Tag Archives: X-Men: First Class

X Marks The Ghetto: Schism Re-illustrates Marvel’s Mutant Problem

By Arturo R. García

For me, the aura around Marvel’s X-Men franchise took a hit this year, thanks to the raceFAIL that derailed the otherwise enjoyable X-Men: First Class. After all, playing up a group of heroes as surrogates for the marginalized when they’re almost entirely white, cis-hetero folks was more far-fetched than any bit of sci-fi on the screen.

There’s something similarly problematic undercutting this year’s big story in the X-Men comic books, Schism. Much like First Class, Schism isn’t a bad superhero story so far, per se, but its’ focus on the team’s internal politics only highlights how Marvel’s creative process has done “too good” of a job of marginalizing mutantkind, both as a collection of characters and as any kind of representation of diversity.

Spoilers for Schism and other X-stories under the cut.
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Table For Two: Arturo and Andrea catch up on X-Men: First Class

By The Racialicious Team

Maybe we shouldn’t have been surprised at all.

Maybe it was too much to expect X-Men: First Class to show any less of a tone-deaf sensibility than Heroes. Matthew Vaughn, the director, warned us as much:

We talked about race issues because they say X-Men was based on Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, but I think I had enough political subtext in this movie. We’ve already discussed in the next one, does the civil rights movement become part of … But that’s a real hot potato as well, still, so we decided to stay clear. You can only put so much in one film, so, the sequel …

I don’t know. I don’t like talking about sequels because the film could tank and then there won’t be one.

So there you go, everyone. Meanwhile, Arturo and Andrea retraced their initial impressions, and expanded on more reasons why this film can’t be considered more than a well-intentioned failure. Spoiler-riffic discussion under the cut.

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Quoted: Ta-Nehisi Coates on X-Men: First Class

“First Class” is set in 1962. That was the year South Carolina marked the Civil War centennial by returning the Confederate Flag to the State Capitol; the year the University of Mississippi greeted its first black student, James Meredith, with a lethal race riot; the year George Wallace was elected governor of Alabama.

That was the year a small crowd of Americans gathered at the Lincoln Memorial and commemorated the 100th birthday of the Emancipation Proclamation. Only a single African-American was asked to speak (Thurgood Marshall, added under threat of boycott). In “First Class,” 1962 finds our twin protagonists, Magneto and Professor X, also rallying before the Lincoln Memorial, not for protest or commemoration, but for a game of chess. “First Class” is not blind to societal evils, so much as it works to hold evil at an ocean’s length. The film is rooted in its opposition to the comfortably foreign abomination of Nazism.

This is all about knowing your audience.

I am reminded of the House Republicans, opening the 112th Congress by reciting the Constitution, minus the slavery parts. I am reminded of the English professor last year who, responding to Huckleberry Finn’s widespread banishment from public schools, was compelled to offer the Mark Twain classic, minus the nigger parts. I think of the Pentagon official, who this year justified the war in Afghanistan to soldiers by invoking the words of Dr. King, minus the “ultimate weakness of violence” parts. I am reminded of whole swaths of this country where historical fiction compels Americans to claim the Civil War was about states’ rights, minus the “right to own people” part.

This is all about a convenient suspension of disbelief.

- From The New York Times, June 8