ESSAY: Temporal Inconsistencies in the XMCU

This is the first in my ongoing series of essay-length posts about the craft, content, and themes present in different pieces of geek media. This first essay is about the XMCU, airing my grievances about its chronology problem.

The X-Men Cinematic Universe has not been a shining example of consistency in superhero movie franchises. There have been three characters called Angel, only two of which are versions of Warren Worthington III, two Jubilees, two different Bolivar Trasks, and no solid grasp on when Scott Summers was born.

That said, most of these problems don’t become apparent until X-Men: Days of Future Past, and I want to argue that Bryan Singer is the man who ruined the XMCU’s internal coherence, mainly through negligence and an inability to recognize how time travel works. Singer’s return to the franchise lead to several temporal impossibilities, and while telling a story involving time travel can be complicated, the mistakes made here are really basic.


‘Logan’ Makes History, but Outlets Bury The Lead

Okay, so, first of all, I am so fucking excited about Logan getting a “Writing (Adapted Screenplay)” nomination. So excited. Like, I know it’s a long shot, given how much critical praise stuff like Call Me By Your Name is getting, but there’s a chance! And this has literally never happened before for a superhero movie.

(I have to say, it feels really appropriate that the first script nomination for a superhero movie is for an XMCU flick, especially the one that says goodbye to both Sir Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman, both of whom were backbones of the franchise.)

But holy shit have the other comics and geek presses have buried the lede on this one. CBR says “Logan, GOTG2 Get Oscar Nominations,” Comicbook.com says “Logan Gets Nominated for an Academy Award,” WGTC (an outlet I used to write for, FFS) says “Oscars 2018: Logan Nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, Wonder Woman Snubbed.” The only outlet that seems to get it is Screenrant, and they only put their article up like 20 minutes ago. It’s a good article, though, I’m impressed by its thoroughness.

Anyway, I’m super excited, and also tonight you can expect reviews of Incidentals vol. 1 and #5, since those come out tomorrow and I live for Lion Forge’s Catalyst Prime line.

Mystique and the Problem of Gaze

Or, the insufficiency of binary feminist criticism in mutant discourse.

Richard Siken wrote the line history is a little man in a brown suit/trying to define a room he is outside of. A lot of the time, that’s how I feel about gender.

Growing up assigned-female, I was drawn to the idea of being ‘not like other girls.’ I spent most of my time with boys, but reveled in not being one of them. I tested out binding and packing for years before my best friend bought me my first binder. I talked to trans men about drag, about whether it was okay for someone like me — then thinking I was a girl — to participate.

When I started wandering around the queerer parts of the internet — you know, the places where kids try out new names and pronouns and try to explain themselves with a language none of us were ever taught and half of us only halfway understand. Tumblr’s a big part of that, especially for me. While I still thought I was cis, someone said, anonymously, that they’d thought I was nonbinary.

For some reason — wink, nudge — that mattered to me. So I started to consider things. What did I do with the characters I liked? I made them trans. Usually, I made them nonbinary.

And I looked back, too, on the single most consequential figure in my queer youth: Mystique, as played by Rebecca Romijn. Mystique in her nakedness, her refusal to conform. Cis feminists, I’ve since learned, see her as a concession to the male gaze, using the subtly insidious “empowered naked lady” trope. It’s the trope people associate with any character with breasts who maybe, sometimes, shows them.