Do the X-Men fit in well with the Marvel Universe?

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Do the X-Men fit in well with the rest of the Marvel Universe?


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    17

Grocer Man

Well-Known Member
This is an argument I found while surfing the Internet. Since I have a habit of believing everything I read, I've been unable to shake the idea.. Since I'm not much more then a casual fan of the X-Men, maybe you guys can help me out.

The argument goes like this: it feels like they deserve their own universe. The X-Men go out of their way to stay out of most large-scale conflicts. And yet their niche of the MU is so large and complex that it eclipses all others. The anti-mutant prejudice doesn't make a whole lot of sense in a world full of superhumans, most of whom are treated much better in comparison to mutants. Even though mutants and other superhumans share the Celestial seed, and therefore have the same power source, more or less.
 

Bass

Nexus of the World
This is interesting you've posted this as I was just thinking about this. I was skimming the tv and saw the beginning of X2: SNOOZATHON and while watching it, it just occurred to me that they absolutely, in no way, work as part of the Marvel Universe. They are a completely seperate concept, really.

But then... I don't really think any of the characters work well together, nor the characters in the Justice League, but I think that when you do a series like a JLA series, provided you don't delve into the continuity problems that prevent them from working (like Batman coming from a 1940s Gotham while Superman is an alien living in a futuristic metropolis or that Spidey is worried about paying the rent while he's best buds with Tony Stark) it works fine. I think if you understand why they don't work together, then you can make them work together, much in the same way the disparate characters of LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN work so well.
 
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Ice

Teh Sexy Monkey Queen
Added poll and moved to the Polls forum. Perfect thread for the place.
 

Zombipanda

My Boom-Boom's mostly gay
They fit in well enough. I don't think they're so antithetical to the rest of the universe that it hurts their stories tremendously any more than, say, Iron Man or Daredevil. Whenever dealing with comic book continuity though, I always tend to assume that any particular book hovers a few degrees away from a shared universe except for the points were it intersects.

That said, I think there are some stories that could be told where being part of the shared universe could benefit them. How does the idea of natural evolutionary post-humanism fit into a world where people are regularly achieving trans or post-humanism through artificial means?
 

Victor Von Doom

Fist of teh Internets.
As a group of individuals who have superhuman powers living in a world filled with superheroes...then yes, they fit. But the idea of these superhuman individuals living in genetic prejudice when the world sees these kinda acts all the time doesn't fit.

That said, I think there are some stories that could be told where being part of the shared universe could benefit them. How does the idea of natural evolutionary post-humanism fit into a world where people are regularly achieving trans or post-humanism through artificial means?
This is probably the best counter question.
 

Zombipanda

My Boom-Boom's mostly gay
As a group of individuals who have superhuman powers living in a world filled with superheroes...then yes, they fit. But the idea of these superhuman individuals living in genetic prejudice when the world sees these kinda acts all the time doesn't fit.
I think the distinction is one of source. I think, even in a world populated by superheroics, genetic prejudice still strongly makes sense.

I think, for one, the very idea of superpowers is something that's underestimated. Honestly, the thought of superhumans is scary, far scarier than we usually see played out in comic book panels. Superhumans are essentially walking, talking, thinking WMD's. But I think there's a clear enough distinction in the origin behind mutants rather than other superhumans to make their central metaphor still relevant even in the context of a superhero universe.

I think the spontaneity of mutation makes it a beast in its own right. Sure, superhumans in general represent a scary new front on the pervasive front of the global arms race, but in terms of conventional superheroes, they still follow the conventional scale of the arms race. It's still an essentially capitalist practice. The majority of "typical" superhumans achieve their powers through government or corporate projects. There is a level of accountability. There are contracts signed and there's either accountability on the part of their obligations to the government, or accountability insofar as the government can label them as having volunteered themselves for illegal experimentation or as willing enemy combatants. Those that aren't typically have external sources for their powers that can be confiscated or used to contract the individual to the government. And, while it's scary that these guys might be running around, it still fits the typical ideology of arms escalation. America will always have the best weapons because they have the resources and the money. It's a terror, but it's essentially just an escalation of the same terror we've lived through for fifty years, and so it's a terror we've long grown accustomed to. The powers themselves are typically, for those who carry them, a means to an end for a profession that makes them clearly definable as "friend or foe". They acquire their powers as a means to become a vigilante, a criminal, a soldier, or what-have-you.

Mutants, OTOH, are purely egalitarian. They're unpredictable. There is no way of knowing who will manifest powers or how they'll manifest them, no trail to follow. And the more worrisome part is that you can't prosecute them for the fact that they have powers. It's an intrinsic part of them. With Captain America you can say pretty easily that, since he subjected his body to military experimentation, that said powers are under contract to the government, or that since any number of Spider-Man villains subjected themselves to illegal experimental treatments, that their very bodies are in violation of national security. But with mutants, you come under fundamental rights based violations. If you accept that mutants are a natural evolutionary process you raise any number of theological and philosophical questions about the nature of man. You raise any number of questions about cultural, species and racial identity. Superheroes are just humans who have been souped up. Mutants are something else entirely. I honestly think there are just as many interesting stories that are stronger in a shared universe as there are where mutants are the only flavor.


I actually quite like what's been done with the X-Men, despite never having been a huge fan of that whole little corner of the universe. The idea of a population of superhumans who's origins and motivations are in contrast to the typical "superhero" and who have made their own little social and political identity is a strong one, and one that complements the rest of the universe well. I like them being sort of cordoned off in their own private part of the universe and separated from the whole "OMG NOTHING HAPPENS OUTSIDE OF NEW YORK CITY!" focus of the rest of Marvel, but I see no problem at all with them sharing a universe and crossing over with other characters.

Then again, I hold a pretty ambivalent stance towards continuity. I feel it's best to let a book and character take liberties an exist basically in its own pocket for the most part, but let it converge into crossover and mingle with other parts of the universe when it bests benefits said character or book. I think Thor was a good example of how this works well and how it fails. When JMS was writing the book, it was clearly settled in the mainstream universe but the characters and setting were well compartmentalized so that they didn't touch other aspects of the universe except when it clearly benefited the story. Siege is an example of where it doesn't work, where you force this setting to dramatically mingle with the rest of the universe and nobody benefits except the meta-setting. In essence, it becomes an excuse for Bendis to bring in his "Avengers" toys and have them blow up the awesome "Thor Mega-Castle Playset". It's like when I used to have the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles raid Castle Grayskull. The Turtles look like wicked badasses doing it, but the He-Man guys get the shaft, and nobody really benefits or grows in the end. The characters of Thor's setting become cast-away pieces in a big event set-piece where they're barely bit players, all for the sake of some sort of greater continuity. X-Men, conversely, is doing a pretty great job ATM of remaining independent thematically and setting-wise yet still being firmly embedded in the overall tapestry of continuity.
 
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Bass

Nexus of the World
That said, I think there are some stories that could be told where being part of the shared universe could benefit them. How does the idea of natural evolutionary post-humanism fit into a world where people are regularly achieving trans or post-humanism through artificial means?
I think you make some very good points, however, that question you pose would be a rather cool approach that specifically works on how the two interrelate. What I think doesn't work is when they have mutants being persecuted while the Fantastic Four is beloved. The reason is this: bigotry isn't a specialized rationale.

Imagine, if instead of being mutants, the X-Men were an all-black community in a white community. If Middle-easterners or Indians or Pakistanis show up, the community will be just as bigoted. They will be bigoted towards Asians and Jews. They will be bigoted towards other white races like the Irish.

You don't get specialized racism because racism is inherently generalized. If a person is capable of discerning others, they can't really be racist because it requires consideration and empathy. A white supremacist may hate black people more than Asians and Jews, but that's only because they're closer. He'll hate them all.

By the same token, if you have bigots that hate mutants, they'll hate any superpowered being. They may make distinctions and hate one type more than the other, but they'll hate every one of them.

Now, in some areas, there's racism and in others there isn't. So it's fine that in Westchester, the X-Men encounter racism while the heroes of Manhattan don't. Different demographics and all. But, the entire point of the X-MEN is that the world, as in the UNITED NATIONS, hates and fears them and is bigoted towards them. And that doesn't gel with the mainstream Marvel universe.

To put it another way; the reason the X-Men don't fit will within the Marvel Universe is because they want a universe that is actively hostile towards them, while the rest don't. DAYS OF FUTURE PAST makes no sense if you imagine Iron Man and Captain America exist in that world. That said, the X-Men DO work well with Spider-Man and Hulk, both of whom, have a hostile relationship with the world around them. And they share the world fine with the other heroes because the hostility they encounter is specific to those individuals, and not a general bigotry.

Post denied.

We already have a Bass.
WE CAN HAVE TWO.
 

Zombipanda

My Boom-Boom's mostly gay
I think you make some very good points, however, that question you pose would be a rather cool approach that specifically works on how the two interrelate. What I think doesn't work is when they have mutants being persecuted while the Fantastic Four is beloved. The reason is this: bigotry isn't a specialized rationale.

Imagine, if instead of being mutants, the X-Men were an all-black community in a white community. If Middle-easterners or Indians or Pakistanis show up, the community will be just as bigoted. They will be bigoted towards Asians and Jews. They will be bigoted towards other white races like the Irish.

You don't get specialized racism because racism is inherently generalized. If a person is capable of discerning others, they can't really be racist because it requires consideration and empathy. A white supremacist may hate black people more than Asians and Jews, but that's only because they're closer. He'll hate them all.

By the same token, if you have bigots that hate mutants, they'll hate any superpowered being. They may make distinctions and hate one type more than the other, but they'll hate every one of them.

Now, in some areas, there's racism and in others there isn't. So it's fine that in Westchester, the X-Men encounter racism while the heroes of Manhattan don't. Different demographics and all. But, the entire point of the X-MEN is that the world, as in the UNITED NATIONS, hates and fears them and is bigoted towards them. And that doesn't gel with the mainstream Marvel universe.

To put it another way; the reason the X-Men don't fit will within the Marvel Universe is because they want a universe that is actively hostile towards them, while the rest don't. DAYS OF FUTURE PAST makes no sense if you imagine Iron Man and Captain America exist in that world. That said, the X-Men DO work well with Spider-Man and Hulk, both of whom, have a hostile relationship with the world around them. And they share the world fine with the other heroes because the hostility they encounter is specific to those individuals, and not a general bigotry.
I really don't buy the argument. Racism is frequently rationalized and frequently subjective. While there's regularly crossover between Anti-Semitism and other forms of racism, it's sometimes an exclusive ideology. Plenty of people have bigoted beef with those of Arab descent regardless of how they feel about other races. And radical Christians have no problems hating homosexuals while remaining ambivalent to other races (You know, just so long as they don't belong to other religions). And while there's regularly overlap between these kinds of bigotries (look at racial supremacist hate groups), I disagree that the majority of bigots are wholesale bigots. Most people maintain some degree of unfair discrimination, but it's rarely holistic and usually rationalized through faulty argument that allows them o live with themselves. "Black people are lazy and prone to being criminals". "Muslims hate America". "God hates gays". People can absolutely specialize bigotry. Don't underestimate people's capacity to unfairly compartmentalize a specific group of people.

There's a pretty wide spectrum, honestly. On one end you have the people who are generally tolerant of everyone, on the other end you have the wholesale bigots like white power skinheads, and in the middle, you have people with varying degrees of prejudices based on their fears and the media and people they surround themselves with. I think it's entirely believable that mutants can exist as a generally despised minority in a world with superhumans. Why do people like the Avengers? Because they're Earth's Mightiest Heroes! Because they're all over TV. Because the media tells them to like them. Because they've saved the world gazillions of times. Because they can imprint themselves on the ideologies of Captain America and Iron Man. Because, essentially, they're humans looking out for human interests, or perhaps more squarely, they're Americans looking out for American interests. Are there people who don't like them? Well, yeah, of course. There's probably a large community outside the US and a smaller within that doesn't like them for a wide variety of reasons, but it's not a large enough issue to be part of their narrative.

Mutants, OTOH, promote a parallel cultural, racial, and even species identity. They identify themselves as mutants above all else (or at least, this is the public perception). They sequester themselves in a military academy (and surely FOX News would label it a *GASP!* Madrasah!). They're walking, talking bombs, they're unidentifiable in public (largely), and they seem to be seeking an identity outside of established culture. They're essentially first generation immigrants with super powers. You're damn right they're going to be feared and hated. And from a political standpoint, you're damn right the UN and US and other political entities will consider them a danger, because they're sentient threats to national security that are nearly impossible to properly track.

VVD said:
We already have a Bass.
Humf. I'm no Bass.
 

Gideon Stargrave

Well-Known Member
I haven't read an X-men comic since Grant Morrison was writing so I'm kind of behind the times. What struck me most about New X-men, though, was that the focus wasn't on external anti-mutant sentiment as a metaphor for sexual and racial prejudice, but a development of the intrinsic qualities and branches of Mutants as a subculture as a conflict motivator (complete with "Magneto Was Right" t-shirts). Of course, the ethnographic examination was sort of cut short by the content demands of an action/adventure superhero comic. In order for these things to sell, Wolverine has to stab someone to death and smoke a cigar every issue. From what I understand, most current X-men comics aren't really concerned with (or equipped to handle, for that matter) a legitimate meta-commentary on race relations or even a well rounded, extropian in-universe glimpse at the cultural breakdown in a post/trans-human world. So, in the sense that it's generally just another Superhero comic, I can't really think of a reason why a team of superhumans who are sometimes utilized as a heavy-handed metaphor for social inequality wouldn't be able to have team-ups with Spider-man or The Avengers or whoever.

Then again, like I said, I don't know **** about the X-men, so feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.
 

Grocer Man

Well-Known Member
I've noticed that the "WE ARE THE X-MEN" ads seem to be teasing for a series that focuses on this problem.

Whether it'll work is anyone's guess at this point. Seriously, Lyra?
 

Venom Melendez

Well-Known Member
Then again, racism and prejudice don't make sense in general.


I've noticed that the "WE ARE THE X-MEN" ads seem to be teasing for a series that focuses on this problem.

Whether it'll work is anyone's guess at this point. Seriously, Lyra?
Aww, but Lyra is awesome.
 
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Bass

Nexus of the World
I really don't buy the argument. Racism is frequently rationalized and frequently subjective.
It's rationalized but it isn't rational. A racist is prejudice towards everyone but themselves, what's different is how they prioritize it and whether they're aware of it.

So, someone who despises gays will inherently devalue any other group of people, however their conscious focus will be towards one group.

The point I'm trying to make is that, for the X-Men, the planet is typically entirely bigoted towards mutants and hates them. While distinctions would be made say between heroes who are mutants and those who wear armour or are part of a military experiment, the more hostile the anti-mutant bigotry the more hostile the attitude towards all superpowered beings. If you want the X-Men to really be trapped in a world that truly hates and fears them, this same world will not love the Avengers. Bigotry is always exclusive, never inclusive. If a bigot draws a line between what they are and what someone else is, that line is ever present. They may take less offense from Iron Man, but the people who hate the X-Men would hate Iron Man too (just less so).

And then, there's the reverse, which is people who aren't racist or bigoted but act like they are, or are just ignorant of how rude they're being. There's lots of shades to it. But, for it to be as widespread as it is in some of the X-Men stories, it doesn't gel with the adoration other heroes get.

Another way to put it: if the US President signed a mutant registration act or the sentinel act, it is inconceivable that Captain America would endorse it. The X-Men want an evil US president, while the rest of the Marvel Universe doesn't.

That said, it's always possible it could work if it's handled well. Millar did a good job of balancing it in THE ULTIMATES because he had written ULTIMATE X-MEN before hand and was very careful to point out just how big a PR campaign the Ultimates had to be in order to work.

But true bigotry is cancerous. Once you can easily devalue one group of people as beneath you, you do so with every group, because a bigot cannot let go of differences and exalts them above any other trait. If humanity was terribly bigoted against mutants, that would carry over to any superpowered being, and even to characters like Iron Man who would be, in a way, considered a 'race traitor', if you get my meaning.

Humf. I'm no Bass.
That is why you fail.

I haven't read an X-men comic since Grant Morrison was writing so I'm kind of behind the times. What struck me most about New X-men, though, was that the focus wasn't on external anti-mutant sentiment as a metaphor for sexual and racial prejudice, but a development of the intrinsic qualities and branches of Mutants as a subculture as a conflict motivator (complete with "Magneto Was Right" t-shirts). Of course, the ethnographic examination was sort of cut short by the content demands of an action/adventure superhero comic. In order for these things to sell, Wolverine has to stab someone to death and smoke a cigar every issue. From what I understand, most current X-men comics aren't really concerned with (or equipped to handle, for that matter) a legitimate meta-commentary on race relations or even a well rounded, extropian in-universe glimpse at the cultural breakdown in a post/trans-human world. So, in the sense that it's generally just another Superhero comic, I can't really think of a reason why a team of superhumans who are sometimes utilized as a heavy-handed metaphor for social inequality wouldn't be able to have team-ups with Spider-man or The Avengers or whoever.

Then again, like I said, I don't know **** about the X-men, so feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.
You're right. Morrison, in particular, decided to make mutanity trendy in that edgey sense. So he quite smartly kept mutanity something people would be prejudiced about, and yet, more widely-accepted. However, he made it so wide-spread and so deep and layered a culture, it made less sense in the Marvel Universe because the mutant-culture didn't move beyond the X-titles (and then it was all retconned).

Then again, racism and prejudice don't make sense in general.
They are very natural. It's a basic defence mechanism to be wary of differences. Bigots overcompensate to a dangerous extreme, unfortunately.
 

The Overlord

Well-Known Member
I always thought the X-Men worked better in cartoons and movies, rather then in the comic book, because the movies and cartoons are self contained.

Also Apocalypse is a character who always seemed to work better in cartoons and video games, then he did in the comics.
 
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E

Moderator
Excelsior Club
I haven't read an X-men comic since Grant Morrison was writing so I'm kind of behind the times
Same here (except I've read Astonishing by both Whedon and Ellis). In fact I could probably count on one hand the number of X-Men stories I've read.

I agree with what I believe is the point of your post - the stories rarely really seem to be about racism as they are supposedly supposed to be anyway, so what difference does it make?
 

Planet-man

Well-Known Member
I've always thought of it as an obvious problem that needs to be disbelief-suspended for the overall stuff to work. Before even getting to "why would the public like Mutants less than humans who have gained superpowers", there's the issue of why the public would not just automatically assume Spider-Man, the Hulk, Daredevil and even tech-based-but-mysterious characters like Moon-Knight and the Prowler are "just another Mutant, just another Mutant"?

Team-ups and a giant, universal world are a lot of fun and provide tons of great story potential through mix-and-match elements, but in general, I think almost every single super-hero/super-hero group works much better in stories where they are the first and only super-heroes on the planet, and nowhere is this more obvious than with the X-Men.
 

Ice

Teh Sexy Monkey Queen
Also posting it here because it fits:

Singh said that, following "Second Coming," the X-Men will be much more integrated into the Marvel Universe, which will explain why Spider-Man, She-Hulk and others are in the X-Men promotional images.
 

Gothamite

Well-Known Member
I far prefer the X-Men as being privy to a self-contained universe. There are hundreds of characters exclusive to the X-Men and their various titles; there's never truly been any need for an expanded universe that includes other characters.

Say what you want about the last two movies, but I hope Fox keeps the X-Men licence before it can get spoiled by all of this stupid crossover eventual-Avengers-movie nonsense. There are still dozens of X-Men movies worth making that have nothing to do with Nick Fury or where Captain America's shield came from.
 

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