Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige’s recent announcement that a deal between Fox and Marvel that would allow Marvel’s merry mutants to be included in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has left some fans with a feeling of disappointment. For a lot of fans, seeing the X-Men rights return to Marvel has been a rallying cry pretty much since Marvel began financing their own movies with 2008’s “Iron Man.” Including the X-Men Marvel’s shared cinamatic universe, however, would be a move that would irrevocably damage everything the X-Men are.
There seems to be a push these days in the entertainment world to shoehorn diversity into every major property there is. Whether it’s producing an all-female Ghostbusters reboot, racially bending popular characters, or retconning other characters to be part of the LGBT community. Heaven forbid fans take issue with this, lest they be branded racist, misogynistic homophobes.
There is usually only one reason used to justify the forced diversity in modern popular entertainment: inclusivity. Everyone should be able to have popular characters they can identify with in our culture. I don’t necessarily disagree with this sentiment, although I whole-heartedly disagree with how it’s being implemented.
The goal in a truly inclusive society shouldn’t be to define people by their race, religion, sexual orientation or gender. That’s taking us backward, not forward. Black men, Muslim men, Asian men, white men; in the end we’re all just men. The same thing goes for women, and beyond that we’re all just humans. There are plenty of things to identify with about certain characters and accidental facts of birth shouldn’t be among them. This is exactly why the X-Men have resonated with audiences for over 50 years, and why they don’t belong in the company of Marvel’s other superheroes.
The X-Men are something that almost everyone – at some point in time – can identify with: they’re outcasts. They’re set apart from the rest of society, and most of that society fears and hates them.
The X-Men were originally created as an allegory for the civil rights movement of the 1960s, but they’ve grown far beyond that. They have beome an allegory for anyone who doesn’t feel like they belong or that the world is against them. This is core to what the X-Men are, and in all honesty it’s what the world needs them to be.
The X-Men – and mutants in general – shouldn’t exist in a world with non-mutant superbeings. When you do that, you destroy that core component that is so important not just to the property, but to the audience as well. With the X-Men, diversity doesn’t need to be shoehorned in because it’s already inherent in the material.
In the 1960s, the X-Men worked as a civil rights allegory. When Bryan Singer – a filmmaker who happens to be homosexual – was making the first X-Men movie he saw the material as an allegory for homosexuality and it works for that too. Any social outcast class you can think of, the X-Men work as a surrogate for that class. Muslims who feel the world is against them because of who they are, or blame them for the actions of the radical minority? Check! In fact, Magneto and his band of mutant terrorists seem almost taylor-made to stand in for that group, no?
Bringing the X-Men into a world with non-mutant superbeings destroys all of that and makes the property bland and uninteresting. Why would the world fear and hate a superbeing who was born with their powers but be totally cool with superbeings who got their powers from cosmic radiation or gamma exposure or a radioactive spider bite? It just doesn’t work the same.
The X-Men also show us that harmony is not only possible, but it’s natural. None of the X-Men care that Professor X is crippled, or that Storm and Bishop are black, or that Nightcrawler is a Christian. Most of the time, these things aren’t even mentioned because they aren’t the tings that define the characters. All that matters is that they are all muatant brothers and sisters and they find solidarity in that. Sure, we as human beings may not all be the same, but we are the same in all the ways that should count. We’re all human beings, and the X-Men show us how to find solidarity in that.
Fans want to see Wolverine join the Avengers or Storm marry off to Black Panther in Wakanda, but is that really worth destroying everything good the X-Men represent? Honestly, I don’t think it is.