Film Watch // X-Men: Jewish Origins

August, 04 2016

Riding this summer’s wave of would-be comic book movie blockbusters is X-Men: First Class, prequel to the X-Men series. Under the guidance of writer Bryan Singer, who returns to the franchise after a two-film hiatus, X-Men: First Class will take viewers back in time and work its way up to 1963, filling in the back story of genetically superior “mutants,” who, like Jews, face discrimination and persecution. Based on Stan Lee’s long-running comic-book series, X-Men’s mutants must navigate their otherness in a world much like our own, and fall into two camps: that of the wheelchair-using Prof. Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), who believes mutants should integrate and use their gifts to benefit mankind, and that of his rival, Magneto (Ian McKellen), who is convinced that mutants cannot trust their fellow humans and should rule over them.

The original X-Men (2000) opened with the shadowy-blue image of a concentration camp, subtitled, “Poland, 1944.” The camera follows a group of prisoners clad in identical, ragged, gray uniforms affixed with yellow stars, as they are force-marched through the gates of Auschwitz. A young boy, Erik Lehnsherr—the future Magneto—struggles as he is dragged away from his parents. When he stretches his arms out for his mother and father, the steel and barbed-wire gates bend toward him…


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