X-MEN: BEHIND THE X-MEN LORE
Born out of the tumult of the ’60s - prejudice, fear
and the whole damn thing - there are political and sociological
issues and messages inherent in the X-Men lore, say the
filmmakers in this edited extract from notes to the production.
Cyclops. Jean Grey. Storm.
They are the children of the atom, homo superior, the next
link in the chain of evolution. Each was born with a unique
genetic mutation, which at puberty manifested itself in
extraordinary powers: Cyclops’ (James Marsden) eyes release
an energy beam that can rip holes through mountains; Jean
Grey’s (Famke Janssen) strength is both telekinetic and
telepathic; and Storm (Halle Berry) can manipulate all forms of
In a world increasingly filled with hatred and prejudice, they
are scientific oddities ... freaks of nature ... outcasts who are
feared and loathed by those who cannot accept their differences.
Their detractors include U.S. Senator Robert Kelly (Bruce
Davison), a McCarthyesque politico whose legislation is designed
to "expose the dangers" of mutants. Yet despite
society’s pervasive ignorance, Cyclops, Jean, Storm and
thousands like them survive.
Under the tutelage of Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick
Stewart), the world’s most powerful telepath, these
"gifted" students have learned to control and direct
their respective powers for the greater good of mankind. They
fight to protect a world that fears them.
Xavier welcomes two newcomers: Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman),
a solitary fighting machine who possesses amazing healing powers,
retractable adamantium claws and an animal-like fury; and Rogue
(Anna Paquin), an alienated teenage girl who can absorb the
powers and memories of anyone she touches.
As Wolverine and Rogue adjust to life among their
"kind," the X-Men find themselves locked in a physical
and philosophical battle with the Professor’s former
colleague and friend, Erik Lehnsherr a.k.a. Magneto (Ian
McKellen). One of the world’s most powerful mutants, Magneto
has turned his back on society, believing that humans and mutants
can never coexist, and that mutants are the rightful heirs to the
future. He and his evil Brotherhood – the mammoth Sabretooth
(Tyler Mane), the metamorph Mystique (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) and
the near-sighted, far-jumping Toad (Ray Park) – will stop at
nothing to ensure that future, even if it threatens the very
existence of mankind ... or mutantkind.
X-MEN AND POLITICS
In 1963, as prejudice and fear gripped the U.S. at the height
of the Civil Rights movement, Marvel Comics editor, head writer
and art director Stan Lee created X-Men, a comic book centered on
a team of mutant superheroes. The X-Men, like many of their
Marvel predecessors, were an unusual heroic group – at times
sarcastic, antisocial, and clearly flawed, yet sympathetic when
battling the demons of their love lives, tackling the traumas of
self-esteem, or taking on powerful villains in their universe of
Stan Lee imagined the existence of a superior species and the
harsh political and social environment they encountered in a
not-too-distant future world. X-Men director Bryan Singer
appreciated the comics’ allegories about racism and bigotry
and their underlying themes of tolerance, running throughout the
dramas’ non-stop action and adventure.
"mutated breed of humanity"
"The story of the X-Men is quite political," says
Singer. "It’s about differences and similarities.
Because the comic was born from the tumult of the ’60s,
there are political and sociological issues and messages inherent
in the X-Men lore.
"In fact," Singer says, "the relationship
between Xavier and his one-time friend and colleague, Magneto,
exemplifies the ideological and philosophical differences of that
era. They are essentially cut from the same cloth, and both see
this mutated breed of humanity as a subject of persecution.
However, Xavier lives to protect those who fear him while Magneto
lives to destroy them. Each believes his side is right. Neither
is willing to compromise.
"Ultimately, the film is about how difficult it is to
find a level of tolerance that is mutually beneficial to all
involved. That’s a philosophical concept that mankind and
mutantkind could fight about forever.
"It’s also a kick-ass movie," he adds,
July 13, 2000