Odd replies to responses to X-Men 3

My review yesterday was focussed on my own thoughts after coming out of the cinema. Today I want to specifically reply to one or two points raised by some of the other bloggers I linked to then.

Many people have noted links between mutants and gay people, mutants and the Jewish, etc. I’ve done so myself previously. Jim Roeg had a problem with how it was handled in X-Men 3; Mark Fisher thought it was done well. I didn’t mention it yesterday because I think that we all put too much freight in the metaphor. But on further reflection I think the problem is we cast the links as metaphors, when (following Marc Singer’s brilliant post) they might be more fruitfully thought of as metonyms: mutants don’t symbolise difference, they are different.

Looked at this in this way, there’s no need to worry about what the mutant cure logically equates to if mutation equals being gay. Mutants have some problems like those faced by gay people/plur; some like those faced by the black-skinned; some like the Jewish; some like pubescent teenagers; some like pregnant women seeking abortions. But their problems are not the coded problems of those groups. (This also solves the problem of how to regard Rogue’s power in even the Bryan Singer movies.)

Secondly, I’ve got to disagree with all this invocation of Jar Jar Binks as a negative image—even by people who liked X-Men 3 (note the spelling of his name, Thomas). :-)

Thirdly, I’ve got to disagree with anyone who thought the special effects or costumes weren’t up to scratch—even by people who liked X-Men 3. I question Thomas: I thought Beast looked great. You know, there’s no movie with effects of any ambition that couldn’t be picked on. Whether one thinks things look fake or absurd or not is mainly a matter of taste and willingness to suspend belief, I think.

Fourthly, the chess piece did move.

Finally, the microcosmic scene of the film, for me, was Juggernaut chasing Kitty through Alcatraz. Kitty here is an exemplary member of the X-Men, passing through mundane concerns until she is forced to consider them by another mutant. Meanwhile Juggernaut is a fine soldier of Magneto, all about breaking down perceived barriers destructively. Both revel in their powers. Both are uncanny. The dark side of humanity: “Don’t you know who I am? I’m the Juggernaut, bitch. I’m not the kind of guy to play hide and seek with.” The surprising and delightful response: “Who’s hiding, dickhead?”—followed by an imaginative trick. (A squeal of feedback as X-Men inspires Buffy inspires X-Men.)

5 thoughts on “Odd replies to responses to X-Men 3

  1. It’s not a “Thomas” post unless it includes as least a few MAJOR typos that totally undermine any attempt on my part to appear intelligent! If spelling Mr. Binks’ name wrong was my worst mistake on this one, I’m getting off easy!

    I’ve enjoyed your X3 comments immensely. I totally agree that “whether one thinks things look fake or absurd or not is mainly a matter of taste and willingness to suspend belief.” In fact, I think that the Beast was there to remind us of just that!

    Singer really, really wanted us to believe that Nightcrawler was REAL. Whether or not we thought the Beast looked real was just not a concern of Ratner’s. As I argued in my post at DA, this film wasn’t about realism. I think the disdain that someone like Jim Roeg feels towards the Beast stems directly from this misinterpretation of the filmmakers intentions. Jim saw the Beast and thought, “Singer would NEVER put that on the screen. It doesn’t look real. How awful!” I saw the Beast and thought, “Singer would NEVER put that on the screen. It doesn’t look real. How interesting!”

    Am I right to think that you would agree with me that the Beast didn’t feel “real” in the same way that Nightcrawler did, and that this non-realism was definately not a bad thing? Back me up here, man! I need all the help I can get in this cage match with Roeg. Using my surrealist karate, I beat him into the corner and managed to convince him to reconcider seeing the movie again, but that dude has got regenerative powers! I’m sure he’s going to stand back up and give me the smack down any minute now!

  2. Actually, no, I didn’t really feel Hank was any less “real” than Kurt. But teleportation, magnetic mastery, and all the powers already move to a different tune than realism. I think that X3 plays that tune louder than X2, but to me it’s a difference in degree rather than kind. I don’t think they’re surreal or like a dream (Marshall McLuhan: “when they are initially proposed, new systems of knowledge do not look like improvements and innovations. They look like chaos”), but I do think they’re similar to superhero comics. Now the original movie, on the other hand, doesn’t break free of the realist shackles that hold back most superhero movies.

    Perhaps we can form a coalition—our multiplicity of reasons for liking the film will persuade Jim!

  3. What’s this? A coalition of evil mutants conspiring to make me like X3? Stop it, both of you!

    I should probably come clean though and admit that I didn’t HATE X3 as much as my review implied (there were many wonderful scenes, including the Juggernaut/Kitty Pryde chase – great reading of this btw; Magneto’s symphonic “conducting” of the trucks on the highway; Jean and Logan in the lab; etc.). Now that I’ve been schooled on the moving chess-piece, moreoever, I can see that even if one does stubbornly resist the Zizek/metonymy defense, it must be admitted that the film’s allegorical level is not quite as objectionable as I originally thought.

    I was dazzled by your defense of X3 in that previous post, David, and also by Thomas’s. I wish I could see the same film you both do! But the ultimate stumbling-block for me on a film like this is a personal aesthetic preference that clearly isn’t generalizable; and as you say, David, “Whether one thinks things look fake or absurd or not is mainly a matter of taste and willingness to suspend belief.” Thomas nails it when he says, “Jim saw the Beast and thought, ‘Singer would NEVER put that on the screen. It doesn’t look real. How awful!’” Exactly! Perhaps even more than most, I’m an absolute fascist when it comes to superhero film aesthetics and I’m not generous about my willingness to extend disbelief. So even though I can appreciate the intellectual arguments that would expain the Beast (or Jar Jar) thematically or aesthetically, if I don’t feel it, I just don’t feel it. IMHO, X2 was about as perfect a superhero film as I think I’ve ever seen, if only for the banal reason that Bryan Singer’s tastes luckily (for me) coincided pretty well with my own.

    Nonetheless, I will go see X3 again at some point with all of these discussions in mind. Sorry to rehash my response at such length!

  4. Don’t worry, I’m not searching for a cure for you! :)

    I believe that people never explain why they like something, merely justify it. Who knows why we like anything? I’m sure there’s a dense web of reasons and non-reasons beyond ready grasp. But our justifications can affect that web, so review we must!

    I always enjoy your posts even when I disagree with you, or (more usually) just haven’t read what you’re writing about.

  5. Two other metaphors I haven’t seen mentioned:

    Christians: If you believe the Bible, some Christians have super-powers such as being able to preach in any language, or heal the sick. Such powers are called “talents”, and are God given and not to be denied — obvious parallels to X-Men 3.

    The autistic: The obvious one, so much so that I’d call this not a metaphor but a simple exagerration. The autistic have super-powers such as super-memory, super-drawing ability, super-calendar powers, super-logical reasoning abilities, etc etc. Some fear being “cured”, others desperately want to be normal — straightforward parallel to X-Men 3. Curing autism is a genuinely gray area in a way that racism or homophobia isn’t.

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