As I mentioned in the entry just below this one, my wife, younger son and I saw the new X Men movie on Friday night at a packed theater in Silver Spring, Md. We’d been planning this for awhile, but an obstacle to my attendance arose earlier in the week when the son in question (he’s 11) told my wife that he had “a very strong opinion” that I should not be allowed to see X Men III until I had seen X Men I and II, or at least I.
So, for the sake of family unity, I spent a few hours in front of the TV viewing the earlier installments, and, to my surprise, I liked them. I was actually eager to get to the theater on Friday night.
I don’t want to give too much away, but let me give a quick summary for those of you who know as little about the X Men as I did a week ago. The X Men are mutants–good mutants. There are also bad mutants–bent on world domination, or course. In this installment, the non-mutant world discovers a “cure” for mutancy, thus confronting the mutants with a choice about whether to take the cure or not. The non-mutant world also has a choice: does it simply offer the cure, or does it impose it?
Some of the mutants are glad to get rid of whatever special characteristics their mutancy gave them. Some are unwilling to sacrifice what they regard as the essence of their identity. If you’ve followed the controversy over homosexuality in our Church, the parallels here are obvious.
For further ethical reflection, there is also a subplot involving a mutant whose powers are so great she may not be able to control them. Should she be liberated to do with her powers as she pleases? Should she be controlled so that her powers can be managed? Or does she present such a great threat to the world that she must be killed?
I am not a fan of special-effect-heavy set-piece battles, but the one that ends this film is a doozy. My favorite scene, though, is a brief, heartbreaking moment toward the beginning of the movie when a young boy is locked in the family bathroom trying to scrape away the physical symptoms of his mutancy. The look of desperation on his face as he struggles against these changes in his body will put you in mind of every adolescent you’ve ever known who suddenly felt betrayed by their bodies–including yourself.