X-Men: The Last Stand


X-Men: The Last Stand had a troubled production. The director of the first two films, Bryan Singer, was offered the reins to the new Superman film, and decided to take it on. Despite losing their director and two writers, Fox Studios decided to hold onto their projected release date, and started looking around for other directors. Of course, with a successful run in progress on the comic books, Joss Whedon was mooted by many fans; but being a writer-director, Whedon was not particularly interested in picking up someone else’s project. A British director, Matthew Vaughn, was then assigned to the film, and managed to cast Kelsey Grammer as Beast before giving up the film himself. And then, finally, they got Brett Ratner (Rush Hour, Red Dragon) to take the helm. All without changing the release date.

So really, it’s a wonder that The Last Stand came out so well. In fact, it’s definitely one of the best comic book movies out there. I was cautious of a Daredevil-like mish-mash, but even with a ridiculously large number of characters, the film manages everything neatly. Whether you’ll like it more than X-Men and X2 is another matter, but I’ll deal with that later.

When we left our heroes, the lovely Jean Grey had been tragically killed in a somewhat contrived way as the mutants escaped from saving the day. Cyclops, her partner, is now a broken man, and drives off to the site of her death, only to find that she isn’t quite as dead as he’d expected. Meanwhile, a surprisingly benign pharmaceutical company1 has developed a “cure” for mutants, which has the whole mutant community in an uproar. And the American government are hot on the heels of Magneto, attempting to bring him back into their plastic custody.

Things get out of hand quickly; very quickly, actually. The Last Stand is a pacy film — again, something of a surprise given the trends these days in comic book adaptations. Shocking developments throw the X-Men into disarray, but once Magneto forces the issue, they get off their lazy arses and get to work again. Since we left the X-Men, Iceman, Colossus and Kitty Pride2 have joined the team adding some much needed quality of superpowers to their arsenal, but dragging down the average age. Beast, played very well by Kelsey Grammer, is added to the mix by the end, too. Rogue, meanwhile, is missing in action — understandably just a little interested in this ‘cure’ everyone’s talking about.3

The cure is an interesting idea (sourced from Joss Whedon’s recent comics, amusingly), but the ethical implications don’t really get discussed past the early scenes; Storm and Magneto take a hardline against it, Beast understands both sides, Rogue’s quite understanding, and no one really moves from there. It’s possibly for the best — there’s obvious parallels with the abortion debate in the film at times, and you wouldn’t want to try to present one side as right. It all leads to one awesome, action-packed, somewhat logically flawed4 climax at Alcatraz Island.

Where this film excels is at the mutant pair-ups. Phoenix v. Professor X. Iceman v. Pyro. Storm v. Callisto. Kitty v. Juggernaut, however, wins my prize for best moment of the film — forget sneaky post-credits teasers; the real reason we need another film is just to have more of Kitty. There’s some brilliant action in this film and it probably surpasses the previous films for sheer quantity and quality of violence. The less violent set-pieces are just as good — the return to Jean Grey’s house is awesome, and Wolverine’s final trudge up to save Jean is fantastic, though I felt it could have pushed the grotesque angle just a little further.

It’s only when I compare the film to its predecessors that I become slightly disappointed. It picks up all the pieces that the previous films set up, respectfully and often cleverly. But it throws so many new pieces onto the board that I found it hard to connect emotionally to the film. The previous films paid lip service to some characters, while giving others the full dramatic treatment; in The Last Stand, no one gets more than three scenes of focus — even Jean, after the middle climax, is effectively sidelined until the end of the film. Mystique suffers perhaps the most from this; deserted by Magneto, her only following scene is shown silent on a TV screen, making the writer seem just as callous as the villain.5 Rather than identifying with the X-Men, this time round it felt more like watching them from a distance — which was still fun, but not quite as satisfying.

But there’s only one thing that really irritated me about the film. Let’s play the Dungeons & Dragons “complete the sentence” game with a few of these lines…

  • Professor X to Storm: “I don’t have to be psychic…”
  • Pyro to Iceman: “You should have stayed at school.”
  • Father to misunderstood son: “It’s what we all want!”

Answers at the bottom of the page.6 The Last Stand has some very predictable dialogue, but for the most part, it’s at least solid, and the actors are talented enough to make it good (especially the magnificent Ian McKellen). The cracks only really show strongly in the scenes with the President, who’s given cliché after cliché to spout, and kills each one stone dead, even sometimes looking towards camera when he does it, just to twist the knife. How anyone can actually write down “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” in this day and age bemuses me. The first meeting of Beast and Wolverine suffers somewhat as well; “I hear you’re quite the animal” is the kind of crap, unconvincing line only made up so that Woverine can say “Look who’s talking.” And then of course there’s the bit where Wolverine bluffs Magneto, and then does the action cliché of actually telling the villain that this was all part of his plan before it happens, thus jeopardising the whole operation.

X-Men: The Last Stand is one of the better comic book movies out there, and a damn good action film to boot. It probably won’t satisfy people who loved the first two films — but then, it could well satisfy those who didn’t. What you lose on the swings…

  1. For the whole movie, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. What’s the pharmaceutical company’s evil plan, I wondered. What horrible experiments are they performing on the hapless Leech? But no, they’re generally quite nice.
  2. Kitty’s nickname (X-Name?), Shadowcat, isn’t mentioned in the film. In fact I’m not even sure whether Colossus was named either way. Callisto certainly isn’t. I imagine this is more jarring to comic book fans than normal viewers who are happy to say “She’s the one with the piercing that can find mutants”, but I was surprised to have a handful of mutants join Magneto and for none of them to ever get named.
  3. Rogue’s plot is nice, but a bit brief, and something of a disappointment for anyone looking for her to grow up, steal some powers from someone and kick some arse in this film. Frankly I’m not sure why she was even with the X-Men in the Danger Room. What, precisely, is she supposed to do against huge stomping robots? Surely they’d leave her at home that day?
  4. Magneto’s the sort of person to use a bridge where a tram would do; I love that. But, well, isn’t he supposed to care a little more about mutants than his “throw all the pissy volunteers at the bad men” would suggest? Couldn’t he have started throwing cars at the building straight away? Or even, dare I suggest, dropped the bridge on top of the building? I don’t feel like his endgame was well planned, especially with only the rather dim Juggernaut sent to kill the kid.
  5. It’s perhaps the moment I’m most confident with pointing at and saying “That’s wrong”. Why not have Mystique walk into a scene and declare her intentions? Why not show her surviving by herself and deciding to get even with Magneto? Why not do anything but show her from a distance and summarise her story with a god-awful cliché?
  6. “… to see that something’s troubling you.” “You should have never left!” “No Dad — it’s what you want.” Only the last of these was really irritating, compounded by the cheesy pose that Angel took before flying out the building, coupled with the shards of glass that conveniently disappeared from shot before hitting the protesters below. I actually quite liked the Iceman one, just because he was finally getting a hero moment.
I have been marked once, my dear, and let me assure you no needle shall ever touch my skin again. — Magneto

47 Responses to “X-Men: The Last Stand”

  1. Magneto was still in the mid-game. He sent in his pawns; Pyro and Jugganaut did their thing and he was just about to move in and wrap things up when he got done in.

  2. … has fallen out of your pocket into the tanbark?

    I didn’t think Pyro and Iceman’s comments were on the same level as the other two examples.

    The father-son plot for Angel was alright for me. Clearly there’s a lot of people whose parents don’t want them to be mutants so I don’t mind them having a seen like this. Old men a practically a cliche by themselves. If you dad said “it’s what we both wanted” what would you reply? The shards of glass would have fallen directly to the ground under the window. They wouldn’t have had enough momentum to carry to the spectators. Also, if someone jumps out of a window above you, it’s your own fault if you look up and get glass in your eye.

    The professor X line was sloppy. Surely he’s used that already?

  3. I knew I recognised that kid from somewhere. He seems to be typecast as creepy kids, though he was definitely less irritating this time round. He was the kid in Birth, too, which makes things in ‘The Fourth Horseman’ even creepier.

    Was Magneto trying to kidnap or kill the kid? Transporting him with them would have been a problem.

    The whole father-son Angel plot felt like a cliche, to me. And reminiscent of the villain in X2, using his son as a tool against mutants. Paul and I strongly disliked Angel’s cheesy pose when he sprang free but your mileage may vary on that one.

  4. I found out who the kid was when I got home Saturday night. I was thinking he was from a movie. I didn’t consider SG-1. I wonder if he’ll be able to control the extent of his powers when he grows up and project his field further.

    One mutant holds the kid at a distance from the others. Maybe one of the mutants with crap powers, like spike boy.

    I was thinking, during the cheesy pose, I wish I had wings like that.

  5. Magneto explicity says to kill the boy, possibly more than once.

    Besides Callisto (who isn’t Psylocke as it turns out), what other characters do you feel needed to be named? Collosus has been referred to as Pete numerous times in the last two films, and non-comic book fans might perhaps refer to him as “tin-man”. In fact, the only character who I can’t recall begin named and got a line is spike boy (who is actually called Spike). List these “so many” characters.

    “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” is a quote/popular expression. Should we expect in every review from now on when a character quotes say, a popular Shakespeare phrase for you to bother mentioning it in your review?

    Forgive my picking at your picking. You make good points, I just feel some of them getting lost amongst the above stuff.

    Anyway, you seem awfully.. unforgiving. Rarely (if ever) do your reviews go off on a little detail demolishing rant. I feel it wasn’t given the same level of slack extended to other things we watch. We don’t usually mention what the bad/good guy should have done in an action film, because the answer is always “Well it wouldn’t have been an interesting climax then, would it?”.

    Did you like the film? In the end? I get the impression you are bitterly dissapointed to the point where you actually hate it. Which is fine. I’m just not sure.

  6. The cliches that bother me the most are of the statement and response type. When my brain is able to think of the next line in the pause between the two characters speaking, that’s when I think the writers are being lazy. Each line should have more than half a seconds thought put into it.

    One of my favourite moments:“I’m tough. I have a tattoo!”“I was in a nazi prison camp.”“Ok you win.”

    Magneto was using the cure to unite the mutants in a war against humans. Forming an army is uniting; dropping a bridge on an island isn’t. He doesn’t care much either way about people dying.

    • “definitely one of the best comic book movies out there”
    • “a pacy film — again, something of a surprise given the trends these days in comic book adaptations”
    • “It’s only when I compare the film to its predecessors that I become slightly disappointed”

    I did like it!

    I didn’t want to criticise without backing things up. I thought I’d been positive enough initially. Callisto (ta, must fix that) and all the leather clad mutants are unnamed. It felt a bit like the fact that they were bad guys wearing black was supposed to be enough for us. I didn’t know Colossus’s name was Pete — surely he was only in one (extended) scene in X2? It’s quite possible they named him then, and they probably did and I didn’t notice this time around. So only three, I suppose. Hardly heaps — I should have stuck with Callisto.

    “Hell hath…” is indeed a quote that has been quoted so often that it has become a cliche. I didn’t think that was a particularly controversial statement. I don’t particularly like the insinuation that women’s jealousy is the most powerful force in the universe either — it seems a very eighteenth century sentiment, and a lame attempt to suggest that Mystique never cared for the cause, but only for Magneto, thus making her a weaker, crappier character.

    I put it under more scrutiny because it’s a sequel to films I like a lot. A film gets more scrutiny than an episode of TV because TV is made on a far far tighter timeline and budget. A lot of normal films manage some of the basics that comic book adaptations fail at effortlessly.

  7. One of the leather cald mutants is Psylocke Do you want to know the names of all of Magneto’s henchmen? Might that just confuse the audience?

  8. Ideally I’d like his henchmen to be characters, but aside from Mystique and Pyro they’ve never really gone there in any of the films. I’d like to have the Brotherhood a little more developed. But I think we can agree that Callisto (and to a lesser extent Spike Boy) deserved a naming?

    My objection is more with having nameless, characterless chumps in the film than with the act of not naming them. It’s a symptom of the problem rather than the problem itself.

  9. “Magneto was using the cure to unite the mutants in a war against humans. Forming an army is uniting; dropping a bridge on an island isn’t. He doesn’t care much either way about people dying.”

    Good point. If hundreds of mutants are killed/demutantified, then it only helps him. He’s a callous bastard.

  10. I agree with everything. There’s too many new comments to get specific now. I don’t have any time. I know you said those things, but highlighting a films strengths is not the same as saying you liked it. I thought maybe you were just trying to be fair even though you hated it.

    I felt like that character who could do the shockwaves (who was referred to by name once, just before she used them) was only put in for that very reason.

    Bobby asked Pete where rogue was. He was the guy carrying the television. I did see it twice though, and just happened to notice. He was also helping the children out in X2 when the mansion was invaded, and I thought Wolverine asked him a question and used his name. Could be wrong. He’s barely a character anyway. Like so many of them. They’re just there to make things seem busier I guess.

    I feel like it would be quite easy to pick at stuff towards the end of Serenity. But we all loved it and where willing to forgive anything silly. When we dislike something though we tend not to, which is why I thought you may not have liked it.

  11. I was thinking of Serenity. I think it has more in common with the first two X-Men films in that it sketches the surrounding characters quickly but focusses on one or two (Mal and River).

    Most of the problems I have with The Last Stand come down to the one common element; too many mutants. With the odd compulsion to add even more characters to the bundle we already have, the main characters seem underdeveloped, henchmen are drawn in even more cartoonish strokes than they used to be, and the main plot gets barely more attention than some of the subplots. But I did like it; the action, the ideas, the actors, the set-pieces, all do it proud.

    I’d forgotten shockwave girl! “Target their guns!” Awesome!

  12. I’m suprised you didn’t put that as your main quote.

    But yes, the too many mutants is spot on.

  13. its hard to have an epic battle without lots of people. cant name everyone – on either side – i dont see you complaining about the lack of names among the soldiers (president’s henchmen) who were in the fight and got killed. Or among the kids (proffesors X’s henchmen) in the second film that got shot/drugged in X2.

    Magneot had: Toad, Sabertooth, Mystique Jugganought, Spike, the shockwave girl, pyro, calsito. thats 8.Proffesor has: Cyclops, Pete (Colossus i remember him from X2), Wolverine, Jean, Storm, Rogue, Nightcrawler, Iceman, Kitty. Thats 9.
    Not magneto’s fault his henchmen die in the early films.

    Its missing a bit in the films but Magneto isnt a nice guy. He doesnt real care about lesser mutants. He wants mutants to be in power but her wants him to be in power more.

  14. I’m not complaining about the people who didn’t have dialogue and didn’t have names. I’m (mildly) complaining about that lame gang of nameless, tattooed henchmen. I know Magneto always has lame henchmen but these seemed even lamer. Why not get rid of the crap people and just have Callisto, and give her some character? I’m certainly not saying we shouldn’t have had masses of mutants in the epic battle. That worked.

    When I said I wanted the Brotherhood more developed I didn’t mean more people, I meant more character development for them.

  15. Someone has raised an interesting point; to defeat the uber-powerful Jean, could the X-Men not have tried the cure on her? Or tried to try? Discuss.

    (I imagine that if Wolverine were trying to sneak the cure up at the end he’d have to hide it in his pants, as the laws of film decency were keeping them on.)

  16. You discuss it first, if you think it’s interesting. Rather than have us all scramble to rationalise it for you. Hadn’t this point occured to you earlier? I know you aren’t trolling, but this particular point has several obvious counters. In general that sort of speculation about films is pointless and unsatisfying. For me, anyway.

  17. It’s a funny joke, though by the way. It’s only fair though. If we aren’t seeing Jeans breasts, then the ladies can’t see Wolverine’s assets.

  18. It was late, I couldn’t be bothered thinking when I read it. No, it hadn’t occurred to me; I’m remarkably good for not thinking of things when the film maker doesn’t want me to. I’m very glad I didn’t. I think if it had occurred to me it would have seemed such a painfully obvious idea I’d be wanting to smack the X-Men about the head.

    I assume the counters involve her probably noticing someone coming near her with a cure. Most of the counters seem also counterable by the obvious “But she’s their friend, shouldn’t they have tried?” Wolvie could have slipped a phial in his mouth, kissed her, and they could both have been cured together. Awwwww.

    I quite agree on the breasts. But it did seem odd at the time that his cheeks were being ripped off but his pants stayed firm. It’s not like they couldn’t have chosen a strategic camera angle. I’m not usually pro-male-nudity but it seems just a bit prudish to sacrifice common sense for the sake of keeping the “men have bottoms” thing secret for just a little bit longer. One day I’ll notice I’ve got one and there’ll be hell to pay.

  19. It sounded like you were baiting us fanboys. So, er.. sorry if I misinterpreted.

    The “But they’re her friends, shouldn’t they have tried argument?” only seems applicable, if they had thought about it and decided not to, surely? Remember, they didn’t have access to the cure until the very end when everything was frantic.

    But anyway, clearly they didn’t think of it. They didn’t even plan on using on Magneto – they just happened to see a few on the ground at the last minute. And then, they thought it was all over, and by the time Jean started killing everyone I can’t imagine you’d have the presence of mind to scramble about the ground looking for more.

    It’s fair to say that Jean destroyed the hundreds of darts that were fired at her at the end. I think we might have even seen it happen. Maybe she destroyed others lying about as well, although that is perhaps asking a bit much. Although if she had identified them as a threat to her, then why not? She destroyed just about everything else.

    Perhaps more importantly, maybe if they cure her Jean gets lost and they are stuck with Phoenix forever. It’s at least a risk. Certainly too much of a risk to have it as a first resort. And by the end it was too late – everything was pretty crazy.

    You do have a bottom. I’m sorry.

  20. The X-men were never in favour of the cure. Forcing it on Jean isn’t something they’d do. She wasn’t a threat until she killed the Professor and after that she was in Magneto’s hands. The X-men didn’t use the cure against the Magneto’s henchmutants either. It was only as a last resort.

  21. I thought there were some tedious bits in there and the movie didn’t try hard enough to keep my attention even though there was a lot going on. Perhaps it was because Jean Gray was not a character any more and just used merely as a plot device. And they really could have expanded on the whole ‘cure’ thing. Many movies these days are just not deep enough. It’s the same thing with The Island (Ewan Macgregor and Scarlett Johannson) where they easily could have added a lot of depth to the movie but didn’t. Think Gattaca – that worked out well.

    Anyways – the action was ok – once again doesn’t bring anything new to the table. The bits I liked about the movie were Wolverine, Kitty Pryde, she looks good when she’s stressed out and the premise was good but failed to deliver. 2.5 out of 5

    And just to compare…

    The Da Vinci Code 2/5Mission Impossible 3 3/5

  22. I’m reluctant to open this all up again, but I found a review that very nicely explains my key problems with the film (i.e. the character development or devolution).

    What I hadn’t noticed was that the three most ripped-off characters were all women. I should point out in a half-hearted defence of the movie that Xavier’s arrogance and controlling ways are punished too, evening the tables a little.

  23. I think the Cyclops fans might disagree with you there.

    I agree that Rogue and Jean Gray should have had different plots but Mystique would have been fine if the ‘woman scorned’ line was removed.

  24. I don’t think there’s much subtext to the Cyclops element. He’s grumpy, he gets killed, there’s not much time for a betrayal of his character.

    I disagree with you on Mystique. The whole “woman scorned” plotline was a cliche, not just the line. I find it hard to imagine the woman we saw in the first movies deciding that mutant rights aren’t so important after all. Or for that matter, that the cure’s not so bad.

  25. Your link says all the women in X-Men got screwed. What about Storm?

    Is it significant that the three worst character arcs were for females? Could it just be a coincidence?

  26. It would appear that they forgot about Storm when making their generalisation. I don’t support that but I do support the three cases she presents. In answer to your following questions; yes and irrelevant. There are only three main plot threads in this film: the cure ethics, Jean going psycho, and Magneto’s plan to kill the cure-makers. When all three of those feature women getting screwed over centrally then it does seem significant.

    Whether it was a coincidence or not doesn’t have much of a bearing, does it? The film-makers’ intentions were almost certainly to make an awesome film, and in many ways they succeeded. But the script and plot were not amongst those ways.

  27. It hardly seems fair to target this film for some anti-female agenda though. In that context, the fact it is a coincidence does have a bearing. These characters have been around for decades. The Jean Gray plot isn’t a bad idea. The character happens to be a woman. I found Rogue’s feelings quite understandable and human. She also happens to be a girl. The writers of this movie didn’t make the characters female so they could tear them down.

    Wolverine was the one to kill Jean simply because anyone else almost certainly would have been killed trying. This is also a product of the fact a character conceived 30 years ago has super regenerative capabilities. Not the fact he is a man. It’s Shelley’s little rant about that which annoys me the most.

    And subtext or not, Cyclops character was ripped off. Yes, the Mystique plot was awful.

    The other two characters you could say were ripped off. But I don’t think their gender is relavent. Rogue and Jean were also American. There is some subtext there, me thinks.

  28. First off — I think the article is suggesting less a case of agenda, and more a case of subconscious sexism.

    Secondly, Rogue. It’s awkward. Her actions are quite understandable. I’d probably do the same. But on the flip-side, she’s an X-Man, she’s got powers and responsibilities that she ditches so she can stay at home and be a normal person, while her lover continues to be super-powerful. They don’t choose the characters but they do choose what they do to them.

    I wouldn’t have found the Jean stuff so irritating if the movie hadn’t also suggested that she’d become this way because of her being repressed by a male authority figure. The film practically raises the feminist subtext itself, and then goes on to deal with the out-of-control character by putting her down. I like to think that these cool heroes could have found a better way. I do agree that once they’ve decided to kill her, Wolvie’s the only one who can.

    All I mean, re: Cyclops, is that it’s hard to argue that his character was betrayed or anything. He was barely in it and killed by a super-powerful being. He doesn’t make any choices at all really.

    The anti-american subtext is particularly egregious given the long history of americans being suppressed. Or not.

  29. Jean would have gone crazy anyway. The male authority figure was extending her life in a morally ambigous manner. A different male authority figure kills her. The issues I have are: almost all the men in X-Men could be called authority figures so any action by them is lumped under one label; Jean asked to be killed and wolverine kept trying to save; I thought Freud went out of fashion years ago; and the phrase ‘piss up a rope’. Xavier is the one who’s morally questionable. Generalising him to male authority figures is a big stretch.

    I thought Kitty had some of the best stuff in the film. And she beat a Male Authority Figure and got away with it.

    Rogue’s powers were never very useful and the first film showed how much of an outcast she felt. She also a teenager and more prone to wanting to fit in.

    Would a cyclops fan, hoping to see some cool cyclops stuff, who had seen X3 be more disappointed than a Rogue fan?

  30. I know they chose what to do with the characters – I think they would have picked those stories regardless of gender, that’s all. They are stories centred on a characters power or background. Which they didn’t decide.

    I imagine the creative process involved looking at what mutant powers you had and seeing what you could do with it. Not picking women to weaken. If Professor X had been a woman in the original comics then she would have been in the film. Are things different then? I don’t think it’s sexism on the writers part.

    In a way, the women get targeted because the most of the male characters are so fucking boring. I’m not sure which is worse. The female characters definitely were the most interesting, and hence asking for stories about them. Cyclops clearly didn’t cut it.

    Anyway I think we should all make films where everyone is the same so no-one can accuse people of being sexist, racist or against aliens. The author clearly has some chip on her shoulder, despite what you say.

  31. The bottom line is I don’t think writers should have to curtail their stories simply because the characters they have been given to work with happen to be of certain genders. To me that seems ridiculous.

    Besides sexism is so 70’s. Can we move to racism? That’s my favourite.

  32. I think the women in this film are a metaphor for black people. And the white males represent the American Government. It’s a subconcious criticism of the Bush administration’s policy towards african-americans.

  33. Just checking what I’m arguing: my point is that the three points that article makes are valid, and that the film would have been better if it had balanced things a little more. The Jean plot on its own doesn’t seem so bad, nor really the Rogue plot, to me, but together in a film with the Mystique plot I find it something of a subtextual issue.

    I’m not in favour of tokenism but I think writers should damn well look at what their stories are saying. Art’s not science, you don’t put in x and y and always get z. It’s not inconcievable that someone will end up with q by mistake but by the same token, they’re the only people that can fix that.

    More specific points:

    Kitty is, without a doubt, awesome. Her bits were fantastic. I don’t want to come across like I hate everything about the film. She certainly dampens any sexist reading of the film.

    Given his mind-reading and his fatherly role, coupled with his liking for order and learning, I don’t think it’s even remotely a stretch to call Xavier the authority figure in the film. Is that really what you meant to say Andy? I wouldn’t call Cyclops or Wolverine an authority figure, or Iceman.

    I still don’t follow your Cyclops point, Andy. The article isn’t talking about the film being a disappointment to Rogue fans, it’s talking about it being a disappointment to young women. It’s talking about her decision-making and not about who lives and who dies. Cyclops is killed hurriedly but his character is completely irrelevant to that.

    I also call bullshit on your Rogue comment, Andy. Rogue’s powers saved the day at the end of movie one, and allowed her to save many policemen from Pyro in movie two. She’s got a better track record than most X-Men. It’s an awesome power, even more awesome dramatically for its horrible drawback. I quite agree that it’s very natural for her to want to lose her powers for the reasons you state.

    Jackson — couldn’t you though, just as easily, tell a story about Rogue being tempted to lose her powers but deciding her life as an X-Man was more important? I’m just saying, the stories are obvious but the endings to them aren’t necessarily inevitable. And it’s the endings that usually provoke any subtext.

    I’d like to think the creative process involves having an idea or theme that one would like to explore with the X-Men and crafting a set of interweaving tales around that.

    I don’t have a chip on my shoulder, though, and I found her main points, minus some of the extremities, to be quite accurate. I’m aware you think sexism is dead. I don’t think we can sensibly debate that here, but suffice it to say I don’t think it is, especially in that town where they make these movies.

  34. I’d just like to point out that my biggest beef with the f-word article is that Shelley Rees keeps bagging Brett Ratner rather than Simon Kinberg and Zak Penn.

  35. You make a good point about endings and subtext. You could just as easily have a different ending. I hadn’t thought about it like that before.

    That being said, I don’t feel the film makes judges Rogue’s ultimate decision. I think we are left to make up our own minds. It certainly doesn’t depict her as weak – and I don’t think it makes her weak. Her issues I imagine also extend much, much deeper than simple “sexual jealousy” like Shelley Rees suggests. It was undoubtedly the final straw however.

    Her entire story is a tragedy. I never once thought “weak woman”. I thought perhaps “poor child”. Because she is a child, and she didn’t have anyone to turn to. The one man that could have perhaps filled that role – Wolverine – failed to at the end of the film. I find that more interesting than any incidental sexist undertones. Perhaps there is a father figure vs. no father figure subtext.

    Anyway Rogue has probably ostracised herself from the only family she has, and given she probably knew it would happen did a very brave thing. I don’t think staying with the x-men would have been pro-feminist or empowering women at all.

  36. Rogue’s an interesting one. I kept on switching sides on her plot after watching it. How would someone respond to Spider-Man 2 if Peter, having given up his heroics so that he could have a relationship, decided that yep, that was the best course of action, he’ll stick with that?

    A quote from Wolverine to Beast, from Gifted, written well before The Last Stand, might bring across the other point of view better than I can.

    “Some weak sister in the freshman dorm wants to drop his powers, I could care less. But an X-Man… one of us caves and it’s over. It’s an endorsement stamp for every single mutant to be lined up and neutered. And you know that. You know that.

    Also, as I kind of said before, it’s not much of a stretch to read the Rogue plot as the girl giving up her career to be with the guy. Not that I’m in any way suggesting that Iceman wants that. I was disappointed that the Rogue/Wolverine connection, very much at the heart of 1 and to a lesser extent 2, was kind of dropped mostly in this one. We see Rogue as a kid but by The Last Stand she’s pretty much our age.

  37. Rogue is probably not pretty much our own age. I just want to make that clear.

  38. When talking about male authority figures, I was confusing your argument about Xavier’s role and the article’s complaints about Jean. Both talk about controlling males. Xavier meddles with Jean’s mind and ends up dead. He’s punished for his controlling ways, but things would have turned out bad had he not interfered. I’ve no problem with that. I don’t think there’s a sexist subtext there that women should be controlled. The article’s complaint about Jean being passive for most of the film, I agree with, she should have done something other than wait for the climax. What I disagree with is the talk of honour killings and Freud. I think that’s looking for things that aren’t there.

    I was attempting to disprove that article by arguing that not all the badly treated characters were women. Now that I remember how good Kitty was, I’ll change my argument to there were young women characters who were treated well.

    Rogue’s powers are not very useful because of the drawback. I shouldn’t have said never. Still that’s no cause for a profanity, Tom. The first two films do set up, with a reasonably logical plot, situations in which Rogue saves the day. So they are useful sometimes, but if I was a mutant with those powers I would not be able to think of a single senario were I might get to do something cool. I’d rather be another mutant. She can only use her powers in desperate situations. She can’t she use her powers as a party trick.

    I liked her character a lot in the first two films and I hope the cure wears off for her and she rejions the X-Men. I agree with Jackson, and from the first two films, that Rogue’s issues were deeper than mere jealousy. The film makers (and when I say film makers I mean Ratner, the nemesis of true X-Men fans and feminism) could have emphasised the jealousy angle less. Wolverine’s counsel to Rogue was “I’m not controlling you. It’s your decision” Neither side of the decision is weak. Either she has the responsibility as an X-Man or she has to line up and go through with the cure. I don’t think that would be an easy process. Is it weaker to follow a group you’re not keen on or to break out of that group?

  39. Curses! I’ve lost the bad language moral high ground!

    People often read texts using Freud. It doesn’t mean they agree with Freud, but he’s a useful touchstone for games of “spot the penis”. I don’t really know what an “honour killing” is so that didn’t bother me. I’d say it’s not looking for things that aren’t there, it’s exploring the different ways people can read a text. We all know how many odd people there are out there, getting insanely different things from different texts.

    Rogue is keen on the X-Men (two in particular). She’s just not keen on her powers. I agree they’re not good for party tricks but they’re game-winners. No matter how powerful the threat they come up against, Rogue can save the day if they use her right.

    I hate people who, when I ask them for counsel, say “It’s your decision.”

  40. Why do people play games of spot the penis? (and the less common but equally bizarre spot the flaming vagina) Is it an attempt to classify the creator of the work as a sexaul deviant? Is it so we can talk about penises, teeheehee I said penis. I thought Freud said we were all motivated by sexual urges so penis shouldn’t appear in everything we do? This question probably makes no sense. I disagree with the field of pyschology and refuse to try to understand it.

  41. The tone of her piece is a rant. In this case I have to agree with Andy and say by the time she gets around to the whole honour killing rubbish she is looking for stuff that isn’t there. I doubt it occured to her naturally. More likely she decided it was sexist and then started scouring the film for the slightest thing.

    Anyway obviously I can’t say for certain what she was thinking. She just doesn’t seem very objective to me.

    If someone decided they hated Peter Jackson and wanted to portray him as a racist, and then if they go through his film and find ridiculous little things they chose to interpret that way – is that reading valid?

    You can argue perhaps if you like. But I don’t see why I should take their opinion seriously.

    I’m in a hurry because I’m in a between an online game of Halo, so sorry if my point is muddled.

    Basically it comes down to her tone. She needs to present it more as a possible interpretation, not Brett Rayner is subconsciously sexist or whatever it is.

  42. And by it comes down to, I mean “what annoys me about the article” sorry. I wasn’t speaking about the other issues.

  43. Comment 41 may be the funniest comment ever.

    There’s a fine line between analysing and considering multiple readings of a text, and looking for things that aren’t there. The former is of course the basis for all literary criticism and discussion, and the latter sounds suspiciously like wasting time. The fact is, people do a lot of it, it can be quite illuminating once you separate the wheat from the… chaff? I think it’s chaff. Some people like to spot penises. I don’t myself understand it but even it can be quite amusing at times. On occasion I’ve been almost convinced that the imagery of a film does speak to the subconscious of the director/cinematographer/writer.

    If one starts to suspect that someone was involved in a murder, one would probably go investigating that line of inquiry further, and seeing what turns up. Even the smallest things could be considered corroborating evidence. I agree with most of what you’re saying Jackson — the tone of the piece is quite rant-ish in places — but I don’t see anything wrong with looking for evidence to support your hypothesis.

    Surely you’re not suggesting that you only get discuss things about a text that occurred to you “naturally” whilst reading/watching for the first time?

  44. No of course not. As always on this subject I find it difficult to articulate my views. You however have summed it up nicely.

    Personally I don’t find enjoyment in combing a text for a subtext. No that’s wrong. I don’t enjoy it if I’m looking for more reasons to hate it – if that makes any sense. Clearly others do, and that’s fine. I quite enjoy discussing possible readings for the sake of interest, but when people do it apparently just to fuel their own anger I’m quite intolerant of it. Simply because they are just possible interpretations and shouldn’t be presented any other way.

    That’s probably a little pedantic. I should be less sensitive about it I suppose.

    It’s also difficult to quantify the er.. “legitimacy” of the reading (wrong word to use). I know you’ll say they all are, and you are probably right. But it’s hard to disagree with the idea that some are obvious and some are rather obscure. I don’t know how that is relevant to what I’m saying. Just a thought. I’ll end it there, I think.

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