I finally saw X-Men: Days of Future Past at our local close-to-DVD-release cheap theater that we South Minneapolitans all love, The Riverview. I loved it. I knew a few of the main comics discrepancies beforehand, but they didn’t bother me. It was gripping, the effects were sick, and I for me personally, I’m not sure there’s a limit to great acting performances once Lawrence and Fassbender hit the screen in damn near everything they do. All of that said, once I was waiting for the credits and the usual Marvel post-flick teaser, I started thinking about something else: Ferguson, MO.
I was glad, in a way, that I waited and saw it when I did. With all of the tragedy revolving around Ferguson, it reminded me why I got into the X-Men as a kid in the first place: the fight for equality and the celebration of diversity in a dogmatically intolerant world. Stan Lee knew exactly what he was doing when he created these characters surrounded by the Civil Rights Movement. The impact was also powerful and instantaneous on a brown multilingual transnational kid trying to make sense of shit in a white Midwestern town in the 90s. In addition, I had a science teacher that said I had a genetic mutation in my tendons in my wrist, so you know, that didn’t set me off fantasizing or anything. No tendon powers so far.
On one hand, I cry and get enraged with events like this as a person of color and a parent of children of color. On the other hand, having studied capitalism and it’s most refined evolutionary state, fascism, it’s sadly no surprise these terrible things keep happening. Mumia Abu Jamal said something like, while good people can be cops, nobody should be surprised that hateful racist arrests, beatings, and murders by police continue to happen because the entire historical system of policing is forever tied to the protection of capitalists’ capital. We all know how things break down around ethnicity and skin color along these lines. The point is, while perhaps it has gotten better, we are talking about a systemic disease. Changes to policing can happen for centuries, and have, but as long as capitalism exists, there is only so much progress that can happen and Michael Browns, Trayvon Martins, and the daily deaths of unarmed black and brown people will continually happen.
I’ll try not to spoil, but towards the end of the movie, Mystique makes her choice. A future world of war, intolerance, and genocide disappears to be replaced by something beautiful and ideal where mutants and humans coexist. We have a lot to learn from these fictional characters. How many one step forward, two steps back situations must we stupid and stubborn animals endure? Whether in policing, in military aggression, in politics, in religion, and so on, when will we start talking about the system at the root of it all? And when will we realize we’re all connected and sink or swim together? I was inspired by the Holocaust survivors’ words and actions between Gaza and Ferguson where the woman actually rocked her Franti Stay Human shirt. I realize the “one race: human” ideal seems too much for the world as it is, but we have to set a bar and dream. Someone once had a dream. We have many real life X-Men, past and present, you readers may be among them. May they save us from a future like the one shown in the film that I don’t even want to think about. Punho no ar, fist in the air.