Oprah’s X-Men: Thoughts on Logan

Lers of Spoi. You have been warned.

Nobody said mutation was pretty.

Nobody said mutation was pretty.

There’s always been a contingent of X-Men fans who insist on seeing Mutant as Allegory, a metaphor—albeit a heavy-handed one— for prejudice and disenfranchisement. Mutants routinely get invoked as a sort of Other Of The Week: stand-ins for unwanted immigrants, untrusted ethnicities, oppressed orientations. I’ve never been a big reader of the comics, but certainly the films have played into this. One memorable example occurs early in the first movie, when a bewildered parent asks her child: “Honey, have you tried just not being a mutant?” (An even more memorable example is young Magneto’s psionic awakening in a Nazi concentration camp.)

I’ve never bought into this interpretation, for the same reason I reject the claim that Oprah Winfrey was “disenfranchised” when some racist idiot in Zurich refused to show her a handbag because it was “too expensive” for a black woman to afford. When you can buy the whole damn store and the street it sits on with pocket change; when you can buy the home of the asshole who just disrespected you and have it bulldozed; when you can use your influence to get that person fired in the blink of an eye and turn her social media life into a living hell— the fact that you don’t do any of those things does not mean that you’ve been oppressed. It means you’ve been merciful to someone you could just as easily squash like a bug.

Marvel’s mutants are something like that. We’re dealing, after all, with people who can summon storm systems with their minds and melt steel with their eyes. Xavier can not only read any mind on the planet, he can freeze time, for fucksake. These have got to be the worst case-studies in oppression you could imagine. Sure, baselines fear and revile mutants; that’s a far cry from “disenfranchising” them. How long would gay-bashing be a thing, if gays could strike down their attackers with lightning bolts?

To my mind, X-Men are the Oprahs of the Marvel Universe. Immensely powerful. Inexplicably patient with the small-minded. And the fact that they’ve been consistently portrayed as victims has significantly compromised my suspension of disbelief— and hence, my enjoyment— of pretty much every X-Men movie I’ve taken in.

Right up to the best of the lot so far, the intimate, humane, sometimes brilliant Logan.

Logan is far and away the best X-Men movie I’ve ever seen (I’m tempted to say it’s the best X-Men movie ever made, but I haven’t seen Apocalypse so who knows). The characterizations are deeper, their relationships more nuanced. The acting is better: you wouldn’t expect less from Patrick Stewart, who somehow managed to maintain his dignity and gravitas throughout even the most idiotic ST:TNG episodes (looking at you, “Skin of Evil”), but the rest of the cast keeps up with him and makes it look effortless. The fight choreography is bone-crunchingly beautiful. This is the Unforgiven of Marvel movies, a story that focuses not on some absurdly high-stakes threat to Life As We Know It but on the more intimate costs to lives as we knew them. It’s a story about entropy and unhappy endings. It earns its 94% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Until the last act, when it throws it all away.

I’m not just nitpicking about the canonical dumbness inevitable in any movie based on a sixties-era comic franchise. (If I were, I might wonder how Logan’s 25-cm claws manage to retract into his arms without immobilizing his wrists like rebar through salami; the guy must have to extend his claws every time he wants to hold a spoonful of Cheerios. It’s a good thing they don’t sell milk in bags down there.) I’m complaining about something which, I think, largely betrays all that resonant, character-based story-telling that comprises the bulk of the movie. Or rather, I’m complaining about two things:

  1. When the bad guys know that their quarry can freeze flesh unto shattering with their breath, summon the very undergrowth to strangle and entangle pursuers, spit out bullets, and hurl everything from trees to troop transports with their minds, why in Christ’s name would they try to take them down with conventional gun-toting infantry? They’ve got drones, for Chrissake: why not use robots to shoot the kids from above the treeline? Why not snipe them from a safe distance with tranquilizers, or gas the forest, or do any of a dozen other things that could take down their targets without exposing ill-equipped flesh-and-blood to mutant countermeasures?
  2. When said quarry can freeze flesh unto shattering with their breath, summon the very undergrowth to strangle and entangle pursuers, spit out bullets, and hurl everything from trees to troop transports with their minds, why in Christ’s name do they not do any of that until half of them have already been captured and Logan himself is half-dead? We’re not talking about do-goody pacifists here; these aren’t adults who’ve made a conscious decision to eschew violence for the greater good. These are ten-year-old kids— with all the emotional maturity that implies— who’ve been trained as supersoldiers almost from the moment of conception. Back in the first act Laura must have single-handedly killed twenty heavily-armed cyber-enhanced psycho killers with no weapons but what God and the bioengineers gave her. So why are these superkillers running like frightened animals in the first place? Why aren’t they laying traps, implementing countermeasures, fighting back? They know how to do it; hell, they don’t know how to do anything else.

The answer, I’m guessing, is because writer James Mangold bought into the same bullshit allegory that so many others have: no matter the canon, no matter their powers, these kids have to be victims, even though the script has already shown us that they definitively are not. They must be oppressed and disempowered by an intolerant world, because that’s what the whole X-Men allegory thing is all about.

And in buying into that narrative, Mangold renders Logan’s ultimate sacrifice pretty much meaningless.  The children he died protecting were far more powerful than he was: numerically, psionically, even at simple hand-to-hand combat. If they hadn’t been shackled by allegorical fiat they could have won that battle before Logan ever showed up.

Which means that Logan died for nothing. And that’s not some nerdy quibble along the lines of the transporter doesn’t work like that; it’s a betrayal of nuanced characters we’ve come to care about, all for the sake of a mutants-as-victims narrative that never made any sense to begin with.

If the screenwriters had to indulge their victim mindset, they could have done so without sacrificing story logic or throwing away two hours of character development. Here’s a thought: Posit that mutant powers only manifest at puberty (something established way back at the start of the franchise, with Rogue’s first adolescent kiss). A few of these kids are verging on adulthood, but not most; they’re still vulnerable to men with guns.  They’re being hunted not for what they can do now, but for what they’ll be able to do if allowed to live another year or two.  Let the stress of being cornered, of seeing their fellows mowed down, the sheer adrenaline response of fight/flight be the trigger that activates just a few of the older ones, allows their powers to manifest: not in full-on crush-all-opposition mode, but just enough to hold on until Logan arrives to turn the tide.  It would change very little in terms of pacing or screen time; it would change everything in terms of earned emotional impact.

But no. What we’re given is a third-act chase scene almost as dumb as the climax of Star Trek Beyond. Which is a shame, because Star Trek Beyond was a loud dumb movie from the start; one more dumb element was par for the course. Logan, by way of contrast, is a thoughtful, melancholy rumination on the whole superhero premise; it remains, for the most part, a thing of beauty.

Too bad about that big festering pustule on the forehead.

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Monday March 06 2017at 11:03 am , filed under ink on art . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

34 Responses to “Oprah’s X-Men: Thoughts on Logan

  1. What, no comments yet?

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  2. Haven’t seen the movie yet but I don’t mind the spoilers 😀
    As a result, the only thing I can really add is my obligatory nerdy point of correction: Xavier can’t stop time. He can however stop minds. From the outside, the people he controls freeze in a mass psionically-induced Mannequin Challenge but you can still see drinks overflowing as the hands pour unaware, wind in hair and stuff like that.

    I am really happy the movie is as good as the trailers made it look. That’s awesome and I look forward to seeing it myself.

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  3. I like that remedy for the last act’s shortcomings. I wonder if they didn’t go that way because they didn’t think of it, or because, as a rule of Hollywood thumb, you can’t kill kids or dogs.

    On the topic of dead dogs (and otherwise apropos of nothing), John Wick, 1 and 2, is a good ride…

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  4. Haven’t seen it yet. My concern reading about it is re US pop cinema/culture in general: That somehow simulating resistance {in this case, the US’ new status as a ‘flawed democracy’/mercenary for multinational goals} replaces any real world action. Well, that and how real heroes tend to get ignored/demonized and your average superhero-loving nerds/geeks don’t seem to get that’s what happens/is happening and they hail hydra without realizing that’s what they’re doing.

    But good point about the mutant allegory. One can see why, given the “they’re different” point and attempting to make them the main characters, that it is thematically popular to do so. Not sure how one would make it work in a fantasy film and yet maintain box office. Did we root for the baselines in Morgan? Seemed like it fell a bit into the Cthulhu “humans are unworthy” category for a variety of stupid, gullible, and cruel reasons.

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  5. It’s X-Men history as told by X-Men.

    THEY don’t kill X-Men in the most efficient manner because THEY aren’t smart like us.

    WE don’t kill THEM at a moment’s notice because WE are a morally superior breed, not heartless killers like THEM.

    When we win, it’s because we’re better. When we lose, it’s because we’re better. That’s just what we are.

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  6. Concerning the “Mutant are ostracized freaks” angle, i think its important not to forget that the X-Men, especially Wolverine, Professor Xavier or Storm, are very much the 1% of the mutants and won the superpower lottery.

    A lot of other mutants have totally useless, or not combat useful powers, and are disfigured to some degree to boot. Caliban springs to mind. Not a lot he could do about people punching him in the face, was there?

    Obviously, the mob is not stoning the Halle-Berry lookalike that can blast them with lightning, but rather the scaly freak next door whos superpower is, for example, projecting a red dot with his pinkie…

    As for the last act, well, it was a bit grating. I very much had the feeling that the little Wolverine Girl was the only one of them with “real” killer instinct, the others seemed a lot less vicious even when they fought.

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  7. Saw Logan last Friday on IMAX, it was certainly a spectacle. I’ll have to agree that Logan is perhaps the best of the X-Men movies. Though I’m getting exhausted with the movies based on DC and Marvel comic book serials.

    When are we going to see movies with interplanetary spaceships crewed by genetically revived vampires that rendezvous with alien artifacts detected in in the Kuiper Belt? Or movies with augmented humans living in deep ocean research stations fighting mutant sea creatures or rogue robots? Those are movies I’d like to see.

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  8. Saw it. How dark and murderous it was left an impression, especially given the kiddie angle. Perhaps the strangest “family” film I’ve ever seen, at least in terms of major motion picture/big distribution. That is, films where dysfunctional wasn’t the point, as it would be in Mommy Dearest, for ex.

    Also think that there were no real “grown ups” in the film, though I’m not yet sure what that means. No authority figures? Even the horse ranch fam didn’t seem to have cohesion and unity, though that probably made them seem a bit more grounded in reality. And the mercs were pretty much out of control cowboys whose only authority came from hardware, numbers and force. No feel-good President Morgan Freeman or Martin Sheen to restore confidence and order or serve as the conscience.

    I think depicting all those characters with grittier flaws deserves some praise. Wasn’t just the old “oh, he’s an angry, cigar-smoking drunk with a temper but a heart of gold” thing where they pull it back cuz it’s a kid film. And though fantastic, bring in Xavier’s dangerous and deadly condition as well. Very unapologetic until, as you said, the last act.

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  9. >Logan is far and away the best X-Men movie I’ve ever seen (I’m tempted to say it’s the best X-Men movie ever made, but I haven’t seen Apocalypse so who knows).

    It’s safe to say Apocalypse is not the best X-Men movie ever made. It’s at 48% on Rotten Tomatoes. Passable, at best.

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  10. Hoo-boy. Deleted my reply here because I didn’t realize how much I had written. Thanks for the thoughtful review!

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  11. [edited for brevity]

    First off, thanks for the typically thoughtful review I’ve come to expect from Dr. Watts. I agree that the Marvel X-media has never been a particularly effective analogue for socially marginalized groups. I do, however, give the comics from the 60s and 70s when they were still under the Comics Code Authority a certain amount amount of respect for slipping those ideas into a system that actively discouraged that subject matter or the questioning of authority. In the modern era when it’s not only acceptable, but a mundane practice to acknowledge racism and homophobia in mainstream fiction, trying to shoehorn this stuff in as subtext to a fantasy blockbuster feels increasingly silly. I suppose the justification there is that it’s a sugar-coating aimed at kids, not adults, but the movie’s R rating belies that point—or belies the notion that big budget R-rated movies are actually aimed at adults rather than kids.

    At the risk of inadvertently defending the silly metaphor a bit, I would just mention that if you *had* been a reader of the X-comics, you’d know that the “mutant phenomenon” doesn’t only bestow godlike superpowers on mutants. Many mutants in that setting have debilitating mutations or ones that only mark them as perceptibly different. The Grant Morrison run was probably one of the better ones for illustrating this. The super-mutants are simply the ones with weaponized mutations. They are the elite members of the class who choose to use their power to advocate for all its members—in other words, like the celebrities of any minority group that choose to use their power to bring attention to this stuff.

    I guess my point is that Oprah is probably a super mutant, and you shouldn’t mess with her unless you want to run afoul of her fiery murder-vision and retractable poison spines.

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  12. DA:
    Hoo-boy.Deleted my reply here because I didn’t realize how much I had written. Thanks for the thoughtful review!

    No, you should post it. I wanna argue.

    If you’ve erased it at your end too I’ve kept a copy…

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  13. Peter Watts: No, you should post it.I wanna argue.

    If you’ve erased it at your end too I’ve kept a copy…

    Present company excluded, no one in their right mind would read that whole thing. It’s what happens when I type responses in a word editor rather than the tiny ‘crawl window that reminds me I’m on the internet.

    .

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  14. I enjoyed Logan, but the ending wasn’t what it could’ve been. For once, I’d like to see a mutant-like character realistically depicted. If any hominid had that kind of power, their nature would likely end up with them dominating the lesser species. It could very well be why our own species exists, because we out competed the others, or outright killed them.
    At least for the god-like mutants, humans with weapons would be little more than an angry wasp nest they could easily swat away. Humankind would be an afterthought to whatever a god-like entity’s goals might be. Humans might just end up getting killed off out of pure annoyance, not because they’re a real threat.

    I’d be more interested to know what their motivations would be as a new hominid species. I mean besides spreading out into different regions, and reproduction.

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  15. Chinedum R. Ofoegbu: Xavier can’t stop time. He can however stop minds.

    Right. That makes more sense.

    Phil: John Wick, 1 and 2, is a good ride…

    I confess I quite liked them. Chapter 2 especially.

    Deseret: Did we root for the baselines in Morgan?

    Um, what’s Morgan?

    U. Ranus: It’s X-Men history as told by X-Men.

    That’s actually a really good interpretation. If Marvel wasn’t owned by Disney, I might even wonder if such subversive subtext might even be deliberate.

    The K: A lot of other mutants have totally useless, or not combat useful powers, and are disfigured to some degree to boot. Caliban springs to mind. Not a lot he could do about people punching him in the face, was there?

    Nah, but he still had his uses. Someone raised the same point on facebook, but I think if you want to go with the oppressed-minority metaphor you’ve got to show some of those easily-oppressable, un-superpowered individuals being oppressed, right? To repeat an (admittedly blatant) analogy, if you’re going to write a treatise on racism-based disenfranchisement in American Society, you’re not going to limit your case studies to Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Will Smith.

    Dale Allen: Those are movies I’d like to see.

    Don’t give up hope yet.

    Deseret: No feel-good President Morgan Freeman or Martin Sheen to restore confidence and order or serve as the conscience.

    Just want to clarify here— when you’re talking “feel-good president”, are you talking Martin Sheen from West wing or Martin Sheen from The Dead Zone?

    ‘Cause I could see either one working…

    DA: I guess my point is that Oprah is probably a super mutant, and you shouldn’t mess with her unless you want to run afoul of her fiery murder-vision and retractable poison spines.

    Okay. But to answer your other point (which you didn’t to leave in there for fear of excessive verbosity), I’m not claiming that Oprah isn’t subject to racism; just that said racism doesn’t really hold you back when you’re a murder-vision-equipped mutant. Some yappy Pomeranian nipping at my heels may irritate the hell out of me, but I can’t really claim that it’s impacting my professional and social options even if I don’t punt it into traffic.

    Unless it’s a corgi instead of a Pomeranian, and I happen to be visiting Buckingham Palace at the time.

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  16. Angela D: I’d be more interested to know what their motivations would be as a new hominid species. I mean besides spreading out into different regions, and reproduction.

    Killing off competing hominid species? I mean, the whole Xavier/Magneto competing alliances thing seemed to be heading towards that kind of tribalism, before the mutants stopped breeding at least.

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  17. Peter Watts:

    Okay. But to answer your other point (which you didn’t to leave in there for fear of excessive verbosity), I’m not claiming that Oprah isn’t subject to racism; just that said racism doesn’t really hold you back when you’re a murder-vision-equipped mutant. Someyappy Pomeranian nipping at my heels may irritate the hell out of me, but I can’t really claim that it’s impacting my professional and social options even if I don’t punt it into traffic.

    Yes, I understood your assertion that people with power can’t be oppressed, and don’t dispute that someone with the position of Ms. Winfrey is insulated against the practical consequences of racism that may affect others much more severely. I’m not equipped to speculate about any emotional consequences–as a member of a privileged class I doubt I’d even recognize any racism directed at me, so foreign is the concept to people like me, and even then it would be more of a curiosity.

    I guess though, Im wondering why you’re hitting that point about Ms. Winfrey so hard. Your critique of the film and the X-Media in general is perfectly valid without it, and yet she has become the face of the article.

    I suppose I should really familiarize myself with the incident in question, as my knowledge of what you’re speaking of is limited to your description of it. I just really don’t want to spend any portion of my day googling for things a celebrity has said. It’s possible she said something foolish in recounting that story. Even if so, I’m not sure it invalidates her account, or means it can’t still be instructive.

    Was her purpose in recounting that story to solicit sympathy for herself, or to draw attention to the issue? When Colin Kaepernick chooses to kneel during a National Anthem, it isn’t to elicit sympathy for himself– an NFL player and therefore a comparatively wealthy individual–it’s to use his power as a minor celebrity to draw attention to issues affecting a social group he identifies with. Of course, people who would like him to just shut up are happy to try and paint him as doing the former.

    Ms. Winfrey didn’t come out of the womb as the head of a vast media empire. I’m assuming at some point along that trajectory she would have qualified to relate such a story without drawing your ire before passing whatever threshold for power invalidates claims of oppression. But then at that point we wouldn’t have cared because she lacked the *power* to impose that story on our awareness. Seems a bit of a Catch 22.

    I generally trust your judgement enough that I’ll accept that Ms. Winfrey’s spotlight here is probably warranted, and not just another variation on the “Celebrities should be thankful and just shut up” refrain from critics who attempt to shut them down whenever they use their platform to discuss anything of substance. I’m personally not comfortable dismissing someone’s account of an issue like this on the grounds that someone else somewhere has it worse–Oprah is an extreme example, but that’s always going to be true in any case. Just because someone in another part of the world is affected measurably worse, doesn’t mean I can dismiss my neighbor’s claim of serious institutional problems.

    Otherwise I’m on board with the substance of your critique.

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  18. Oprah Winfrey basically shows up because “Oprah’s X-Men” is a more dissonant (and hence, more click-baity) title than “Peter Watts Reviews Logan”. I’m not married to it by any means— but you gotta admit, the graphic catches your eye.

    I do think the point sticks, though. I’m certainly not suggesting that Ms. Winfrey was whingeing or complaining or should just-shut-up-about-racism; I think she did blog about the incident, but IMO was perfectly justified in doing so. I’m not casting aspersions on her by any means (at least, not in this post).

    The argument I was rejecting was not made by OW (so far as I know), but by other folks wedded to the “Race Trumps Class” argument. You generally find such arguments in the company of “You Can’t Be Racist Against Whites” and “It’s Not Racism Unless It’s Insitutionalized”. This is a great dissonance-minimizer if you want to both A) complain about racism and B) shout “Kill All White People”. Such folks have been known to cite the Oprah Winfrey Handbag Incident in support of their positions.

    Personally, I think they’re full of shit. But it was only the hook, as you say; not the substance.

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  19. Peter Watts: The argument I was rejecting was not made by OW (so far as I know), but by other folks wedded to the “Race Trumps Class” argument. You generally find such arguments in the company of “You Can’t Be Racist Against Whites” and “It’s Not Racism Unless It’s Insitutionalized”. This is a great dissonance-minimizer if you want to both A) complain about racism and B) shout “Kill All White People”. Such folks have been known to cite the Oprah Winfrey Handbag Incident in support of their positions.

    Ah, I see. This was an important clarification for the context-impaired like myself. Thanks for that.

    I was terrified you were picking a fight with Oprah, and didn’t want to see you impaled on her adamantium claws.

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  20. I agree that the first half had some watchable vignettes, but the ruination of the second half – through which I found myself yawning – bled out all the potential this had to be a good movie. It didn’t have the kind of No Country For Old Men potential, but it could have been closer to a Children of Men story. I guess that’s expecting too much of X Men. Yeah, lots of stupid guns – useless against mutant power – stupid swat uniforms – the de rigeur evil blond guy. Then, supposedly institutionalized and brutalized children who look like they just hopped out of a taxi from suburban California. I found myself wishing during the horse farm evening scenes that the writers had reviewed the similar scene in Children of Men, where MIchael Caine, Julianne Moore and Clive Owen compose a truly tense and moving fugitive hideaway. And I also wondered why the wonderful attack of all the children’s special powers was wasted on the evil blond guy, instead of the Dr. Mengele who was their true tormentor.

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  21. The Morgan I think Deseret may be talking about is this movie: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morgan_(2016_film)

    Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rqmHSR0bFU8

    Saw this movie, very intense.

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  22. Dale Allen,

    It’s a decent action movie with a great atmosphere.

    The only superhero-type movie I ever liked was Unbreakable. I try to steer clear of anything with a Marvel or DC Comics label. Superheroes strain even my prodigious superpower of disbelief suspension.

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  23. Dale Allen is correct, that’s the Morgan film.

    And I meant West Wing Sheen, though certainly The Dead Zone is getting a lot of replay since the election.

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  24. PS: That which should have been obvious, but sharp biology turn here bordering on off-topic: Urge to kill {destroy competition} other side of procreation/spread the genes coin? Just don’t recall much in the way of Wattsian poetry on that point. Just maybe Lubin getting hard after a kill or fight, IIRC.

    Anyway, nice conspiracy there on certain organizations trying to control people’s sex lives. Make the masses horny enough and the second urge gets its turn in the driver’s seat. “[your organization]?thanks you for your service” in their military/wars as do any deities said organizations have a direct line to. Everybody wins as long as everybody only includes the organizational elites.

    Hm. Ties into racism/xenophobia there as well.

    Conclusion: These hairless apes have lots of pressure points to poke and levers to manipulate.

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  25. Isn’t this stuff for 12-year-olds?

    It has been my impression that the commenters on here tend to be very intelligent. Do you people really dig this childish rubbish? I don’t get it.

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  26. Thanks for posting this! Long time fan here.

    I’ve actually just put a ‘superhero’ story of my own to the publisher and, throughout writing it, I was always wondering why the whole genre is so passionately married to the mutants-as-oppressed-minority angle (probably because a lot of it is solely the domain of the YA crowd, really). It’s something I steered away from because, well, as you pointed out, almost every superhero in media is a one-man wrecking crew and the oppression angle starts to fall apart when you can’t reconcile their world-shaking potency with “Why can’t people just accept me?”

    To me, it was far more interesting to think about how the world would change and how people would react if people with superpowers just showed up and you got that whole hero/villain dichotomy going on. Logan’s thing with the corn is one of the more interesting points in superhero fiction I can remember seeing: if the institutions want you gone, they’ll do it, no matter how flashy you are – because you need to eat and drink and live in this world.

    But there’s other things, too. What if some caped vigilante showed up to a mugging, brightly colored and spandex’d, and his powerset didn’t include ignoring bullets? How long would organised crime let Insectman ruin their operations before they delved behind the mask? Should Timmy Stork really be allowed to horde his cold fusion and his powered armors for his own personal profit? On the other end of the scale, if multiple Ultramen showed up with some Earth League of Super Protectors, and there’s nothing the average person or their government can do to stop them, are they really a heroic force for good? Doesn’t that violate an intrinsic right to self-determination if peace comes at the end of a cape? If gun registration is a thing, shouldn’t we register the people who can do far more damage, and do so without even needing to show off a firearm to do it? What happens when those heroes get old, when their minds start breaking down but their powers refuse to wane?

    So many good seeds there but here we are, at the height of the superhero mania, and, well…

    Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks for posting something that aligns along the thoughts I kept running into, again and again, over the past year.

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  27. fons:
    Isn’t this stuff for 12-year-olds?

    It has been my impression that the commenters on here tend to be very intelligent. Do you people really dig this childish rubbish? I don’t get it.

    I enjoy a good talking space raccoon movie as much as the next 12 year old, but my leisure intake does not consist solely of talking space racoon movies. I’m far from the sharpest crayon in the box at the old ‘Crawl, but I’m pretty sure the sum of my leisure intake would compare favorably with at least 3 out of 5 twelve-year-olds, and therefore better than 80% of my “adult” peers.

    The movie in question, though, is an R-rated feature ostensibly aimed at “adults”. I doubt anyone really believes that big budget R-rated movies are actually made for adults, but it makes them fair game for this sort of critique.

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  28. fons: Do you people really dig this childish rubbish? I don’t get it.

    It’d be hard to imagine rubbish more childish than Glen Larson’s cheesy Star Wars rip-off “Battlestar Galatica” back in the seventies. (I stand self-corrected: the creation myth in Genesis is pretty damned childish too.) Yet when Ronald Moore rebooted the exact same premise with adult sensibilities, the result was brilliant (until Moore fucked everything up in the last act, at least). Moore’s BSG was hailed by Time Magazine as the best show on television; Amnesty International praised its exploration of human rights issues; cast members were invited to address the United Nations.

    There’s no shortage of childish rubbish on screens large and small, but more often or not it’s the execution to blame for that, not the premise. The mutant premise— even if they’re scientifically-indefensible, fantasy mutants— has a lot of mythic, metaphoric, and storytelling potential. The fact that an idea has its roots in a tawdy sixties comic franchise doesn’t mean that the same idea can’t mature and ripen and turn into something that kicks ass in the right hands. That’s one of the reasons I keep checking out these shows; to see what new and interesting things they might have done with the core premise.

    Another reason is because I really dig talking smart-ass raccoons. Because a show that knowingly and joyously revels in its own dumbness can be just as much fun (and even as smart) as a show that grew up.

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  29. The part where the younger kids turn on there masters is where I thought the movie lost credibility. In a world of Koni’s and other monster makers of children, you don’t see a lot of kids with the strength of ego to turn on the people in charge. The running away part, yes. Turning guns (powers) on the people who have dominated your entire life? No, it rarely happens. Institutionalization is a real phenomenon.

    I know this because I was raised by a alcoholic Vietnam veteran with daddy issues. Running away, check, did that. Raising my hand (much less grabbing what ever weapons were available to end my nightmare) never crossed my mind. The mind fuckery and physical abuse conditioned me all too well. Still living with the crippling effects of the mind games. Ps, no he wasn’t trying to turn me into a living weapon, ala Hannah lol. Just good old child abuse passed on from his father to me. Needless to say, I don’t have kids.

    Adults and slave revolts I can see, but not the kids, not without strong “parental” support. Lara’s feral actions made sense. So too the oldest child, the boy who moved the earth, maybe . But not the younger kids. They would have been too intimidated and fearful of their former Masters. Running in terror, much more plausible.

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  30. Angela D: At least for the god-like mutants, humans with weapons would be little more than an angry wasp nest they could easily swat away. Humankind would be an afterthought to whatever a god-like entity’s goals might be. Humans might just end up getting killed off out of pure annoyance, not because they’re a real threat.

    That’s definitely getting into Alan Moore ‘Marvelman/Miracleman’ territory, which is a comic adaptation I’d love to see. Hard R at the minimum, and no obvious avenue towards a happy ending. I’ve always seen the comic as an allegory for what happens when a technologically advanced culture unexpectedly lands in the middle of a much less advanced one.

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  31. Angela D: At least for the god-like mutants, humans with weapons would be little more than an angry wasp nest they could easily swat away. Humankind would be an afterthought to whatever a god-like entity’s goals might be. Humans might just end up getting killed off out of pure annoyance, not because they’re a real threat.

    That’s starting to get into the realm of Alan Moore’s ‘Marvelman/Miracleman’ series. I’d be very interested in seeing that make it to the silver screen – it’d have to be a hard R, and there isn’t an obvious way to end everything on a cheery note. I’ve always thought that some aspects of the first arc of the series serves as an allegory for the sudden introduction of a highly technologically advanced group into a primitive but widespread culture.

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  32. I think I disagree with your evaluation of the final third of the movie.
    Sure, all the rest of the X-men movies were to some degree about oppressed minorities. But this time around, we’re not dealing with people who were born mutants. These kids were MADE into weapons, on purpose. They are not persecuted for being who they are. They are being destroyed because they are faulty possessions and possibly because they could implicate their makers.

    So let’s forget all of that allegory thing. This is a personal story, about Wolverine defending *his daughter* (so to speak). The entire plot is about Wolverine becoming a better man who cares about more than just himself and his close friends. In my opinion it doesn’t even matter whether his help was needed or not – all that matters was that he gave it to a bunch of kids in need. And let’s not forget – he was dying anyway, poisoned by the adamantium in his skeleton, IIRC. The ending was him deciding that if he was a goner anyway, might as well die doing something good.

    As for using robot, drones or whatnot – this is not the government pursuing them. It’s a private corporation who sent a bunch of enforcers. I’m assuming they don’t want the government to know about their doings, and a privately owned armed drone shooting missiles from the air is bound to raise some eyebrows in Washington, to say the least (assuming a corporation even has that kind of military grade hardware to begin with).

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  33. OK, fair points. I still don’t buy the pursuit logistics, but as allegory it sucked anyway. I’d be much happier playing it as a simple, intimate tale.

    Gotta disagree with you over the eyebrows in Washington, though. Have you seen what the US government does in this movie franchise? Why, they’re almost half as despicable as their real-world counterpart.

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