Thursday, June 9, 2011

Mutations

I've watched X-Men movies with caution. I've told myself not to expect too much. I've come to accept the fact that those movies, no matter how impressive the animations, stunts, and special effects, would never live up to my childhood ideals of the original.

After Julio at Julia: Kambal ng Tadhana, X-Men was my next favorite animated series. (I'm talking about the original tv series that aired in ABS-CBN during the mid-90's, not the one shown in Studio 23 years later.) I liked the opening song, sure, but I liked the characters the most. They were interesting and colorful. Even if they had superpowers, they were still human. They struggled to be part of society that tried to keep them away. I knew these characters by heart I could draw some of them from memory.

I didn't expect anything from X-Men: First Class but it turned out to be the best X-Men movie so far. The general rule for comics-turned-into-films is: lower your expectations. That way, you actually get entertained. But this movie, I think, is more than just special effects or witty lines. This film is about history: how the X-Men came to
be.

How did the X-Men start? Why is Professor X on a wheelchair? And why doesn't he like Magneto that much? These are some questions that the movie answers. To us, fans, knowing what happened in the past gives a deeper insight into the characters we've come to love.

Before Professor X (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) came to be, they were Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr respectively.

We see scenes of two  boys living in vastly different worlds. Charles stays in a mansion while Erik is a poor Jewish kid living in Nazi Poland. While Charles studies genetics in Oxford, hoping to create a better world, Erik seeks out his mother's killer—a German Nazi scientist, Dr. Schmidt/Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon)—to exact revenge.

And indeed, the past is the key to the present, for this polarity of life experiences explains what would become Professor X and Magneto's opposing ideologies. The professor wants to have a world where mutants and ordinary humans coexist. Magneto, believing that coexistence is impossible, wants mutants to dominate the world. Charles has had a rather privileged life, compared to Erik whose childhood was marked by fear and anger.

But I'm already going too far into the story.

Charles and Erik first become good friends. They agree to work for the CIA; they're going after the same man, after all. Dr. Schimdt, the man who killed Erik's mother, is the same man who wants to start a nuclear war between the United States and Russia. He has a handful of notorious mutants in his pocket, so he is powerful.

To counter Dr. Schmidt's offensives, Charles and Erik gather and train young mutants who have concerns of their own. They, too, want to belong to society, but humanity won't accept them. They, too, have felt alone and different—a dangerous combination—at some point in their lives. Professor X tells them they're not alone. They shouldn't be ashamed of what they are. He encourages them to live to their utmost potential, to use their superpowers for good.

The clash between the forces of good and evil is the focal point of the story. Good mutants versus bad mutants. But there's a twist: Erik, poisoned by his anger, moves over to the dark side. He realizes that fighting for a peaceful coexistence is futile, because the very people they've tried to protect are the same ones killing them.

It just occurred to me that X-Men: First Class can be a teaser to convince high school kids to take up molecular biology as a career. You don't just get to study mutants, you make them.

1 comment:

  1. I remember when we were kids you thought Magneto was Magneetle. Hahaha! I lov the film because the actors were great. Fassy has an impressive catalog of movies--Hunger, Fish Tank, among others. And James was in Atonement.

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