X-Men: First Class

Yeah, posting schedule has been detoured, again. I blame the boyfriend and his nefarious ideas re: seeing movies on the weekend. Will nobody stop this madman?

So, my thoughts on X-Men: First Class:

* Retro-tastic! Always a plus, for me: I would go into some sort of Padme-style lack-of-will-to-live decline if I found myself back before birth control and lattes, but historical eras are always fun for me to read or watch. Especially when there are mutant powers or magic or something to make up for realistic historical squalor. I was not around in the actual sixties, but from my perspective, the movie did a pretty good job of establishing the time.

* Swinging Young Xavier is hilarious, also very cute. Not really sure why he had an English accent at six, what with being born in Westchester, but whatever. Not really complaining.

* Ugh, Mystique, stop being Clingy Jealous Girl. Cockblocking is not the way to anyone’s heart; there *is* no way to Xavier’s heart in the way you want; stop mooning and pouting. She does, thank God–and Magneto–but the first few scenes with Adult Mystique…GAH.

* Mystique’s issues in general were…interesting. In the comics, and the modern-day movies, it’s pretty clear that she’s pissed that society will hassle her if she appears in her true form, and that this is understandable; in FC, at least at first, it seems to be more about boys not liking said true form. Which is very appropriately teenage, but…

a) If I could look however I wanted, for however long I wanted, I so would not care how “hideous” my natural form was. Honestly, the natural state of the “normal” human body is or can be twenty different varieties of either “ew, get it away” or “don’t look at me like this”, and while I assume Mystique’s no more immune to head colds or food poisoning than the rest of us, shapechanging seems *way* easier than hair dye, facial scrubs, shaving, regular trips to the gym, etc.*

b) Mystique’s true form is Jennifer Lawrence only…OH MY GOD SHE’S BLUE. And maybe kinda scaly. THE HORROR. Yeah, Xavier’s not interested**, and Beast’s got issues–dude, you have fleshy monkey feet, she’s Blue Jennifer Lawrence, maybe not conflating the two so much?–but informal polling indicates that nine out of ten guys would hit that.

* Could have lived without the invocation of Black Dude Dies First, movie. Also having the only defector to Shaw’s forces of Evil be the stripper. Really? And it’s pretty *blatant* defection to evil, I gotta say: guy’s just killed about a hundred people for no good reason.

* Shaw’s attack on the facility was a nicely hardcore moment: no offscreen civilizations getting destroyed, no people disappearing…nope, a lot of guys getting dropped to their horrible screaming doom. And/or shivved. It seems strange that you have to establish that a film goes there when said film began with Nazis, but hey, it’s effective.

* Speaking of Nazis: yeah, I’m kind of on Team Magneto here, or at least on Team Sometimes You Have to Put a Coin Through a Dude’s Head. Shaw:

a) was a Nazi. If not an official Nazi, a guy who joined up with the Nazis so he could experiment on ten-year-olds, which is…not actually any better.

b) post-being-a-Nazi, tried to start World War III, and killed a lot of people in the process.

c) could absorb and redirect energy. Put this guy in a normal jail cell and he’ll run into the walls until he can blow the place up.

Yeah, killing him might not bring Magneto inner peace, but it brought the rest of the world the assurance that we were one step further away from being nuked. I’m cool with that. Couldn’t have been much fun for Xavier, what with experiencing the braincoinage second-hand, but sometimes you’ve got to break eggs to make an omelet. Er, kill a guy. Whatever.

* People who find dental stuff squicktacular: there’s one scene in this that is just Not Okay. Geez. Inventive use of Magneto’s power, yes. Comfortable to watch? OH MY GOD NO.

* Emma Frost could only be more Bond Girl if her name had been something like Frosti Piques. And if she’d gotten it on with Xavier or Magneto, I guess, but hey: PG-13.

* Yay training montage! *Snerk* at Hank’s montage scenes. Beast is awesome and all, but the Jekyll & Hyde allusions are perhaps a little much considering that the guy has…monkey feet. When I think “hidden animal darkness waiting to be unleashed”, I do not think “prehensile toes”.

And I don’t actually ever think “hidden animal darkness waiting to be released”, because then I’d have to paint my nails black, listen to *way* more Depeche Mode, and write a lot of bad poetry during third-period study hall.

* The Russian/American parallels were all kinds of awesome, and the “it has been an honor” scenes rocked. That said, *wow* does humanity sort of justify Magneto’s decision at the end.

*Disclaimer: these things aren’t, and shouldn’t be, mandatory for everyone out there. But they are for me, and I expect them or the male equivalent from anyone I’m involved with.
**And the movie leaves it pretty ambiguous why: maybe it’s Mystique’s blue scaliness, maybe it’s a Westermark sort of thing, maybe he likes playing the field and doesn’t want to bonk a girl he’s close to. It’s not clear, and I approve of that.

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About isabelcooper

I'm Izzy. I write stuff: mostly vaguely fantasy stuff, and most notably the following books: Hickey of the Beast, published March 2011 by Candlemark and Gleam No Proper Lady, published September 2011 by Sourcebooks Lessons After Dark, forthcoming in April 2012 from Sourcebooks I also like video games, ballroom dancing, and various geeky hobbies like LARPing. I have been known to voluntarily purchase and eat circus peanuts. Like, a whole bag at once.
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11 Responses to X-Men: First Class

  1. Michael R. Johnston says:

    I think the “not-bonking” on Xavier’s part had more to do with him seeing her as a sister; why she didn’t get the same thing after growing up with him, I don’t know. It’s also possible the writers were trying to show him as shallow, and getting his spine totaled made him see how stupid and shallow he’d been.

    But yeah, re: Mystique: Blue scales wouldn’t stop me. Though I’ve never really liked the whole “naked scaly mystique” thing, as I like her look in the comics and it didn’t seem necessary. But meh. Hollywood.

    • isabelcooper says:

      That was my impression, yeah. I mean, the Westermark effect doesn’t always take hold as strongly for both people, and it’s possible that Mystique was older than Xavier and looked younger because of…leukocytes? Whatever Beast was talking about…or that her experiences on her own kept her from seeing him as a brother, or something.

      I kind of hope it wasn’t the shallowness thing. It sort of bugs me to see not being physically attracted to someone as a bad thing that characters are supposed to grow out of: we can’t really help what we find hot, and physical attraction is not an unreasonable requirement for a romantic relationship.

      But as you say: meh, Hollywood.

  2. Ben P says:

    ” Also having the only defector to Shaw’s forces of Evil be the stripper. ”

    This, I feel, was emblematic of a weird form of sexism hidden in the movie. (And no, I’m not counting the “we’re characters in the 1960s” sexist moments from Shaw and CIA, those were mostly just funny.) The stripper sells out to Shaw, then Mystique sells out to Magneto. That’s right, folks: the one sole and consistent thing that leads to selling out, is when a woman wants to be beautiful.

    • Beady Sea says:

      Yeah. I had huge issues with this. All four of the named female characters ended up naked / mostly-naked, and three of them acted as strippers / escorts / whatever. Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That, but when it’s ALL of the women and NONE of the men I have to think there’s more going on than independent women taking charge of their sexuality.

      Then there’s the creepy violence-against-women subtext — of the four named women, two are restrained by choking. Again, none of the men are, and in both cases other methods of restraint are easily available. Havok trains by blowing up models of naked women… because… umm. It isn’t really explained. Annnnd, the mind wipe. God. Along with the other stuff you mention, I was pretty annoyed by the end…

      • Firedrake says:

        A point on which I differ with many fantasy authors: wiping someone’s mind is Never A Good Thing. It’s murder, in fact.

      • isabelcooper says:

        Huh, yeah. Especially disappointing after Thor, which did a much better job handling sexual/racial issues.

        I liked the movie, granted, but they could have done a way better job of not being sexist and racist.

    • isabelcooper says:

      Now that you mention it, yeah. Girls who want to be pretty, or who use their sexuality on their own terms=Bad. Moira strips down, but it’s On A Mission, so she’s okay, but she still gets mind-wiped at the end because of…security? Because an experienced CIA operative is more likely to let something slip than Banshee, the guy who kills fish when a girl turns him down? Charles, you’re cute, but for a super-smart dude, you can be awfully dumb sometimes.

  3. Lonespark says:

    I thought this movie would be really cool, and it certainly has caused good old Magneto/Xavier shipperdom to explode, but I’m almost glad I’m too poor to see it, because it sounds like it is racist and sexist in ways that are anti-sense.

  4. I read a review of this movie earlier that talked about how weird it is for the X-Men, who are supposed to be all about “don’t hate us because we’re different” managed to put in so much subliminal messaging about racism and sexism. So yeah, you’re not the only one who has picked up on some of those flaws.

    On the other hand, you made it sound fun, too — so I’ll see it when it’s out on video. 🙂

  5. Sylocat says:

    I actually think a lot of the more troublesome elements were meant as deliberate jabs at the so-called “good side” of the mutant team here.

    The whole point seemed to be to show young Xavier as an insufferable douche who needs some hard lessons hammered into him. Xavier’s mutation is invisible, undetectable, and allows him massive advantages, and yet he seems dismissive of Mystique’s problems. When Mystique asks him if he’d date her, he basically says yes, but when she asks him if he’d date her when she looked like her true form, he suddenly remembers that he wouldn’t want to ruin their friendship.

    Magneto, on the other hand, is really more of the superhero type. He’s been to hell and back, he has a much more appropriate superheroic origin story (really, “Holocaust survivor turned Nazi hunter” vs. “Rich college kid using psychic powers to get laid?” Which of those two sounds more like a superhero?), and in the climax, when Xavier is certain that humanity will accept them, and Magneto is sure that humans will try to massacre them, look who’s proven right.

    Likewise, Angel’s defection to the evil side was because, as a stripper, she’d been through all this before. She’d been gawked at and objectified, and had hoped that all that was behind her. But no, she’s going through the same thing again, at the hands of the people who had promised a different fate, and she’s tired of it. She defected because she was the one who had already experienced that.

    The general message of this movie seemed to be that Magneto is right about humanity: We’re a bunch of douchebags, and plenty of the ones who claim, “Oh, I’m not racist/sexist/mutantphobic” are way better at talking the talk than walking the walk.

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