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New X-Men Movie Calls for Peace and Tolerance
an article by Joe Yannielli

The first of the summer blockbusters to hit theaters this month, X2: X-Men United, has been shattering box office records. But, there is more to this film than comic book violence and snazzy costumes.

Stan Lee created the X-Men during the stormy 60s, as civil rights groups were struggling against racism, inequality and violent oppression. Thus, X-Men comics deal with the quest for tolerance and peace in a bigoted and hostile world.

As the first X-Men movie established, "mutants" with superhuman powers have evolved from humans and are viewed with scorn and fear by the "normal" human population. Charles Xavier founds the X-Men and his "Mutant Academy" to help mutants cultivate their skills and promote peace and understanding with the humans. However, another mutant called "Magneto" believes that "a war is brewing between humans and mutants" and calls for mutant superiority over the humans.

X2 complicates matters further by introducing William Stryker, a human dedicated to precipitating a war against all mutants. After a mutant assassin nearly kills the president, proposals for a "mutant registration act" and even mutant detention camps are discussed. Crippled under a new wave of anti-mutant activities, the X-Men must join with Magneto to expose Stryker's devious plot.

Despite the gratuitous violence that has become the prerequisite for any blockbuster movie, X2 does not celebrate violence. The film acknowledges violent action as a reality while criticizing mutants who use their powers for wanton destruction. Most of the violence against the X-Men comes from fearful and confused humans. But, the most powerful message in X2 is that the forces of reason can overcome fear and prevent the world from falling into an all-out race war.

X2: X-Men United is a fantastic action movie with well-placed effects and a plot that will keep you on the edge of your seat. But, it is a worthy addition to the debate between aggression and tolerance in the battle for civil rights. If you can sit through some scenes of excess violence, I recommend this film to comic book fans and adults alike.

DISCUSSION

Question(s) related to this article:


Can a film show gratuitous violence and promote a culture of peace?,

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Latest reader comment:

Gratuitous violence in itself does not promote a culture of peace, but I believe that movies like "Beyond Borders" promote awareness that is important in promotion of a culture of peace.  By showing movie goers realities that are violent, it will shock them into learning more about what is going on outside of their comfortable box and perhaps lead to them actually doing something about it.


This report was posted on May13, 2003.