The X-Men, Storm and civil rights arguments
L.A. Williams and Ronald Nelson | 6/9/2016, 3:05 p.m.
Ronald R. Nelson: Inspired by the new movie “X-Men: Apocalypse,” we wanted to share some thoughts on one of the featured characters, Storm. The X-Men are a team of mutant heroes whose primary function is to help establish peace between humans and mutants. Mutants are a subspecies of humans who are born with superhuman abilities.
L.A. Williams: Marvel Comics’ X-Men debuted in comics in 1963, followed by a Saturday morning cartoon show in 1992 and a plethora of X-Men related live-action movies and other formats soon after that. Storm is one of the few Black characters in the X-Men, but the X-Men have always resonated with Black audiences. I believe it’s because in the X-Men mythos, “mutants” basically represent minorities and undergo most of the struggles in their fictional world that real-life minorities undergo in the real world. As such, the schism among the mutants in the X-Men movies is largely based on some of the same schism in the Civil Rights Movement. The X-Men’s primary antagonist is Magneto, who represents separatism. (Think UNIA, the Nation of Islam and younger Malcolm X.) His thinking is the majority will never accept the minority and will exploit and eventually exterminate minorities. The majority will do so because of their hatred and envy. So minorities must either completely separate from the majority or turn the tide, seize power and rule the majority. The X-Men are led by Professor Charles Xavier. His premise? Faith and love. People fear what they don’t understand, what they perceive as different and what they feel threatened by. But people are basically good. So the best way to keep mutants safe is show the majority (humans) how much mutants and humans have in common.
In comic, cartoon and movie versions of the X-Men, there are always different generations of the team over the decades. In the film “X-Men: First Class,” we saw the first generation of X-Men from 1962. In “X-Men,” “X2” and “X-Men: Last Stand,” we saw a later generation of the team.
RRN: Storm is from the second generation of X-Men that includes the now well-known Wolverine, Colossus and Nightcrawler. That team was introduced in the comic book, “Giant Size X-Men #1” (May 1975).
LAW: Storm is literally African-American. Her father is from Harlem, and her mother is from Kenya. Storm was born in Harlem but spent the majority of her formative years in Kenya and traveling throughout the Motherland.
RRN: In the newest flick, she’ll be one of the fabled horsemen of the main antagonist, Apocalypse. Apocalypse is the first mutant to exist and arguably the most powerful mutant ever. He was an excellent choice as a villain for this film because this dude is a serious badass. It’ll be interesting to see how they approach Storm’s role in this film, considering that everyone has seen her on the side of the X-men in previous installments. Storm, played by Alexandra Shipp in this film, is presented as a younger version of herself, which leads me to believe that this story takes place in the past since she already appeared as the older version of herself—played by Halle Berry—in previous X-Men films. However, since movie adaptations of comic stories don’t always follow the story to the letter, I’m left to wait until I see the film.