The Wheel and Axle

X: A Super-Hero Love Story, Part 2

by on Jun.06, 2011, under Film & TV, Geeky, Queer

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Continued From:

X: A Super-Hero Love Story, Part 1

And so Charles and Erik begin to train their newly-gathered ragtag band of misfits. Training montage!

We see Charles constantly grabbing Banshee by the throat to teach him how to properly “control his muscles” there. We see Hank and Havok, who bares his lovely arms, routinely bickering like a loving couple.

All through this, Havok tries to control his emissions but is unsuccessful. That is, not until Hank gives him a C-ring (umm, chest ring) that can control said emissions. Havok tests this C-ring by pointing himself at targets that include a wooden female mannequin and Hank. Guess what gets destroyed; guess who is happy.

Hank also decides he wants to look normal. He takes in some serum made from Mystique’s blood designed to cure them. Instead of reducing the size of his feet, however, the serum causes puberty gone wild to set in. He becomes a big, blue, furry Beast; the film, after all, also needs to cater to the big bear daddy demographic. Unfortunately, since he created the serum himself, he probably cannot sue himself for malpractice.

The highlight is when Charles helps Erik soothe his anger and find that realm between “rage and serenity” that will allow Erik control his power. There is a mind-meld moment that is hotter than any kiss between a man and a woman on this film. What do we really expect? This is the same pair of guys who earlier in the film invades Russia, captures the hot and sexy Emma Frost, ties her to a bed, and does some bizarre S&M bondage thing without deigning to even touch her.

All of these shenanigans basically lead to the Cuban Missile Crisis which, when you think about it, is the biggest penis stand-off in the history of mankind – what with all those big phallic things pointing at each other and each side trying to stand the other down. There is probably a reason why the filmmakers chose this specific incident in history to set the story in.

During the climactic battle, we see Havok’s shirt rip open to reveal his chest for the remainder of the film, thereby enabling me to give this film’s rating an extra half-star. Saliva Stripper goes amuck and spits her explosive saliva all over the place; it is both icky and hilarious at the same time – you don’t want to look at it but can’t help yourself. Azazel and Beast have at it, long pointy tail vs. big daddy bear, who could resist this pairing? Riptide proves utterly useless and is knocked out early on in the fight; it must be a metaphor to say working solely with your hands won’t give you satisfaction in the long run.

We also see Banshee chasing after a very phallic submarine, opening his mouth wide in the hopes of getting it to rise up from the depths of where it lay – with the help of Erik, of course. Inside the said submarine is Shaw, who continues to wear the condom, I mean, the helmet that protects him from Charles’ invasions; Erik later claims said helmet for himself and kills Shaw with a coin through the brain – who does Shaw think he is, to be a target of Charles’ attention, and could that death scene be any ickier?

Then, all hell breaks loose. All those American and Russian penises, I mean, missiles start to launch, aiming at our protagonists, antagonists, and anti-heroes stranded on a beach… for after all, they are “mutants” and different and must be taught and punished by some hard core phallic whipping. You know, like in prisons. It becomes a tug-of-war between Charles and Erik, with Erik trying to hurl the missiles back at the fleet of ships while Charles tries to stop him. This back-and-forth goes on endlessly, much like the second season of Glee.

Finally, all the missiles explode harmlessly in the air, the soldiers rejoice, and Charles is accidentally crippled by a ricocheting bullet from Moira; I still stand by my theory as to the real reason behind his being crippled. Erik cradles the injured Charles in his arms (good Lord, someone get a doctor!) and tells him he really wants him by his side. Yes, his words, not mine. However, their conflicting ideologies clash, with Erik wanting to bring mutants above mankind and Charles believing they should live harmoniously with each other. They tearfully part.

Erik takes with him the remaining members of the Hellfire Club. Joining them is Mystique, who was probably annoyed at having been rejected by Charles in favor of Erik… so she joins Erik. She leaves her possibly-dying foster brother behind. The girl has issues, what can I say?

In the end, Charles, calling himself Prof. X, sets up a school for mutants outside the radar of the government by wiping Moira’s memories with a kiss that had the heat of a Siberian wasteland. Erik and his new Brotherhood of Mutants rescue Emma Frost from prison, with Erik asking her to call him Magneto.

Charles and Erik are now on different sides of the war. It is pretty much the beginning of “Romeo and Juliet,” except for the mutations.

The “X-Men” franchise was created in the 1960’s at the height of the Afro-American Civil Rights Movement. In fact, comparisons have been made between Prof. X and Magneto to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, respectively.

It is interesting for me then that this 2011 film – nearly 50 years later – does seem to reflect one of the biggest civil rights battles of the 2000’s, whether unintentionally or not. Whereas race was one of the biggest issues 50 years ago in the USA, I do believe today it is the LGBT movement that seems to be the focus of equal rights movements. We have seen the gay marriage issue, the hate crimes, and other similar things popping up all over, and so it is not surprising if this remake/reboot of the X-Men films would somehow showcase this as the new metaphor they are gunning for.

A lot of the text and subtext in this movie sound like they are from 2011. Shaw describes how humanity fears the rise of mutants – the next stage of evolution – essentially means their own coming extinction, and I cannot help but think how this thinking parallels the arguments of homophobes that allowing gays equal civil rights will mean the “extinction” of the human race due to the dissolution of the traditional family and limited reproduction. The recurring statement “Mutant and Proud” from the theme is too similar to the slogan “Out and Proud” to be ignored.

It is therefore a very timely message to convey with this film, and whether the filmmakers intended the gay subtext to be deliberate or not is irrelevant. What is important is that the message is there, and how we take that message and bring it back to our own daily lives will be up to us.

I did thoroughly and truly enjoy this movie. I think it was vastly superior to “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” and probably even “X-Men: The Last Stand.”

The acting was pretty good (but it is James McAvoy and Kevin Bacon and Michael Fassbender, and some of the other cast members actors are apparently awards-nominated and/or winners).

However, the best actor in this film, as Roger Ebert rightly points out, is JFK himself, who in this universe must have had a grand old time with his speech post-Cuban crisis trying to keep a straight face while surely knowing what really happened out there. You know, with those mutants flying about spitting destructive saliva and gyrating out energy rings, and with all those missiles going back and forth and back and forth ad infinitum.

This movie was fun, it had action, it had drama, and it had a timely yet timeless message. It also had some likely-unintended humor and unexpected subtext, which is something we should generally be thankful for. It’s not everyday you enjoy a movie, laugh at it and with it, and still find the heart in it.

My Rating: 8.5 out of 10 Stars

Directed By: Matthew Vaughn

Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon, Jason Flemyng, Rose Byrne, January Jones, Jennifer Lawrence, Oliver Platt, Nicholas Hoult, Lucas Till, Caleb Landry Jones, Zoë Kravitz, Álex González, Edi Gathegi

With cameos by Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Romjin

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