X-Men

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It was too close. It had only been a few years since the assassinations. In a way, it seemed like that would be too raw. My resonance to Magneto and Xavier was borne more out of the Holocaust. It was coming face to face with evil, and how do you respond to it? In Magneto's case it was violence begets violence. In Xavier's it was the constant attempt to find a better way. ~ Chris Claremont
Mutants are all around us. They could be your neighbors. They could be your co-workers. They could be related to you. Gifted with extraordinary powers, they are the next step on the evolutionary ladder. Some use their powers for good; some, for unspeakable evil. One group had dedicated its wondrous abilities to protect mankind, even those who hate and fear them. Known to the world at large as outlaws, they are the X-Men. ~ Chris Claremont
They were meant to emphasize the conflict between people who felt that we've got to all work together and find a way to get along, and people who feel, 'We're not treated well, therefore we're going to strike back with force! ~ Stan Lee

The X-Men are a fictional team in the Marvel-Comics universe.

Comics[edit]

Films[edit]

TV shows[edit]

About X-Men[edit]

I always wanted to get involved in science fiction fantasy, and the notion that Professor Xavier was Martin Luther King and Magneto was Malcolm X, and these were two men who had very strong, decent beliefs, but had taken different roads. And the irony of that, and the moral ambiguity of that, intrigued me. It was a step beyond simple crime-solving, superhero action. It was much more socio-political, and in that way exposed more truth. ~ Bryan Singer
I’ve often felt like an outcast and an outsider and I’ve felt discriminated against because of my gender or because of my nationality or the colour of my skin. So of course I can relate. But the beauty of X-Men is that everybody can relate. You don’t have to be black or be gay. All people have been discriminated against in some way. We all struggle with issues like “are we too thin, are we too fat? Is our nose too big or our boobs too small? Shall we cover our grey hair or should we not?” We all struggle throughout life to make these decisions for ourselves and the question we’re always asking is: “Are we okay exactly the way we are?” So not only do I relate, or Ian or Bryan, but I think everyone relates because we’ve all asked ourselves these tough questions. ~ Halle Berry
It is as important a serious piece of work as Strindberg or Ibsen. You don’t shortchange the work because it is a comic book franchise for a studio. I think entertaining is a serious business and shouldn’t be taken half-heartedly. ~ Patrick Stewart
The idea that evolution must naturally proceed from simple creatures to more complex creatures is almost overpowering. The X-men are frequently referred to as the “next step” in human evolution. According to Darwin, in order for evolution to occur, an individual must exhibit a variation that makes it better suited to its environment and then that variation must be selected for and passed down to future generations. When that variation has accumulated throughout the species, the species is considered to have evolved. Playing by Darwin’s rules, then, in order for the X-men to be the “next step” in human evolution, they must have a variation, that variation must prove useful in their environment, and that variation must be passed down to offspring. ~ Jocelyn D. Pickreign
  • Q: The X-Men comics and films have become a parable for any member of minority groups in the world. Bryan Singer and Ian McKellen have already talked about how they related to the project based on their backgrounds, so how did that apply to you?
A: Well I certainly have felt it being a woman, firstly, and a woman of colour too. I’ve often felt like an outcast and an outsider and I’ve felt discriminated against because of my gender or because of my nationality or the colour of my skin. So of course I can relate. But the beauty of X-Men is that everybody can relate. You don’t have to be black or be gay. All people have been discriminated against in some way. We all struggle with issues like “are we too thin, are we too fat? Is our nose too big or our boobs too small? Shall we cover our grey hair or should we not?” We all struggle throughout life to make these decisions for ourselves and the question we’re always asking is: “Are we okay exactly the way we are?” So not only do I relate, or Ian or Bryan, but I think everyone relates because we’ve all asked ourselves these tough questions.
  • Mutants are all around us. They could be your neighbors. They could be your co-workers They could be related to you. Gifted with extraordinary powers, they are the next step on the evolutionary ladder. Some use their powers for good; some, for unspeakable evil. One group had dedicated its wondrous abilities to protect mankind, even those who hate and fear them. Known to the world at large as outlaws, they are the X-Men.
  • Only hours ago, it had seemed like just another ordinary day in the life of a kid whose world was falling apart. Her parents were splitting up, and Kitty Pryde herself was being plagued by a series of steadily worsening, skull crushing headaches.
She came home from dance class in time to be introduced to Emma Frost -- It was dislike at first sight.
Her reaction to the X-Men -- when Professor Xavier arrived to try to recruit her for his school for gifted youngsters -- was quite the opposite, Wolverine was spooky, Colossus a real hunk...
And she and Storm became instant friends.
  • If you wanted one book to summarize all that the X-Men is about in terms of character and conflict and theme, I’d have to say that –God Loves, Man Kills- was it. If you could only read one X-Men graphic novel start with that. Because for me the X-Men is not about super heroe’s and super villains it is about people, and how you deal with the challenge of life and the choices you have to make every day...That for me is why Magneto is so important. Xavier is spoke for. He already....he has made his choices. He is a hero. Magneto is a work in progress. He is not evil. He is defined by his past. But that definition drives him to disaster. The question for him is..is he the victim of his destiny or can he change it. Can he grow? I'm not sure, I'd like to think he can.
    • Chris Claremont Ages of the X-Men: Essays on the Children of the Atom in Changing Times, (July 6, 2011), p. 100.
  • The actual story line was that Xavier would die in issue #200...and that Magneto would become head of the school [pause] permanently.....But the idea, that goal was built from the death of Phoenix. The hope was to show that this is ... their lives as X-Men have a real risk. This isn't superhero games. This is reality. In reality good guys sometimes do not win and people die. And that has to be part of their lives otherwise it just becomes a video game ... life isn't like that. . And I always thought , my thought was the stories we tell in comics shouldn't be like that either. If there is risk for the reader, then the victory is that much sweeter. And you can, something can happen that can catch you by surprise and can have that much power and heart.
    • Chris Claremont Ages of the X-Men: Essays on the Children of the Atom in Changing Times, (July 6, 2011), p. 101
  • [X-Men] is a story about downtrodden, repressed people fighting to change their situation, which I think anybody can empathize with. […] The Jewish situation is the most obvious genocidal example in the human experience. Cambodia is probably the second. It’s something that all of us can relate to and that all of us should relate to.
  • The X-Men, created by Jewish American comics legends Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1963, is a team of mutants, a class of human being first introduced as people that “possess an extrapower…one which ordinary humans do not!!” (EUX1 #1: 8ii). Especially after the introduction of the mutant-hunting robot Sentinels in X-Men #14 (Nov. 1965, EUX1), Marvel Comics’ mutants have been increasingly inscribed with allegorical Otherness. They have been subject to many of the prejudices that have historically plagued marginalized minorities, including, among other things, forced and voluntary segregation, slurs, persecution, and genocidal campaigns, and, conspiracy theories about their aims as a group.
  • In our May 23 issue, Ami Eden argued that the opposing forces in the blockbuster film, “X2: X-Men United,” could be interpreted as metaphor for two radical theological responses to the Holocaust — one belonging to Rabbi Irving “Yitz” Greenberg, the other to the late Rabbi Meir Kahane. The good-guy mutants, Eden noted, are led by the wheelchair-bound Professor X (played by Patrick Stewart), a powerful psychic with an ideological — and physical — resemblance to Greenberg. Professor X remains dedicated to coexistence between mutants and non-mutants, while his nemesis and lifelong friend Erik Magnus Lehnsherr, aka Magneto (Ian McKellen), is convinced that a war between the two groups is inevitable. Apparently, the analogy was closer than we thought.
  • Ami Eden’s article was creative, insightful, clever and funny. I enjoyed and agreed with it even before he made me as handsome as Patrick Stewart. Readers might be interested to learn that the article cut much closer to the bone than even Eden may have realized.
    Like Professor X and Magneto, Meir Kahane and I started out as good friends. During our high school years we were classmates and joint performers in weekly skits that we often wrote together. We both sensed that Jewish history was undergoing one of its great transformations (although, I confess, I do not remember if we both had zeroed in on the significance of the Holocaust as fully as we were to do later). We debated frequently, often over the use of force by the Jewish underground in Palestine during the 1940s.
  • Q: How did you decide Wolverine would be the star of the piece even more so than Xavier or Magneto?
A: He is the fulcrum of X-Men. The earlier X-Men group was a brilliant creation of Stan Lee's, but when Len Wein created Wolverine and they brought him into the X-Men, it was the perfect fulcrum between Professor X's philosophy and Magneto's philosophy. The fact that the wasn't bound by either gave him such a wild, attractive freedom that it was obvious that was the character that the series needed to revolve around.
  • No matter what genres or gimmicks were tried sales kept contracting and contracting [...] Comics needed a miracle and it didn't look like anyone in charge was capable of producing one. Marvel President Arthur Landaus idea of a money making idea was this: create a team of international superheroes representing all the major foreign markets in which he would sell Marvel products.
    • Gerard Jones and Will Jacobs as quoted in Ages of the X-Men: Essays on the Children of the Atom in Changing Times, (July 6, 2011), p.39.
  • With Magneto, whose people were hounded and hunted and almost tortured, he had every right to feel, 'We're trying to help mankind, and they're making us outlaws, and they're persecuting us, we've got to strike back.
  • They were meant to emphasize the conflict between people who felt that we've got to all work together and find a way to get along, and people who feel, 'We're not treated well, therefore we're going to strike back with force!
  • I wanted to spotlight a group of innocent people who were feared and shunned and later hunted and persecuted. I wanted to show how anyone, no matter how blameless, can be victimized if the fates so decree.
  • One of the most significant features of the X-Men comic books is that difference is outward and inward, both voluntary and involuntary. By eluding easy classification, mutants resemble Jews. Looking like everyone else, yet perceived as different, they are easily misunderstood. They experience only provisional acceptance and a precarious sense of belonging. The language of those who persecute them is comparable to Nazi rhetoric against Jews.
  • Q: Why has the character of Magneto struck such a chord with audiences?
A: The demographic of our audience is young. It also contains a high proportion of black, Jewish and gay people, who have all been encouraged by society to think of themselves as oddities or mutants. I hope that’s why X-Men chimes with them – it’s certainly why I was attracted to the idea in the first place.
  • As the X-Men flourished and branched out into other titles, the same things occurred. Non-European characters were introduced but then were either Europeanized or written out of the series. The first spin-off, The New Mutants, is a prime example. Of the five original members, three were non Europeans: Karma, a Viernamese refugee; Mirage, a Cheyenne, and Sunspot, a black Brazilian. But once again, the title became more European. Karma disappears during a mission (she later reappears but again is written out), Mirage is Europeanized when the team travels to Asgard and she is made a Valkyrie. Sunspot, though himself black, has a white American mother. Later additions to the X-Men are no better. Forge is also Cheyenne but he is likewise a cyborg and works, at least initially, as a weapons designer for the US Government. Jubilee, a young girl, is supposedly Asian American, but she is so immersed in American mall culture and drawn as a Caucasian, that is surprised many to find out about her Asian roots.
  • The X-Men, through bonding of their supposedly multi-cultural characters, is a reinforcement of the myth of the melting pot. These characters give up parts of their individual ethnic traits, converting to the more Eurocentric ideals of American society. Those who cannot let go of their ethnicity have no place on the team.
    • Ibid, p. 288.
  • The X-men are frequently referred to as the “next step” in human evolution (X-Men: First Class 2011; Gresh and Weinberg 2002, 133). According to Darwin, in order for evolution to occur, an individual must exhibit a variation that makes it better suited to its environment and then that variation must be selected for and passed down to future generations. When that variation has accumulated throughout the species, the species is considered to have evolved. Playing by Darwin’s rules, then, in order for the X-men to be the “next step” in human evolution, they must have a variation, that variation must prove useful in their environment, and that variation must be passed down to offspring. The genetic variation that the X-men have is called the x-gene; presumably the same gene, shared among the X-men but not among normal humans. There are huge problems with this, not the least of which is that an identical gene has appeared simultaneously in individuals who otherwise share very few genes. Furthermore, while Richard Dawkins, celebrated author of The Selfish Gene and authority on genetics, talks at length in about genes for various physical traits and sets of genes for various behaviors, he never once in his body of work mentions the possibility of a gene that has the same protein structure in each individual, but manifests itself in each individual in a radically different way. There is a gene for blue eyes and a gene for brown eyes, but the blue-eye gene will never produce brown eyes. Yet the x-gene is capable of producing invisibility, scales, telepathy, and wings, all with the same protein structure. Even epigenetics, which can account for different physiological manifestations of the same genetic code, cannot produce such a wide variety of traits.
  • Assuming that the X-Men survive long enough to reproduce and care for offspring, very few potential mates are going to be willing to take the genetic risk of mating and producing offspring with them. The comics themselves support this, when the XMen are ostracized from society as “dangerous.” Thus, the X-Men cannot possibly be the next stage of human evolution because their adaptations are neither advantageous, nor likely to be passed down to future generations. However, we buy into the notion that the X-Men are the logical progression of our species because they conform to our notions of evolution as something that follows a progression from simple-structured and simple-minded to physical and mental complexity. Because the variations that the X-Men exhibit are flashy, complex, and, very often, associated with some mystical higher functioning of the brain (such as Xavier’s telepathy and Magneto’s ability to move metal with his mind), they are embraced as the next phase, regardless of environmental pressures or sexual selection. This is where, once again, the idea of a pre-designed evolutionary blueprint for each species comes into play. By discounting factors that influence natural selection, the X-Men comics are presenting a version of “evolution” that is not dependent on natural selection. Rather, evolution will continue creating creatures that are more and more complicated, with more and more interesting brains, because that is the natural trajectory for evolution to follow. Factors such as what is advantageous in their environment or the number of offspring they are able to rear to reproductive capacity are disregarded.
    • Ibid, pp. 9-10.
  • Female comic book characters are often treated as secondary to the main male character whom they assist in their current endeavour. They are often transformed into the Other, objects acted upon by the male character for his own ends through sub-par plot writing, as evidenced by such tropes as the ‘damsel-in-distress’. There have been a few characters treated as active subjects capable of continued growth. X-Men featured both Kitty Pryde and Jubilee as young female characters with complex emotions and desires. Kitty’s desire to be treated as an adult is blatantly expressive of Levinas’ concept of recognition. Their costumes, while occasionally sexualized, are overall more expected with elements that can be loose fitting and functional over showing off their sexuality. The interesting problem is that both of these characters are very young; teenagers in fact. By placing them below the legal and moral age of consent, the publishers essentially free themselves from the expectation of sexualizing them for their readers. They fit into an Otherness that shields them in a way similar to Haraway’s cyborg.
  • ...the idea of a revived "international" X-Men was my idea in 1974, after the company's president, Al Landau, suggested that it would be good to create a group of heroes from different countries we sold comic[s] to. I put writer Mike Fredrich and artist Dave Cockrum on it, with instructions to use a few old X-Men and create a few new ones, and left them to it. I quit the editor-in-chief job not long afterward, so had no further connection with it [...]
    • Thomas Roy, "Re: Follow Up Question." Message to Joseph Darowski.31 October 2013, E-Mail. Ages of the X-Men: Essays on the Children of the Atom in Changing Times, (July 6, 2011), p. 44.
  • I always wanted to get involved in science fiction fantasy, and the notion that Professor Xavier was Martin Luther King and Magneto was Malcolm X, and these were two men who had very strong, decent beliefs, but had taken different roads. And the irony of that, and the moral ambiguity of that, intrigued me. It was a step beyond simple crime-solving, superhero action. It was much more socio-political, and in that way exposed more truth.
  • You look at the X-Men movies and it's an allegory for what it's like to be gay, like, if you take the word mutant out of that movie and stick gay in, the movie still works.
    • Kevin Smith, A Complete History of American Comic Books by Shirrel Rhoades p. 66.

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