The X-Men and Injustices: A Short Recount/Modern Glimpse

X-Force (2008) #13
X-Force (2008) #13

In the Marvel Universe (MU), there are super natural/human beings that have very diverse powers and abilities. Among this group of super beings are the Mutants, though we know a few of them better as the X-Men. According to the Marvel website, “Mutants (also known as “homo superior”) are an offshoot sub-species of humanity who are born with genetic abnormalities which grants them abilities, an appearance, or powers beyond the normal variation expressed in the human genome.” They have what Professor Xavier calls the “X-gene” which means that they differ from superheros in the MU, such as Captain America, Thor, and Tony Stark as Iron Man, because most of Marvel’s superheroes gained abilities after their birth. Even the Hulk, who had his genetic code was mutated by Gamma radiation, he would not be considered a Mutant because the code was changed after birth.

Marvel’s website also states directly after the definition of a Mutant that Mutants have been victims of persecution throughout their history on Earth. This is a common theme in their own comics and movies that sticks out because there are implications that MU’s Mutants are representative of minorities in society. While doing research I came across an article from Psychology Today that outlined this specific theory, and sought to find out if the struggles of the Mutants can help teach society about racism and oppression. Although the article outlined the myths about oppression that the X-Men comics depict, the author also discusses the impact that the X-Men franchise has on opening dialogue about racial injustices. One of the questions that we have is “Is this representation enough?” The article does delve into this loaded question some, however this is an ongoing debate. The injustices that the Mutants face range from hate speeches to the mass killing of their own kinds, but also exclusion from society, by being forced to hide in the sewers or pretend to be “normal humans.”

In the X-Men comics, our point of view is mostly with the Mutants, from their own perspective of the injustices happening to them. For example, in Astonishing X-Men #7 the X-Men, lead by Cyclops, use their powers to save a large part of the city from a giant monster that emerged from the ground. Unlike other superhero groups, they use their telepathy to remove any innocent people from the area, and put the monster back into the earth. They are joined by the Fantastic Four, who then help them finally end the monster’s terror.

The X-Men and the Fantastic Four take down a monster in Astonishing X-Men #7
The X-Men and the Fantastic Four take down a monster in Astonishing X-Men #7.

Shortly after this panel in the comic when the monster has been defeated, news crews, people, and other superheros gather to congratulate the Fantastic Four for saving the city. This scene is specifically important because with Cyclops leading the X-Men, they wished to make themselves look more favorable in the media to the people of the world. None of the Fantastic Four make any effort to shift their congratulations to the X-Men for saving the bystanders who were in the path of destruction, or for being the first to respond.

We see situations somewhat like this in our own past as the United States. We have historical figures such as Rosalind Franklin who, as a woman, made extraordinary contributions to genetic research and DNA. However, she was not credited until after her death because other scientists took credit for her findings. Author Margot Lee Shetterly released a book this year, which will soon be a motion picture, called Hidden Figures, which depicts our own history of racial and gender injustice by telling the stories of the women, both white and African-American, who were talented mathematicians and worked with NASA to get a man on the moon. Shetterly says she did intense research about the women “computers” behind the lunar landing because she realized the injustice of the white male stereotype behind the words “Mathematician” and “Scientist” when in our own history, the United States relied on a diverse group of people to land Armstrong on the moon. Here, we again have to ask, is this representation enough? Since we see this happening to the X-Men in this comic book the emotional takeaway would, in theory, have us understand that media coverage is not always as it would seem. We should research further and make look into the real people behind our important discoveries or achievements.

One last resonating impact that Ultimate Comics X-Men made with me was when the remaining Mutants, who did not take The Cure which would halt their X-Gene, were told they needed to relocate to an uninhabitable desert and survive on their own by the Unites States government (under President Captain America). This group of Mutants have varying ages and backgrounds, as depicted in the picture below. Another article I found discusses that the “M” in “Mutant” may stand for “Minority,” stating that “MutantsĀ are often victims to hate crimes, lynching, and mob violence similar to the hardships minority groups have endured for centuries and continue to suffer.”

Specifically, an injustice that we see today is brutality towards minorities, across the world, that has no regard for the age of the person or people. In the United States we see children who have been affected, some fatally, because of the injustices that they suffer. The X-Men also face this kind of violence, from a young age, which causes the reader to have a more empathetic view of the real world’s injustice. Yet again, is this enough of representation to change the ideologies of our society? Since comic books and superheros are becoming even more popular with widespread influence, this may be a way to encourage discussion and dialogue about the injustices that minorities face in our world today. This contributes to entertainment media taking a more serious, controversial tone which strives to cause positive change. A change we hope to see in the immediate future.

Kitty Pryde emphasizes the significance of the injustice to Mutants by talking about childhood.
Kitty Pryde emphasizes the significance of the injustice to Mutants by talking about childhood.

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  1. Heather
    December 9, 2016
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    As a younger reader and a fan of X-men before the newest motion picture revival, I never really noticed the impact and relationship between the mutants and minorities. Now that I’ve read this, I realized that a lot of the ‘normal’ things the mutants would do, would have a slight alteration in perspective.
    As part of the Marvel universe, I wonder if the cinematic side will further show this idea or even reference it in the Avengers movies and so on.

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