Wed
May 14 2014 9:00am

Why Mystique Should Have Her Own Movie

Mystique Jennifer Lawrence

Move over, Black Widow. Take a break, Maria Hill. There is another Marvel movie woman who has changed the face of the Marvel Cinematic Universe ever since she was introduced in the X-Men films: Mystique.

Sure, she’s not in a licensed Marvel movie (hear that Fox, could you give them back now please?) but the First Class films have revitalized the X-Men franchise after the awful crash that was X3. Now, with the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past, mutant fans have to wonder: is there a place for a Mystique solo film.

You might wonder why Mystique should get her own movie when there are so many other mutants out there. She’s a villain, you might say. She’s not even one of the biggest names in the film. Shouldn’t there be a Magneto film first? I say sure, we’d all love to see Michael Fassbender hunting Nazis and building the mutant brotherhood in his own movie. But in Mystique, mutant fans are presented with the opportunity for a unique movie, featuring a brilliant actress exploring one of Marvel’s unsung, complicated women.

The Many Faces of Mystique

Mystique, aka Raven Darkhölme, has one heck of a checkered past, even for a comic book villainess. Voted the 18th Greatest Comic Book Villain of All Time by IGN in 2009, Mystique has been an assassin, a terrorist, a freedom fighter, an X-Woman, and a host of other things in her time in Marvel comics. First introduced in 1978’s Ms. Marvel #16, she showed up as the head of a new incarnation of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Mystique lead her team to battle against Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers) after infiltrating the government with her shapeshifting abilities.

Over time, it was revealed that Mystique is over a hundred years old, had a long-standing love affair with Irene Adler (aka Destiny), and mothered three mutants: Nightcrawler (with Azazel), Graydon Creed (with Sabretooth) and Rogue (whom she adopted with Destiny). She has hopped the fence back and forth between the bad guys and good guys more times than anyone can count, and is always considered a complicated woman to be distrusted and feared.

Mystique remains one of the most impactful mutant villains in the comics, packed with depth and nuance in her relationships. It’s that ever-changing nature and the complexity that made Mystique so intriguing over the years and made her a perfect addition to the X-Men film franchise. Although she got a decent amount of screentime in the first three X-Men films, the older Mystique (played by the vampy Rebecca Romijn) was not much more than a sexy, shapeshifting plot device, played with an alien remoteness that stripped out much of the details of Mystique’s life. Sure, she gave us some fun action sequences, but like many of her appearances in the comics, Mystique had become a prop, a cool blue action star with no real storyline of her own.

Enter Jennifer Lawrence in Blue

If Mystique had remained as inaccessible a character as the one brought to the screen by Romijn, there wouldn’t be a case to make for her getting her own film. Then came the resurrection of the X-Men franchise with First Class, and Mystique was given a reprieve.

The prequel film streamlined her story to make Mystique more accessible to the audience, and in doing so positioned itself to capture the complicated Raven Darkhölme perfectly. Gone was the hundred-year complicated backstory, replaced instead with the earnest origin of a confused little mutant girl who was always forced to deny who and what she is for the sake of ‘being good.’ Presented with options at the height of her awakening as a young woman, Mystique struggles to stand up proudly for who she is in a way that is right for her. First Class is as much the story of Charles Xavier and Magneto and their evolution as it is a coming of age story for little Mystique, discovering what makes her “mutant and proud.”

That portrayal would arguably not been half as good without a powerhouse actress behind the performance, and we find a fully realized Mystique with Jennifer Lawrence. Just before bringing Katniss Everdeen to the big screen in The Hunger Games, Lawrence gave a vulnerable yet assertive performance as Mystique. Her Raven is assertive and sexual, yet also conflicted; she is a young woman searching for where she belongs while pushing back against the men in her life that constantly tell her what is right for her. By the end of First Class, Lawrence has arguably stolen the show with a beguiling performance that left us wondering just what would happen to turn her from the earnest girl into the hardened assassin she would become.

With Days of Future Past and more X-Men movies planned beyond, we’ll get the opportunity to see more of Lawrence’s Mystique. But one might wonder: if we’ve had multiple movies telling the story of Wolverine, why not give Mystique a chance?

The Case For Mystique: The Movie

Mystique Jennifer LawrenceWhat would a Mystique movie look like? Situated just after the events in Days of Future Past, there is a giant swath of time between the original three X-Men films in our modern day and the 1960s and 1970s adventures of the young X-Men. Mystique has years of stories to explore, and Jennifer Lawrence’s performance is powerful enough to carry us through an entire film. The question would be to find the best script to bring out the complexity of Raven Darkhölme while still giving audiences the badass action we expect from the X-Men franchise.

It’s not like screenwriters don’t have lots of story arcs to choose from. If they were looking for adventure and excitement, Mystique spends a good deal of her time infiltrating the government to protect mutants from destruction. She teams with a lot of interesting characters along the way, and with the newly formed Brotherhood, the options for guest star mutants are endless. A favorite might be the introduction and origin of Juggernaut, whose conspicuous absence in the First Class films so far has left many wondering if his relationship to Charles Xavier as a half-brother had been written out and replaced instead with a close relationship to Mystique.

The adventures Mystique could have are almost endless, but it’s the personal relationship stories that would carry a solo Mystique film. A film centered around Mystique’s pregnancy with Nightcrawler and the difficult decision to give up her child would make for great personal drama that Lawrence could play beautifully. If the screenwriters also wanted to be true to the comic character’s roots, they could explore Mystique’s relationship with Irene Adler and introduce Destiny’s clairvoyant powers as a part of the plot. Not only would this be a great story arc, but it would bring a positive LGBT relationship to a film franchise that so far is sorely lacking in diverse representation.

Mystique's story in First Class is a beautiful expression of the struggle to claim personal identity. Raven’s battle to come to terms with herself and accept herself as beautiful and worthwhile is a story that is relatable to so many. While Wolverine struggles with his inner beast and the loss of control he feels, Raven’s fight is to find a way to love herself as a mutant and a young woman, tackling issues of body image and self-confidence that makes her story an important one for a female audience. And with a powerful actress like Jennifer Lawrence behind the blue prosthetics and make-up, Mystique’s coming of age story could be an amazing contribution to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

With several independent movies suggested for the ongoing X-Men franchise, we’ll just have to wait and see if our favorite blue shapeshifter appears beside Gambit and Magneto as a possibility. Fox would really be losing out if they overlooked their opportunity for a kick-ass, sexy, heartfelt and powerful action movie with Mystique.

Some Fun Mystique Facts:

  • Originally Chris Claremont wanted Nightcrawler to have been the product of Mystique and Destiny’s relationship, with Mystique having transformed into a man for the conception to take place. Unfortunately Marvel nixed the idea, since there was a comic book code of conduct at the time that made their relationship illegal to publish.
  • Mystique gets together with the biblical-era mutant Azazel in the comics after her husband, a German count, is found to be infertile. Mystique murders the count after he questions whether the tiny blue-furred elf child Nightcrawler is his. With Azazel on Magneto’s team at the end of First Class, this storyline (minus the dead german count) might still be possible.
  • Mystique is credited with going back in time to assassinate her own son Graydon Creed after he grows up to become the mutant-hating leader of the Friends of Humanity.
  • Mystique’s clothing in the comics is actually a part of her body, so it changes when she changes form. This was changed for the films, which led to the blue body paint look sported by first Rebecca Romijn and then Jennifer Lawrence.
  • In the Ultimate X-Men universe, Professor Xavier has an orange cat for a long while in the beginning of the comic series. The cat’s name? Mystique. You do the math.

Shoshana Kessock is a comics fan, photographer, game developer, LARPer and all around geek girl. She’s the creator of Phoenix Outlaw Productions and ReImaginedReality.com.

16 comments
KAsiki
1. KAsiki
Isn't DoFP movie basically a reboot? Can't we say that everything that happed in the origional x-men movies is now altered or possibly rendered moot by changing the time line through DoFP?

On Mystic, setting here up to be that anti hero. Someone that we would get to know and understand. That villian that hits a grey area that in an isolated solo movie can be viewed as doing good, but when blow up to a larger view through an X-men movie as doing harm. I would love if they could pull it off, but i will admit it is a very difficult movie to make for the tight rope that movie would have to walk to be successfull.
Chris Nelly
2. Aeryl
I agree. But will Fox do it, or do it well? Doubtful.

Considering that over the lifetime of the comics, women made up nearly 50% of the characters for the Xmen series, and only 18-22% of the film characters, I don't have much faith in them doing it.

And then looking at what they've done to the women characters they have put in the movies, my faith gets even lower.

I mean look, they've taken a comics series that is an allegory for systemic oppression, and the next movie is pretty much all about the grievances of two white men.

So as much as I'd like to see it, I doubt they'd do it, and if they did, I doubt I'd like to result.
KAsiki
3. Random22
@1 Its a "soft" reboot. All the major plot points that happened in the previous X-movies still happened, even Wolverine:Origins, just the details of how they happened may have changed a little. Its what is called "broad-strokes" continuity.

I do hope that part of the broad-strokes is re-instating that originally nixed-as-too-controversial plotline of Nightcrawler's parentage. Not only is that a stroyline that can be told these days, with the evolution of gender roles and gender expectations being part of the Tea-Party and so-called"Christian" Right's attempts to keep their base fired up (and playing out in the same way in both the US and Russia, oddly enough), I'd argue that it is a story that ought to be told now too.
KAsiki
4. Ragnarredbeard
"But in Mystique, mutant fans are presented with the opportunity for a unique movie, featuring a brilliant actress exploring one of Marvel’s unsung, complicated women."

And she's hot. Don't forget that.
Mike I
5. MikeyRocks
I so agree with this. I am sought of tired of superhero movies centered on the powers they have. I want a movie that shows how the person is affected by the power.

Someone like Mystique is a great character to explore that. I think movie makers when it comes to superheroes forget that these are characters, not just powers. thats why the last three Batman 1 and 2 where so fascinating. I wasn't a fan of 3.
KAsiki
6. KAsiki
Not saying they didn't happen, but going forward Will they happen. Logan knows what happened. If they did this and ad Destiny at a later date, then all sorts of sinanigans with some story lines based off of her. Basically saying that DoFP is doing what the Star Trek reboot did less successfully. As a result all the characters that have been lost or wasted in the previous X-men ovies can be recast and used much better in movies movieng forward without conflicting with the first trilogy. Things like get Gene back.
Chris Nelly
7. Aeryl
@6,

DOFP SPOILER WHITED OUT BELOW

She's back.
Chris Nelly
8. Aeryl
In addition to the interesting thoughts in this essay, my thoughts are more about how about taking the comic book movie out of the superhero mold? Marvel is trying to do this, with Cap2 being an espionage thriller, and GotG being space goofy opera.

If both companies would use their deep benches in the movies, we could have ALL KINDS of awesome movies. Harley and Ivy heist movie? Cap and Agent 13 romcom? Carol and Jess girl bonding movie? The possibilities are endless.
Fake Name
9. ThePendragon
You know what would be awesome? An X-Men movie.
KAsiki
10. Gerry__Quinn
"She has hopped the fence back and forth between the bad guys and good guys more times than anyone can count, and is always considered a complicated woman to be distrusted and feared."

This seems an excellent reason to make her a secondary character rather than the lead.
KAsiki
11. Spliffst4rr
No, she shouldn't have her own solo film. She's not a hero, she never was. She's not an X-Man. The only X-Men villain interesting enough for a solo film is Magneto. They were initially going to do a X-Men Origins: Magneto film as well, however that was eventually merged into First Class so there's not a single point of making on about him now. If there are any X-Men characters who deserve a solo film, it's Cyclops. He's gotten the short end of the stick in the rest of the films, so a solo film would be great to finally get him the spotlight. A Gambit one would be epic too, exploring his life as a thief on the bayous and whatnot, one that can completely erase the Gambit of X-Men Origins: Wolverine from existence (oh wait, Days of Future Past is going to do that anyways.)
Alana Abbott
12. alanajoli
Huh. I like Jennifer Lawrence and thought she did a fine job with the Mystique they gave her, but I didn't connect nearly as well to the insecure girl who looks to the men in her life for an answer about who to be as I've connected with comic book Mystique who's often running her own con/heist/crime ring/the Brotherhood of Mutants. Comic book Mystique isn't about to be taken advantage of; she aligns with the cause that best suits her own interests at the time. In the films, both in First Class and the X-trilogy, she's more devoted to the men in her life than to their cause (eg. when Magneto abandons her in X3, she turns him in, betraying the cause for vengeance against the man who left her; when she realizes Charles is never going to see her as more than a kid in First Class, she gloms onto the man who tells her she's beautiful).

Contrast this with the Mystique who recruits Wolverine into a heist with her own crew in the 1920s, and still manages to turn things her way after Wolverine changes teams, or the Mystique who steps up to take over the Brotherhood of Mutants after Magneto goes to hang out with Hope Summers, feeling that Magneto has betrayed the cause and his followers. I would totally go to a comic-book Mystique movie, but--again, as much as I respect Lawrence--I don't think the films have done Mystique's awesomeness justice.
KAsiki
13. RobertX
As long as it isn't Jennifer Lawrence playing Mystique. I do not think she is convincing at all.
Cynthia Ahmar
14. tenkuu
I don't really see the interest in taking a character with a rich history, as you say, and turning her into just another stereotype: a lost little mutant girl.
Lauren Hartman
15. naupathia
Just recently saw the DOFP movie so I came back to this thread:

I don't think Mystique should get her own movie. Especially not with Jennifer Lawrence. Maybe it's just me but seriously can people stop casting her as anyone above the age of 16? She has the worst baby face ever. When she's in actual adult clothes she looks like a girl playing dress up and it's so incredibly jarring to me I lose all immersion (my immersion!). Her acting is only mediocre to top it off. She's fine in Hunger Games but come on people, stop giving her serious adult roles until she loses the baby face!

Anyway, rant over, I still don't think a Mystique movie would be all that interesting. As someone above said, she's not really a hero. She's a plot device and this last movie proved it. I'm sorry they do that to a female character - I'd like her to be stronger and more of a force - but the movie-Mystique is not that. I honestly would have been more interested in a Mystique movie after the first 2 films (when M was a more intriguing and stronger seeming character - and not played by JL) than the last couple which turn her into a whiny bratty girl with insecurity issues. I just don't have any faith that the studio could make a movie about her that wasn't completely about her relationship with the Prof and Magneto, and I've had enough of that for 2 movies, thanks.
Tabby Alleman
16. Tabbyfl55
Mystique’s clothing in the comics is actually a part of her body, so it changes when she changes form. This was changed for the films, which led to the blue body paint look sported by first Rebecca Romijn and then Jennifer Lawrence.
Are you sure you phrased this correctly? If you're actually saying what it sounds (to me) like you're trying to say, then wouldn't Mystique be naked everytime she shifts to some other human form, and have to go find some clothes? That doesn't happen in the movies.

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