Kickin’ It Mutant Style
Release Date: July 14, 2000
Genre: Science Fiction
Audience: Teenagers & young adults
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Director: Bryan Singer
Producer: Lauren Shuler Donner & Ralph Winter
Writer: David Hayter
Address Comments To:Peter Chernin
20th Century Fox Film Corp.
10201 West Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90035
Phone: (310) 369-2097
Web Page: www.fox.com
The story begins in a 1944 Polish concentration camp, where a young Erik Lehnsherr, later Magneto, learns the implications of bigoted hatred, a hatred he later turns against the human race. Magneto (Ian McKellen) ultimately becomes the leader of a group of mutants who believe that mankind and mutantkind can never be at peace. On the other side of the spectrum, Professor Charles Xavier has banded together a group of mutants, the X-Men, who will use their powers to help mankind and unite the races. In the middle of this, humans have developed a strong distaste for and fear of mutants. Led by a popular politician named Senator Kelly, they are seeking to have all mutants registered by the government.
At the beginning of the tale, Professor Xavier notes that mutant powers become noticeable in puberty, and one example is quickly shown. A young Rogue (Anna Paquin) is seen kissing a young boy, who almost dies and is quickly rushed off to the emergency room. Rogue ends up running away from home because of her emerging powers: the ability to suck the power from people at bodily touch.
On the way, she runs into a young man who fights contenders at seedy bars for money to live on. His name is Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). The two leave together and, through some trials and tribulations, are found by the X-Men.
Through several close encounters with Magneto’s men, Wolverine believes that Magneto wants him for some reason, but learns all too late that the real source of Magneto’s interest is the young Rogue and her powers. It turns out Magneto wants to use intense amounts of radiation to force mutations in the bodies of human leaders meeting at a UN summit. Turning humans into mutants, Magneto surmises, will quell any anti-mutant talk.
His first test subject is none other than Senator Kelly, who is killed by the procedure. Undeterred, Magneto continues, hoping to use Rogues’ powers to amplify his own. This is the threat the X-Men must battle throughout the film.
X-Men is a well-made production that the comics fanatics will be hard pressed to fault. It captures as much of the series as it can in the brief time it shows: the good boy/bad boy conflict between Cyclops and Wolverine, the love triangle that has Rogue attracted to Wolverine and Wolverine attracted to Jean Grey, and Jean Gray romantically involved with Cyclops. The graphics and special effects are all top notch.
Interestingly enough, this movie was not the propaganda vehicle it could have been. With individuals like admitted homosexual Bryan Singer at the helm, this movie could have quickly turned into a “don’t persecute people because they’re different,” politically correct routine all too common today. Instead, the production was more realistic: some mutants are bad, and some are good; while some humans are bad, and some are good. The faith and love the mutants show in accepting the humans is as great and important as the humans’ acceptance of them. There are a lot of moral lessons to be learned here, including the unconditional forgiveness Professor X shows to his old friend Magneto, in the hopes that he will turn from his evil ways.
Despite these elements, X-MEN is strongly evolutionary, and, in that sense, contradictory. Professor X makes clear at the beginning that the X-Men are evolutionary enhanced individuals, and the point is reinforced again and again. However, under the “survival of the fittest” motif provided by evolutionary belief, there is no room for the kind of compassion shown by Xavier and his men. As Nietzsche believed, compassion, sacrifice and Christian virtue is a weakness that does not belong in a world built to benefit the strong.
Furthermore, the movie has a humanist worldview with many moral, redemptive elements but also with some foul language and some questionable comments made about “God fearing” people and God. Even so, X-MEN has many moral elements that can be culled from it with media wisdom and a little understanding.
X-MEN could have turned into a politically correct diatribe; instead: some mutants are bad, and some are good; while some humans are bad, and some are good. There are a lot of moral lessons, including the unconditional forgiveness Professor X shows to his old friend Magneto, in the hopes that he will turn from his evil ways. Regrettably, X-MEN is strongly evolutionary, which allows no room for true compassion and, in that sense, contradictory. Furthermore, the movie has a humanist worldview with many moral, redemptive elements but also with some foul language and some questionable comments made about God. Even so, X-MEN has many moral elements that can be culled from it with media wisdom