Monday, May 29, 2006

Thoughts on X-Men 3

Well, I caught X-Men 3: The Last Stand at the 10:00 am matinee (hordes of loud, rowdy teens. But definitely liked the Rs. 60 [$1.30] admission. Beats paying eight bucks at Sandhills any day!). I'm with the 53% of critics and 72% of viewers at Rottentomatoes who liked it. I've never read the comic series (my teenage comics of choice were the British Commando Comics, and, of course, Asterix. And Tintin!) so I don't bring that background (baggage?) to the movies. I've liked the series -- neat stories, ok characters (way too many to really develop, granted. Patrick Stewart ROCKS!), nice action and thrills, eye candy, and (not too deeply, of course, this is Hollywood!) some delving into substantive issues. Nice entertainment, in other words.

No spoilers here, except to say that they like killing off main characters! And yes, as every other website on this says, do stay to watch the end of the credits.

After watching X2 a friend pointed out the parallels between "mutation" and homosexuality -- something that's certainly been talked about a lot (for e.g. here and here), and the whole "mutant cure" thing makes that connection a lot less nebulous. Eve Tushnet disagrees that the "cure" = "ex-gay therapy" ... I don't know. It seems to follow. She develops her thoughts in another, thought provoking direction:
But there is a real parallel between the line outside Worthington Labs and the (botched, but don't get me started) Dark Phoenix plotline. In both cases, mutants voluntarily submit to vulnerability. For some reason, they choose weakness over what the series' rhetoric constantly describes as "power."
Of course, anyone who's at all felt as an outsider can identify with the whole "mutation" meme --- which is why, it seems, this seems to have been the comic book of choice of so many geeky teenage boys. As the Christianity Today review points out
However, it can also be viewed as a metaphor for hot topics like stem cell research and gay rights. It might even be seen as a movie about the right to choose, which can lead to ethical discussions both constructive and sticky—again, depending on whom you talk to. Perhaps the ultimate message is how differing perspectives need to learn how to coexist in tolerance rather than battling for superiority.

The movie generates discussion with a lot of grey answers, but that's surely part of the reason for the series' enduring popularity. Anyone who's ever felt persecuted or oppressed for anything can relate to the mutants of the story. Much like Star Trek, it means all things to all people, and you can take from it what you want to.
CT also carried a piece last week (mentioned below) comparing "mutation" to being Christian, but that seemed to simply take-off on the idea of "mutation" as "serious difference that will get you into trouble" rather than the movie per se.

My thoughts went in these directions (yes, I think multiple thoughts. Even during movies. I can't help it :)). One, why on earth had someone not formed a mutant gang/terrorist-organization/army until now? With all these powers, surely the original-sin ridden power-hungry human nature would have started a war a long time back? Quite obviously, homo sapiens superior hadn't evolved out of original sin ...

The theme of individual choice runs through the movie (like in the scene were Wolverine tells Rogue, "I'm your friend, not your father. Do what you think is best for you." Lord, how on earth do I know what's best for me? Do I even know myself? Really? I'm deceiving myself and spinning facades all the time ... Anway. While, as Christians, we all struggle against that dominant view of our culture -- it's all about me, my choice, my decision, what's good for me -- at one level, our God is like a friend, not a (dominant, abusive) father. He does give us freedom. True freedom. A real choice. Where He does not impose Himself, or His will on us (and, oh, sometimes, how we wish He did!). He wants us to love Him, freely.

And when we do (and even before. He's not above pushing us, so to speak, with His grace), that's when the mutation takes a hold. And starts transforming us. Not into homo sapiens superior. But into the image and likeness of Jesus Christ.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Gashwin,

You apparently do have too much time on your hands with all the blog activity - even for the X-Men. (Grin).

My regrets that you have not experienced the joy of reading the series as a teenager. It helps in watching the character development in the first two movies (and knowing what is pending in future movies). If interested, I may have a few issues lingering around at home.

BTW....Let's not deconstruct the movie's meaning too much from a comic book. It's about mutants with superpowers. The discussion of any minority may create issues first experienced in 1954 with the Comic Code and the protest movement on Comics themselves. (Opps! History lesson about the occur - shame on me. I should know better than to move into this subject matter - GRIN).

Hope all is well in Inida.