Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Mutant Question

     While we're on the subject of Marvel (see last week), there's a subject I'd like to touch on that I have never quite comprehended.

Why mutants?

     The Marvel Universe's Earth, much like ours, has had its share of growing pains and prejudices. We know that World War II and the Holocaust happened there, because one of its prominent figures, Magneto, was a first-hand witness. We also know that that have been divergences between this fictional world and our own, in the appearance of Mutants, and the almost predictable response to them.

     In the world of Marvel, there was a very different response to when the first super-powered heroes appeared to when the first mutants appeared. In the miniseries Marvels, for example, there is initial trepidation over the likes of Captain America and the Fantastic Four, but the masses are quickly won over by them. The X-Men don't fare quite so well, and that's reflected in the very public opinion of throughout most Marvel stories.

Why mutants, though?

     Why can the public rally behind Captain America, a medical experiment? Or Spider-man, bitten by a radioactive spider (who believes that story, anyway?). Or the Human Torch, who sets himself on fire and burns at near nova levels of heat? What makes them more acceptable than average, everyday people who are born different? Someone like Tony Stark, for example, I can understand the public rallying behind. He's Iron Man. He's the pinnacle of human technology and intelligence, basically. Cute little Jewish girl Kitty Pryde? She's a monster that can walk through walls and kill you in your sleep!

Why mutants and not super-heroes?

     Granted, the parallels are obvious. Your average Hispanic can't summon lightning bolts or teleport, and most lesbians (that I've met, anyway) can't shoot laser beams from their eyes, but the Mutant situation in Marvel is meant to represent prejudice against people who are different from the normalized majority. I was not, personally, raised with any sort of bias or prejudices, so I have a hard time empathizing with those who were, but that's always been the one thing I can't wrap my head around when it comes to the Marvel universe.

     There's been the explanation put forth that perhaps mutants are the next step in human evolution instead of an aberration, and that may explain some animosity. A fear of being replaced or going extinct. Given how irrational the reaction is, I have a hard time reconciling a rational fear like that, though, which leaves me with my original question.

Why would people fear and hate mutants and not other super-heroes?

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