But for years, oppression has been central to the way fans read — and watch — X-Men. Particularly during the ’70s and ’80s Chris Claremont-penned era of X-Men comics, the adventures of James “Logan” Howlett and co. were seen as analogous to the saga of those discriminated in the real world. Whole debates have been had about the historical figures and philosophies upon which characters like Professor X and Magneto are based (Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X, respectively).
None of this is surprising, exactly. X-Men are “mutants,” of course, born with powers that make them too strange for prejudiced ordinary humans to wrap their heads around, and the mainstream society of Marvel lore marginalizes them more than any of their spandex-wearing brethren. The ensuing films have only served to highlight the parallels. “Mutants who have come forth and revealed themselves to the public have been met with fear, hostility, even violence,” Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) reports to the Senate in the beginning of 2000’s franchising-launching X-Men. Kind of like Arab Americans who suddenly found themselves surrounded by bigots in the wake of 9/11. Later in the same film, an angry mob brandishes cardboard signs beseeching the government to “protect our children,” from the supposed mutant menace. Kind of like gay marriage protestors. In Days of Future Past, out later this month, a scientist played by Peter Dinklage invents The Sentinels, giant robots intended as an “anti-mutant defense system.” Unless Days completely ignores its source material, the Sentinels shall embark on a rampaging mutant genocide. Kind of like Nazis.