Were these Two X-Men Characters Designed after Martin and Malcolm?

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by David Miller

If you’ve seen the X-Men series of films, you know about Professor X and Magneto.  These are two main characters who want to solve the same problem in different ways.   Magneto is angry at humans for rejecting mutants and wants humans killed so mutants can take over.  He feels that a violent response to the humans is justified by their treatment of mutants.  Professor X loves the humans, wishes to protect them and is hoping for peaceful reconciliation.

There are some who believe that these two characters are reflections of African American heroes, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.   On the Facebook page called “Black Knowledge,” there is a quote that compares the two. We are not sure if this quote came from an administrator or someone else.  If you find out, please let us know.  Here is what they said:

“The central ideological conflict between The X Men and the Brotherhood of Mutants is arguably “should we protect or punish those that hate us?” That conflict, as well as the characters of Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr, were all taken from the Civil Rights movement and the major figures behind it.

The basic foundation is the same: both MLK and Malcom X wanted the same thing (a nation where black people are accepted equal members of society) but were completely different in their approaches. While MLK spoke on the words of Ghandi and urged peace and integration, Malcom X believed hate for white Americans needed to be spread to counter the hate against the African Americans.

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In the same model is Professor X and Magneto. Both wanted a world where mutants were accepted members of society living without fear of persecution. Charles Xavier believed the only way to live peacefully was to show that mutants are humans just like any others, and to resist violence because of its potential to widen the social gap between mutants and non mutants. Erik Lensherr, however, had no desire to be controlled by humans. He believed that the only way to gain acceptance was to fight human aggressors with a show of power. His main idea behind it was that there was no reason to suffer abuse when the power of mutants could put an immediate end to hatred directed against them. “

But one question we have about this comparison is the fact that Magneto is portrayed in the film as being evil, while Professor X is considered “good.” Was Malcolm X actually evil?  Maybe in the eyes of white America he was evil, but he was hardly a man who wanted to kill law-abiding, peaceful whites for no reason.  Instead, he advocated for black self-defense with a foundation of peaceful Islam that only calls for violence if it is in response to a direct threat.  Magneto, instead, wanted to take the life of all of the humans on the planet.

But the comparison is interesting and we’d like to know what you think.  Please, tell us.

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2 Responses to Were these Two X-Men Characters Designed after Martin and Malcolm?

  1. marcus davis January 21, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    I always had respect for Brotha Malcolm X always admired the man ,white folks thought he was evil even some black folks ,He was about defending yourself if being attacked by whites as any right thinking individual would do, he just spoke common sense and told it like it was and is now .More so than Dr Martin Luther King though i had admiration for some of his work i did’nt see the sense in marching and taking a beating and not fight back.The x-men thing ,whatever! hollywood has to steal their ideas from somewhere now don’t they?

    Reply
  2. Christopher January 22, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    If the author of this particular article had bothered to read upon the origins of this particular comic, they were designed specifically after the civil rights icons shortly after the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement.

    Regardless, I do admire the willingness to examine the situation in particular detail shown. Regardless, these characters are designed to shown the dichotomy of the Civil Rights movement argument in terms that are a little more universally recognized in terms of “alienation” and “ostracism” of anyone and anything different.

    Reply

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