“No matter Hollywood’s attempt to convey moral ambiguity, the viewer is obviously intended to side with Xavier when it all comes down. But the way most of the X-Men films have portrayed human aggression toward mutants resonates a little closely with, y’know, real life violence and oppression toward people of color, towards queer and gender non-conforming people, women. These are types of oppression which do not afford the privilege of a tolerant, “oh someday they’ll learn” attitude. As someone who supports the autonomy of communities to come together to defend themselves, ESPECIALLY against direct physical threats, it’s really hard to villanize someone like Magneto who, as portrayed in this most recent film, just wants the basic right to exist without conforming his identity or experience to a non-mutant expectation - someone who, as a Holocaust survivor, knows the extremes of human intolerance, someone who is expected to overlook his experience and try having faith in humanity again”
A Tiny Valve
And this is why Charles Xavier is a sheltered cock.
so, so true (although I interpreted the film as the heroic journey of Magneto, esp. with the ending scene, despite what the writers intended the audience to take away from the film)
Whoa I was totally left with the opposite! I think they pointed out frequently that Charles has had sheltered, privileged little life. The people that went with Magneto knew what it felt like to marginalized: Mystique, a sex worker, a Jewish dude, that…windy person who I didn’t think was Caucasian, and the demon dude that would stick out anywhere?
I think the most “Magneto is right” part is when Charles goes “They’re just following orders”. It’s such an awful thing to say, especially to a Holocaust survivor, and that is one of the mantras that is pretty famously attached to war but I would say ESPECIALLY WWII (correct me if I’m wrong). But especially in this context it’s like “REMEMBER NAZIS”. That one moment really hit home for me that Charles can never really understand, even though he’s brilliant, even though he can read people’s minds and understands so much (again, correct me if I’m wrong but I thought that was even a line in the movie?).
It just really made it clear to me, and to Magneto I think, that “Charles, with all his privilege, with all his money, will never understand.” It was so painful and enraging to me! Weren’t some of the most painful parts how disturbingly unfeeling he was to his SISTER? For me, every time it happened it was clear that he didn’t understand what she was feeling at all.
Even his THESIS was like “our ancestors killed the lower species” and still his mind does not connect any dots to the trouble there. Charles is simultaneously very deep but also painfully shallow! Unrealistic and lacking a true understanding! (Using his powers to hit on girls? Invading people’s privacy rather casually for his own means?). If I’m not mistaken, his goal was to be a professor! At a very prestigious (RICH AND EXCLUSIVE) college! While on the surface this seems very nice it’s also pretty bourgeoisie and pretentious and not very practical/pragmatic.
I was left going “MAGNETO IS RIGHT FOREVER” and AT BEST “This is an ambiguous movie”. I mean maybe I’m biased to think this way because I’m a minority but that is literally how I took it = what made me so happy about the film.
Excellent commentary. I’ve been following X-Men comics forever (srsly, like 17 years, I’m not kidding) and I’d never given half a shit about Xavier before this film. At first I was scared I’m just that fucking shallow and the cute Scottish guy was blinding me, but in retrospect I realized it’s because they basically spent the whole film driving home how sheltered and spoiled and just awfully privileged he is. He’s such a Well Meaning Privileged Dude, he wants to be a champion for a minority but he doesn’t really grasp what systematic opression actually is because apart from being a mutant (and one with a inobtrusive mutation that allows him to pass, at that) the system has always worked for him and not against him, so he fails epically. It’s like he’s inventing the mutant version of mansplaining.
Seriously, if we weren’t supposed to think he was being a dickbag in all those scenes where he kept telling Raven to dial back the freaky blue look, I don’t know what the fuck else they were in the movie for.
(But the windy dude is played by a Spanish actor, as in a Spaniard, not Latino, so he’s actually white… but at the same time, if they didn’t want to exotify him in a ~hawt Mediterranean guy, olé flamenco~ kind of way I really don’t get the point of casting a foreign actor and then not giving him ANY lines because his English sucks or whatever, so the point still stands, I guess.)
Some Marvel writers have favored Magneto over the years, but I think X-Men: First Class actually took one of the most sympathetic lenses on his radical and resistance-based worldview that the X-Men canon ever has: when Charles pleads with Erik that the soldiers are “just following orders,” I don’t think audiences are supposed to do anything but cringe at Charles’s horrible, privileged, ruinous gaffe. Nor to perceive that Erik’s concern for Raven and belief she’ll be happier living as herself is anything but sincere and idealistic. It’s definitely Erik Lehnsherr’s tragic arc, but secondarily it’s Charles Xavier’s, I think, as it’s sort of the side-by-side stories of How Pain and Oppression Drove Erik Lehnsherr to Radical Extremism and How His Own Naivete and Arrogance Destroyed Charles Xavier’s Dream for Unity. It’s the opposite of what I feared — what sucks in the long term is that even if that’s so, X-Men canon proves the tone-argument viewpoint of Professor X “right” and the angry viewpoint of Magneto “wrong.” But that was always inevitable with Magneto — I love him, he is my favorite Marvel character, but I know that validating his beliefs as anything but tragically-vengeful at best would undermine the whole pleasant status quo of Marvel morality.
On the other hand, when it comes to non-allegorical oppression, the movie’s abysmal, and that’s the problem that really sticks with me. I didn’t know Riptide was a white Spaniard, so I’m pleased to hear that; however, Darwin was fridged and Angel could’ve been taken in a “her oppression as a Latina stripper has made her sick of oppression” direction but instead came off as “evil skanky Latina stripper.” When it came to real oppressed minorities, X-Men: First Class did shit-all. So while I’m glad it did well by the allegory, the actual subtext of the casting choices was horrible.