Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Adoption Movie Guide: X-Men

In X-Men: First Class, gifted mutants and non-gifted regular humans were at the brink of war. Two leaders were in disagreement about the role mutants should take; Magneto gathered a group of mutants who believed that other people couldn’t be trusted. He expected that others would feel threatened by the differences between themselves and the mutants, and would attack the mutants. Charles Xavier believed that the two sides could overcome their differences and live at peace. Unfortunately, Magneto seems to be proven correct as X-Men opens. Senator Kelly is advocating laws that would make mutants register themselves. Magneto and Xavier both oppose this; Magneto prepares an attack that will make Senator Kelly experience life as Magneto experiences it. Xavier secretly trains mutants, encouraging them to view their differences as gifts. Rogue is a particularly gifted teenager who has difficulty seeing her gift as a good thing. Xavier wants to help her expand her potential, but Magneto wants to use her to further his cause.

How is This Relevant to Adoption? 
As with X-Men: First Class, the story is based on one group of people being misunderstood by another, larger group of people. Young adoptees may feel ostracized by their friends for being different; older adoptees often feel misunderstood by society, family, and friends.

This movie introduces a character that some teenage adoptees might identify with. Rogue’s gift is that she is able to survive in difficult situations by taking energy from other people, and by temporarily assuming the ability of other mutants. Some adoptees (especially ones who’ve been through foster care), may feel – or may have been told – that they take a lot of energy. And yet, they’ve also been able to adapt to (sometimes many) different home environments.

Wolverine’s ability to rapidly heal might resonate with some children who’ve experienced trauma. Wolverine also has a self-defense mechanism (claws) which he acknowledges hurts him every time he uses it.

All of the Mutants take on new names.

Strong Points
X-Men does a fine job of showing the impact that mindset has on a person’s development. Xavier explains that Magneto, “believing humanity would never accept us… became angry and vengeful.”

Xavier’s care for the gifted youngsters appears selfless and unconditional.


Xavier tries to convince Wolverine to join the school. He attempts to entice Wolverine to join by promising to help Wolverine piece together his past. While I appreciate Xavier’s nod to the importance of Wolverine’s past, I wish that the information wasn’t offered conditionally. Wolverine should have the right to know his past (even though it is traumatic,) regardless of whether he helps Xavier. Wolverine eventually leaves on a journey to find his answers.

Rogue kisses a boy, but because of her mutation, he goes into a coma for weeks. She decides that she cannot touch anyone. This isn’t an unusual pattern: A kid may feel as though she hurt the people around her, so she goes into an impenetrable shell. The movie seems to affirm that Rogue is right, but in real life, a child struggling with these feelings needs to be encouraged not to be unreachable and not to blame themselves unjustly.

Magneto encouraged Mystique to embrace her uniqueness in X-Men: First Class. In this film, Wolverine encourages Rogue to trust Xavier. He explains, “Not many people will understand you. Xavier is one of them. He seems to genuinely want to help you. And that’s a rare thing for freaks like us.” – The encouragement is in a good direction; adoptees can be helped by finding people that understand them or who have had similar experiences – the Internet has lots of adoption blogs that could be helpful.  On the flipside, the quote would be better if Wolverine suggested that being understood wouldn’t always be rare. 

Weak Points

There are some scenes which could be troubling: families are separated by Nazi soldiers, and mothers and children scream for each other.  A child is struck by the butt of a rifle. There are some violent scenes.


X-Men fits the same audience that X-Men: First Class did. Violent scenes would make this a bad choice for young kids and for teens who have experienced violence. For many teens age 12-17, though, this movie raises excellent questions about self-acceptance, expectations of others, feelings about one’s self, and worldview.

Questions for Discussion after the movie

In the opening narration, Xavier says that mutation “has enabled us to evolve.” Which characters seem to have the most useful mutations? 

How have you evolved or adapted?

How have people responded to you being adopted (or in foster care)? What do you think of their response?

Wolverine forgot much of his past, and what he remembered was traumatic. What do you remember of your past? What do you wish you could remember? What parts of it were pleasant?    Have you ever wanted to search for more answers? We would help you!

Rogue wasn’t able to touch anyone because of her mutation. How do you think she felt?

Who understands you?

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