Oh, X Men: First Class, for all your flaws, you are just a goldmine for meta! I've been so enjoying a million conversations, and a lot of perspectives have been covered elsewhere, but there's one element I have seen talked about where nobody mentioned the main factor in my own reading, so here it is. This is about the whole Charles/Raven relationship, and what it's about.

For all its flaws, one thing that this movie does really well is take a fantastic situation (people born with superpowers) and try to deal with it in an emotionally honest way. Every mutant we meet has a different pov, a different emotional relationship to their mutation, a different set of needs from society at large. The pov of each character is shaped not just by the fact that they are a mutant but by who they are in their own society (rich white boy, Polish Jew, black American...), where they come from, what people they deal with in early life and their own personality. Even their mutations set them apart, since each one is wildly different from another.

I think sometimes it's tempting to understand Charles only through the experiences he didn't have because he's part of elite in so many ways, but Charles, too, has developed his relationship to the world based on experience. Comics!Charles' abusive childhood is left out of the movie, but the movie doesn’t contradict it, and at least certain moments make even more sense if you assume something like it in movie canon. His personality may seem unacquainted with conflict, but it's actually yet another recognizable human response to child abuse. (And Charles' inner life is most hidden.)

But that's really another post! I put it out there to say that Charles, like the other mutants, shows how people interpret others through their own experiences even when they shouldn't. I've seen a lot of comments about how Charles is insensitive to Raven (which he is) because at base, he really isn't comfortable with her natural form, he really is repulsed by it, he thinks she should cover it up and he's too self-centered to notice that hurts her. That's not quite what I saw going on there. I thought their relationship was more the story of two people who knew each other well in childhood and were unprepared for the changes adulthood would bring.

Why is Charles so dismissive of Raven's concerns about her body? The audience can see her insecurity easily enough, and so can other characters. She's not hiding it, and she even tries to talk to him about it. Can Charles really still miss it? I think yes, he can, for several reasons.

First, Charles' childhood relationship with Raven makes him take his understanding of her for granted. He has promised her early on that he will respect her privacy by not reading her mind, and ironically that respect possibly keeps him from picking up on her feelings. Unfortunately after years of knowing her so well he *thinks* he understands her. This kind of arrogance is a pattern for Charles in all areas.

Second, Raven's desire to be out and proud happens to be the opposite of Charles' own way of getting through life. Raven has emotional needs about her body; Charles is biased towards the mind. (The thesis he finds exciting puts her to sleep.) Physically, Charles is instinctively unobtrusive. Sure he likes to show off his intelligence, but physically he blends in. Look even at his costumes compared to Erik's. This movie takes place in the early 60s, but Erik is already sporting the turtleneck sweaters and short leather jackets. Erik might not be focused on fashion, but he dresses stylishly. Charles' clothes, by contrast, are nearly timeless. The cut marks them as being from the early 60s, but they could fit into many decades.

Charles is also focused on being "good" and being rewarded for it. Raven is given to impulsive gestures that get reactions. Charles' emotional choices always lean towards calm, and he always puts on a show of being in control and not showing anything is wrong. The man even waits for the right moment to inform people that he can't feel his legs and probably would never have told anyone if he could have hidden it. He no doubt thinks of Raven's physical form as a superficial problem they solved long ago. Raven herself may have embraced the solution for a while.

So already Charles is predisposed to not naturally understand Raven's actions the way Raven does. But there's a more important factor, imo, that's the thing I have always seen overlooked. That factor is sex.

Sexual attractiveness for Raven symbolizes the acceptance and respect she craves. It's not all of what she needs, but it's the language she uses to speak about it. This is most obvious in the way she gets into Erik's bed, but it's not the only time it comes up. Both times Raven asks Charles for validation, she puts it in sexual terms. The first time is when she asks if he would date her, the second is when she surprises him naked in the kitchen. To me, this sexuality honestly read as central to both scenes. But not in the way I have seen it interpreted elsewhere, where Charles is described as revealing in these scenes that he is repulsed by Raven’s true physical form. I think it's more complicated than that.

First, when Charles first sees Raven's true form his instinctive reaction is joy. He's not at all put off by her blue form as a child. I might be remembering this wrong, but I think later the two of them share a scene in his room where she's again in her natural form and he's comfortably physically affectionate with her. They share several scenes where Charles interacts with Raven in her blonde disguise, and he is never, that I remember, shown to be attracted to her in that form either.

But Hank is.

XM:FC is not completely without flab, but I don't think it's so flabby that it would spend quite so much time repeating itself on the subject of Raven feeling unattractive. If Charles/Raven is about Charles rejecting Raven's true form as sexually attractive, why do we need Hank? Or more to the point, since Hank/Raven shows Raven being rejected as sexually unattractive in her natural form so clearly, why do we need Charles/Raven, which muddies the point by giving Charles so many reasons to not be attracted to her in either form? (I didn't see Raven as attracted to him either.)

Hank and Raven are linked romantically from the very beginning. They bond over having mutations that appear to others as physical deformities. In one of their first scenes Raven makes reference to being used to guys who are *only* interested in her for sex. But when Hank presents Raven with the serum, she balks at it. To take the serum, for Raven, is to spend the rest of her life in the same conflict she has now, where people lust after her disguised form while she assumes they would be repulsed by her true form. You can see why her sexuality in her natural form would become such a potent symbol to her.

When Raven puts this perspective to Hank, he reacts with more emotion than we usually see from him. He flat out tells her that she is *not* attractive in her natural form, that she is pretty *when she is disguised* and that she will *never* be accepted in her natural form. Hank is projecting all over Raven here. He's throwing his own self-hatred at her. Later, when he appears in his Beast form, Erik says, "Never looked better, man." Again Hank reacts with passionate anger, warning Erik not to mock him. Erik was not mocking him, but from Hank's pov that's the only thing his comment can be.

Where this comes back to Charles is that honestly, when I saw the movie I didn't see Charles completely passing judgment on Raven's looks there. I'm not saying that Charles couldn’t find extreme mutant forms unattractive sexually. He absolutely could. It just didn't seem like those scenes were about that revelation. Because to me it seemed like Charles was far more uncomfortable with Raven's sexuality directed at him than her mutant form.

People are quick to point out just how entrenched in privileged society Charles is, but sometimes they're still surprised when he holds the same values as that society. To put it bluntly: Charles is a prude. He's comfortable with sexuality approved of by his society and class, which does not include talking to your naked sister in the kitchen, even if your sister has no nipples (wtf with that?) When he meets Raven in the kitchen Charles doesn't tell her to change back into a blonde, he tells her to put some clothes on. Raven responds with one of those lines the movie loves that has double meaning depending on who's hearing it. She reminds Charles that he first met her in that very kitchen, and was not bothered by her nakedness then. But then, she supposes, many people find animals (or does she say pets?) cuter when they're babies. (I think this is before she gets into Erik's bed, but either way it echoes Erik's line about putting clothes on a tiger.)

Raven's line calls to mind the "They're cute when they're babies (but repulsive as adults)" form of racism. But the child/adult distinction has a different meaning too, and that's the meaning I think Charles is most aware of: a *naked* child is different than a naked adult. Naked adults are sexual. Charles is made uncomfortable by his sister's sexuality when it gets too close to him.

To me, the choice to put Raven's challenges sexually to Charles was important. Not only did it say something about Raven's character, it added a level of misunderstanding to the whole thing by giving Charles a reason to squirm so badly he needs to shut her down as quickly as possible. It seems to the audience and to Raven that his discomfort is about her natural form, but when I imagine the conversation taking place with a disguised Raven I don't think Charles' reaction would be any different. All these elements, to me, support things the movie is saying about Charles and Raven as characters, and their arcs in the movie, more than an interpretation where the two characters established as brother and sister also honestly look to each other for sexual interest.

This interpretation for Charles possibly has even more meaning if you factor possible Charles/Erik subtext into the story. I don't mean that Charles is unable to reassure Raven because he's gay. He shows sexual interest in women elsewhere. But Charles as a character does say something about being closeted.

Whether or not you read Charles and Erik as actually having a sex, sexual cues surround their relationship. Erik also turns down Raven, albeit without being freaked out by her and not without assuring her that she's attractive. (His reasoning is that she's too young, even though she's actually only a couple of years younger than Charles and it's probably the only time in the movie that Erik appeals to human social norms to justify restraint on his behavior.)

In the scene where Erik and Charles recruit Angel they not only decide to recruit her at her job (a job the producers have created for her in the sex industry), but they do it under the guise of getting a private lap dance, and make their pitch while lounging side by side on the red satin bed and sipping cocktails. They seem to be enjoying the sexual atmosphere without having any sexual interest in Angel.

If you apply that metaphor to Charles here, the problem isn't that Raven is asking Charles to show heterosexual interest. It's that Raven is being sexually inappropriate by asking him. One could make the case that Charles relies on socially accepted rules (of 1962) when it comes to sex--he originally flirts with Moira inappropriately just because she approaches him in a bar even though nothing about her behavior suggests flirting. So showing Charles as flustered and mortified by Raven can imply a bourgeois prudishness that might also interfere with his own inappropriate sexual desires. And thus make him unable to handle Raven's frank request for reassurance any better than Hank can. They both have knee jerk reactions to it. Hank's is "We're ugly!" and Charles' is "Put your clothes on!"

I'm not sure if Charles gets it even at the end of the movie, but he understands enough to know that he has failed Raven in some way that Erik has not. She leaves without knowing that Charles himself has become someone who looks different. But tbh, even the changes in Charles' body might not give him total insight into the way she relates to her own and vice versa. Even when they stand together, the mutant experience is fundamentally a lonely one.

From: [identity profile] puppetmaker40.livejournal.com

Part of it, I think is a point that you touched on.

I have two brothers and one sister and I really have NO WISH AT ALL to see them naked. In fact my eww eww ewww meter goes way up at the thought.

Charles grew up with Raven and treated her like a sister. So to his mind she is his little sister and there are places you don't tread. She is a companion rather than a possible lover (which we have seen over and over again on Dr. Who)

I think the most telling scene is early in the film when they are at Oxford and Charles is trying to finish his thesis. She curls up next to him, he puts his arm around her like a brother would and reads to her.

I don't think he ever really figures out that she might be interested in him but some people (even telepaths) can be that clueless.
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From: [identity profile] sistermagpie.livejournal.com

There's really a lot in the Charles/Raven relationship that's chalked up to them being brother and sister--in a way that he probably felt even more than she did. I mean...thinking further on it now, Raven starts out completely alone and is probably completely amazed at this kid who offers her a place in his home. But she probably only ever felt somewhat at home there. She would have been aware that she wasn't really born into this mansion or this class. Charles is the "head" of their little two person family and she's more vulnerable.

But Charles is the kid who meets a girl in the kitchen and makes the decision right there that she has to live with him. Plus he, as the "legitimate" member of the house is the one to make her his sister. He seems like he's far more focused on having the family that he doesn't have as a kid. So when this kid shows up he feels like the universe has gifted him with the loving sibling he wished for or whatever.

Anyway, I think that might make Charles all the more likely to ignore or deny signs that his sister isn't just the way he dreamed her.
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From: [identity profile] butterfly.livejournal.com

Yeah, I felt bad for both Charles and Raven in that later kitchen scene, because Raven was all, "he thinks I'm hideous when I'm blue!" while Charles was going "Argh, naked sister needs to wear clothes!"

The times when Charles seems to screw up with people do seem to coincide with when he can't read their minds - with Raven, because he promised he wouldn't read her mind, and with Erik (the 'following orders' line) because he literally can't read his mind while he's wearing the helmet. Charles is so used to casually using his powers, I think, that he doesn't really know how to read people's emotion/vibe without them.
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From: [identity profile] sistermagpie.livejournal.com

It's really hilarious that she's not getting his problem with NAKED NAKED NAKED while he's not getting that she really is comfortable naked in ways that he isn't.

It is interesting how they make sure that in his worst moments of cluelessness he's not reading the person's mind so doesn't really know what to say to them. Which when you think about it is probably something that's good for him to learn. He needs to figure out what to say to people beyond what's just the best thing to say to calm them or convince them of something. In some ways Charles is more honest in his stupidest moments.

From: [identity profile] velyrhorde.livejournal.com

Totally agree -- I never saw any sign while watching the movie that Charles was repulsed by Raven. She was his little sister, and he was repulsed by the fact that she was naked (and in one scene, was flirting with him). I also noted the gay hints with Erik -- taking that a step further, Charles does flirt shamelessly with women, yet we never actually see him take anyone home. His marriage to Moira won't last long. Is this because he's "in the closet"? Certainly, Charles has never had any friendship that has come close to his relationship with Erik -- two like minds who ended up on opposite sides of the struggle.
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From: [identity profile] sistermagpie.livejournal.com

A comment above made me really think about how important family seems to be to Charles in ways that it probably isn't to Raven. I mean, I think companionship and not being alone is important to Raven, but she's not as focused on family roles. And she's certainly not as well-versed in the subtleties of what those roles are.

It's funny that, of course, at the end of the movie Charles is further away from Moira than he is from anyone else because he's erased her memory of some of the most important things about him.
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From: [identity profile] mildlunacy.livejournal.com

Oh man, I have to get this out: I love Charles. Can I make meta requests? Consider writing All About Charles, hahahahahah *facepalm*. Or we could do a meta exchange! If there's any subject you'd like an essay on... MORE CHARLES haha. Most people's meta just traumatizes me so I don't know if I want to seek it out since people actually thought Charles was Rejecting Her Blueness in that scene (whuh--?). I can see how *Raven* thought that, but I thought the prudish angle was obvious. People just knee-jerk project onto Charles 'cause of the privilege thing, maybe. But he's so adorable. :( Why. :( The only person as adorable is Hank. :( Hank is less cute 'cause he's more into typically geek self-hate and stuff... get way too much of that in rl experience, find it lame in movies. Oh Hank. I disagree with everyone and don't think he got 'more awesome' as Beast. He got more 'rrarrgh' but that's just a disguise. I don't think his Beast look is that different from Raven's blonde look. I don't think the Beast is fundamentally his 'true self', though it's *a* true self. Maybe I'm biased towards the mind, but I think his geek look was reflective of how he grew up/his social marker(s) and history, and that's obliterated only on the surface with Beast, so I find it less awesome and more an escape.

Do you think Erik turned Raven down? She ends up lounging on his bed... but I like that interpretation, haha. I feel somewhat let down by Erik if he did sleep with her. I don't feel an attraction, so it'd be sort of like, 'well, you asked...' if it did happen. I like Hank/Raven if Hank ever got over himself. I'm not holding my breath though, with GeekboysxMutantboys.

The movie kind of made me sad, honestly. Maybe I've been writing about tragedies too much, but it's got that tragic arc going on for sure, and while, I guess, it wouldn't be much of a drama without two sides in the mutant world to choose from, it's still obvious that Charles & Erik should work together. Not just that Erik needs Charles (and he does) but that Charles needs Erik (and doesn't quite know it). He kind of knows it. I don't think he'd be like, 'I can't leave him' and 'I'm with Erik' to any of the other mutants; he allows his arrogance to weaken, to be swayed. Erik just pushes that inch too far.

Anyway, I'm also torn (partly 'cause I've been writing about heroes), because I'm not sure how to reconcile Charles' need/desire to blend in and/or be the 'good child' with his genuine goodness. It's not like it's an act, or something he does to be rewarded, even if that's part of the psychological motivation. I think he's just someone who genuinely sees the best in people, and is a natural teacher. I was actually relieved that he wasn't the total asexual he could've been; he's just very compartmentalized. I don't think the issues with Raven was all about Charles just not being sensitive enough; Raven was also switching the rules of the game on him. Or rather, they just mutually grew apart... but Charles didn't change, Raven did. Charles is actually the same throughout, haha. Surfaces just don't much matter to him, and it's hard for anyone to get that, let alone Raven, but I agree that he's privileged (easy for it not to matter for a telepathic white male). At the same time, what's Hank's excuse? Charles could've been Hank. Could have been bitter, but wasn't. I don't think having funny feet has to make you hate yourself, just as I don't think being able to blend in has to make you self-confident.
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From: [identity profile] mildlunacy.livejournal.com

As interested as I am in anti-heroes, I'm really interested in heroes. It's interesting that while the motivations of the switchers get explained, we don't know why people *stayed* with Charles. Why didn't Darwin change sides? So I don't think all the X-Men's behavior could be explained by their experiences, which is good: that gap, or leap of faith, or inner strength, is where heroism happens. I'm not saying something like 'Darwin had inner strength, and Angel didn't', because they just had different beliefs based on their experiences. But it's still a choice you make that's conscious. You could choose to act on your pain, or you could choose to be 'the better man'. Erik's problem is that he didn't really want to try-- forget being persecuted vs being victorious, he didn't see the point in really striving to achieve something fundamentally different/better about himself/his own life. 'Peace was never an option'. He still just wants to survive/be vindicated, and Raven still just wants to be accepted/wanted, and those are valid desires, but Charles wants to reach out to others and create a better world. Regardless of his desires, his actions are inherently more positive simply because of that. Charles doesn't reject people, he accepts people; however, in terms of interaction and how he actually responds, of course he's got hang-ups, blind spots, etc. There's a disconnect between his own emotions and actions because he's always oriented towards others and harmonious/proper/fruitful interaction, and sometimes that may be off-putting or inappropriate. If one's friends are never selfish with you or show their desires around you, you start to wonder if they trust you or know you, etc. If people don't get that fundamental quality, I'm not too optimistic about their X-Men meta in general.

Anyway, Charles, Mr Super-awesome, the end. <3<3<3. I love Erik, too. Really, he's been so traumatized, I feel like saying, 'therapy, my friend....'

PS: How crazyhot was that scene with them on the same bed? Holy god, I wanted more badass partners!Charles/Erik. Maybe an AU with them starting a PI agency or being secret agents, hahaha.
PPS: STORM!!!1 Adorable. Also, Alex <3<3<3. Oh man, Wolverine cameo killed me dead. I guess I love him 'cause he reminds me of Jim Kirk. Totally adorable. I like him better than Scott, anyway.
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From: [identity profile] mildlunacy.livejournal.com

ermmm... ALEX reminds me of Jim, not Wolverine, hahahaha.

I'm really curious about Alex, his prison thing, etc-- why would someone so obviously traumatized be so solidly one of the good guys (as I feel he is, if immature)? Is it just the soldier/obey the leader mentality? He's got that fratboy crudeness/picking on the weak thing going on for sure. Is he just shallowly characterized? I just feel like him and Banshee are so solid, and part of that (I think) is a sense of group dynamics-- they wouldn't leave their bros-- but also a part of it is they're naturally good guys. Ordinary guys, but good guys. Like, I don't find them to be superheroes or even heroes, but just the kind of guys who join the army because they genuinely feel good serving their country or something. It's sweet. With Angel, I think she just wasn't cut out for the superhero shit at all. Like, she didn't have the mojo, period. I mean, just because you're a mutant doesn't mean you have to want to help people and be a Good Samaritan and help save the world. I mean, they're just ordinary sometimes, aren't they? But at the same time, I don't think their mutantness permeates them so much their experience as a whole has to be fundamentally solitary. I don't think it's like that for say, Banshee, say. He's just a guy (a bit silly, still impressionable, well-meaning but dorky). And say, Hank, is just a geek... nothing all that unusual about him as a member of *that* species..... I guess I'm the one being bitter now. But I think Hank actively *makes* his experience a solitary one, that's the typical part. He's just stuck in his head, for sure. That's partly why Charles is so awesome. Even if he's cerebral, he's not stuck in his head.

Ultimately, I guess, the situation put too much pressure on Erik; he should've had more downtime as neither hero nor superhero, but just a guy in training, hanging out with the guys, bonding with Charles. He has the potential to be a leader, to make a positive difference-- the insightful/supportive comments he kept making-- he just needed to take the recovery way more slowly. He's too powerful for his own good, too; Charles can handle his own power, and the others can handle theirs, but Erik should have had personal treatment from Charles to reorient his relationship with his powers from the ground up, not just one talk, but months of guidance. The whole 'you need rage' thing is seriously problematic. I wonder if Charles blames himself for the whole situation....
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From: [identity profile] mildlunacy.livejournal.com

Final PS: Read somewhere that Charles' other big female failure was re: Moira, as in mind-wiping her. Maybe I'm just weird, but it didn't really even startle me, and I don't think it makes him less of a good guy, exactly. He's always been like, 'well, let's go to the very absolute limit of what's defensible, and then have a dead stop and go no further'. So in his mind, he clearly saw a rational connection between 'must keep mutants safe' and 'can't trust the CIA's methods on extracting info'. Remember, too, he 'pushes' people (like that CIA agent guy) and that's glossed over. He definitely edges right up towards manipulative, but I don't think he steps over... quite. Like how when the guys were having their room-party and he said 'I expect more from you'. Even like how *as soon as he met Erik*, he was like 'stop and calm your mind', as if he'd already known him for years and expects Erik to know better. He acts totally intimate way before he has grounds (like when Erik tries to leave the CIA); he makes a show of 'oh, I'm not making you stay', but it's the intimacy that does it. I mean, he uses his telepathy as this totally valid way to relate to people, to the point that I don't think he has any sort of normal boundaries around it. Like, I don't think Charles would ever use drugs to make Moira forget, for example, or torture, or hypnotism, or any other method. It's like, 'well, I'm helping you keep your promise', the way he helped Erik by making him remember the family dinner.

It's like, I think that if the mind-wiping was a no-no, then the Sabbath memory was as well. That was just some seriously questionable display of boundaries. Just because Erik didn't know better and was emotionally compromised (...and because he totally had the hots for Charles...), it doesn't mean that was ok, even though he'd asked. I think if someone thinks that the Moira thing is Charles being an asshole, then he was an asshole throughout. He's always so... pushy. Like, even without mentally pushing, for instance, he still pushes his pov onto Raven: 'well, it's just a body, isn't it... why are you so concerned?' He's got that 'well, naturally I'm right' thing going on. He only ever suspends that with Erik (even slightly). I think partly that's why the whole gov't-firing-missiles thing doesn't phase him (he already had his world-view, and that was going to be it). Partly, you can say that the thing the firing incident *did* do is make Charles more careful and self/mutant-protective, so while he wouldn't have gone so far as to mind-wipe people in the past, you can say: well, Erik went on the severe offensive, but Charles went on the severe defensive. Not unreasonable in what's basically a cold man/mutant war. You take severe precautions in extreme danger, when that danger extends to people you're protecting and not just yourself. Regardless, it's odd to me to isolate the Moira incident as qualitatively different.

... The thing that'd make me really happy is fics where we could see more of Charles getting influenced by Erik, just 'cause I think it's so... weirdly shocking. And vice versa. Forget mind-wiping, I was really startled (but pleased) when he wouldn't let the CIA identify mutants. I think that moment is what really bonded Erik to him (or, it really helped).I bet having that degree of influence over someone like Charles would go to anyone's head, even Erik's, hahah.
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From: [identity profile] sistermagpie.livejournal.com

Oh my god, Reena, I love Charles so much it's actually kind of scary. Even when he's being a douche!!! Save me from myself!

I would probably love to write nothing but stream of consciousness about him for the next few weeks!

I agree about Beast. I mean...why's that his real self? More about that in talking about Cahrles down below. I keep forgetting that we don't know if Erik turned Raven down. I guess I feel like he did because the kiss wasn't shown being passionate and his reasons he gave for rejecting her hadn't changed. Like, it's not that he said he didn't want to sleep with her unless she was in her natural form, he said she was too young. But also maybe it just doesn't seem like Erik would want to mix sex with the kind of advice he was giving her in that scene, you know? Like he doesn't want to reward her for turning into her natural form, he wants her to make the decision and think about it, which she won't if it's more about blue=Erik's approval.

Anyway, the movie completely broke my heart. Talk about a perfect tragedy you can see happening and even if you try to imagine a better version in fanfic you really can't without it seeming fake. Throughout the whole movie Erik's basically telling Charles that things are not going to work out the way he wants, and more importantly that he's not going to heal Erik the way he wants. (In the comments above I am basically totally agreeing with Charles not changing when Raven does--she's really a character in transition from the beginning while Charles is already formed. Not that he won't have to reevaulate a ton of things later, but his core beliefs are still formed.)

Anyway, I'm also torn (partly 'cause I've been writing about heroes), because I'm not sure how to reconcile Charles' need/desire to blend in and/or be the 'good child' with his genuine goodness.

Good point. I think the "acting good" is more of a superficial thing that doesn't make the deeper goodness fake. Like...it's not that he acts good to get something out of it. It's that he thinks that people should be good to each other and make compromises and appeal to their better natures. That's just how the world makes sense to him. It's kind of the opposite of someone like Erik who always sees peoples' worst natures and is provocative to bring it out in the open. Charles is striving to be the good person he'd like to be, even if he's really falling short of it at the moment. Where as Erik is openly rejecting the idea that he could be anything like that. He's chosen to be ethically dodgy for his goals.

Which I can respect, actually, and keeps Erik from being a real villain. He's not claiming to be a victim. He has moments of wanting to blame things on others (like with the bullet) but he's not in general about denying his own bad behavior. Sometimes his owning his ruthlessness spills over into self-punishment and being damaged, but usually he seems to be saying that yes, he's doing things that are wrong because he believes it's necessary. He's not saying that because he did it it's good, or even really that the ends justify the means. He's not really looking for justification. He's looking for survival.

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From: [identity profile] sistermagpie.livejournal.com

I'm really interested in heroes. It's interesting that while the motivations of the switchers get explained, we don't know why people *stayed* with Charles.

Good point! We get it with Raven, I think. Angel's hard for me because even if I can accept her not wanting to be a hero and it makes sense to me that she wouldn't be trusting the government it seems like we need more explanation for why she chooses the white guy who just murdered the only other black mutant she's ever met over the white guy that didn't!

I guess to a certain extent it's about what you prioritize. Like what Raven says about whether you will ever want to be against the world. Erik's group seems kind of inspired by that. Hank, at least, definitely shares Charles' desire to be part of the world in his own way. I am completely stumped about Alex, maybe since we don't know him well. Well, hmm. We're told he prefers solitary confinement, but that might be because he's worried about hurting people. So he might prefer Charles because he's the guy offering him a way to have enough control that he can have a place in society where as a group that's more anger-based would probably encourage more damage?
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From: [identity profile] mildlunacy.livejournal.com

Like what Raven says about whether you will ever want to be against the world. Erik's group seems kind of inspired by that.
It just occurred to me that this is a point that puts a dent in Erik&co's hardcore realism/survivalism mantra. Like... there's a reason that 'us against the world' is basically a teenager's vision-- it's because you can't do it, basically. If the whole world's your enemy, you can't win. The survivalist does what *Charles* does, not what Erik does. That's gotta be why people edge into becoming 'part of the rat race' once they grow up so overwhelmingly often. It can't be that they're idealists-- they're 'selling out', after all. So what would Machiavelli do? (WWMD?) haha. He'd be all about working within the system yet introducing changes that benefit him/his chosen in the long run. The short run strategy just gets you killed.

Like, just because you're facing a threat doesn't mean you have to bonk it over the head. If you're fighting zombies, say, you don't just blindly use zombie tactics. You have to use your advantage. The question isn't 'how do you destroy all humans who're not mutant' (that might seriously endanger the world ecosystem *and* destroy potential farmers and fruit stand workers and stuff), but you get them to accept you as the new overlords in a subtle enough way that they won't rebel later. That is, don't make humans slaves but ingratiate yourself into society so that even if they resent you, you fulfill a genuine function (like... ugh, like people's fantasies about what the Jews did). This is actually what Charles wants, even if he wouldn't put it like that.

Maybe the problem is that he never explained himself to Erik properly, or at least used too many fluffy words?? haha. This is actually common-- many inspirational leaders are actually hardcore realists at heart... I'm thinking Obama here, hahaha.
ext_6866: (Hmmmm..)

From: [identity profile] sistermagpie.livejournal.com

Heh, maybe part of the problem is Erik's privilege again. He's grown up already considering himself part of the natural ruling class without any fuss. He knows how to just politely slip into the place waiting for him. Erik feels like he has to bust things down.

And of course, the bustin things down is a big part of it. The thing is, it's not even like Erik himself would claim he's really making a new world for himself. He's destroying this one, but when it comes to himself he's so pessimistic, never wants to see beyond the fight that's going to come and this time it's going to kill him. At this point at least with some of the people we know, the ones on Erik's team would probably not think they knew how to live outside of society, where as Erik and Raven maybe can't ever imagine themselves completely in it. Where as I think Charles might see himself as a little of both. He was always part of society officially, like by having parents, but also set apart from them.

From: [identity profile] inboots.livejournal.com

So he might prefer Charles because he's the guy offering him a way to have enough control that he can have a place in society where as a group that's more anger-based would probably encourage more damage?

he's also the guy who told him "i have complete faith in you" and stood beside the mannequin, urging alex to hit just the one in the middle.

sean also says "i trust you" (to which charles says "i'm touched"), in the scene where erik pushes him off the satellite.

i think trust in charles is what made those kids stick with him.
ext_6866: (Blah blah blah blah blah)

From: [identity profile] sistermagpie.livejournal.com

And okay, on Moira, I take mindwipes really seriously and it's unfortunate that the woman winds up getting her knowledge robbed. However. I loved it. Because here's why.

Going back to Hank, Charles and he have that convo about Jeckyll & Hyde where Charles is on the one hand clueless because he's encouraging Hank with his serum that's going to backfire much the way Jeckyll's does. But otoh, he's using it to point out that it's not about good/evil so much as higher vs. lower impulses in humans. Charles is encouraging Hank to give in to his lower impulses not because he's all about them but because he's all about *balance*. He's always talking about balance--true power in the spot b/w X and Y, calm your mind, all that stuff. He's not a Buddhist who's on the serenity side completely, he wants to be in between. Serene enough to not be consumed with anger, but angry enough that he wants to take action.

When he's w/Erik they balance each other. Charles is so "we'll just be awesome and they'll accept us!" and Erik is all "You're an idiot, we have to get them before they get us." But I feel like the end of the movie shows Erik being more right in the short term and Charles being more right in the long term. Because Erik's right about them being targetted etc. But I felt like the last two final scenes showed Erik starting off on a downward trajectory while Charles was finding more balance.

Erik is breaking Emma out of jail. They have a snarky exchange about his lost telepath friend who has "left a real hole in his life." Another one of those double meaning lines, obviously, but it's scary when you think what this one means. Erik is replacing Charles with someone who only shares his power. Like he's discarded the man and the philosophy he used to argue with him for someone who is just the power. With that choice the symbolism of Erik adopting a helmet that literally keeps Charles out of his head is even stronger. The events of the movie proved to Erik he was right all along, that Erik's views aren't helpful. So he's just going to go full tilt the way he naturally leaned even more powerfully than before. (The memory of Charles is probably even spurring him on in that direction because he wants to avenge his injury.)

Erik, otoh, instead of getting a helmet has gotten a chair, which replaces his legs--it's neutral. What I love about when he zaps Moira is to me it seems like a sign that Erik has learned from his experiences some of what Erik wanted to teach him. He's willing to be a little ruthless to protect himself and the other mutants and see humans as always being a potential enemy because they are different. Charles doesn't go out to find himself another metal bender, but he imo keeps a little version of Erik in his head to argue with him. Where Charles before would have been open with Moira as a gesture of good faith, Charles now takes away her ability to hurt him rather than count on her good intentions. He is defining himself more the way Erik does now.

And this is the guy who originally tries to impress the CIA with, "So, how about those missiles you guys are putting in Turkey?"
ext_7854: (Default)

From: [identity profile] mildlunacy.livejournal.com

Charles doesn't go out to find himself another metal bender, but he imo keeps a little version of Erik in his head to argue with him.
!! :D That made me happy, and I could totally see Charles doing that, compartmentalizing 'those' ideas as 'Erik', haha. I mean, that was always the difference between them, even when they're old guys-- Charles is always at least listening to Erik (then disagreeing), while Erik is just 'well, I've been proven right now, haven't I? Haven't I?' Of course you can't fight for survival unless you're ruthless, that seems logical, but how can survival be the end-all goal for a whole group of people (rather than one individual)? That's Erik's problem, not thinking far enough ahead. It may be okay for *him* to just keep going like that, but a whole group needs some more serious goal and plan, unless he really wants to put the humans into camps. Which. I don't actually think he does, and/or it'd make him sick if he did.

Charles is encouraging Hank to give in to his lower impulses not because he's all about them but because he's all about *balance*.
Totally, yeah... that's probably my problem with Beast!Hank (just skewed in the other direction). For Charles, of course, I don't think action comes from anger, exactly? I wonder. Like, it was such a telling moment when Moira showed him there was a problem with mutants in Vegas, and he immediately wanted to do anything to help. He seems to get angry when he's disappointed in others-- when the guys were partying, and rage/despair at Erik's killing Shaw-- but I don't know if anger is his dark side, or that he has to suppress/redirect it somehow. With Hank it's more Mind vs Body/Instinct.

But yes! I feel the tragedy is in miniature in the scenes where, on the one hand, Erik is rejecting outside input and becoming even more inflexible and shut off from others whereas Charles is reaching out more and allowing Erik's ideas to germinate, etc. Though (as I sort of said) I think Charles was always kind of ruthless and loose with his powers, so I don't know that it was a huge leap for him. More, perhaps, a more conscious strategy once he realized things aren't going to be as easy as he'd imagined. It's true, he did declare that bit about missiles in Turkey, so he was more naive for sure. But his modus operandi is only getting sharpened/refined, not revolutionized (that whole bit about not changing fundamentally). Even Raven, I wouldn't say she changes so much as increasingly decides to stop putting on breakers or pretending for Charles' sake/to get acceptance. She was always naturally Erik-like in her drive for survival (looting people's kitchens is probably only part of it), but having met Charles so much earlier, he sort of stopped her in her tracks for awhile. But ultimately what she wants (partnership/loyalty/'us' above all) isn't what Charles wants; it's actually a mirror of how the Erik relationship could've gone had *Erik* met Charles a lot earlier.
ext_6866: (Trio)

From: [identity profile] sistermagpie.livejournal.com

Though (as I sort of said) I think Charles was always kind of ruthless and loose with his powers, so I don't know that it was a huge leap for him. More, perhaps, a more conscious strategy once he realized things aren't going to be as easy as he'd imagined.

Absolutely. I mean, the thing with Charles is that if you think about his power it's the scariest, which is why they had to make Charles the one who's compassionate and ethical. If Charles had Erik's personality the world would just be in trouble. He'd just have made everyone do what he wanted.

It's not even just that he can be ruthless it's that it's so easy for him to be ruthless, like with the guy he mindzaps to get him in the car. With Moira I didn't think that the fact that he mindwiped her was the thing that was different with him because I think you're right, it's not that big of a change for him. It's that he's doing it to Moira who had been an ally and who still is an ally, because he's drawing a new line between mutants and humans that he didn't have before. I mean, he always saw a difference but in the past he wouldn't have wanted to basically say to someone who had proved themselves trustworthy that he still had to do this because they're still human.

I think that's the biggest Erik-influence there. It's not quite being ruthless because it's not like Charles is quite that squeamish. It's more the pre-emptive strike against Moira because she's human. And a friend--earlier he can't even shoot Erik for practice.

On my DW we were talking about Raven and said much the same thing, that what's interesting with her is that even though she's a woman choosing b/w two men, she's really going with the guy whose philosophy more naturally matched her own.
ext_7854: (Default)

From: [identity profile] mildlunacy.livejournal.com

When I used to RP H/D, this idea of 'but isn't it all about US?' would come up, too, and the major way for Harry to go dark (that I would never quite do) was to have him give in and become insular, and say 'ok, me & you against the world'. It's different with friends/partners you share ideals with-- you can be loyal and still be true to yourself. For Charles, the dark side wouldn't be anger, it would be intimacy. If he ever chose to be loyal to someone over his ideas of what's best-- that would be it. It's something Erik or Raven could do any day of the week, but that's something Charles would probably have a real hard time finding balance with. I wonder. I know there's backstory where he had an abusive childhood, and probably in some corner of his mind he *does* want to get stupidly attached and unreasonable and selfish, to push harder and harder and HARDER until things are his way. But he lets go-- like he lets Raven go-- partly for their sake, but partly out of fear, self-protection, but also fear of himself. I could kind of feel parts of him tearing a bit whenever he'd rush in after Erik against his better judgment.

It's true, though, that his desire to be part of the world is genuinely born of the goodness in him. At the same time, this implies to me that he must have a dark side where he wants that sort of claustrophobic union on some level. Well, this is just my fantasy world, ahahah.

With Erik, while he's not about victimizing himself, I still think he projects a lot. While I respect him owning his ruthlessness, you could see how 'I just want to survive' or 'it doesn't matter what I do' can be a defense mechanism, refusing to really deviate and consider mollifying or shifting too seriously 'cause that's threatening. Like how some people are afraid of success rather than failure, he seems invested in not being 'fixable'. He's been telling Charles all along that it's not going to work, peace is not an option, but he's also been bluffing a bit, because a part of him was seduced/weakened by what Charles had to offer, right? To kind of expand on the Raven as Erik thing, I think that Erik won't admit but obviously misses emotional intimacy in his life, and that kind of thing has a way of shifting one's priorities away from sheer survival. I mean, he's *really* insistent on keeping Charles out; it can't be just that he's simply worried Charles would telepathically attack him, being so powerful, etc. You don't insist on protection unless you're feeling vulnerable. With such a fear/weakness, I call into question the absolute self-sufficiency he projects. That is, I don't think he regrets anything he'd done or wants to regret it, but more that he's aware there are whole areas of life he's not even taking into consideration, on some level. It's like, well, 2+2=4, but only when you ignore the 3 sitting over there on the side. He's always been way more emotionally volatile than he lets on, driven by the connections he'd formed to others (his mom! and on the negative side, to Shaw). I mean, his revenge wasn't really a rational choice of someone who genuinely believes in survival. There he was, about to drown and with no hope anymore of destroying the ship, and he was still... going..... So in that sense, the helmet is an admission of serious emotional vulnerability. Or maybe I just like to think so.

With Angel, hm. I think she was acting out, or identifying more as a woman than as a woman of color. Her history as a dancer, and experience with male attention sort of primed her to resent being objectified and being 'good' about it or accepting it as 'expected' or normal. To not be looked at 'like that' because people are too busy seeing her as a real threat, or something. In a way she's the opposite of Raven, who takes sexist attention as a given and furthermore wants more attention as validation. Raven is kind of torn, because a part of her (I think) just wants to be normal, or to play by normal m/f social roles where the woman is validated and protected by the man, and that's the part that really got along well with Charles. Angel didn't have a very positive experience with attention. She might have stayed if Professor X was a wise and powerful woman, haha.
ext_7854: (Default)

From: [identity profile] mildlunacy.livejournal.com

PS: I can't believe I thought: it would kind of be hotter if Charles *was* a woman....
ext_6866: (Trio)

From: [identity profile] sistermagpie.livejournal.com

I think Charles is definitely driven by a desire to be connected to people passionately--though you can again see why it has to go along with his commitment to doing what's right. Because without that he could have just made people his love slaves. Instead it's almost like because he can do that he needs to leave them free in order to get the family he wants. Like...Charles has mind control, yet he didn't change his mother. Okay, I guess the movie leaves this out so you can't really get into it, but even in the movie we hear that his mother sends servants to bring him cocoa. You could say he's just lonely because he's the only mutant but the fact that he just brings this girl into his home and she becomes his entire family...I feel like, like I said, the groundwork for his abusive childhood is there. And yet he didn't just change his family to be happier. So he had to have early on not been satisfied with that. Like, did he *try* briefly to make things happier? Like using what little I know of canon, did he try to simply remove his mother's alcoholism and neglect and stop his stepbrother's and stepfather's abuse? If so, why did he not feel happy about that?

Totally agree on Erik, especially later. One of the things I think is interesting about people saying that Charles doesn't know what he's talking about because he hasn't gone through what Erik has is that on one hand it's totally true. But otoh it can get to where it's suggesting that that kind of horror is character-building instead of damaging.

Charles may disregard other peoples' opinions a lot, especially in this movie, but he ultimately seems much more open to being shaped by experiences in the end. Where as Erik's dismissal of other opinions comes from something stronger than Charles' thoughtless arrogance. It's also fear of considering the alternative that makes want to stick his fingers in his ears and kick the person to make them shut up. He *did* experience human beings being loving and he lost it and now he can't really face it. Like they both need to believe their theories about humans are true, but if Charles is proved wrong he'll suffer and tell himself they just weren't ready. Erik will be freaked out on a personal level and probably kill himself, because his own behavior has to be justified on it.

So yeah, I think the helmet is definitely a sign of emotional vulnerability. Especially since he knows Charles wouldn't be abusing his power over him too much.
ext_7854: (Default)

From: [identity profile] mildlunacy.livejournal.com

'Love Slaves' :D :D I remember you saying how no AU could really 'work', but I think dark!Charles would work, hahah and be weirdly hot. But then what would be the point (in terms of, it'd be breaking things to fix them). I wonder if it wasn't a matter of simply pushing a bit harder to get Erik to just get attached to Charles in the obsessive way that he has. Like, not even mind-control, just pushing a few more buttons ala the candlelit dinner, or whatever, and then he'd revolve around Charles without being able to help himself (like with Shaw)... of course, that wouldn't make Charles happy or anything, I'm just wondering if that's an option Erik *had*. I feel like he has the potential for extremity, so if you go only a little too far, you'd end up falling all the way down the rabbit hole. I think with people whose strength is brittle, they often have a great potential for codependency, or just unhealthy possessive attachment. This would work without altering his beliefs. I like dark AUs, it appears. :> I just *really* felt that potential during the crying training scene. The *ease* with which he agreed to let Charles in. The way in which he was so much more affected than Charles, and/or Charles didn't quite get *how* far they went, what with the 'clap clap good job'. Have I just read too much slash....???

Anyway, I think that while Charles does one-off bandaid type things, I can't imagine cute!baby!Charles being all 'I shall now mastermind my family's forced therapy'. He seems more likely to just accept people. Like, 'this is how it is', and he was disturbed when Raven!mom was different from usual. Imagine how freaked out he'd be if he was like, 'oh wait... I 'fixed' her yesterday'. I'm sure that'd be lonely and also he'd start to hate himself and/or his gift eventually. I always had this horrible squick towards stories where someone's impersonating (or possessing) someone else and you're walking on eggshells, wondering if this or that odd behavior will make them realize. I'm pretty sure if he 'fixed' them, it'd be like having neutered or possessed parents. When people change too much, it's easy to simply perceive them as different people. Like, why did Charles jump to the conclusion of 'who are you? you're not my mom'. I mean, I assume he didn't realize shapeshifters existed. So he wasn't rationally thinking that it was really some spy/shapeshifter/etc, but refusing to deal with sudden change emotionally or rationally.

if Charles is proved wrong he'll suffer and tell himself they just weren't ready. Erik will be freaked out on a personal level and probably kill himself, because his own behavior has to be justified on it.
Totally! Yeah, he's definitely brittle like that. Gods, more dark AUs.... I can totally see it! Something Big happens, Erik runs away to think or brood or whatever (sans helmet), Charles is like, 'ping!' and gets there just in time to forcefully prevent him from hurting himself. Hahah a lonely Canadian cabin fic! I think if it was a question of Erik's life or death, Charles may actually cross the line.

Anyway, I'm just generally skeptical about the mental health prospects of any incarnation of the anti-hero archetype. Being that fixated on death, persecution and survival is already already a red flag, psychologically (I think). Further, having like, no healthy ongoing close relationships is another red flag. Those things go together, too. When you're totally all about survival, it's practically an advertisement for PTSD/abuse/trauma, 'cause it's the lowest level of human ego functionality. Like, at the very bottom. So I think saying that Charles didn't 'know what it's like' misses the point, in that it's not that Erik had a sucky childhood but that he was severely traumatized, and that's not the same at all. Further, he *does* know what it's like, I mean, he said that in the drowning scene and I don't think he was kidding. At the same time, the superhero genre in general is built on unaddressed pathology, which is what 'Watchmen' was about, right...
ext_6866: (Dreamy)

From: [identity profile] sistermagpie.livejournal.com

I remember you saying how no AU could really 'work', but I think dark!Charles would work, hahah and be weirdly hot. But then what would be the point (in terms of, it'd be breaking things to fix them).

You're right, that would work. I was totally thinking of the versions I've read where people keep them as themselves but have them not split up. Basically just putting a happy ending on it when the whole story is such a tragedy.

I can't imagine cute!baby!Charles being all 'I shall now mastermind my family's forced therapy'. He seems more likely to just accept people.

Exactly! I mean, I feel like they knew that had to be a foundation of his character because if you've got somebody with that power you almost have to give them some reason that they would never do that unless you're going for Dark!Charles and he's a scary monster. But little!Charles would presumably have to consider it and you'd wonder why he didn't like it, since a lot of kids, especially, wouldn't be able to think it through enough to know they didn't really want that. So Charles would have to see his family hurting and hurting him but see the alternative as worse.

Which is cool when you think of him being disturbed in the kitchen with Raven at first, like he doesn't like fake!motherly affection. Maybe that's what freaked him about it. Like, if you're lonely and you force people to love you you'd be even more lonely because you'd know it wasn't real. Sort of like Raven and her attractive disguise. She can make herself attractive, but when it works it just makes her feel worse about herself. Too bad she never realized Charles probably did understand it from that angle. Just as it was important for her for people to like the real her, it was important for him that people really liked him. I do wonder about the "who/what are you?" Is he also getting a different "vibe" from her mentally? I prefer it if he isn't using his powers at all and is just knowing it's wrong.

So I think saying that Charles didn't 'know what it's like' misses the point, in that it's not that Erik had a sucky childhood but that he was severely traumatized, and that's not the same at all.

Yes, exactly. It's interesting to me to look at the three of them and say okay, Raven possibly never had anyone if she was rejected at birth. Like she may have grown up without any actual family. So the concept doesn't have a lot of specific meaning for her. She wants connections to people, but parent/child might be a bit foreign.

But with Charles and Erik it's like they're opposites. Erik had a loving relationship with his mother, obviously. That's why he doesn't want to lose her, wants to see her, why she comforts him and why he's so upset when she's shot. The light part of his mind guards memories of love and safety before the war that he'd repressed. This is somebody dealing with the traumatic loss of these things who's afraid to have them again and lose them again.

With Charles those relationships were more distant even when they were there. In the comics I think his dad died when he was young, his mother became a neglectful alcoholic and his stepfather and brother were abusive. In the movie we only see his mother but even in the one scene she's still being the opposite of Erik's mother. Later Charles is obviously on his own and the loss of whatever family once also lived in that house doesn't even need to be remarked on. When Erik asks Charles how he ever "got through" his childhood in that house Raven says "me." Which I think is another subtle confirmation that it wasn't a loving home.

Combine that with their personalities and you've got Erik having to believe that the only love is with your own kind, and if you find it it'll be taken from you. While Charles...has never really figured out how to have that love but has to believe it's possible.

From: [identity profile] inboots.livejournal.com

ooh, this is so good!!

Raven's line calls to mind the "They're cute when they're babies (but repulsive as adults)" form of racism. But the child/adult distinction has a different meaning too, and that's the meaning I think Charles is most aware of: a *naked* child is different than a naked adult. Naked adults are sexual. Charles is made uncomfortable by his sister's sexuality when it gets too close to him.

it's supported by how, in the two times we see them at a bar, he stresses that she should have a cola. he orders brandy for the lady he was flirting with at the beginning (because he read her and knew that's what she wanted), but raven gets the non-acoholic beverage treatment. and he doesn't let her fight with erik, hank and alex at the beach, either. so yeah, he def sees her as a kid.

what was damaging imho was the "solution to your 'cosmetic' problem" line. bad euphemism. :/
ext_6866: (I brought chips!)

From: [identity profile] sistermagpie.livejournal.com

I'm glad you liked it!

And yeah, Charles really seems to create a role for himself regarding Raven early on that sometimes really clashes with what she's asking for. It's always funny for me, the whole "she'll have a coke" thing because Raven's not that much younger than Charles. She's definitely old enough to be drinking if she wants to!

The "cosmetic problem" line was yeah, ouch. And in his mind it was probably a nice thing to say because he sees it as a superficial thing. Unfortunately it's actually anything but superficial--even Hank's serum seems to agree!

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From: [identity profile] sandoz-iscariot.livejournal.com

Very interesting meta. Charles being uncomfortable with his sister's burgeoning sexuality was what I took from that scene as well. He loved her regardless of her form, but he's stuck in that paternalistic early 60s mindset where he's still The Big Brother and she's The Little Sister. Not that it makes his comments to Raven any less hurtful, but it's sad that they can't connect with each other in that crucial moment. (If there are sequels, the transition in Mystique from the sister who says "take care of him" to the killer who has no qualms hurting Charles/using him to kill humans will be heartbreaking.)

And in X3 Mystique says that her family tried to kill her--though that's not explicitly brought up in First Class my theory is that Charles knows about that and just assumes that she'll be safer in her pale, blonde form, and takes for granted how stifling not living in your own skin can be. Charles, so infuriatingly clueless sometimes.
ext_6866: (Sigh.  Monet.)

From: [identity profile] sistermagpie.livejournal.com

He is! I just saw a clip in a fanvid that showed that moment where he tells her to put her clothes on it's actually hilarious how prudish it clearly is. He doesn't look disgusted at all. It is tragic they can't connect in that moment--in a way Raven is just as clueless about the obvious there by not figuring out that he doesn't want to see her nekkid as a grown woman. But Charles' misunderstanding makes him hurtful where hers just makes him blush.
ext_409703: (Charles and Erik are Love)

From: [identity profile] caitri.livejournal.com

Just a note to say this is really great, thoughtful analysis: thank you!!!

From: [identity profile] ladyclio16.livejournal.com

That was my take on it too. Not that he was repulsed by her natural form, but that he really did view her as his sister and seeing her naked freaked him out. When he saw her nude as a child, there was no sexual context to it. Charles and Raven both showed pure innocence in that scene as children. As adults yes he freaked when his sister was walking around naked. I think she has left Erik's room right before going to the kitchen, so that really reinforces the sexual context.
ext_6866: (Two ways of looking at a magpie)

From: [identity profile] sistermagpie.livejournal.com

Yes, it totally does reinforce it! I just saw the clip again recently when he tells her to put on her clothes and I think it's really clear it's the naked aspect that freaks him out. Though I can see that if Raven is coming at it looking for a different kind of validation she was going to see Charles' refusal to look at her as disgust. But he would have looked exactly the same way if she'd been in her blonde form without clothes, I'm sure!

From: [identity profile] adrian-chan.livejournal.com

This was really interesting, and I like your observations.

Personally, I didn't really take Charles's reaction as prudish, though, or as rejecting the way Raven looks. I took their relationship, at least from his side, as much more straight-forward siblings. Even beyond just the naked kitchen scene, in the beginning when she's all like, "Would you date me", and he's all, "What's with your obsession with your looks lately?" It seemed to me more about a stereotypical difference between a guy and a girl, and as two people who grew up together, he's just not getting why she's making a big deal out of things that never bothered her before. To me, that reinforces the fact that he completely accepts the way she looks. I also got the sense that he didn't want to answer her question or want anyone to find out about her blueness because he wanted to protect her.

I find that people keep writing Charles as naive and insensitive, and while he can be insensitive at times (like all people can, and Erik totally was, too) I disagree with the whole "Charles is naive" thing that seems prevalent among us fans. I think in some ways he has a better understanding of humanity as a whole than anyone else *because* he's a telepath. That means he can read people and understand both the good and the bad. And while he usually wants to believe in the good of humanity (because he can see it in everyone), with Raven I felt from the beginning when they left the bar that he is also aware of humanity's dark side and knows what they would do and wants to protect her from it. If there was a reason for him telling her to be careful of keeping her appearance up, that's what it came over to me as. I really think that a lot of people just take that as him being insensitive, and focus more on his "I see the good of humanity" side and take naivety away from that.

Personally, though, while I understand Raven's side--I find her actions a bit petulant. I feel like, even though she was supposedly mid-twenties, she was characterized as a teenager and acted as such. She didn't particularly try to look at the bigger picture, or Charles's side. She looked at what she wanted and what affected her and what she didn't like and took it from there. She lived a very self-centred life (and that's why I can understand why she left Charles on the beach to go with Erik, because most people who really cared wouldn't go, even if they were told to and wanted to--that, and no one knew he'd been paralyzed yet because the suits were bulletproof, after all).
ext_6866: (Don't know yet)

From: [identity profile] sistermagpie.livejournal.com

"Prudish" could be a bit strong there--because I do basically agree with what you're saying. He's been her brother for years and just because she's become preoccupied with the way she really looks doesn't mean he'll suddenly find it more important.

And also I totally agree on his naivite being way too exaggerated. Of course there's ways he's naive--he's young. But he's also a telepath, so it's silly to suggest that his pov is based on not understanding people. Also, I think I remember saying this to someone somewhere, sometimes people seem to forget that traumatic experiences aren't always a path to greater understanding. Erik can't believe in good in many ways because he's damaged. That's not just experience giving him wisdom, it's experience making him rigid.

And also to reference a conversation I was having elsewhere, Raven perhaps doesn't notice that Charles camoflauges himself just as much if not more than she does. Her looks are more shocking to some people, but his power freaks people out, so he's probably learned plenty of his own lessons about freaking people out if he's just out and proud about what he can do. Including from Raven, who doesn't want Charles reading her mind any more than anyone else does.

I think one of the reasons it's easy to dismiss Charles as just sensitive is he puts across this persona of being so self-assured while everyone else gets a moment of insecurity. Even Erik who never intentionally shows insecurity, gets reassurance from Charles. But there's really not any scenes where anyone is really giving much to Charles--as you point out, even in the moment when he's been paralyzed for life the two people he's closest to leave him there. Which is partly because Charles again puts on a front of not needing help, waiting until they leave to reveal he can't feel his legs. But it still winds up with Charles not getting cared for.

From: [identity profile] adrian-chan.livejournal.com

Yeah; the movie does do a somewhat bad job with Charles getting any help for anything. Although, I didn't quite see it so much as Charles waiting until they leave to reveal he can't feel his legs. I thought it was more, he hadn't thought about it or realised it until they needed to move, and when he tried to, it hit him what had happened.

That traumatic experiences thing is good--and true. It really did make him a lot more close-minded. I know a lot of people are upset that Charles told Erik that the guys were just following orders, and I can see why it was a bad idea (as well as anyone who watched the movie), but I think that just highlights the difference between the two characters. I always took Charles to be a tad more literal because he can literally see into people's minds and understand their thoughts, feelings, and provocations better than anyone else--in some cases even better than themselves. Erik, though, won't accept that as an excuse ever because of what happened to him, which is completely justified. However, I think the fandom getting on Charles for that is a little much. It's like one of my friends said to me earlier, "He's not an insensitive jerk if he's trying to not have Erik kill a whole bunch of people. In that situation, your first priority isn't the feelings of someone else when you're trying to save people."

Also, I really wonder what all those people dying would've done to Charles. I mean, he had just felt Shaw get killed so his mental blocks probably weren't all together. That many people dying right there would probably have not been very good for his psyche.

Actually, even kid!Charles doesn't get cared for because his mother is clearly emotionally separate from him, and if comic!canon is to be applied, that's not the best environment for any kid--especially a telepathic one. So acting so self-assured is probably learned behaviour from having to take care of himself his whole life (and Raven).
ext_6866: (Baby magpies)

From: [identity profile] sistermagpie.livejournal.com

I do think it's silly when people get too down on Charles for that line. Because what's great about it is that of course it's one of the worst things he could say. It's supposed to be. But at the same time, in context you can see what he means and how he's literally reporting what he's getting from the ship and why Erik punishing them wouldn't really be justice. Of course you can understand why Erik can only hear it the way he hears it. It's not that Erik is wrong there either. But it's bizarre when people seem to think that Charles owes Erik some big apology in the next movie for his word choice.

And yeah, I totally thought the movie made clear that child!Charles wasn't cared for either. Whether or not he has the childhood he has in canon, he's set up as taking care of himself in that kitchen. There's a lot of signs of neglect there. Raven acts like what she thinks mothers are supposed to act like and it looks wrong to Charles.

From: [identity profile] adrian-chan.livejournal.com

I really think part of the reason Charles gets so much flack is because he's a rich white male. I've read a lot of people's opinions saying that he acts like one, but I disagree with that sentiment. I actually find that slightly racist and class-ist (being neither white nor male myself). To me, the most Charles acts like is a telepath with a strong but altogether comparatively loose set of morals (or rather stringent, depending on your point of view, but definitely loose when compared to his use in the original trilogy), who uses his powers all the time, even when he probably shouldn't (like with Hank). I don't think accidentally outing Hank was because he was "privileged" and never had to hide anything about himself. I agree with what you said earlier about him having to hide in a different kind of way.

Any child who was apparently "hearing voices" more than likely would've either been sent to a nut house (not nice places back then) or, like, thought to be demon-possessed or something if the parents were super-religious. That's actually something that I'm going to be addressing in the fanfic I'll be writing next. I also feel like, with Hank, it was more he was excited at the prospect of, one, finding another mutant, and, two, being able to use his telepathy without actually hiding it from people.

I think people are forgetting that just because you don't look different or didn't grow up in a war-torn, super-traumatizing environment doesn't mean you don't have issues. And I've also read people's opinions saying that Charles can't say he understands Erik just from taking a peak in his mind, but I always felt (especially since the first X-Men movie, although probably a lot more in First Class as he more than likely has less control, no matter how good he is) that when he goes into someone's head and experiences someone's memories, he literally experiences them. So, really, there wouldn't be anyone more qualified to understand.


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