X-MEN: APOCALYPSE comes out this week, and, whether by design or accident, brings us a step closer to the All-Asian-Women X-Men team that, to my knowledge, has never happened before, even in the comics (there have been a few all-female-X-teams). Ironically, this is a progressive casting leap developed in the X-Cinematic-Universe, moreso than in the source material. I think it’s all part of….a secret master plan, bwahahaha. Check it out:
Psylocke (Olivia Munn) debuts in X-MEN: APOCALYPSE, an event that a lot of X-Fans have been waiting for for a long time, because comics fans and cosplayers sure love their Psylocke.
Jubilee (Lana Condor) also makes her first appearance in the multiplex, and although it’s reported neither of these X-Sisters have a lot of screen time, Jubilee hosts this pitch-perfect ’80’s re-creation ad for Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters.
Blink (Fan Bingbing) was not Asian in the comics, but was played by Fan Bingbing in X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST. And, at the risk of being racially preferential, it was an absolutely welcome diversion from the norm, and Blink was the best part of that otherwise underwhelming flick.
Lady Deathstrike (Kelly Hu) was perhaps slain by Wolverine in X2: X-MEN UNITED, but we all know how much death means to an X-Person. X-People die and come back to life more often than you or I do a load of laundry.
Yukio (Rila Fukushima) was in that THE WOLVERINE film sort of, but comics fans were hoping she’d ditch the Japanese formal dress in favor of a punk buzz cut and the little pointy shurikens. In Wolverine-land, she does quite a bit of ass-kicking, although she is not a mutant per se.
Now here’s the part where we get into the HYPOTHETICALLY BRILLIANT RACEBENDING CASTING for AAPI-X-WOMEN: THE HEROIC TRIO x2 (that’s a multi-referential mashup working title that no one will ever be proud of me for coming up with).
Mystique can be played by anyone, because she’s a shapeshifter. Jennifer Lawrence might or might not be returning for more X-Men franchise. But there’s no continuity-related reason why Mystique’s default form can’t be, say, Constance Wu. I mean, it’s much more likely than Constance taking over that other gigantic franchise that J-Law stars in.
I’ve seen a lot of different X-Men teams over the years, and to me this is a pretty strong lineup. They’ve got a Psychic One, Energy-Explosion One, Clever Teleporter One, Adamantium Blade One, Infiltrate-y Shapechanging One, and a Non-Powered-Ninja One. And if they use the opportunity of this still-completely-imaginary-blockbuster to introduce Armor/Hisako Ichiki, they’ll have Strong-Bashes-People-In-Face One too.
Need a villain? Omega Sentinel is an overpowered death-cyborg who also happens to be an Indian woman. (Obviously, that conflict could get a little political in an East Asian vs. South Asian sense, so, I’m not married to the idea.) In the canon tho, Omega Sentinel/Karima Shapandar’s story is very much a Darth Vader arc, an ostensibly “good” person corrupted by insidious influences with advanced weapons technology — point being, she can end up joining the team after they all sit down, have a nice talk, and validate each other’s experiences.
I’ve done some complaining about Fox’s X-MEN films in the past, but I applaud whenever they honor the X-Men’s tradition of fielding a mutant squad that represents the world’s diversity in race/gender/national origin. In this aspect, they are far ahead of the Avengers films, surprisingly so. And by the way, just so you don’t think I’m on the crazy pill, there is some precedent for a successful American film featuring an ensemble cast of Asian women.