The DARK PHOENIX film premieres this week, representing the second cinematic version of, arguably, the most important story arc in the history of the X-Comics. But in the real world, Donny Trump, astonishingly, is still our President. (Fair warning, this post is purposefully premised on a non sequitur, but there’ll also be pretty art from John Byrne, Paul Smith and the other Marvel illustrators who helped make you like the X-Men in the first place! Impeach Trump immediately.)
As a lifelong X-Men fan, my qualms about the movies are many, but I watch ’em anyway! LOGAN comes closest to being an actual “great movie,” the DEADPOOLs are entertaining and coherent in their conviction to do the X-Men in a Deadpooly way, and even the very worst Ratner-directed one has that one real cool part with Ellen Page (a superb actor who over-delivers AF in every role she takes) charging into the building to rescue the kid from the Juggernaut. There are no similar X-ceptions in the Trump administration, which has no non-terrible parts, and needs to be dismantled ASAP, tomorrow, bub.
As Deadpool reminds us in DEADPOOL 2, the Marvel mutants are a “dated metaphor for racism in the ‘60s.” Dated because, at a point, it’s not useful to compare real-life POC experience with the fictional X-People, because the racial injustices of America will not be solved by healing factors or laser eyes. Y’know what else is dated, just a little bit? The Electoral College, which got us into this mess, and the United States Senate, which would decide on removal of an impeached president. Really, we have to deal with this guy because 20 Red State senators won’t grow a soul? And Nancy Pelosi keeps telling this deeply-divided country she’s afeard that impeachment will divide the country? Huh? If Pelosi were Empress Lilandra (the character we all hope Jessica Chastain turns out to be in the DARK PHOENIX movie) she might be more inclined to act decisively, because planetary threats are planetary threats. I’m not saying that our country should be run like the Sh’iar Empire, because we’re ostensibly a constitutional democracy. In our case it’s the Constitution, not Lilandra, which rather clearly demands that we have to impeach and remove Trump.
America’s racial divides won’t be solved by the X-Men nor by impeaching Donny Trump; but hey, it couldn’t HURT race relations in America if we made it Priority One to remove the most obviously racist administration in recent history. ‘Cause man, they are really, really racist. If anyone’s mutant power was just being superhumanly racist, that’d be Donny’s power. And that’s why this truly is a job for the X-Men, in their persona as the dissidents, the marginalized, the sometimes-radical-X-tremists. It’s just too bad, the pervading problem that the X-Men aren’t real; because Mystique and Psylocke could team up and solve this problem within a week.
The excellent X-Men story arc “Days Of Future Past” became a mediocre movie called X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST which made one interesting mod on the source material by emphasizing Mystique as the rebel/radical anarchist/mutant-folk-hero. Ironically, Mystique’s shapeshifting power, while not very suited for combat, would be terribly effective for solving our current dilemma. Mystique has impersonated U.S. Congresspeople and government officials a whole buncha times. Traditionally, the story is framed as: “Villain” mutant (Mystique) uses her powers of infiltration to violate our rules and norms, “Hero” mutants (Cyclops, Jean Grey, etc) have to stop her because, well, they’re a bunch of goody-goodies who don’t go in for the Totes Punk Rock move of deep-faking elected officials, even in service of the absolutely necessary goal of removing Trump.
But as the X-Men movies are currently conceived, Mystique is the hero — not for any great artistic reason, more an accident of Bryan Singer’s crush on the character and ’cause younger Jennifer Lawrence signed on to play Mystique “X” number of times sometime before she became super-famous as an Oscar-winner and Katniss. The X-MEN films have had a weird casting scorecard: they legit created one megastar in Hugh Jackman, they often mess up by miscasting an actor with too much cred for the supporting role, (Halle Berry, Alan Cumming), they mainly mess up by casting the wrong people entirely (all the Cyclopses), and occasionally luck out ‘cos the spectre of perfectly-cast Patrick Stewart’s dome holds it all together, as J-Law just keeps getting famouser and famouser (even though, in another sad irony, Mystique is the character who can be played by literally ANY PHYSICAL TYPE, yet they insist that she must always be a statuesque white gal in an obnoxious amount of blue scaly makeup; I mean, whatever you’re into, man). And so we end up with the awkward situation of Mystique still standing as the Alpha cinematic X-Person, which would be fine except that the pathos of Dark Phoenix really lives or dies on Jean and Scott’s love story, with Logan as the operatically bloody apex of the love triangle. And btw, Mystique’s skillset would be as functionally useless against Dark Phoenix (the ultimate telepath) as it would be really, really useful for removing Trump.
Optimistically, we can hope for a lot from the DARK PHOENIX film, and almost certainly will be disappointed (this is entirely analogous to the state of play around the necessary-yet-unlikely impeachment of Donny). The most compelling case I can offer is better shown than written, because it’s all there in these pages/panels from the comics:
(I’ll be pretty sad if none of those cool Imperial Guard costumes are in the film, not as sad as I’ll be if Nadler doesn’t act right and start impeaching Trump.)
Remember that more recent one where Logan and Jean got stuck on a space station that was falling into the sun? And Logan has to make the terrible gory choice he always has to make? It’s a much harder choice than the United States Congress faces. #ImpeachNow
See, despite Deadpool throwing meta-shade, the X-Men are going to ride that marginalized-community metaphor ‘til the end, as they should, because it gives them a space to do things the Avengers wouldn’t do. Like the Avengers, the X-Men have a recurring anti-team of enemies who rather conspicuously put the word “Evil” in their title; for the Avengers, it’s the Masters of Evil, for the X-Men, it’s the Brotherhood of “Evil” Mutants, traditionally led by either Magneto or Mystique. The X-Men films, to their credit, have tried harder than the Avengers films to stage the super-team vs. super-EVIL-team scene which we all wanna see done well in MCU Phase 4, provided we live so long.
As the national embarrassment plunges us deeper into a meaningless Matrix of reality-TV-tropes and tweetstorms, all meant to distract us from the bloody human cost of having this dude as president, another meta-analogy emerges which is not at all funny nor cool: There is a Brotherhood of Evil, which exists, un-ironically, to Make Evil Great Again (#MEGA, if I may). Trump, Pence, Miller, Lloyd, Bannon (dismissed, but still curiously not imprisoned in a hard-labor camp), Stone, Acosta, Ross, DeVos, Mnuchin, Kushner. All these scumbags gotta go, ASAP, no matter how politically unwieldy it seems to the establishment.
Like DARK PHOENIX, we’ve both seen and not seen this movie before, so we have an idea how it ends, we’re just not sure exactly how terribly it ends. But as Ellen Page reminds us, even in the worst of movies, there can be a little sliver of an idea which enables you to face the formidability of the obstacle and seemingly-unstoppable nature of the threat, and ask yourself the pertinent question: What would Kitty Pryde do?
For starters, she’d walk through the wall. #ImpeachTrump