Phoenix: You would die for them.
Wolverine: Not for them. For you.
First of all people need to get over their preconceptions about their precious X-men, they need to understand that this movie doesn’t care if the Phoenix was an alien entity that took control of Jean (and not a dual personality), they also need to understand that Juggernaut gained his powers mystically and not as a result of the mutant x gene as this too is going to be ignored by the creator of the movie. But I’m assuming that by the time you’ve watched the previous X-Men movies you’ve learnt to give way to a comic book reality to a film reality before, even if you didn’t like it. Even though that is the case I think that most X-Men fans will still be quite happy with the outcome of this movie, the end to the current trilogy and most people should find this film to be a pile of fun.
I know that X-Men fanatics and fans of the last 2 movies may be disappointed with this installment the reality is that the final installment of trilogies never seem to quite make the cut, they don’t have too much time to build character as that should have already been done and because they’re too busy tying up the pieces that are needed to be completed before the story can finally end. So characters like Juggernaut, Kitty and Colossus as well as the new band of evil mutants don’t get must of a showing, they only really exist to fill in the gaps of the lost mutants from this and previous installments. This shouldn’t be much of a surprise, many mutant characters get a special comic edition that describes their past, character, motives and powers and in a 90 minute movie you only get to explore the characteristics of a handful of the main characters, and it’s still Wolverine, Xavier, Magneto, Mystique and Rogue that get the most of the director’s attention, with the addition of Beast, who’s motives and character was slowly building.
Prof. Charles Xavier: [Narration] Since the dawn of existence, there have always been moments when the course of history shifted. Such a turning point is upon us now. The conflict between the better and worst angels of our very nature. Whose outcome will change our world so greatly… there will be no going back. I do not know if victory is possible. I only know that great sacrifice will be required. And because the fate of many will depend on a few, we must make the last stand.
One of the major themes of the movie is that of sacrifice, although I’ll name it as a primary theme I’ve decided to leave it out of the discussion resource below as I’m sure there are better films to use to raise a discussion around the idea of sacrifice.
That being said, who sacrifices what in this movie?
Wolverine sacrifices the love of his life Jean in the final minutes of the film as he kills her, and her dual personality in a moving scene, but one has to ask how much of a sacrifice that was, there’s a difference between sacrificing your life and sacrificing another’s. To talk about how strong Wolverine must have been to have fulfilled his final deed in the movie might miss out on a bigger and more productive discussion around whether Jean could have been saved, whether she needed to die…
Rogue decides to sacrifice her “special-ness” in the movie, she decides to sacrifice her mutant identity and ability in order to hold another person, to touch them, to feel another’s hand, to feel a hug, to give a hug without causing pain. How many teenagers do you know would give away, would sacrifice something that they see as holding them back socially, whether it be acne or a bent nose, or a funny voice, or coloured skin or… In Rogue we, as youth leaders see the frailties, hopes, dreams and insecurities of every teenager we know, we see the hurt, the need to be loved, to love, the need to be touched by another, to not feel different and, if we don’t feel some kind of pain when she stands in line for her surgery we’re not human, it’s the same pain we should be feeling when we watch the young Warren cutting the wings from his back so that his father doesn’t know that he is a mutant.
Jean sacrifices herself at the hands of Wolverine, she originally asks him to kill her as she remembers what she did to Cyclops, which is before the Phoenix takes over and kicks some but to escape the school. Later on in the movie you get the sense that Jean is leading Wolverine to her in order to save the day, to kill her, and in the final scene we see Jean’s character take over her body for a split second as Wolverine kills her. Jean is still there throughout the damage, the carnage that followed the Phoenix and in the end it’s her sacrifice that changes the end of the story.
Mistique sacrifices herself for Magneto, diving in front of him and taking a bullet that, if she hadn’t would have hit him. The bullet is filled with the cure, and as a result of taking the blow Mistique finds herself now altered into a human. Instead of being given the thanks that one should expect after performing such an act she finds herself abandoned by Magneto and his new band of followers after he says “you’re no longer one of us” and as she looks on the man who had been almost a father figure to her shows his true colours as he abandons her naked on the floor of the police truck shivering, powerless, alone.
Sacrifice takes many forms in the movie, but none of them seem to be the ultimate sacrifice of giving up one’s life for another’s, perhaps the closest we get to this is the death of Xavier, but even that doesn’t take on as much power as it could have. In this world of superhero’s and humans who has the courage to truly open themselves up for a sacrificial life? Or is a part of this story that there are not many people, good or bad who are able to give that much up, to sacrifice themselves for a cause, for another, for love?
I enjoyed the film, and I think it makes a fitting completion to the trilogy of X-Men films leaving it open for another movie or ten to be created to continue the telling of the X-Men saga’s, perhaps we’ll finally get to see the Sentinels, meet mutants from other dimensions and universes, see a Storm that actually fits the Amazon description from the comic books…
Download the discussion guide below…
Link: IMDB Entry
Link: Hollywood Jesus Review
Download: Discussion Guide for X-Men – The Last Stand (pdf)