05 Juni 2006

"X-Men 3": the bad guys are better than the good guys!

(You might not want to read this until after you've seen the film.)

I went into the theatre being hopeful.  Not that the first two movies were perfect, but overall they were good, & the previews for this one looked really good as well.

One of the reasons, politically, that I don't uphold the series overall is its whole thing of Professor X as an MLK caricature & Magneto as a Malcolm X caricature -- caricatures drawn with bourgeois hands of course.  (That is, MLK/Prof.X is full of love & tolerance, only struggling when absolutely forced to, whilst Malcolm/Magneto is full of hate & vengeance, using terrorist methods but you can understand his motivations at least.)  I think I even read an interview where Stan Lee (the creator of the comic books) actually said this analogy himself.

The mutants' situation, especially in these recent movies, actually seems to have more in common with homosexuals than Blacks, though.  There's the "coming out to the parents" scenes, the way that many can easily blend in with "normal people", & in this 3rd movie the "cure" (like Christian de-gayification camps).

Now let's talk about why I didn't like this.  I didn't like it because its line is counter-revolutionary.  What happens in the film?

First, we discover there is a "cure" for mutation, that is permanent.  So that's very bad, especially because it could be made mandatory.

Then what are the reactions of our "heroes" & "villains"?  The X-Men develop worry warts, & the Brotherhood declares it to be wrong, & they will put a stop to it.  They get their team ready for action, go to community meetings to debate that direct action by the people is needed not lobbying the enemy's congress, & hack the airwaves for Magneto to give an address to the public.  He calls on mutants to join him, the government & corporation to stop, & for others to get out of the way.  Not "meddling X-Men I will kill you for disagreeing" but "We're going to do this for everyone's benefit, don't stop us".  Oh that horrible fiend.

Then, as the Brotherhood is freeing a POW, the "cure" is used as a weapon, which is not exactly "voluntary".  Now Magneto does do something fucked up here, by ditching Mystique (& we see later how not only is that morally wrong, but it hurts their mission practically as well).  This increases their determination to get rid of the "cure", & increases the popular sentiment against it.  But the X-Men pay no nevermind to this, other than Beast quitting his do-nothing government post to help the rest of his buddies do nothing outside the government.

Another mistake Magneto made was trying to use Jean Grey for the cause, even though she's a total destructive psycho at this point.  I think this can be analogous to nuclear weapons.  He does try to stop her from killing Professor X, but he's not powerful enough.

Then what?  Now it's one thing if you're a vacillating (or "wishy washy") middle strata force, you can't decide if the ruling class & its government is really the enemy or not, so you're paralysed & do nothing.  That's one thing, it's called neutrality.  Now it's quite another thing if you do like the X-Men & despite your bragging about "unity" & "peace" go out to violently prevent folks from enacting positive change.

The Brotherhood goes to shut down a chemical weapons factory, weapons which have already been used on the people, & the X-Men come to the aid of genocidal reactionaries to stop them.

So in this case it's quite accurate portrayal of MLK, calling to mind when he supported the calling in of National Guard to violently suppress the urban uprisings by Black people in the mid-'60s.

And of course all throughout the movie, it's not portrayed as even equal, where the viewer is encouraged to decide who's right & who's wrong.  No, there's the triumphant soundtrack behind it all whenever the X-Men perpetrate another fucked-up pro-government deed.

Basically it boils down to this:
- Magneto & co. were doing the right thing (with some mistakes)
- the X-Men did the reactionaries' dirty work for them, stopping revolutionaries & protecting a genocidal arsenal in the US imperialists' hands

The first two movies were not, of course, shining examples of the revolutionary communist line or whatever.  But this one crosses the line into reactionary territory.  In fact it may be worse than your run-of-the-mill reactionary flick in that the reactionary heroes are not the US Marine Corps but supposed "rebels".

Thus the overall purpose of the movie seems to be an attempt at convincing rebellious-minded folks to at all costs stay within the bounds set by the ruling class, & be pacifist when opposing the government but violent when supporting it.

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