Monday, June 19, 2006

X-Men, dinner with Fr. Bill

I forgot to report, for those who hang on every detail of my life (please seek therapy immediately!), that I saw X-Men: The Last Stand on Sunday afternoon. (Memo to self: avoid seeing movies on weekends; that's when parents can bring their little ones. See them during work hours.)

Warning to those who do not want to have their experience of the movie spoiled. Stop reading now.

Ok--you were warned!

The movie was fun to watch--I mean, who goes to a movie like this, not knowing exactly what to expect? A comic book come to life, superheroes and -villains, lots of special effects and car crashes, buildings blowing up,
the Golden Gate Bridge destroyed (don't whine! I told you to stop reading two paragraphs back!)...again: what's not to like?

The key to the plot is, of course, the "cure" to mutation. And the obvious parallel everyone is noticing is with homosexuality. So I can imagine there are folks who point to this movie as a clever story exposing the evil of trying to cure homosexual orientation.

Only that won't work. The movie makes clear that while some mutations are weird, but innocuous, others are frightening for good reason. One particular mutant is so powerful she seems to have the ability to destroy pretty much everything. I mean, everything. Tell me again why the non-mutants are mean and narrow-minded because that frightens them? I think homosexual activists don't want to hitch their wagon to that star.

Meanwhile, there are some other odd parallels with Christianity. There is one great confrontation between Charles Xavier (which he, with astonishing ineptitude, pronounces "X-xavier"--all to get that "X" in there) and Jean Grey. Xavier represents as much good as comes in the movie; Jean, at that point, represents a soul in torment, under the power of something very evil. And to everyone's astonishment and sorrow, Xavier dies, trying to save Jean. Was I the only one who thought it was sort of Christlike?

So one might expect that Jean would come back to the side of light; didn't happen. She walks off with Magneto, the villain.

Later, the everyman, bad-guy hero, Wolverine, has a confrontation with Jean. He's facing death, and she asks, "are you willing to die for them?" "No, for you!" And I thought, "wow, now that's a Christ-echo, isn't it?" Then she says, "Save me!" So you know what's gonna happen, right?

Only that's not what happens; instead, he shoots out his metal spikes and kills her! He didn't die at all!

Shortly thereafter, you see a graveyard, and the grave markers of our heroes who died; and the camera focuses on the symbol at the top: not a cross, as you would usually see, but an "x." (Yes, I am well aware of the Christian meaning of the "x." I can't be sure, but I think that is not the meaning here.) I don't know about you, but that was a little creepy. My thought was not, "that's a 'Christ-echo," but: "that's an antichrist echo!"

Anyone else have a similar reaction?

Now, before folks get all excited, I do not mean to suggest this is all sinister and spooky; five'll-get-you-ten the makers of the movie didn't have all that in mind. or even if they did, they didn't know what they were dealing with.

Mainly, it's a fun movie; and insofar as it really did a good job highlighting the frightening consequences of the mutations, rather than simply go for the cheap, "why can't we all get along" sentiment, it was rather impressive; I don't believe the movie makers really were making a point about homosexuality, because if they were, they'd get run out of Hollywood on a rail if anyone gave a little thought to what they really said, in that case.

Well, the remaining cinematic question is, shall I go see Nacho Libre?


Anonymous said...

Fr. Martin, thanks for relieving me of the need to attend this incarnation (sic) of the X-Men series. I have to wonder why on earth parents take their kids to movies like that...I know I sound like a curmudgeon, but it's more and more evident from studies that our kids are bombarded with sex and violence and when they don't have an interpretive lens (parental, priestly, etc) they indulge in more precocious, risk-taking behavior. As a mother of a 'tween, I try to be aware of the songs shes taking in and what her friends are saying, but its tough. Good thing she's in parochial school...

Don't I sound just like the Church Lady?

Oh well...thanks for not commenting on the election of a woman Presiding Bishop in the Episcopal Church. I've been feeling depressed all day about that. More troubles ahead.

Mattias A. Caro said...

Also, I could see some theology-of-the-body types running with the character of Rogue and the problem it causes her not to be able to express herself through human touch and interaction.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Martin said: The movie makes clear that while some mutations are weird, but innocuous, others are frightening for good reason.

I must admit: I was confused by this. The first two films seemed to be pushing the "hating X-Men = hating gays" line very hard. (Singer's influence, perhaps?) As usual, Hollywood was being unsubtle. But this film just didn't fit into that tidy box.

The cynical side of me chalked that up to the change in director, and to the mismashed writing/editing that usually goes on with these sorts of blockbusters. But perhaps there was something else...

I spent most of my time trying to figure out why a studio would allow Part III of an incredibly popular franchise to be called "The Last Stand." Cause I can't imagine they'll actually let it live up to its name.

Can definitely be enjoyed, though; if expectations are properly calibrated.

Anonymous said...

thank you for posting that up father. actually i did see those parallels esp when Charles Xavier died and i think it was magneto who pointed out his sacrifice to his minion, the fire guy. one thing that stuck to me was i thought 'the cure' paralleled abortion. there was one part when rogue looked almost ashamed to line up to get the 'cure' and it was also a tough decision that all mutant had to faced. the irreversible decision. and i thought a lot of their dilemma have similarities. some embraced their being even though it meant being different and it's going to be difficult but there are those others who didn't want that 'gift' and wanted to have a 'normal' life.