May 28 2014 9:30am

X-Men: Days of Future Past Saves Mutantkind By Teaching Professor X to Respect Women

X-Men Days of Future Past, Charles Xavier, James McAvoy

At the end of X-Men: First Class, Charles Xavier lies paralyzed on a beach while Magneto makes a stirring speech about mutants and their need to separate themselves from humanity. Erik is trying to win others over to his cause, and he succeeds—half of the youngsters take his hand and vanish from sight. It’s hard not to notice that Magneto has taken with him all the female mutants and mutants of color… while Charles is left there with three white male mutants and a human.

It’s impossible to leave unnoted because X-Men Days of Future Past is concerned with precisely this dialogue, and how it might have impacted the future of mutants and humans alike. Because despite Charles Xavier’s experience and affability, he is far from infallible. And it turns out he had one more essential lesson to learn.

Spoilers ahead for X-Men Days of Future Past.

X-Men Days of Future Past, Magneto, Michael Fassbender

It seems strange to focus on Charles because Magneto is the bad guy, right? If anyone needs to figure out a healthier way of routing their pain, it’s certainly Erik Lehnsherr. But Professor X is responsible for training the X-Men, responsible for most of the peaceful interactions between mutants and humans, responsible for teaching countless youths how to handle and live with their abilities. If the future has gone so very wrong—and in DoFP, we see that it certainly has—then Charles Xavier is undoubtedly at the heart of it.

This is all subtly and smartly set up in First Class, in fact. We watch a young Charles woo women by using his powers, making mutation out to be something “groovy” while he roundly ignores the plight of the only real family he’s got: Raven, whose mutation demands constant concentration and exertion on her part just to make sure people never see her natural form. Rather than demand that the world love Raven blue or otherwise, Xavier insists that she conform to societal ideals “for her safety.” The truth of the matter is, he simply doesn’t want to have to think that hard about how difficult her plight might be, never mind considering ways of bettering her quality of life. It is standard grade white male privilege distilled down to its simplest form. It’s much easier for him if Raven fits in so it never becomes his problem, and that’s what he preaches in her direction.

X-Men Days of Future Past, Mystique, Jennifer Lawrence

Our beloved Professor X may not intend it, but when we look at his track record in the films it’s rather simple to peg—he’s sexist. Call it being a product of his time or paternal instinct, the outcome is still the same. Charles Xavier thinks that he knows what is best for every woman around him, and goes to great lengths to keep them in line. He tells Raven to stick to a human-looking form because “a real slip up doesn’t bear thinking about.” When Moira MacTaggert swears to Charles that she will keep his secrets safe and never tell the U.S. government about where he and the other mutants are, he erases her memory anyhow. (And the only real regret there is his heartbreak at letting their little romance go.) When Charles Xavier wants to have a fling, he enters a woman’s mind to suss out her favorite drink and orders it before she can catch the bartender’s eyes because, sure, it’s a gross invasion of privacy, but it’s easier to get laid this way!

And when Charles Xavier recruits a female student with powers similar to but far outpacing his own, he makes a point of burying them and keeping her attentions otherwise occupied. Because Professor X knows what’s right, and he’s certain that Jean Grey cannot be taught to develop and handle her abilities correctly.

Except it’s his lack of trust in Jean, his insistence that he knows what is best for her, that ultimately leads to the emergence of Phoenix and the death and destruction she brings with her. And since the Sentinels don’t emerge until her god-like display of power in the original timeline (post-X3), it’s safe to assume that she is one of the primary reasons for their initial deployment. In effect, Charles Xavier is directly responsible for how bad things get, if only by virtue of how he has treated Jean.

X-Men Days of Future Past, Charles Xavier, James McAvoy

Jean becoming Phoenix could simply be passed off as one incident of poor judgement if First Class and Days of Future Past did not build on and address this pattern. When Wolverine arrives in 1973, he finds Charles Xavier broken and addled, addicted to the serum Hank has developed which allows him to snuff out his powers and have use of his legs. We find that Charles didn’t simply throw in the towel after that day on the beach—he did try to get his school up and running, and had a slew of students for a time. Then the Vietnam draft kicked in, and he lost those students to one of the most horrific wars America has ever fought. Many of them died. At that point, Charles retreated into himself with only Hank around for company, becoming a complete recluse. The school closed its doors seemingly for good.

That pain and loss is truly tragic, but I must point out nonetheless; if all of Charles’ students get pulled out by the draft, that would mean that all of his students at the time were male and American. It’s in keeping with who remains with him on the Cuban beach in First Class (even if Hank was looking a little blue at the time), so it’s not exactly surprising… just disappointing. More to the point, Charles left his subsequently-drafted students to their fate, never bothering to look into what the government might do once they realized their new soldiers had untapped potential. Some of those students probably died in battle. Others were likely lifted for far more nefarious purposes, like Alex and his platoon.

X-Men Days of Future Past, Mystique, Jennifer Lawrence

But no, Charles Xavier never comes to their rescue. When it’s clear that none of those boys will ever make it home, it is Raven—or, rather, Mystique—who keeps them safe.

And here we have the fixed point on which Days of Future Past turns. At the beginning, Logan is informed by Xavier and Magneto that Raven is the problem, the “what” that needs fixing if their future is going to be bright. Her murder of Bolivar Trask leads to her capture and the eventual development of Sentinels that can adapt to any mutant, resulting in their elimination. If she doesn’t get the chance to kill Trask, they believe the world will change for the better. Wolverine takes the ticket back to 1973 to work it out.

When Logan comes to their younger counterparts for help in this mission, they go about the problem in their tried and true manners, respectively. Erik doesn’t believe they have time to reason it out and tries to take Mystique’s life. (He’s as much at fault here as Xavier, but he’s supposed to be the bad guy, or at least the morally ambiguous looks-great-in-hats-and-turtlenecks brooding guy.) Charles falls back on his paternal feelings of devotion, insisting that he can help by protecting Raven. When they stop her first assassination attempt and Mystique is briefly stunned, Charles tries to soothe her, insists that now he has arrived no one will ever hurt her again. It’s touching, naturally—it’s also nothing that Mystique wants to hear. It’s what Charles needs. She brought him purpose and a family, and he wants that sense of self back. He doesn’t realize that what he’s trying to reassert is everything that she ran away from to begin with.

X-Men Days of Future Past, Charles Xavier, James McAvoy, Magneto, Michael Fassbender

Particularly telling in this situation is Charles’ insistence that he raised her, that he was practically Raven’s father. Erik won’t let him get away with it, quick to point out that he was in no position to be her parent, but rather more of a brother. In Xavier’s mind he is Raven’s guardian, but even Magneto knows that was never how she saw Charles or what she wanted from him. Xavier’s mistaking of roles is an excuse here more than anything; parents get to tell their children what to do and how to behave, after all. It’s a power he wishes he had over her.

When Charles again tries to press Mystique into returning to him, reaching out with his mind to bug her in an airport, he uses the phrase “Come home.” His argument is full of implicit accusations—that she is being thoughtless and acting dangerously, that she must come to realize that hes trying to save her, improve their future, put everything back in its proper place. She, like Erik, is in no mood for his self-delusion; she tells him in plain English that he has always tried to control her and he still is. That she broke away from that life and has no intention of giving up her freedom just so his mind can rest easy, so that Charles Xavier feels less alone. She walks away from both him and Erik (more important for the fact that Mystique in the original timeline spends the next several decades as Magneto’s right-hand woman with no agenda or desires solely her own). She insists on going her own road, no matter what the future might bring. She says no to all of it.

X-Men Days of Future Past, Mystique, Jennifer Lawrence, Magneto, Michael Fassbender

When she tries to kill Trask in the end, a lone-wolfing Erik almost beats her to it, grandstanding with his usual flair. But Charles puts him on hold, giving her a window to make the kill herself. Suddenly it seems as though the continued refusals, the outright condemnation of his methods, the painful frankness of lost friends has finally made an impact. Charles Xavier admits that he was wrong. That he had been trying to control her, and that refusing to place trust in her choices was a mistake. He gives her his perspective on the situation and steps back. He puts their future, that whole mess of a future, in her hands with good faith.

And it is Mystique who ultimately saves them all. Because Charles Xavier learned how to let go. Because Charles Xavier finally realized that believing others would do the right thing and allowing them to do so were two different matters altogether. The future was changed then and there—and an alternate timeline that we’ve yet to experience now rests in its place.

X-Men Days of Future Past, Charles Xavier, Patrick Stewart, Magneto, Ian McKellen

So what happens? Ten, twenty, forty years down the road? Do you really think this man would make the same mistake of locking Jean Grey’s power away from her instead of helping her develop into it? Do you think that he would continue to shoulder the burden without placing some trust in the minds he teaches? We were led to believe that Days of Future Past would show Professor X reconstructing his life on the fast track. That this tale would see him become the older, comfortable man that we’d adored for years just slightly ahead of the curve. But the truth is, the past decade and a half of X-Men films ultimately led to this. To Charles Xavier discovering the places where he would eventually stumble and fall and fail… and becoming a better man than he ever was.

It led to Mystique saving the world because she has just as much a right to as his X-Men.

X-Men Days of Future Past, Mystique, Jennifer Lawrence

With that setting the stage for a brand new timeline, the options levied are limitless. It is a brave ploy so far into the X-Men story, but one that instantly pays off in spades. What Logan wakes to in the future will eventually come to pass—a safer, happier future made possible by these choices. And whatever happens in between? It will surely be a ride, but one that will be shaped by many. Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr can fight, or coexist, or forgive each other and open up a B&B in New Hampshire—what happens from here on is no longer solely up to them.

And the future will be better for it.

Emily Asher-Perrin wants a movie where Mystique calls the shots and Charles and Erik show up to do her bidding. You can bug her on Twitter and read more of her work here and elsewhere.

Christopher Bennett
1. ChristopherLBennett
Interesting perspective. I'd been wondering how Xavier pulled himself together in the original timeline without Future Logan to jumpstart him, but perhaps he didn't overcome all his problems after all.

One quibble: The Danger Room scene in The Last Stand is a Sentinel simulation, so evidently the X-Men did encounter Sentinels some time before that movie -- probably before the first movie, given that it was Trask's assassination in 1973 that led the government to go ahead with his program. My guess is that they were tried and defeated, that the program was abandoned as unsuccessful until they eventually succeeded in extracting the shapeshifting powers from Mystique's DNA and unleashing the future Sentinels.
Chris Nelly
2. Aeryl
This is the first review that has me actually wanting to go see this, thanks Emily!
Lauren Hartman
3. naupathia
I think you make some great points - especially about Charles being an analogy for white-male priveledge. His power is, well, powerful and also easy to hide.

As far as him being sexist though - yes and no. I don't think the fact that they are women really has much to do with it. If Mystique was a boy, I think the same story would unfold (after all, I would argue Charles tries to control Magneto as much as he does Raven - the man had to make a damn helmet to protect himself!). It of course was the author's choice to make Mystique and Jean female, so I think the sexual problems were intended - but in Charles' defense I would say that having a power that lets you get into people's head would lead to a sense of "I should prevent you from making bad decisions". Of course the operational part being "bad decisions" - Charles just thinks he knows what is right for everyone.

But try and imagine how hard that would be - it's not like a normal parent who thinks what their child is doing is wrong. He can know everything about you. He can know for a fact that what you're thinking is wrong. I don't think it makes it okay what he does - I just think it means the struggle to not control people is a lot harder than it seems to be on screen since it's nothing we can relate to, so I tend to give him a lot more benefit of the doubt. Considering how powerful he is, he really doesn't abuse his power as much as he could, cheap bar tricks aside.

I do think the main struggle for Charles is to relinquish that and to truly have faith/hope in people, not just women.
4. Edgewalker81
I agree with #3: it has little to do with being a woman.

Look at Moira MacTaggert and Jean Grey, who he respects and trusts and treats as equals and sometimes defers to them. Hardly a case of sexism or lack of respect.

He is just arrogant and thinks he knows what is best for everyone. Good read, though.
Brian Haughwout
5. bhaughwout
While I like your examples, I disagree with your thesis about "white male privilege." What Xavier is showing throughtout these two movies is clas privilege. As old money allowed control of a manor as a child, he makes the "you never need to steal again" proclamation to Raven and takes her in as a sort of ward, continuing to treat her that way (even as he refers to her as a sister in college) through her later wanderings. After attending very traditional Oxford, he sets up a private school and adopts the title of 'Professor,' teaching as an old-world academic don in full control of his students' lives (including Jean in the first run of movies and Hank here) as if it were Britain decades ago rather than modern (or modernish) America run by a modern educator.

His conflict with Magneto is heavily with a man both of low class and whose class was liquidated by the ruling party of Nazi Germany. Xavier's quest to learn to give agency first to Raven and later to his other adult students is paralleled to Erik offering immediate agency to Raven because he sees no reason for a temporal power (even one man) to exert such influence over another -- until over time he comes to the point where HE is one who opts to be the one exerting that power.

Even Xavier's mental tricks against the CIA and the government at the end of FIRST CLASS (including Moira, as part of that group), fall in the same pattern, and are the same ones done by Shaw and the Hellfire Club -- the other exponents of class & wealth privilege in the movie.

(As for the scene of college Xavier reading the girl's mind to flirt with her and Raven interposing, reading that as Charles being some sort of serial predator strikes me as the wrong reading of the first of a *number* of scenes in a movie whose subplot is entirely about the distinction of which mutants can pass as human and which can't in a world where the subspecies is starting to become known -- partially due to the doctoral work of Charles Xavier, as shown by reference to that work by character in both FC and DOFP.)

You make a very coherent argument here. I merely feel that the thesis describes the wrong privilege being struggled against. It's not about learning have faith in women, it's about his transition of using those underneath him to the scenes of the future where he has full faith in his former students as Equal Agents and he's given up his class distinctions -- even after time has reset, his behavior toward Logan and in reference to the classes (and the fact that so many of his students are teaching classes instead of just himself and a select loyal few) shows that sense of agency.
Chris Nelly
6. Aeryl
@4 Charles does NOT respect and trust Jean Grey OR Moira McTaggert, that was kind of a major point in the article. He believes Jean can't be trusted with her own powers and hides them from her, and he doesn't trust Moira with the knowledge of the school, and takes it from her.
Christopher Bennett
7. ChristopherLBennett
@3: "It of course was the author's choice to make Mystique and Jean female, so I think the sexual problems were intended..."

Well, if you mean the authors of the film, they were adapting pre-existing characters. Jean Grey was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1963, while Mystique was created by Dave Cockrum and Chris Claremont in 1978. Now, the original portrayal of Jean did have some serious gender problems. She never really emerged as more than the token female until Claremont took over the writing in the '70s, and as the token female in a '60s team comic, she was basically there to be the object of romantic interest for all the other characters, including Xavier in one infamous panel where he confessed his secret love for Jean in a thought balloon -- although perhaps even Lee and Kirby recognized that that was a bad idea, for it was never mentioned again. But I don't think Lee and Kirby intended to present that as a problem; it was just the way they unthinkingly wrote female characters back then.

As for Mystique, her relationship with Xavier is purely an invention of the past two movies; in the comics, she was never more than an adversary of Xavier's. Indeed, she was introduced as sort of an anti-Xavier, leading her own team of evil mutants that included Rogue before the latter defected to the X-Men. She's usually been an independent villain in the comics, rather than a subordinate of Magneto as she's been portrayed in film and sometimes in animation. Claremont intended Mystique to be in a lesbian relationship with the mutant Destiny, but Marvel wouldn't allow that to be acknowledged outright, so it remained implicit for the next couple of decades. But Mystique has frequently been placed in the role of a mother figure -- she's the biological mother of Nightcrawler and the mutant-hating Graydon Creed (son of Sabretooth) and the adoptive mother of Rogue.

@5: I think what it boils down to is that, in the immortal words of Kitty Pryde, "Professor Xavier is a jerk!" He's always been a paternalistic, manipulative sort of guy, even with the best of intentions. He's often tricked and lied to his own students in order to get a desired response out of them, even to the extent of faking his own death.
Thomas Thatcher
8. StrongDreams
@6, but I think the debate is whether Charles feels that way about Moira and Jean specifically because they are women, or because he likes to diddle around inside people's head and thinks he knows what is best for everyone. And really, probably a little of both.
Chris Nelly
9. Aeryl
@8, I'm not disputing that. I'm just disputing using the two of them as examples of "Xavier isn't sexist" when they are the two examples called out for his paternalism in the article.

And while he may be paternalistic to everyone, look at the degrees in which it is with women. With Moira and Jean he literally manipulates their identities, their memories and sense of self, which is very similar to what he did to Raven, without the telepathy. Show me how he's manipulated the men around him to the same extent, because I can't think of it. With the men, it's about helping to actualize their identities, but with the women, it's about restricting them.
Emily Asher-Perrin
10. EmilyAP
There is a reason why I specifically chose to focus on women rather than class or the desire to control basically everyone--Xavier honestly does respect the men in his life far more, Magneto most of all.

In First Class, he spends all of his time trying to convince Erik that his way is the right way, but he's entirely heedful of Erik's perspective. He listens to him, he works with him. He never offers Raven the same trust, he expects her to follow along with his party line because that's how he arranged their relationship from the beginning. To the point: when Raven tells Charles that they need to learn to fight after Darwin's death in FC, Charles says it's out of the question--until Erik convinces him otherwise.

Xavier and Magneto's opposition in these films has always had the air of "gentleman duelers." Charles wants to stop him when he goes too far by endangering others, but their relationship has always been one founded on mutual admiration and respect. At his heart, Charles Xavier may subconsciously wish to order the world overall, but his specific prejudices in this case are entirely clear; he implicitly trusts the judgement of men more than women.
Kimani Rogers
11. KiManiak
Thanks Emily.

I came here just expecting a spoiler filled post about X-men DoFP, but Emily perspective and analysis was pretty interesting and significantly different than just the “it was good/bad and here’s why” review. I like posts that really make me think and reassess my perspective on things, so my compliments to Ms. Asher-Perrin on doing just that. I was going to give a generic response, but her post got me to thinking.

(Wall of Text Warning)

I like the general idea, but I do challenge her stance on Professor X’s path to enlightenment. This movie wasn’t about Professor X learning how to respect “women” plural, but about him learning to better respect one woman specifically. If a reviewer is going to go down the path laid down here (that Professor X in the 60s/70s was essentially a racist, sexist product of his environment), then a more thorough analysis of Charles’s journey and its status after Raven saves the day needs to be more accurately depicted. Professor X learned to better respect Raven and her choices; that’s pretty much it. Where he goes from there in regards to people of color/women/etc. is a different story.

A few points on the author’s points:
· To be fair to Prof X he doesn’t just affect Moira’s mind about the presence of him and the X-men at the end of X-men First Class, he did it to any non-mutant that knew intimate details about their operation. Moira was just one of them.

· And he doesn’t just use his powers to read the mind of women to pick them up, he does it to the government agents, Erik/Magneto, he “outs” Hank, he “controls” Jean, he chooses how much he wants to help Logan’s mind heal and when, etc. He basically uses his power on anyone. So I would counter that Prof X is more of an elitist snob who believes he has the right to read anyone’s mind and affect it whenever he thinks the situation calls for it.

· Or to quote Kitty Pride (from X-men 168): “Professor Xavier is a Jerk!”

· I appreciate Ms. Asher-Perrin’s attempt to try to help the writers/producers of Xmen DoFP tie up the conflicting timelines of the X-movies by linking the appearance of the Sentinel’s post Xmen3 as a direct response to Phoenix’s meltdown, but that doesn’t work at all; and appears to be a reach that somewhat cheapens her overall point as it is easy to counter (and therefore easy for others to extrapolate that since she was wrong about that, her whole thesis is in error as well). Sentinels appear as early as the 70s; they wouldn’t be put on hold for 30+ years after that first showing. Charles and Erik supposedly identified and recruited Jean, but they only could have done that during the early 60s when we saw them only go after adult mutants.

· Plus, Mystique’s capture and the stealing of her DNA was paramount to the Sentinel’s development and evolution in this timeline; she couldn’t then join Magneto and the Brotherhood to attempt to kidnap Rogue, mentally maim Prof X and then enact a plan that would kill one mutant (Rogue) for the purposes of changing the population of New York City all into mutants (as Xmen 1 showed). As much as we may not like to admit it, the Mystique from the original movies does not in any way align with the Mystique of Xmen First Class, and there are still many, many inconsistencies. I don’t think we should attempt to bail out poor writing/planning by pretending this Mystique (or this timeline) is the same.

Having said all this, I do still appreciate the author’s main point: Charles Xavier is a very flawed individual, and many of the problems that exist in this timeline can be linked to his racism, sexism, elitism, self-centeredness, self-absorption and his overall paternalistic “I know what is best” attitude.

But Ms. Perrin’s proclamation that Prof X’s views changes universally towards all women is not supported by any in-story facts whatsoever. By the end of this movie, we have no evidence that any of that changes; just that he is willing to trust one woman (Raven) to live her own life without his interference.

Still, I enjoyed the movie and found it rather entertaining. I enjoyed this review as well.

Edit: I really should've read the comments first (although most weren't written when I started this behemoth). @7 totally trumped my "Prof X is a jerk" bit. I tip my hat to you, sir.
Lee Giorno
12. LGiorno
Any theories as to why Wolverine had his adamantium claws back during the time periods set in the present, apocolyptic world in DOFP? I was under the impression that this film takes place long after the events in the latest Wolverine film, where it's ripped out of him by the Silver Samarui. They don't explain this in DOFP. Maybe Magneto inserted the adamantium back into his body sometime in the future...? Plot hole, just saying. Overall I enjoyed the film.
13. noblehunter
@12, Not enough people saw the last Wolverine movie and would have been confused if he'd been all bony in the future.
Chris Nelly
14. Aeryl
Then what's the point of having seperate movies, if they are just going to ignore the continuity. They shouldn't have used the post credits scene to tie this directly to Wolverine, if they didn't want the connection.
Christopher Bennett
15. ChristopherLBennett
@11: Just because Mystique was captured in 1973 doesn't mean she never escaped. Once they had her tissue samples, they had what they needed to develop the upgraded Sentinels decades later, so they didn't need to have her constantly in their custody for that whole time. Most likely Magneto himself freed her from captivity, which is why she was still with him in the original movie trilogy.

So it's certainly possible to reconcile the original timeline shown in this movie with the timeline of the prior films to date. Indeed, we must, since the events of those films are specifically referenced or shown in flashback in Wolverine's memories.

@12: In The Wolverine, Logan didn't have his entire adamantium skeleton removed; he just had the claws chopped off, allowing his original bone claws to regenerate. The rest of the adamantium was still in his body. Maybe Magneto found a way to make it ductile enough to draw it back out over his claws.
Kimani Rogers
16. KiManiak
LGiorno@12 - To my understanding, all of the adamantium wasn't ripped out of Logan's body; his claws were just cut off. If we're going to speculate, we could theorize that Magneto moved some of the adamantium in Logan's body to coat/encase his regrown bone claws.

Aeryl@14 - Xmen Origins Wolverine was amongst the first to start mucking up the continuity of the Xmen movies, and I started my complaining about it then (Sabertooth & Wolverine, Sabertooth & Cyclops, Emma Frost & Shadowfox, etc).

X-men FC and X-men DoFP have taken those inconsistencies and added so many more (Stryker & Wolverine, Stryker & mutant soldiers in the Vietnam war, Emma Frost again, etc.).

I really don't think the producers care all that much about continuity; that's why I'm bemused/irritated that they attempted to bring all of the movies into a similar universe. I didn't see how they could do it properly before seeing DoFP, and I still don't believe they've done it after seeing it.
Kimani Rogers
17. KiManiak
ChrisLBennett - Hah! That's twice you've beaten me to the punch (although less of a time gap for this second one)!

Re: Sentinels - I still think there are too many inconsistencies. The original timeline would then have Mystique escape from such a situation and then not have her and Eric make it their life's mission to eradicate any research/information linked to that? Mystique already knew about the existence of Sentinels by then when she broke into Trask industries and saw the blueprints, along with the files on the dissection of her friends (Angel, Azazel, Emma Frost) and how that was linked to Trask industries research efforts in addressing mutants.

Magneto frees her and then they don't act to completely eliminate the threat? And avenge their friends?

And again, my comments about the inconsistencies of the timelines and the characters within (Mystique's actions in the original trilogy vs XmenFC, Emma Frost in Xmen Origins: Wolverine vs Xmen FC, Sabertooth in Xmen vs Sabertooth in Xmen O:W, Stryker in Xmen O:W vs Stryker in Xmen DoFP, etc.) still stand.

Trying to tie all of these stories up into a neat little bow can lead to a number of problems; I think attempting to link Prof X's actions in DoFP with his actions in Xmen 3 does not work at all.
18. KAsiki
On Jean in the first trilogy. I a not sure i can go so far as to saying Pof didn't trust Jean with her powers. In the brief flashbacks in X men 3, I am not sure if anyone including Jean could trust herself with her powers. Her powers were great enough that they fored an entirely new personality.
The question is then how do you temper that later on. Do you build a vault and throw away the key or build a dam and slowly release everything back? What do you encourage? Knowing what her total power is do you let her choose to stay weekend, if she chooses it, or do you force a decision? there are many many gray areas here that can only be answered I don't know.

On the school. What percentage of the teachers would have to go before there would be issues. The teachers would all have to be mutants. smaller school size initially. Loose 2-3 teachers and how would a school that small cope? Also mutants manifest during their teens. By their very nature the school must be a high school/university. Many students would thus fall directly into the draft age. The school would have been staying covert at that time so everyone would have remained elegible for the draft. Just saying that the teachers need not only be male, just that given the fagile nature of a first semester institution, losing several key staff, would have any organizations fold quickly.
19. Ragnarredbeard
How do the writers/director of X:DOFP view this analysis?

It just seems to me that analysis of this type goes deeper than the makers intended. I seriously doubt Bay made Transformers as an allegory to the difference capitalism and communism, or that John Ford made She Wore a Yellow Ribbon as an analysis of the colonization of the west and the impact it had on the indians.

Me? I just liked the movie.
20. hoopmanjh
I prefer to believe that the events of DoFP retroactively remove X3 and X:O:Wolverine (and maybe The Wolverine as well) from continuity. But that's more of a value judgment of the films themselves than an attempt to create a coherent timeline.
Chris Nelly
21. Aeryl
@18, It seemed obvious to me in X3 that the different personality came about because the powers were forced underground, IOW it was because of Xavier's meddling, that created the Phoenix. Yeah, the girl she was, was kinda mean. You ever read the stories about what Jesus was like as a child?

Had she been given a good ethical grounding, she would have grown into her abilities. Instead she was left to flounder with them, and had them taken away.
Christopher Bennett
22. ChristopherLBennett
@16: "I really don't think the producers care all that much about continuity; that's why I'm bemused/irritated that they attempted to bring all of the movies into a similar universe. I didn't see how they could do it properly before seeing DoFP, and I still don't believe they've done it after seeing it."

Continuity has long been a flexible thing in fictional series, going all the way back to things like Sherlock Holmes, where Watson had never heard of Moriarty in "The Final Problem" but was then aware of Moriarty in a later novel set before that story. Many movie series have had flexible continuity, like the James Bond films, which never explain how Bond stays relatively young over decades or why Blofeld keeps coming back from the dead. Or the original five Planet of the Apes films -- since none of the first four was written with a sequel in mind, each sequel had to contradict or retcon something from its predecessor in order to happen at all. Film is about illusion, and continuity is one of those illusions. It's not about creating a perfectly consistent reality, it's about creating a convincing enough pretense of continuity to satisfy the bulk of your audience. Sometimes the seams are just more visible than at other times.

Of course, comic books themselves often have incredibly convoluted and problematical continuity, because of all the different writers and editors coming in and bringing their own approaches and ideas, often retconning or simply ignoring what their predecessors did. The continuity of the X-Men movies is nowhere near as much of a mess as that of the X-Men comics.

@17: "Magneto frees her and then they don't act to completely eliminate the threat? And avenge their friends?"

How do we know they didn't? After all, there's no sign of the Sentinels during the events of the original trilogy. As I said, the government may have deployed Sentinels in the '70s or '80s, but evidently the project was abandoned by the 2000s and not revived until maybe the mid-2010s (the epilogue of The Wolverine). Maybe that's because Magneto -- or the X-Men -- decisively trounced them. Maybe Trask Industries and/or the government moved the research underground so that Magneto/the X-Men didn't know the project was still active.

As for the character inconsistencies, the easiest one to deal with is the so-called "Emma Frost" in Origins. That character was never called Emma in dialogue; she was Kayla Silverfox's sister, so there's no reason to think her surname was Frost; and her power was distinctly different from Emma's, just a coating of "diamonds" on the surface of her skin rather than a complete transformation of her body into a single living diamond. So even though the character was called Emma Frost behind the scenes and in offscreen material, there is no reason within the film itself to associate her with Emma Frost at all.

@20: The events of X3 are clearly changed, since Jean doesn't die; and if Jean doesn't die, the The Wolverine doesn't happen as shown, since that whole story is driven by Logan's reactions to losing/killing Jean.

But really, there's no reason to expect the first two films to still be in continuity either. Mystique has turned away from the path that made her the killer and terrorist she was in the first two films. And remember, in the first film, the threat posed by mutants was treated as something that was still just beginning to be understood and debated in the 2000s. Magneto's actions in DOFP's new timeline have advanced that by about three decades.

So really, the only previous movie that hasn't been overwritten now is First Class. The first four films and The Wolverine still have relevance to the continuity in that their events laid the groundwork for what Wolverine and the future characters did in this movie, and they still exist in Wolverine's own memories, but they aren't part of the new timeline -- or if their events did occur, they happened rather differently.
23. noblehunter
I think Rogue had her streak of white hair, which implies Magneto tried to implement his plan from X1 (or someone wasn't paying attention or they wanted to make sure the audience knew who she was). I didn't see if she was wearing gloves though. The omnipresence Trask implies Weapon X went ahead as well.
Chris Nelly
24. Aeryl
What's interesting to me, is watching some of the behind the scenes stuff for this, the way McAvoy describes this movie, it's how HE becomes Patrick Stewart's Xavier.

But Emily takes that further, and says that he becomes BETTER than Stewart's Xavier. Which I like, because one thing I didn't like about the orginal movies, was how omnipotent Xavier seemed.

I remember my 90's cartoon, Xavier screwed up A LOT. So it's nice to see the movies acknowledge this, by stating that Xavier can do better than he did.
Joe G
25. joeinformatico
@19--What, a "why can't you just turn off your brain and enjoy it" comment? How frakkin' original!

Look, no one's saying you have to look for deeper meanings in your entertainment. But for some of us, this is how we enjoy our fiction. If you don't want to engage in this kind of analysis, why are you even bothering to comment?
26. Roy Batty
Continuity in comic books is almost a contradiction in terms. Doesn't surprise me the movie adaptations would take a similar, zigzagging trajectory. In any event, I'm glad DoFP reset the movie series. Killing off Scott, Jean and Professor X was a colossal mistake in X-3, in my opinion. Great to see their return.

Good article, by the way. Thought-provoking.
Kimani Rogers
27. KiManiak
@22 – “The first four films and The Wolverine still have relevance to the continuity in that their events laid the groundwork for what Wolverine and the future characters did in this movie, and they still exist in Wolverine's own memories, but they aren't part of the new timeline -- or if their events did occur, they happened rather differently.”

The problem with this statement is that what can be considered the original timeline (consisting of the first 5 movies, measured chronologically by release) does not work with the ret-con being offered in X-men DoFP. We can attempt to rationalize or hand-wave inconsistencies and logical incredulities all we want. Certain details/occurrences (like what have been previously listed) just don’t add up.

I get your point about fiction (and movie franchises in particular) not always adhering to continuity; this even happens in non-SFF TV shows all of the time (the missing Winslow sibling in Family Matters or the missing Grey sister in Grey’s Anatomy comes immediately to mind).

However, the OP tried to tie all of the continuity together in an attempt to make her point. I stated that it was unnecessary and leads to all kinds of logical counter-arguments that could serve as a distraction from her point (kind of like what we’re doing here, btw).

If (as you claim) continuity is flexible/malleable and reality isn’t consistent from movie to movie, then I would claim (giving a more exaggerated example here for effect, of course) that Ms. Asher-Perrin’s perception of Prof X’s treatment of Jean in X-men 3 doesn’t seem directly linked to the events of X-men DoFP (or vice versa) any more than Storm Shadow's perception/relationship to Cobra Commander from Gi.Joe: Rise of Cobra to that of Gi.Joe: Retaliation. Same timeline (supposedly), similar characters, but a lot of subtle (and not so subtle) differences that make comparisons about character behavior fallible. Again exaggerated for effect, but the point is that characters/circumstances change between movies and trying to establish links that aren't spelled out can lead to error-laden analysis.

There is good material to explore Xavier’s flaws in Xmen DoFP alone. Stretching it to include X-men 3 (that already had such a messed up timeline that it would deal with Prof X’s actions both several years prior to DoFP -when Prof X and Magneto first met Jean and “fixed” her powers- and then approximately 30 years later -when the Dark Phoenix persona fully manifests-) was unnecessary and quite problematic.

TL;DR – Keep it simple; the original point about Prof X’s many flaws was strong enough without including timeline continuity confusion. (Whereas if the other X-movies are introduced to cement a point like Dark Phoenix leading to the rise of the Mystique-DNA-Sentinels, the timeline inconsitencies can rightfully be brought in to challenge her point)
Christopher Bennett
28. ChristopherLBennett
@27: Of course certain details don't add up, but that doesn't mean it's wrong or impossible to treat the movies to date as a putatively consistent reality, because there are many, many, many putatively consistent realities in the history of fiction that contain details that don't add up. Fiction is all just pretend anyway, and sometimes that means pretending an earlier story didn't happen exactly the way it was shown -- either because it was told by a different creator or because the creator had a better idea later on. (Gene Roddenberry sometimes suggested that the original Star Trek was an inaccurate dramatization of the "real" events it depicted, and that later works like The Motion Picture and The Next Generation were more authentic dramatizations -- hence the redesigned Klingons, technology, and the like.) As long as the story itself depicts the prior works as part of a common reality, then that's what they're supposed to be, even when they have major conflicts. We just have to remember that these are stories being told rather than documentations of actual events, and that means there can be inconsistencies in the account, especially when different stories in the sequence are told by different creators.

I think you're being condescending in suggesting that focusing on what the different films have in common rather than where they conflict results in "errors." It's meaningless to speak of "error" in the analysis of fiction, because none of it actually happened. It's all just stories and interpretations. Different creators interpret the same characters and events differently, filtered through their own individual perspectives -- and so do different audience members. Fiction is supposed to be read differently by different readers, because readers bring something of themselves to what they read (or watch) and thus can find meanings beyond what the creators alone could have put in the work. So no, it's not an "error" when people interpret the fiction differently. It's just a different choice from yours.
Bill Stusser
29. billiam
Very nice article Emily, very well thought out. Please don't take what I'm about to say as a disagreement to your analysis, it isn't meant as such. I don't disagree with you, I just didn't like the movie.

I don't think this movie worked either as a good movie or a reset of the franchise. The X-movie universe is a mess, still. The only way to fix it, in my opinion, is to reboot the whole thing. I know, everybody is tired of reboots. I get it, but the first movie is over a decade old now and hasn't really aged that well. I would like to see them start all over and, hopefully, do it better.

As to the inconsistency thing, I am one of those people that really hates (HATES!) inconsistencies. They bug the hell out of me. I have stopped reading comics, even my favorites (X-Men included), when a new writer or creative team has come aboard and pretended like nothing before mattered to the story or started changing everything wholesale. Yes, I am that guy that can sit and complain about every little detail, sorry.

One last thing, I never liked Charles Xaxier (for the reasons Emily wrote about and more), in the comics or the movies. I thought the X-Men were at their best when Chuck was off galavanting around the Shi'ar empire with Lilandra.
Kimani Rogers
30. KiManiak
@28 – Individuals are free to interpret what they like. When they choose to string together occurrences in a fictional universe and state that one occurrence is the primary reason for the other based on a certain set of events, those events themselves can be challenged.

But according to what you appear to be stating, comments that attempt to support themselves with evidence can’t have that evidence challenged whenever the overall topic is rooted in fiction since “none of it actually happened?”

Look, I’m okay discussing hypotheticals and not taking it all too seriously since none of this stuff is real. But if the discussion isn’t going to take into consideration the events/information that is objectively given to properly inform someone’s subjective hypothetical… well then, that’s flawed on a bunch of levels. Why submit any evidence from the work of fiction at all? But if a reviewer/author/anyone submits a source to defend their reasoning, shouldn’t it be expected that the particular source will be questioned/dissected/challenged? If this were data or statistics, wouldn’t it be appropriate to look at the data/statistics and see if any errors are associated in the gathering or analysis of that data/statistics?

It’s unfortunate that you feel I’m being condescending in my comments, as that is not my intent. I am providing my opinion and feedback on the OP. I am actively challenging the connection between Professor Xavier’s adjustment of Jean’s powers and the ultimate rise in power of the Sentinels. I question the cause-and-effect that Ms. Asher-Perrin appears to state (Prof X’s sexist overbearingness in how he treats Jean is “directly responsible for how bad things get”) could be assumed to lead to the deployment of the Sentinels.

You’re welcome to disagree with me. But it appears that you are trying to wave the questions off by stating that the reviewer is entitled to her opinion and the post should be free of challenge/question. Which… no, not at all.

I acknowledge that you used the qualifier “I think you’re being condescending.” I consider “I think” in this context to be an attempt at a more constructive type of criticism; or at least an attempt to soften a critique. I think you are being disingenuous in attempting to defend a questionably supported point by using “it’s fiction; none of it really happened” as a rationale.

But, we may be going way off the reservation here. Once again: I liked this movie, I liked Ms. Asher-Perrin’s review and (full disclosure) I tend to like your comments on the Star Trek DS9 rewatch as well. None of the points made in the various comments to this review will change any of that.
32. Roy Batty
Take it from a Trekkie: words like "continuity" and "canon" will drive you mad. Best to judge each installment on its own merits as entertainment and, occasionally, art.
33. ChrisG
Terrific analysis, Emily. I think this framing brings into relief a superb arc of character development for Xavier in FC and DoFP. Indeed, Xavier, Magneto, and Mystique/Raven all develop in very interesting and subtle ways over the course of the two movies.

That Jean's hair and outfit were bright red at the end seems to signal that she was not suppressed by the new Xavier. This suggests that he did indeed learn his lesson from the events of DoFP ; it adds weight to the transformation Emily is arguing for; and it suggests that the filmmakers had (at least part of) this in mind.
34. Brett Harris
Great analysis Emily, thanks for sharing your thoughts !
I agree with your analysis, and find it interesting that the story that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby initially produced as a parable for racism is still applicable to discussions of ineuquality in gender relations, class (as per the comment above) and the abuse of power by anyone who wishes to utilise difference to force inequality.
It shows the power of fiction to address and challenge societal norms and I think Stan and Jack would be pleased their work is still doing just that !
35. Makhno
Great analysis.

Though the thing that bugs me is: given the nature of his power, Charles is the last person in the world who should be wearing provilege blinkers. We've seen him experience others' memories as if they were his own. He has quite literally felt the pain of many, many terribly marginalised people. He of all people shouldn't need privilege-checking lessons.
Christopher Bennett
36. ChristopherLBennett
@35: On the other hand, his power is the ultimate privilege, because he can enter and control other people's minds and they can't do the same to him. So he has one hell of an advantage over everyone else. I'm sure he cares about their pain and misfortune, but from the perspective of an empathetic parent who wants to guide and protect them. As we saw between Charles and Mystique here, it's not necessarily about class or gender privilege, though the fact that he has those privileges would tend to reinforce those patterns of behavior. It's about feeling the need to be in control, to decide things for other people's "own good" rather than trusting them to decide for themselves.
37. Max Gardner
I loved this movie. The X-Men films post X-2 have been pretty abysmal, and it was nice to see a new film that in my opinion is at least tied with X-2 and possibly better. I was surprised they not only merged the continuity of the original series with First Class -- which I always sort of considered as existing in its own weird semi-connected continuity, jokey Wolverine cameo aside -- but did it well. And Mystique has always been a favorite in my family of comic-readers (along with Storm), so it was nice to see her given the pivotal role in the film.

The overall message hit me pretty hard. I've struggled with clinical depression for years, at least the past decade, without knowing it and without really trying to deal with it until very recently. I hadn't considered Professor X's character arc in specifically these terms, but for the most part you're spot on. I did appreciate that Charles, Erik and Raven were more than their most obvious strengths and shortcomings -- Charles isn't only controlling, Magneto isn't only ruthless (or "the bad guy") and Raven isn't only a person who wants to be free of the controlling influence of both of the two mentor-figures in her life.

In the end, while I sympathized the most with Mystique, I think I empathized the most with Charles, whose capacity for empathy is as central to the movie as Raven's desire for independence and acceptance. The process of recognizing your own pain, accepting it and ultimately moving past it in order to rekindle hope in your own life and faith in the lives of others is one that resonates with me very deeply at this point in my life. Even three months ago, I probably would not have appreciated DoFP half as much.

Thank you for the article -- it's given me more to think about.
Chris Nelly
38. Aeryl
How do the writers/director of X:DOFP view this analysis?

They should view it with wonder and joy, as it's done what months of marketing has failed to do, which is make me want to see this movie
39. MasterAlThor
I have been a X-Men fanatic for the most of my life. I agree with you about all of your points except one.

Jean Grey.

Jean manifest her powers as a result of a car accident her best friend gets into. Dr. Grey, Jean's father, contacts Xavier to help. Xavier then shuts down Jean's powers and then when he brings her to the school helps her develop and control some of her abilities. It wasn't because he was worried that she would be stronger than him. There are several instances where he tell Jean that she will be the strongest of them all. Of course that is in the comics.

Now it is the fault of the movie writers who mad X3, that made Jean the way she was. That movie had so many things wrong with it, it was unwatchable and I want everyone to be refunded for going to see it.

Now that I think about it, I have an issue with Raven being introduced as Charle's childhood friend. Although for movie purposes if the substory was to show how much of a sexist pig Xavier was before we got Old Man Chuck, then it is ok.

Anyway the source material is far better than the movies and since you are only talking about the movies, I enjoy your post.

40. Makhno
@35 good point, but that's a different kind of privilege, and it doesn't make much sense that it would lead him to respect men more than women - rather, you'd expect him to look down equally on everyone who isn't Charles Xavier. The usual "people like me have it better because we *are* better" reasoning of privilege doesn't apply, because there are no people like him. There's him, and there's everyone else.
41. Eduardo Jencarelli
A brilliant analysis of what's really Xavier's story. Days of Future Past was brilliant to the very end. Even though the film was marketed as yet another Wolverine story (and we do see the story from his POV, mostly), this is really an Xavier-centric movie.

Following up on First Class, Days of Future Past shows some of the best character growth on any of the X-Men movies.

I don't know if Xavier's actions can be defined as sexist, but the paternalistic attitude and the need to control everything around him certainly makes sense, and that's why your argument works beautifully, in terms of defining Xavier's arc.
Chris Nelly
42. Aeryl
@40, Nothing aside from living and growing up in a sexist culture, especially when Xavier's paternal nature follows patriarchal narratives so well.
Christopher Bennett
43. ChristopherLBennett
Well, we're talking about the Xavier of 1962-73 here, so I think we can safely assume his gender attitudes at that time were at least relatively sexist by today's standards.
44. kerame
It's very easy to condemn a white, wealthy, 60's male for his privilege, but I think your examples are fairly misleading.

When Charles asks Raven to cover for her safety, they are the only two mutants in the world as far as they know, any other course of action would be fairly ridiculous. It almost certainly would have decreased rather than increased the quality of Raven's life and I doubt she would have attempted it without Charles' protection and privilege to fall back on. Charles has to hide his mutation in public as much as Raven does, and even in private at her request.

Charles works well with Moira during their time working together, and he would have allowed no one to possess the information she did after the beach attack.

I doubt any child would be allowed the kind of power Jean had, if it could be avoided, why not just hand out guns at elementary school? There doesn't seem to be an option for a physical restraint like Scott's.

Angel was Charles' first recruit so I doubt the class was all-male.

When Charles tells Mystique he will take her home and take care of her, she'd just been wounded, and that's a fairly natural reaction towards a wounded loved one, unlike the unnatural, disloyal and heartless reaction of abandoning her wounded brother the first time he needed her help.

When Charles was trying to convince Raven in the airport, he was hardly being delusional, he knew her plans could be disastrous, and instead of considering his message, she reacted with the bratty teenage behavior she exhibited in the first movie.

If Mystique has the right to take actions that will affect all mutantkind in the future then so does Charles. He has every right to stop her, and when he doesn't it's probably for the same reason that he lets Erik go. Not because he respects either of their generally horrible choices, but because in the case of those two, his love seems to outweigh his reason.
Christopher Bennett
45. ChristopherLBennett
@44: But the point is that Charles sent the wrong message, by trying to tell Raven what he thought she had to do, trying to push her to do things on his terms. In the climax, he figured out the right way: to share what was at stake with her and trust her to make the decision for herself. That's what she wanted, what any marginalized or oppressed group wants: agency. Respect for their right to choose for themselves rather than being told what to do.
46. kerame
No one voted for Mystique to decide their fates. They did in effect vote for Charles by choosing to go to him in the past, though even if they hadn't he has as much right to effect the future as she does.
Mystique is taking their futures in her hands, and had she made the wrong choice could have destroyed it for everyone. Charles had no right to let everyone's future hang on her decision, particularly when he knew more about the situation than she did.
47. Eduardo Jencarelli

Without freewill and being unable to be yourself, there's no point in saving the future. Had Xavier subdued her, it would have been a hollow victory (and someone else would simply follow on Mystique and Magneto's footsteps, terminating Trask regardless).

Mystique had every right to follow her own path, and Xavier had the obligation to respect her independence.
Christopher Bennett
48. ChristopherLBennett
@46: The point is, Xavier believed that Mystique was a misguided friend whom he could convince to step away from a dark path. And at first he wasn't really treating her like a friend -- he was trying to dominate and control her. It wasn't until he learned to respect her right to think and choose for herself, to show her he thought of her as an equal rather than condescending to her, that he was able to actually be the friend he thought he was being, and thereby convince her to step back.

Besides, look at what happened in that climactic scene. Xavier mentally paralyzed everyone except Mystique while he reasoned with her. It therefore stands to reason that if he'd failed to get through to her, if he'd sensed her intent to pull the trigger anyway, he could've paralyzed her just as easily. So he had a fallback position. But fortunately he didn't need it.

And before you protest that he should've just gone ahead and done that anyway given what was at stake, keep in mind that this is a work of fiction, and the situation is merely set up to allow character interaction and conflict. The character arc was about the young Charles Xavier learning to be a better man and a worthy mentor to the future X-Men. And that included mending the rift with the onetime friend he'd driven away.
49. kerame
What you're actually saying, is that Mystique has the right to act as she sees fit, but Xavier doesn't.
Mystique has the right to use all her abilities on anyone to change the future in any way she sees fit, but not Charles.
So who can Charles exercise his power on? Male mutants? Humans of either sex?
I doubt the survivors of the future hellscape don't see a point in changing the past with the knowledge they possess in the future, since that's the entire point of the plan and plot of the movie.
Mystique isn't just "following her own path", she's altering it for all concerned, and the world isn't merely a stage for her personality development.
50. kerame

If Charles was willing to stop her anyway, then he wasn't actually trusting her to make her own decision, as he should not.
As for dominating and controlling her, he didn't actually do that in the first movie, but Raven clearly had the standard aggrievements of many younger siblings, so apologizing for what she feels to be his wrongs is a very effective way of manipulating her to do the right thing. It's fairly useless to appeal to Mystique's reason, so he went for soothing her bruised ego instead.
The character arc you've described would be a very nice one if it the interaction and conflict actually led to that naturally, instead of ham-fistedly laying it on top of a plot and characters which contradict it.
Christopher Bennett
51. ChristopherLBennett
@49: "What you're actually saying, is that Mystique has the right to act as she sees fit, but Xavier doesn't."

What a bizarre misinterpretation. Xavier was perfectly free to act as he saw fit, but the first time he tried it, it didn't work, because he hadn't yet figured out the right way to do what he was trying to do, which was to be Mystique's friend and make a connection with her. But he was smart enough to learn from his mistakes, and when the climax came, he "saw fit" to treat another human being with respect -- which is exactly what he claimed to be standing for all along, the rights and equality of all people.

It's not about "exercising power." Friendship and equality and fairness are not about wielding power over others, they're about respecting others' power over themselves. If you want to be fair to others, if you want to be a friend to them, if you want to treat them as equals, then you can't just impose your will on them and pretend that theirs don't matter. You have to respect their freedom of choice, even if that leads them to choices you disagree with. If you don't, then you become an abuser or an oppressor, and you either hurt them or turn them against you. So if your goal is to win them over, as Charles's was here, that's the wrong way to go about it.

The way you seem to want Charles to behave is the way Magneto behaves. Erik claims to want equality, but what he really wants is to wield power and control others. And thus he creates conflict. He makes enemies rather than friends, because he pushes others and that provokes them to push back. What makes Charles Xavier different from Magneto is that, as a rule, he reaches out to people and wins them over by inviting them to join him. He encourages them to think and decide for themselves, and when they have the freedom and knowledge to make an informed choice, they often recognize that joining him is the better path. And if they don't, then that's just the price of freedom. Part of respecting freedom is accepting that sometimes people will make the wrong choices. Try to force them to do what you want and it will backfire.
52. kerame
@ 50 --Post 49 was actually refering to post 47 not 48.

Sorry for the mix-up, if you'd like to rephrase anything I'll respond to that post, otherwise I'll post my response to what you've already written.
53. kerame
I meant @ 51 -- Post 49 was actually refering to post 47 not 48.
Christopher Bennett
54. ChristopherLBennett
@53: Doesn't matter -- Eduardo and I are saying the same thing. You can't fight for freedom and equality if you don't treat other people according to those principles.
55. kerame

If Mystique has the freedom to take action that will affect others as she sees fit, then Charles has an equal right to oppose her actions with his own.
That's leaving aside the fact that Raven would be acting out of ignorance while Charles knows the disastrous effects of her decision.
Christopher Bennett
56. ChristopherLBennett
@55: Did you actually see the movie? Charles said outright at the climax that he had informed Mystique of what was at stake, and then left her to make the decision with that knowledge. So no, she wasn't acting out of ignorance. He did what any true friend or teacher would do: Give her the knowledge and tools she needed to make a responsible decision on her own.

And you know what? She did! It worked! So I don't know what you're complaining about.
57. kerame
I don't remember hearing him talk about the most important reasons she shouldn't kill Trask, maybe he did it telepathically, aloud it all sounded like personal drama.

A responsible friend or teacher might allow someone to risk their own life, not everyone else's.

What if it hadn't worked? The future would have been destroyed on the altar of Raven's personal growth. Charles puts the entire future at risk so Raven can feel better about herself, which the author of this article sees as a sign of growth on Charles' part. He's actually just indulging his little sister in the desperate hope that she'll love him again, just as he allows Erik to fly away despite another demonstration of megalomania.
Christopher Bennett
58. ChristopherLBennett
@57: You're still talking in terms of "allowing," asserting power and control over others. As long as you're trapped in that paradigm, you'll never understand what we're saying.
59. kerame
You mean the way Raven and Erik assert power and control through idiotic assassination attempts?

I understand perfectly. If it's a central character, you believe their personal growth is paramount, which would be fine in an intimate drama or some other situation where other people's lives weren't at stake. But if the premise is that if other people who have rights of their own are minor characters or off-screen altogether, their agency, lives, future don't matter as much as the central character's feefees.
60. Eduardo Jencarelli

But that's why X-Men is different from your standard superhero fare.

This isn't Thor, where there's a clear line between Good and Evil, with no shades of grey in-between. X-Men is about respecting differences, and learning to co-exist with them. Not everyone grows up with a clear notion of what's right and wrong.

Raven and Erik grew up in a world of anger and prejudice. One lived in concentration camps where Jews were killed for pleasure. The other was evidently raised by abusive, intolerant parents. Can you blame them for feeding on their hatred, in order to survive? The real challenge isn't to use your powers in a display of bravado. The real challenge is to make the other side see why there's no point for bloodshed.

Having Xavier learn the lesson of acceptance and letting go as a way to end the cycle of hatred is nothing short of the best solution.

Raven could have made the wrong choice, even after Xavier let her do it. But if he had stopped her, someone else would have.
61. kerame

There's no reason personal and plot development can't be combined with traditional X-men themes, this movie just didn't do it, particularly in the ways highlighted by the author.

If they wanted to make those points in First Class they could have shown Charles actually disrespecting women's abilities by refusing to recruit any women, they could have shown him actually trying to control Raven by refusing to let her join the team or at least trying to discourage her from joining, then in this movie they could have shown them working together in situations that would have been dangerous for her, but which he had learned to accept.
Instead they show Angel as the first recruit, and Charles fully accepting Raven as part of the team. So despite laying no appropriate groundwork, in this movie they stick in a line about Charles "trying to control her", then show him proving himself by risking everyone else's destiny in order to win her back.
Charles let Raven go at the end of the last movie, and has made no previous efforts to pursue her as far as we know. It's Raven who needed to learn to be a bit less childish and reactive, and leaving the world's fate in her hands might have soothed her wounded ego, but it was in no conceivable way worth the risk, saying that someone else would have done exactly what Raven would have done in a way that would produce the same effect is just a cop-out.
62. mutantalbinocrocodile
I apologize in advance that I haven't had time to read every comment on this very long thread, but just following up on the "gender prejudice/class prejudice" idea that has been brewing, something that has been on my mind:

While Charles seems to have felt a responsibility to take care of Raven's basic needs (which presumably means that he mind-controlled his parents into feeding her, etc.), one thing that he conspicuously ignores is her intellect. Remember the scene in "First Class" in the student pub where another female student assumes Raven is attending the university, and she has to admit that she's waitressing? Why didn't Charles do any of the following?

1. Induce his parents to pay for a good education for her, including college? Plenty of Oxford colleges admitted women at that point.
2. Failing that, teach her Latin in his spare time so that she would have stood a chance at winning a scholarship? While to some extent it's fair to see Oxford as a stand-in for class privilege, it does have a longstanding meritocratic tradition as well--assuming that the meritocratic sorting happened early enough (grammar school) that students could ace an admissions exam in Latin. Raven clearly has the linguistic ability that she should have been a quick study; in DoFP she is convincing in conversational Vietnamese.

So why ignore her intellectual needs so thoroughly, except because she's a girl?
Christopher Bennett
63. ChristopherLBennett
@62: Good point. If Movie Xavier has the same range of abilities as Comics Xavier, he wouldn't even need to teach her in his spare time; one of his established powers is the ability to upload full knowledge of a new language into someone's mind in a matter of minutes. He used it to teach English to Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, etc. when he first assembled them as a team in Giant-Size X-Men #1.
64. MasterAlThor

That is a good point, but as 63 pointed out it is movie Xavier that we are now dealing with. That means the writers of the XFC and XDoFP aren't as well versed as they shoud be on the characters that they are writing.

That isn't an issue of "oh we can't do that, it won't translate on film." That is an issue of let's make a statement with this character. Let's show how he becomes the finished product.

As much as I didn't like his arc I understand it.

Christopher Bennett
65. ChristopherLBennett
@64: It's unfair to assume that if a character in an adaptation differs from the source material, it's the result of ignorance on the part of the adaptors. As you yourself go on to say, they chose to reinterpret the character.
67. Noreen Jenkins
I completely agree with this article, though I never quite saw it from this particular point of view before. My major frustration with Marvel as a whole was that the female superheroes were so easily held back from enormous amounts of potential. My favorites growing up were Storm and Rogue, but I was constantly disappointed in the application of their powers compared to their male counterparts. I was also extremely nonplussed by their miniscule character development. I felt that the character arc for Raven in this film was so compelling, and I'm glad they didn't cage her at the end.

And now for something I like to call Girl/Nerd Talk. Is it me, or does Mystique have no idea that Charles has lost use of his legs? In First Class, she sees him get shot, but she leaves before he discovers that he is paralyzed. When he first rescues her in Future Past, he is walking. When he reaches out to her in the airport, she only sees a mental picture of him standing. And at the end she only hears his voice in her head, she doesn't see him. I don't think she knows he can't walk.
I hope the writers did that on purpose. I would love to see her reaction to it in the next movie!

And finally, (I feel guilty going there, but I have to), will there be an eventual romance betweem Mystique and Charles? I know he sees her as blood but she does NOT see him this way. I saw all kinds of jealousy in her during First Class, especially when she resented him for picking up women in front of her. Even her crush on Hank seems like a reinactment of her romantic hopes for Charles. Both men are highly intelligent, prodigy-like, aloof. They even underappreciate her in the same way.
Charles is finally learning to not see her as someone under his charge. Once he matures to the point of accepting her fully for who she is....well who knows! Something could blossom from there.
Besides, we have always seen professor X as this father figure, all wise, stoic. But the writers now have an opportunity to see Charles fall in love for the first time.

Christopher Bennett
68. ChristopherLBennett
@67: On the issue of Marvel's female heroes, I'm not actually reading most of the comics, but I'm seeing a lot of online praise for how Marvel is treating its female characters over the past few years, with lots of strong female-led books, less sexualization of the characters, more practical costumes, more female creators behind the scenes, etc. Certainly they're doing better than DC has been lately.
Well, that's good to know! :-)
70. Lint
I just found this article, and, while I feel it supplies an impressively insightful and coherent interpretation of the piece, I feel that it should have done more to address a subtext that First Class's creators explicitly said they focused on and DoFP continued: while mutants represent minorities of all sorts, they went back to the roots of the series and made it primarily about the struggles of homosexuals in an intolerant society.

I see Xavier's apparent sexism as primarily a means to convey his attitudes toward being in or out of the closet. Nearly all of the major mutants in the two prequels struggle with their sexuality. Mystique pursues three romantic relationships in the first prequel. I don't think it's a coincidence that the two who reject her - Xavier and Beast - are also the ones who try as hard as they can to hide their mutant nature, and they both use excuses that sound exactly like someone refusing to admit that they are gay. Even Magneto only accepts her when she abandons the guise of a human woman. Xavier spends a lot of time flirting with women, yes, but we never see him so much as leave the bar with one - not even Moira can hold his interest. He holds far more affection for Magneto, perhaps on some level wishing he could be just as brave and open.

If you think about it for even ten seconds, you realize that in DoFP that administering medicine can't be the only reason Beast stays shacked up with Professor X in the run-down mansion - that's far too flimsy, and both characters were heavily implied to be gay in the previous film. They're a couple living together, projecting a doctor-patient relationship to the few who would intrude upon their secret, miserable, private life. If all his students were male, too, then I imagine it's more because they were all of the same "hiding" type and that's why - to appear normal - he didn't fight the draft.

Basically, the characters that lean more strongly homosexual in the film are the ones who are the least comfortable with their mutant identity. I still think Xavier learning to trust others to do the right thing is a core part of his character development, but the sexism he appears to possess is part of a nuanced metaphor that this article doesn't address.
71. Babka
Prof. Xavier is something of a control freak. It has nothing or little to do with sexism. As with Moira MacTaggert, he was trying to protect her, not himself. He knew she would be loyal to him, but to what end would his opposition go for information she might possess? He assumed, albeit without consulting her, ridding her mind of the entire event was the safest choice. He'd never forgive himself if she got hurt.

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