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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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Augustine of Canterbury: In the year 596, some 40 monks set out from Rome to evangelize the Anglo-Saxons in England. Leading the group was Augustine, the prior of their monastery in Rome. Hardly had he and his men reached Gaul (France) when they heard stories of the ferocity of the Anglo-Saxons and of the treacherous waters of the English Channel. Augustine returned to Rome and to the pope who had sent them—St. Gregory the Great (September 3 )—only to be assured by him that their fears were groundless. 
<p>Augustine again set out. This time the group crossed the English Channel and landed in the territory of Kent, ruled by King Ethelbert, a pagan married to a Christian, Bertha. Ethelbert received them kindly, set up a residence for them in Canterbury and within the year, on Pentecost Sunday, 597, was himself baptized. After being consecrated a bishop in France, Augustine returned to Canterbury, where he founded his see. He constructed a church and monastery near where the present cathedral, begun in 1070, now stands. As the faith spread, additional sees were established at London and Rochester. </p><p>Work was sometimes slow and Augustine did not always meet with success. Attempts to reconcile the Anglo-Saxon Christians with the original Briton Christians (who had been driven into western England by Anglo-Saxon invaders) ended in dismal failure. Augustine failed to convince the Britons to give up certain Celtic customs at variance with Rome and to forget their bitterness, helping him evangelize their Anglo-Saxon conquerors </p><p>Laboring patiently, Augustine wisely heeded the missionary principles—quite enlightened for the times—suggested by Pope Gregory the Great: purify rather than destroy pagan temples and customs; let pagan rites and festivals be transformed into Christian feasts; retain local customs as far as possible. The limited success Augustine achieved in England before his death in 605, a short eight years after he arrived in England, would eventually bear fruit long after in the conversion of England. Augustine of Canterbury can truly be called the “Apostle of England.”</p> American Catholic Blog A hero isn’t someone born with unconquerable strength and selflessness. Heroes are not formed in a cataclysmic instant. Heroism is developed over time, one decision after another, moment by moment, formed by a deliberate, chosen, and habitual response to life.

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