Underground Film Journal

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Movie Review: X-Men

By Mike Everleth ⋅ July 14, 2000

Though I’ve been a lifelong comic book reader, I could never get into the X-Men. The concept of them never made sense within the Marvel Comics “Universe”. The idea behind the X-men is that certain people are born with genetic mutations that give them superpowers. That I’m ok with.

My problem comes in the part where these mutants with superpowers are supposedly feared by normal humans. I could never figure out why. Normal people didn’t fear regular superheroes. So who cares that some superheroes are born with their powers rather than acquiring them through radiation or from coming from another planet? How is someone supposed to be able to differentiate between a mutant and any other superhero? It never seemed to make sense to me.

In the movie THE X-MEN, it makes sense. In the film, the mutants don’t live in a world with other superheroes so it stands to reason that they would be feared and hated. Most people in our society who are “different” are feared and hated.

There was a lovely incident in NYC last month where a transsexual woman had her throat slit right on the street of Times Square as she tried to get into a cab in the early morning. Her killer wasn’t anybody she knew. Just some ignorant jackoff who had been hassling her earlier because of her sexuality (“You’re a man! I know that’s a dick you have in between your legs!” it’s been reported he yelled at her). Witnesses to the murder have also said that other cabbies in the area cheered and applauded while Amanda Milan choked through her own blood. She died on the way to the hospital. Nice.

Actually, walking to see THE X-MEN I wished I had superpowers. I was crossing my local park to get to the subway station. It was a nice day so there were a lot of people outside enjoying the weather: sitting on benches, throwing footballs around, walking their dogs. One dog walker was a pretty cute chick wearing tight, faux leopard-skin Daisy Dukes. Don’t ask me what kind of dog she had because I was too busy checking out her ass. And no, I wasn’t wishing for x-ray vision.

However, there was one guy, tossing a football with his friends, who decided to do more than just take a look at a pretty girl. Instead, he was so moved by this chick’s butt that he felt it was appropriate to yell out to her, “That’s some mighty fine shorts you got there, baby.”

Now, if I had the strength of, say, Spider-Man instead of being a skinny wuss I wouldn’t have pounded the shit out of this guy, but a nice hand on his shoulder and a bruised collarbone might teach him its not nice to harass women. What drives guys to think that’s appropriate behavior?

I may be a skinny wuss, but I guess at least I’m a guy and I don’t have to worry about being constantly harassed by guys. Sexually, anyway. I’ve had enough taunts of “nerd” and “geek” when I was younger.

Some describe superhero comics as “male power fantasies”, which they are for the most part (please note I am only talking about superhero comics here, not comic books in general). There might be other motives behind the creation of superheroes, but the end product is mainly male power fantasies.

Stan Lee brought some amazing depth and philosophical concepts to his creations. Probably the best superhero origin is Spider-Man, who learned that with great power comes great responsibility and you can’t piss it away. Yet, the other main theme behind Spider-Man is that he was a gawky, picked-on teenage nerd who becomes super strong and who then gets two hot babes fighting over him (Gwen Stacy and Mary Jane Watson): Male power fantasy.

But I don’t ever remember really wanting to be a superhero when I read superhero comics as a teenager. Maybe subconsciously I did. I don’t know. And while I didn’t read THE X-MEN regularly, I did read one of its spin-off titles, THE NEW MUTANTS. I think they appealed to me more because the book was about mutants who were closer to my age. Plus, I really dug Illyana Rasputin. She wasn’t a mutant, tho’. She was a witch and the sister of an X-man, Colossus, so that’s why she was in THE NEW MUTANTS. I have no idea why I particularly had a crush on her. Sounds kind of pathetic now having a crush on a two-dimensional character, but I guess I was just a kid.