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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

X-Men: First Class

Sr. Rose Pacatte, FSP

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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James of the Marche: Meet one of the fathers of the modern pawnshop! 
<p>James was born in the Marche of Ancona, in central Italy along the Adriatic Sea. After earning doctorates in canon and civil law at the University of Perugia, he joined the Friars Minor and began a very austere life. He fasted nine months of the year; he slept three hours a night. St. Bernardine of Siena told him to moderate his penances. </p><p>James studied theology with St. John of Capistrano. Ordained in 1420, James began a preaching career that took him all over Italy and through 13 Central and Eastern European countries. This extremely popular preacher converted many people (250,000 at one estimate) and helped spread devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. His sermons prompted numerous Catholics to reform their lives and many men joined the Franciscans under his influence. </p><p>With John of Capistrano, Albert of Sarteano and Bernardine of Siena, James is considered one of the "four pillars" of the Observant movement among the Franciscans. These friars became known especially for their preaching. </p><p>To combat extremely high interest rates, James established <i>montes pietatis</i> (literally, mountains of charity)--nonprofit credit organizations that lent money at very low rates on pawned objects. </p><p>Not everyone was happy with the work James did. Twice assassins lost their nerve when they came face to face with him. James died in 1476 and was canonized in 1726.</p> American Catholic Blog Let us never tire of seeking the Lord—of letting ourselves be sought by him—of tending over our relationship with him in silence and prayerful listening. Let us keep our gaze fixed on him, the center of time and history; let us make room for his presence within us.


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