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Friday, May 26, 2006

X-Men3 and its Symbolism


X-men3 was released today at the start of Bank Holiday Weekend. For those who have seen the first two films in the trilogy, you will recognise that the central theme of the movies is that of the intolerance shown towards the mutants by humans and the vastly different approaches by the two mutant leaders towards the problem. If while you have been watching the trilogy you have seen parallels with the civil rights movement in America in the 1960s you are not alone. There are obvious clues strewn throughout the three movies to keep this undercurrent alive.

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, are the two African American leaders whose perspectives are mirrored by that of Professor Xavier and Magneto. Where MLK thought that integration would lead to freedom; Malcolm X preached that separation was the way to emancipation of the black race. In the film Professor Xavier and the X-men want to live with humans, they want integration and thus fight for peace. Magneto and his followers, like the NOI under Brother Malcolm, have lost faith in the justice system of the dominant racial class and seek to take the situation into their own hands.

Some of the obvious clues thrown in as eye candy include:
X1: The film ends with Xavier playing chess with Magneto in a plastic jail cell. Magneto tells the Professor that he will continue fighting the humans 'by any means necessary' (A phrase commonly associated with Malcolm X in the 1960s).
X3: At one point in the film when Mystique is called upon to testify, she repiles, “I don’t answer to my slave name.” (Anyone remember Kunta Kinte?). When Kelsey Grammer’s Beast recalled a time when things were different, Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, retorted, “Did you just call me boy?”

Those who believe the parallels are not purely coincidental may have taken heart from the opening scene of X3 where the two leaders are working together to resolve societal ills and hoped for a happy ending. Sadly it wasn't to be and X3 falls flat on its face with the portrayal of Magneto as an evil man who lets his ambition lead his desire to progress his race.

Personally I would have prefered a greater level of respect for the need for a spectrum of views and the necessity of a Malcolm X character to balance out the non-violent MLK, with that perhaps X-men the movie might have proven more than just a comical parody of real life events and become an education into what the civil rights movement could have been.

21 Comments:

Blogger Everchange said...

Interesting take. I agree with your analysis, and I think there are other underlying tensions in Xmen, apart from racial discrimination.

In X2, remember where Wolverine and a bunch of the students go to one of the mutant's parents' house, and the brother calls the police on them? As they are sitting in the living room, the son "comes out" to his parents that he is a mutant. Later the mother asks something like, "and what makes you so sure you're a mutant?" or "how long have you known you're a mutant" Ring any bells?

4:23 pm, May 29, 2006  
Blogger Morountodun said...

Good catch there. I've been told by one of my friends who used to read the comics that the undercurrents whilst still subtle in the comics were more overt than in the films. And yes as you say the X-men franchise covers racism, homophobia and other intolerance. I just came across a website that alleges that most of the major Comic books had secret meanings
An Outsider's Guide to Symbolism in Superhero Cinema

8:52 pm, May 29, 2006  
Blogger Sola Baale said...

Very Very interesting insight. My best movie so far this year is slowly becoming the most hated after reading this but I'll try to be as open-minded as possible.

6:09 pm, May 30, 2006  
Blogger Sola Baale said...

In fact, reading it again pisses me off more. Analogy between mutants and dudus. Are these guys mad?

6:10 pm, May 30, 2006  
Blogger Biodun said...

X-3 does cover racial issues..but I didnt get the whole Malcolm X n Martin Luther King paradox out of it. Interesting article...still think X-3 was a good movie though

9:32 pm, May 30, 2006  
Blogger Bent out of shape said...

LOL... this is interesting... I think in this case, one should watch the movie and enjoy it for what it is... a comic book made into a movie... It's a big thing here in the states (believe it or not, it was on CNN), about the likeness to homophobia and what not,but I think that if one tries hard enough, we'll find likeness of everything in anything... really...

Really though, I'm not knocking your theory... I just sort of doubt that this whole thing was intended... It's America, and they thrive on controversy. If it was intentional, they'd probably release a press statement about it... lol.

I haven't seen it yet. I will be going this weekend.. I'm a huge fan. was it good? :-)

12:34 am, May 31, 2006  
Blogger TaureanMinx said...

Yeah the slave name line made me pay more attention. Maybe America will have a black/gay/female president someday huh?

12:19 pm, May 31, 2006  
Blogger Everchange said...

Bent out of shape, there have been theories about Xmen being 'oppressed' people for quite a while now. And it really didn't take anyone telling me for me to pick up stuff while watching the movies. Though I have to admit it was after someone mentioned in passing that Xmen was about gay ppl, that I watched it and was like By god it is!

sola baale, you can learn all about your favorite movie by reading the history behind Xmen on wiki (guess what, the 'coming out' story is in there!)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xmen

4:22 pm, May 31, 2006  
Blogger Morountodun said...

Everchange the Wiki article certainly is educational! I'm almost tempted to go and look for some of the old comic books. The thing about Rogue was interesting I wonder if that has any tie-ins to X3?

Taureanminx watch out for a posible Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama Colabo in 2008!

6:42 pm, May 31, 2006  
Blogger Onya Baquebeich said...

@ everyone: please tell me you all watched it right till the credits finished rolling to see the twist at the end?

7:18 pm, June 01, 2006  
Blogger Morountodun said...

I missed the end of the credit roll as half the cinema was strolling between my seat and the screen so I was almost forced to leave. But I've been told about those 30 seconds I think it almost puts a different slant on things...

8:50 pm, June 05, 2006  
Blogger Olawunmi said...

i enjoyed your take on the symbolism in the movie as well. who says comic books don't touch serious issues? i actually thought the "i don't answer to my slave name" remark reminiscent of Malcolm X changing his name from the "Little" of his slave ancestors.

sadly, i didn't see the closing sequence of the movie either. someone tell me what happened?

4:23 pm, June 06, 2006  
Anonymous fola said...

It seems you have taken your time to dissect the movie, bro! You are right; how could I have overlooked the connection, I wonder how many viewers were able to see the parallels you so articulately presented?

4:57 am, June 07, 2006  
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