Certain stories or characters make American enterprises. Everything from Harry Potter to Halloween, from Saw to Batman, from Transformers to Pirates of the Caribbean. These franchises can be counted on to make memories for hardcore and casual fans alike. In this movie, X-Men, we are introduced to a new franchise, a franchise that is beloved by comic book fans everywhere.
X-Men details the struggle of mutants to adapt, survive, and blend in to “normal” society. The question is brought up in the Senate: Should mutants be required to expose themselves so that the government will have a list of those who have special powers? Why should a little girl who can walk through walls be allowed to live amongst the masses? What would stop her from walking through the vault of a bank? And what about those mutants who can control minds? Can they really be called mutants, or would “gods” be a more appropriate term?
Within the racial and prejudice undertones exists a scuffle between mutants. There are those who believe the extinction of the human race and violence are the only ways for the mutant race to survive. These mutants are led by Erik Lensherr, or Magneto, a mutant who has the power to create magnetic force fields and control metal, his outlook on life being molded by his time spent in a concentration camp during Adolf Hitler’s Holocaust. His rival, the leader of those mutants who believe the appropriate path is littered with peace, understanding, and coexistence, is Professor Charles Xavier, a bald, wheel-chair bound teacher who can manipulate people’s minds. Xavier has opened a safe place for mutants in the form of a school where teenagers who are lost in the world because of their powers may come and learn how to use their gifts for the betterment of society. The catch? Although rivals, Magneto and Xavier are friends. The comparisons to Martin Luther King Jr. (Xavier) and Malcolm X (Magneto) are apparent.
The direction of Bryan Singer is magnificent. Singer gives dark, society-based connotations to the film, and treats the “mutant problem” as a realistic ordeal. The love/hate relationship between Xavier and Magneto; the love triangle of Wolverine, Cyclops, and Dr. Jean Grey; and the reciprocated fear/hate between humans and mutants all adds to a movie that comments on the very characteristics that have plagued mankind for centuries.
Fans of the comics and cartoon will meet their favorites: Storm, Cyclops, Wolverine, Jean Grey, Xavier, Magneto, and Mystique. These mutants all have unique attributes and gifts, which make for interesting scenes in the movie. For example, in one such scene the police have surrounded Magneto and his henchmen. In response, Magneto takes control of their guns, turns them against the police, and fires a single bullet which digs into the skull of an officer, but never ends up penetrating.
The only thing that lacks in this movie is the main storyline. Magneto is attempting to abduct Rogue, a teenage mutant who can steal the life force from others, so he can transfer his power to her and in turn use her to fuel a machine that transforms humans to mutants. This is executed well; it is just not that exciting. However, the very intriguing subplots more than make up the slack.
A very solid work, this movie serves as an effective platform for raising questions of injustices against those who are deemed “different.” Native Americans have gone through it. African Americans have gone through it. Those of Middle Eastern descent have gone through it. Homosexuals have gone through it. Now, joining those groups: Mutants.
And we have a new American enterprise: The X-Men.