WARNING: If you have not yet seen X-Men: First Class, this blog will be chock full of SPOILER. If you are the kind that cares about that sort of thing, then don’t come crying to me if you click on the break below and I ruin some sort of suspense for you or something.
Now first off, let me just say that I really did enjoy the movie. Sure, it took liberties with time and space in terms of what X-characters existed when and what they were up to, but anyone complaining that it was no good because it went against the “continuity” of the comics is making a laughable argument. The last time the X-people had any sort of coherent continuity was in the 1980s, and by the end of the 90s it was such a hopeless shambles that any new X-book starting up pretty much just felt free to do whatever the fuck, whenever the fuck, with whoever the fuck, however the fuck they wanted to do it.
Point being, again, if your complaint is the continuity, I laugh at you. If you have complaints about how some characters were portrayed, okay, I’ll understand that, I’ve had my share of disagreements along those lines, but the core of the movie is Professor X and Magneto, and for me the two of them were presented perfectly. With one glaring exception.
Some writers have portrayed Charles Xavier as freer with his power than others, but the freer Xavier gets, the scarier and creepier he gets, even if he has the best of intentions: the man is in ur head, controllin ur thoughts, and its hard to make that out as the actions of a hero. Xavier always struck me as one of those characters that, like Superman, really needs self-imposed restraint to work as anything but a villain, because otherwise it would be real easy for him to take over the world. Even the vaunted thought-proofing helmet which Magneto wears in the films doesn’t necessarily help you if Xavier, at least with the aid of Cerebro, can theoretically throw the remainder of the goddamn world at you as his sacrificial pawns. Who cares if his legs are crippled, he’s got 5 billion potential boots to kick the shit out of you with.
No, Xavier is a guy who needs to operate by a strict moral code. And for the most part, First Class does a good job in portraying this. Again, with just one small, niggling problem…
He is a full accomplice in helping Magneto murder a helpless Sebastian Shaw in cold blood.
Yes, I know he couldn’t stop Erik because Erik was now wearing the magic helmet that blocks all of Charles’s powers. You know who wasn’t wearing that helmet any longer? Sebastian Shaw. You know who was holding Sebastian Shaw paralyzed for the entire time it took for an extremely slow moving coin to pass through his brain? Charles Xavier. I don’t care how loudly and repeatedly he screams “ERIK! NOOOO!!”… if anything it just reminded me of the Boobookitty incident from Space Ghost Coast to Coast (fast forward to the 8:35 mark):
Seriously, all Charles has to do is… let Shaw go. Now that the central area’s opened up and the helmet’s off, Xavier can obviously get complete control back whenever he wants. Or if that’s still too dangerous, I dunno, maybe give Shaw the mental command to duck? Serpentine? Chicken dance? Anything but just hold him in place and shriek uselessly while the slow blade penetrated the shield, and by blade I mean coin and by shield I mean Shaw’s goddamn skull?
For that matter I don’t remember it ever being established that Shaw’s absorption powers were as easy to get around as just punching him in slow-motion — gentle but firm, like a conscientious prison rapist. But regardless, there you are. Like Boobookitty, I think Chuck just wanted this to happen, but he gets to have Erik do his dirty work.
So I really did hate seeing that death scene play out the way it did, because at best Charles Xavier is a momentary hypocrite in the heat of passion, and at worst, a criminal mastermind who was manipulating Magneto and Shaw into this confrontation all along so that he could kill one and brand the other a murdering extremist. And as I said before, I don’t like the idea of a Charles Xavier with those kinds of morals. Otherwise, it’s much like evil Superman: just hand him the keys to the planet and be done with it.
Or perhaps we could give the Grant Morrison JLA Batman the mind helmet in response. Then again, you know he already has one. Bats Ex Machina has contingency plans for everyone. Everyone.