Posted December 16 2004 - 07:52 AM
| He's almost a misudnerstood hero depending on how you look at it, and you almost can't blame him for doing what he does. |
Ernest Rister Wrote:
| Yeah, you can. Genocide does not excuse more genocide. He becomes the monster he fights against. |
Ironically, this was THE EXACT problem I had with the first & second films, and was part of the reason that I didn't consider X2 to be the masterpiece that critics & fans appeared to praise it as.
Note - The following contains spoilers. If you haven't watched X-Men & X-Men 2 and you don't want to ruin the experience, then stop here and forget I said anything...
I had many an argument with family & friends about using the terms "villain", "evil", and "bad guy" to describe Magneto in the first movie. When the movie begins, it opens to a scene in Poland, depicting the attrocities inflicted upon the Jews by the Nazi's of the time. We then move years into the future to a scene in Congress where high-level burocrats & other politicians are heavily endorsing & supporting the idea of "cataloging", "monitoring", and "restricting" the rights of another group of people - because of fear, intolerance, and lack of understanding of them. Present in the crowd of onlookers is Erik Lensher - Magneto. Once again he sees history repeat itself, bearing witness to the first steps of a process that might again lead to the calamity & tragedy that transpired in his youth. He decides then and there that can not allow such intolerance to happen again, and embarks upon a plan to stop the hatred in its tracks - to prevent history from repeating itself in his lifetime, whether the world likes it or not.
If you've seen the movie, you know that his plan involves transforming all the world leaders into mutants - a simple yet misguided plan that proves fatal, although not to the knowledge of Magneto himself. It is his hope that if all world leaders were themselves mutants, the unknown would become known, fear & intolerance would be abated, and then persecution of the mutants in their populations would stop. Keep in mind that he's not looking to KILL the world leaders or anyone else for that matter (although Rogue is considered a small sacrifice in the service of a greater good), nor is he assuming to take control of world governments - he simply wants to open the eyes of humanity to their own ignorance. In his actions, he shows an inherent respect for human & mutant life, but knows that prices need to be paid to preserve the greater good.
(Personal choice & the violations of individual freedoms aside, his actions could
be considered commendable, if the ends could justify the means... but that's a different story, and not a topic I'd like to explore on the HTF).
Of course, as we know he fails, gets thrown in jail, and so ends the first movie. As the curtain falls, Magneto, in my eyes, is seen as a tragic, misguided, yet sympathetic figure... one that could be pittyed equally as much as he should be revered.
Flash forward 3 years later, and X2 is released into theaters. Magneto escapes from prison in what I consider to be a fantastic yet gruesome prison break, and joins the fold for the fight for mutantkind. Everything seems to be going well, up until the final 15 minutes, in which Magneto issues his "edict" to a brainwashed Charles Xavier to terminate all human life on earth.
What happened to the sympathic figure from the first movie? The one who wanted to foster understanding between peoples & preserve life? How could such a person become so cold blooded so quickly? How did his character pull such a 180, without so much as blinking an eye?
Whomever wrote those lines, in my mind, made a serious and grievous error, and truly betrayed the underlying characteristics of Magneto that were established in the first movie. Transforming him from an individual who's last option was to kill (remember the train-station scene in the first movie? Although all the police officers had their guns turned on them, not a single one was shot), to one that could commit genocide, given his history, was a true betrayal to his character and everything established in the first movie.
In X2, Magneto went from being the "bad guy with good intentions" to the "evil malevolent bad guy who kills for fun".
A true shame in my book, and one of the reasons I might consider sitting out any future X-Men franchise films.