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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

X-Men: First Class

By
Sr. Rose Pacatte, FSP
Source: AmericanCatholic.org

This latest installment in the Marvel comics-into-film “X-Men” franchise is one of the best of the four, so far, if not the best. It is, indeed, “first class.” Actually, the story is based on characters from the comic book series, rather than an actual comic. It is a prequel written by four people, based on a story by two others, including Bryan Singer, the entertainment virtuoso who directed “Superman Returns” (2006) and other notable films.

Usually too many writers spoil the plot, but in this case the collaboration worked. We learn how mutant Charles Xavier (James McEvoy) meets Raven (later Mystique played by Jennifer Lawrence), and how the CIA eventually recruits them, after a fashion. Xavier and Raven seek out others like themselves, who have unique superpowers and abilities, due to the exploitation of atomic energy. They gather for training to go up against other mutants who do not have the good of the world at heart.

While the story runs from about 1944 through 1962 where the “X-Men” team thwarts the Cuban Missile Crisis, rewriting history for those who enjoy fantasy speculation, the themes of self-acceptance, respect for others who are different, and empathy run throughout this film, as they do through the previous X-Men movies.

The moral or ethical tension in almost all comic book based films is dualistic: characters are good or bad, the choices are for good or evil. What I have always appreciated about the “X-Men” films is that they illustrate that morality is more than black and white, or a choice between two evils. It’s more complex. Here the characters consider consequences and while not all choices are good or even the best for the common  good, the characters struggle to do the right thing, and often do – which is why we like them.

There are bigger issues in this film, however, than the personal ones the characters deal with. Nuclear power, atomic energy, once unleashed, cannot be contained again except through the efforts of people with the political will to choose to do so. Documentaries, such as “Countdown to Zero” (2010), deals with the same issue in stark, unadorned terms.
Without spoiling of “X-Men: First Class”, the ending seems somewhat dualistic. However, it is an invitation to another prequel, and I think I’d like to see it when it comes out.


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Maria Goretti: One of the largest crowds ever assembled for a canonization—250,000—symbolized the reaction of millions touched by the simple story of Maria Goretti. 
<p>She was the daughter of a poor Italian tenant farmer, had no chance to go to school, never learned to read or write. When she made her First Communion not long before her death at age 12, she was one of the larger and somewhat backward members of the class. </p><p>On a hot afternoon in July, Maria was sitting at the top of the stairs of her house, mending a shirt. She was not quite 12 years old, but physically mature. A cart stopped outside, and a neighbor, Alessandro, 18 years old, ran up the stairs. He seized her and pulled her into a bedroom. She struggled and tried to call for help. “No, God does not wish it," she cried out. "It is a sin. You would go to hell for it.” Alessandro began striking at her blindly with a long dagger. </p><p>She was taken to a hospital. Her last hours were marked by the usual simple compassion of the good—concern about where her mother would sleep, forgiveness of her murderer (she had been in fear of him, but did not say anything lest she cause trouble to his family) and her devout welcoming of Viaticum, her last Holy Communion. She died about 24 hours after the attack. </p><p>Her murderer was sentenced to 30 years in prison. For a long time he was unrepentant and surly. One night he had a dream or vision of Maria, gathering flowers and offering them to him. His life changed. When he was released after 27 years, his first act was to go to beg the forgiveness of Maria’s mother. </p><p>Devotion to the young martyr grew, miracles were worked, and in less than half a century she was canonized. At her beatification in 1947, her mother (then 82), two sisters and a brother appeared with Pope Pius XII on the balcony of St. Peter’s. Three years later, at her canonization, a 66-year-old Alessandro Serenelli knelt among the quarter-million people and cried tears of joy.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, may the medals we wear be constant reminders of the lives they depict. While wearing them, may we be blessed through the saints’ intercession and protected from harm. Help us to continue to spread the messages of Jesus and Mary and the saints and angels.

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