I never saw X-Men Apocalypse because it did not look like fun, so here’e a take on an X-men film that people seemed to actually like. Spoiler: I did not like it.
Actually, that’s a bit harsh. There were some emotionally satisfying arcs, some dramatic moments, some pretty cool effects involving a speedster. What I mean to say is it was just a little overrated. It certainly wasn’t The Force Awakens Bad, but it just felt kind of like the film was a betrayal of it’s own premise. Magneto and Xavier are good friends now, but to save the future Wolverine must go back in time to when the were enemies and make them friends again.
And, I guess, stop Mystique from murdering Bolivar Trask, which sets up a chain reaction that bla bla bla because comics. So, I don’t know, I at least expected the film to be focused on the reconciliation between those two characters. I mean, they’re pretty much friends at the beginning of the first X-men film right? I know that timeline is pretty well tortured by now, but still. Those timelines are still sort of vaguely connected right? And the whole premise of the film is that they have to reconcile. But then, the film happens and there’s no reconciliation at all! They’re enemies, then I guess they’re friends for a while, but then they’re enemies again and the good mutants defeat the evil Magneto.
All this does is put one of the most interesting characters from the comics in the same boring villain role. He is at his most interesting as a good guy, still struggling with the baggage of what he’s done but trying to find redemption. Instead they have him chucking football stadiums at nice people like some sort of comic book villain. Goddamn football stadiums.
Also, am I the only kind of weirded out by the films treatment of race? I guess mutants are at their most effective when they’re standing for lgbt people, but this DOFP is clearly going for the race angle. Sure, the 70s is not quite civil rights era, but everyone involved is super keen to tell you how Proffessor X is the MLK to Magneto’s Malcolm X, even though that in itself has uncomfortable implications (hey, let’s talk about racism, but let’s make all the actors white!). Also, the comparison kind of becomes sort of strained when the stand-in for one of the most prominent civil rights leader starts chucking stadiums at people. Then there’s that thing where the central message of the films , though it seems to be about the oppressed minority, is actually directed at white people.
What am I talking about? So if we got back to the plot, the whole reason we have an apocalypse is that Mystique kills Trask. The catalysing force is violence perpetrated by mutants. Yes, it comes in response to the oppression of mutants by non-mutants, but the film makes it clear that the violence by Mutants is what sets off the genocide. Even though the method that the genocidal machines are created is through Mystique’s blood in a because-comics chain of events, the film the film still makes it clear that it is the violence of the mutants that motivates the humans to build the sentinels.
This is, really, putting the guilt on the mutants in a way. Don’t lose your shit, the film seems to be saying, or you’ll just make everything worse. I guess this is good advice for anyone wanting to make themselves heard, but it’s also super condescending and really easy to say when you’re in the majority and don’t have to deal with constant systematic oppression. Really, it’s a kind of way to shift the blame, kind of “I mean yeah, we shouldn’t be opressing those guys, but they shouldn’t have got so darn worked up about it either.” Comfortably, now, the conversation isn’t about what we can do, or how we (and here, “we” is the majority) are oppressing this group, but about how irresponsibly they are acting. The onus is lifted from us, and we can feel a little better.