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"X-Men: First Class"
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June 09, 2011, 04:42 PM
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Here`s an excerpt from my review of the new Marvel comic book movie in Taki`s Magazine:

X-Men: First Class is the fifth screen adaptation since 2000 of the Marvel Comics series. What`s the appeal of these Homo superior mutants whose superpowers cause them to be oppressed by the bigoted and backward majority, us genetically inferior Homo sapiens?

Read the whole thing there.
By the way, the "First Class" in the title refers to the initial cohort of students in 1962 at Professor X`s school for mutant superheroes. There really does sometimes exist a "first class phenomenon" where the first year of students at a new elite academy or program goes on to great success. This is most notable in Hollywood, where the first class of the American Film Institute school included Terrence Malick, David Lynch, Paul Schrader, and Caleb Deschanel. Similarly, the first students of CalArts in Valencia in Character Animation in the 1970s included Brad Bird, Tim Burton, John Lasseter, and John Musker. Congregation of talent or old boy`s network?

Here`s Matthew Yglesias`s posting "Magneto Was Right" on why the mutant supremacist Magneto is right and the nice integrationist Professor X is wrong:

... if you restrict your attention to what`s actually in the text Magneto is clearly in the right and Xavier`s X-Men are a bunch of dupes. The film is a pretty serious departure from the conventional depiction in this regard, but it`s quite thoroughgoing. Magneto`s mutant pride attitude is in every way more admirable than Xavier`s preference for the closet, and Xavier`s political view that mutants and humans can coexist peacefully if mutants avoid provocations is directly contradicted by the events at the end of the film. When Xavier is trying to convince Magneto (and the audience) that Magneto`s more militant methods will cost innocent life he literally says-to a Holocaust survivor!-that "they were only following orders" and therefore their sins are forgivable.

The mutant pride message is a radical one. It`s too radical for those whose WASP male privilege in their non-mutant lives makes them instinctively want to identify with existing power structures. But a mutant who`s also a Jew, or a woman, or a racial minority, or has had blue or red skin all of his or her life doesn`t suffer from that kind of false consciousness and gets ahead of the curve.

My take is similar but less impressed:

The basic conflict in X-Men between the Martin Luther King-like Professor X and the Malcolm X-like Magneto over whether to tolerate the majority`s prejudice or to give them what they have coming is similar to the struggle in the Harry Potter series between the saintly Dumbledore and the sinister Voldemort.

In contrast to J. K. Rowling`s tale, however, First Class sympathizes less with Professor X, the outdated assimilationist, and more with Magneto, the mutant supremacist who learned not to trust the majority during the Holocaust. In First Class, one mutant has an epiphany: "We shouldn`t try to be more like them. Society should aspire to be more like us."

Read the whole thing there.