll have to give up for them. Revenge may have its pleasures, but closure is not one of them. At least Magneto accepted that.
Xavier: They’re just kids.
Magneto: No, they were kids.
I loved this line. Unlike Xavier, whose childhood had been privileged, Magneto understood that sometimes things happen that thrust you into new roles, and even if you don’t choose to accept them, you better be clear what you’re doing. Xavier’s mutant protégés were like kids playing hide-and-seek in an old house, and then the one of them gets a snakebite. Game over.
There were more memorable moments, of course. Did I miss any favourite of yours? Let me know in the comments!
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