Oct 23, 2016

Gay Men....Um, I mean X-Men: Apocalypse

There are two basic camps in the mutant community:

1. Separatists: Flee from the straights and their so-called "tolerance."  You are special.  Embrace your difference!  Do not be constrained by their rules about what is "normal"!  If you can fly, then fly.  If you have purple skin, have purple skin.

2. Assimilationists.  If only they got to know us, they would discover that we really aren't that different after all.  Live among them!  Join their clubs, if they let you.  Minimize your differences.  Don't fly, unless it is unavoidable.  Don't have purple skin.

Gay people are divided into the same two camps.  The Separatists live in their own neighborhoods, have only gay friends, and say "Being gay is who I am!"  The Assimilationists live in the straight world, have almost all straight friends, and say "Being gay is only a small part of who I am."

We've had a few Assimilationist-Separatist battles in the gay world, too, starting right at Stonewall, with the Mattachine Society (keep quiet!  don't make waves!) vs the Gay Liberation Front (be loud and proud!)

Back to the Mutants:

In most movies in the X-Men franchise, the Assimilationist camp is led by Dr. Xavier (James McAvoy), who runs a school for mutants on his vast estate, teaching them how to control or hide their differences so they can go back to "normal" society.

A Separatist leader arises, the Big Bad of the episode.  He gathers a group of followers, and engages in a big, flamboyant stunt to let the "straights" know that they're not going to be victimized anymore, they're Mutant and Proud.   But it goes wrong; now the straights hate them more than ever.

After a few changes in loyalty and second-guesses, there's a gigantic battle between the Assimilationist and Separatist groups.  The Assimilationists win.

Bryan Singer, the director, is obviously a gay Assimilationist.  That's why he doesn't have any gay characters in his movies.  "It's not important."

In X-Men: Apocalypse (2016), the Big Bad Separatist is En Sabah Nur (Oscar Sabah, left, except in the movie he has a Voldemort thing going on).  He's a mutant with godlike powers who ruled Egypt in 3600 BC (I won't go into the historical inaccuracies).  Trapped in his pyramid for 5000 years, he emerges in 1983 to gather some followers and restore the Mutants to their rightful place in the food chain.

It's a different Separatist-Assimilationist line-up from the last battle in the 1970s, so there are several trumped-up stories to explain why characters have changed sides, but it boils down to:

En Sabah Nur's Crew
1. Magneto, the Big Bad of the last episode (Michael Fassbender)
2. Psylocke (Olivia Munn)
3. Angel (Ben Hardy, top photo)
4. Storm (Alexandra Shipp)

Dr. Xavier's Crew
1. Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence)
2. Beast (Nicholas Hoult)
3. Quicksilver (Evan Peters, below)
4. Cyclops (Tye Sheridan)
5. Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee)

I might have missed some.  Frankly, I found it hard to keep track of the changing alliances, the character reboots, the shifting backstories (and forward stories, since some installments take place later).

Cyclops has an origin-story subplot in which his eyes start giving off laser beams, effectively making him blind.  Enrolled at the school by his big brother Havok (Lucas Till), he gets goggles made of "ruby quartz" which allow him to control his powers.  Unfortunately, he also starts a romance with the Girl Who Thinks He's Arrogant.

Heterosexist tripe!

I was mostly in it for the beefcake, the 1980s references (very few), and the queer vibe that Quicksilver gives.  He can move so fast that bullets seem to be standing still.

As he gleefully saves all of the residents of the school (and a dog, some goldfish, and a pizza) from an explosion, he expresses disgust at a boy and a girl about to kiss, but rather likes a boy preening in front of a mirror.

Otherwise for gay subtexts you have to go with metaphor.  Everybody here is heterosexual.

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