X-Men: First Class

x-men first class

X-Men: First Class
Rating: PG-13
Released: 2011
Run Time: 132 minutes
Directed By: Matthew Vaughn

Cultural ratingpawpaw

This film addresses notions of Othering and also sends the positive message that a person shouldn’t change who they are just to “fit in” to society.

Summary

A group of misfit mutants band together to stop a villain from causing war and taking over the world.


 Ratings

Language: poopoopoo

  • Demeaning and threatening language- “pathetic,” “freaks,” “hell,” “damn,” “fuck,” “stupid,” “old fart,” “bastards” “ass,” “I would love to kill you,” “goddamn,” “bozo,” “crackpot,” “badass,” “crazy”
  • Language that relates to genocide

Violence: poopoopoopoo

  • Visible weapons- grenade, gun, missiles, surgical supplies (knives, saws, pliers)
  • A character gets stabbed in the hand
  • Erik’s mother is shot and killed- some gore
  • Explosions
  • Ship destruction, crashing ships
  • Drawing of blood
  • Threat of nuclear war
  • General combat fighting
  • Warlike scenery
  • Gore
  • Strangulation
  • Natural disaster violence
  • A coin is forced through a character’s head
  • A filling is forcefully removed from a character’s mouth
  • Destruction of property
  • Charles is shot in the back and paralyzed as a result

Sex: poopoo

  • Kissing
  • Scantily clad strippers
  • “Big foot” sexual innuendo
  • Female character wears skintight suit
  • Sexual groping of a female mannequin

Drugs and Alcohol: poopoo

  • Visible alcohol and alcohol consumption
  • Bar scene- brandy is ordered
  • Champagne is mentioned
  • Reference to “smoking funny cigarettes”
  • Beer, beer bong
  • Cigars

Cultural Analysis

 Pros:

Gender

  • Moira is depicted as active and as a skilled CIA agent. This is especially important because the film takes place in 1962 when many women were encouraged to stay at home.
  • Mystique is depicted as active as she lifts weights, which is considered a traditionally masculine activity.
  • Frost is also depicted as active and as a skilled fighter. She also helps run a submarine and assists Sebastian Shaw in battling their enemies.
  • Erik challenges traditional gender stereotypes regarding masculinity because he is willing to see beauty in different ways. For example, Raven does not feel beautiful as her “natural” self (a blue mutant), but Erik tells her she is beautiful as the “real” Raven.

Race

  • Minor characters of color are included in the film.
  • In the film, the mutants are depicted as Other as a result of their physical appearance and superhuman abilities. For example, Raven has blue skin and yellow eyes and Charles is a telepath. These signifiers are depicted as abnormal and are Othered as a result. The film attempts to show that this Othering can result in prejudice and discrimination (violence and even death).
  • As the film progresses, the mutants learn to celebrate their mutation rather than hide it.
  • The brutality of WWII and the Holocaust are briefly addressed in the beginning of the film. During this time people who were Jewish, in addition to a number of other cultural identities, were considered Other by the Nazis.

 Sexual Orientation– N/A

Disability

  • Towards the end of the film, Charles becomes a person with a disability (is paralyzed and uses a wheelchair) as the result of a heroic action. Further, Charles is not depicted as immoral after the incident, which challenges dominant media narratives regarding disability.

Body

  • At the beginning of the film, Raven is uncomfortable with her body because it is considered “abnormal.” By the end of the film, Raven is more comfortable with her body due to Erik’s encouragement.
  • Raven finds Hank attractive even though he is a mutant and does not conform to traditional masculinity.
  • At Charles’ encouragement, all of the mutants learn to accept and celebrate their bodies.

Cons:

Gender

  • The male gaze is present in the film. For example, a man focuses his binoculars on strippers’ breasts and buttocks.
  • Frost uses her body to manipulate men and is referred to as an “exquisite thing” (objectifying). Also, Sebastian orders Frost to go get ice like a “good girl” (infantilizing).
  • Moira is not taken seriously by her male CIA peers because she is a woman.
  • At one point Raven says, “Guys are stupid.” Although Raven says this to make another character feel better, it is problematic to assign a characteristic to a singular cultural identity.

Race

  • The majority of people of color in the film either die or are depicted as evil. This is problematic because it negates any way to include a character of color who is positive. Additionally, this reinforces the stereotype of the deviant Other. Further, Riptide, who appears to be of color, does not speak in the film and is depicted as evil.

Sexual Orientation

Disability- N/A

Body

  • Once Hank injects himself with “normalizing serum” and is more hegemonically masculine (rage, large body), the rest of the mutants accept him.
  • Because Raven does not adhere to the ideal female body type, males in the film tell her to cover her body.
  • Angel, who is a mutant with wings, appears to have tattoos when her wings are not in use. During the film, Angel joins Sebastian and his villains. This is problematic because people with tattoos are often depicted as deviant.
  • Most bodies, including mutant bodies, conform to body ideals for males and females. For example, even though Raven is blue, she is still thin and busty.

 

Suggested talking points

  • Angel, one of the mutants, says that she would rather have men look at her (male gaze) than feel like a “freak.” Even though both gazes are dehumanizing, she would rather be looked at as “desirable” (objectified) than undesirable (completely Othered).
  • In the beginning of the film the mutants desire to be “normal.” However, by the end of the film, they learn to be proud of their differences.
  • The film attempts to show the consequences of Othering. One consequence of Othering is the person who is Othered might feel ugly or inferior. Another consequence of Othering by the dominant group can result in prejudice and discrimination of the Other. Oftentimes Othering occurs because the dominant group is fearful of the Other.
  • A theme in the film is that acts of revenge can have detrimental consequences.

 Image: Amazon.com

Keywords: x-men, xmen, x-men: first class, 3 paws, gender, body, other, action, adventure, three paws, movie review, teen, family,

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