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X-Men, Then and Now (by Bara)

In which Bara takes a hard look at the new film incarnation of the X-Men, and comes away with a sour taste in her mouth.

September, 1963. The cover was flashy. The colors pulled the eye. The figures on the cover (mostly guys) were hunky. I bought it and took it home, read it, and instantly fell in love. I was three months shy of my 15th birthday.

This was my first impression of The X-Men. Not my first Marvel comic by any means. I started out with Issue #3 of The Fantastic Four in early 1962. Spiderman reared his webby head in my favorite place to buy comic books earlier the year before (August 1962) in Amazing Fantasy #15. There was the “original' Two-Gun Kid, Clay Harder, and Kid Colt, Outlaw, with Blaine Colt. And who can forget Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos (#1, May 1963)?

Mostly, though, I was a DC gal, a Gold Key comics gal, so the Marvel comics were an intriguing surprise to my teenage self. And then, as it always does, real life set it. Moving around a lot, growing older, getting married, having children, becoming a single parent--life changed. And so did I. And so did Marvel comics. By 1983, I was becoming swiftly disenchanted with the direction the stories were taking. With every passing year, there's growth. It's unavoidable. However, that didn't mean I had to like it. Yet, gradually, I had to stop purchasing and reading comics. Real Life bit me with both sets of fanged jaws.

Which brings us to...

...the year 2000 and the X-Men movie. After several very unsatisfying starts, I was finally able to make it through the entire movie. These are my impressions.

Right away I noticed something. I couldn't HEAR anything. Even with my speakers turned up all the way, even with the audio settings up to 100% on PowerDVD, even wearing my hearing aid, it was impossible for me to make anything out. I finally had to turn on the subtitles. Another not very satisfying start.

“Mutation--it is the key to our evolution. It has enabled us to evolve from a single-celled organism into the dominant species on the planet. This process is slow and normally taking thousands and thousands of years. But every few hundred millennia, evolution leaps forward.”

The opening FX are great. I can't fault it there. I wonder what program they used to create them. LightWave? Maya? *chuckles* I mean, they're just freaking awesome! So speaks the Old Bat turned CGI enthusiast.

Poland, 1944. Something that even I only read in the history books. The Nazi machine is rounding up the Jews and putting them into concentration camps. There are shots of those already there, in their striped pajama-type garments and their tattoos. Funny that I'm reminded of Robert Clary--Cpl. Louis LeBeau on Hogan's Heroes. I remember an old TV Guide (I think it was) interview with him telling of his experiences. He had such a tattoo. According to the latest info (2001)...

--Summing up his Holocaust experiences: "The whole experience was a complete nightmare, the way they treated us, what we had to do to survive. We were less than animals. Sometimes I dream about those days. I wake up in a sweat terrified for fear I'm about to be sent away to a concentration camp. But I don't hold a grudge because that's a great waste of time. Yes, there's something dark in the human soul. For the most part human beings are not very nice. That's why when you find those who are, you cherish them."--

As a mother, I don't like the opening scene. To see families torn apart, children separated from parents, husbands from wives, no. I don't like it at all. As an amateur researcher, I hated it. Man's inhumanity to man is ancient and ongoing. *shakes head*

...And puberty. You gotta love puberty. Knowing what little I do about World of Darkness, it makes me wonder if the writers of that game system were X-Men fans when they were younger. I mean, that whole Werewolf/Changeling thing that happens, on average, with the onset of puberty (or a great emotional upheaval). Poor Rogue...

Next up is Washington, DC. Ah DC. Current seat of heightened stupidity. At least it seems that way to me. I lived through the unrest of the 60s, admittedly without any personal involvement. Still, however right or wrong my non-involvement was, I was there. Old enough to form my own opinions, harbor my own thoughts and feelings on the matter, without slavishly bowing to either parents or other authority figures. 'Well, that was then and this is now.' you may say. True. So very true. One saying comes to the fore of my mind, however. “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Senator Kelly misses one salient fact: What's to prevent anyone from doing those things? We have bank robbers, we have people we'd rather not having teach our children as teachers, people we'd rather not know we like black satin sheets and royal blue boxer briefs snooping into our lives (current administration's wannabe 'protective' policies). It's not just mutants. *shakes head* Pogo's saying, 'We have met the enemy and he is us.' was never more true than today.

**I want that motorcycle! *cacklebounces!* I don't care that I can't operate one worth beans! I want that freakin' motorcycle!!! *coughs* There...**

I recall reading a story about the Submariner one time. In this story, the writer had written about “The fair, the fragile, Lady Dorma!” I remember reading those words words and then seeing what the artist had drawn and thought to myself, “If that's fragile, I wonder what healthy looks like.” Which brings me to my next point. Nobody matches the comic books.

I can find no fault with the actors used nor with their interpretations. Hugh Jackman makes a darned good Wolverine, Patrick Stewart makes a very good Charles Xavier, and Ian Mckellan makes a very shuddery Magneto. However, even in the 60s and 80s, Cue Ball resembled Mr. Clean in a suit. Buckethead was, well, rawr! Logan was built like his namesake: short, squat, and powerful. I'm sorry, Hugh. *hugs* Good looking as you are, you're too darned tall and you just don't have enough muscles and body hair. *snickers*

I don't like death, or rather, murder. To me, collateral damage is just that: murder. The more frightening villain is the one who can kill with a twitch of a little finger--yet doesn't. That, to me, is true power. Knowing that you can, yet don't. Having others knowing that you can, yet don't. I can't think of anything more frightening than this. Forget the hack-n-slash movies. The true gage of a movie's 'power' is how much the movie can make you make yourself freak out. Freak out, not gross out.

“Don't give up on them, Eric.”
“What would you have me do, Charles? I've heard these arguments before.”
“It was a long time ago. Mankind has evolved since then.”
“Yes, into us...
“...We are the future, Charles, not them. They no longer matter.”

Actually, mankind has evolved into me. And you. And yes, we do matter. We are the foundation and mortar of tomorrow. Scary, isn't it? There is an old... mantra... if you will that I learned back in the late 80s. “If change is going to be, it has to start with me.”

We, all of us, have a lot of “starting” to do.

To me, X-Men is a depressing movie in that it was the 60s race thing all over again. So much opportunity to teach without preaching yet no one's doing that. Just hashing and bashing the old "us vs. them" mentality so far up one's nose I wanna scream.

This is not my kind of movie. Pure and simple. Semi-enjoyable if I overlook such things as not being able to hear stuff. I sincerely hope, however, that I have, at least, put forth food for thought.

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