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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE (2012), HUMANITY ENHANCED (2014), and THE MYSTERY OF MORAL AUTHORITY (2016).

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sunday Supervillainy - Carla Hoffman & the future leadership of mutantkind

With Professor X now dead, and with Cyclops, his protégé, thoroughly discredited (not least for killing Professor X), who will now take up the reins of mutant leadership?

Over at The Fifth Color, Carla Hoffman discusses the possibilities. Kitty Pryde? Storm? Magneto? Hoffman predicts that Magneto will step up and take control, and that does seem like one obvious scenario. In recent events, he has been portrayed more as the voice of reason than as a supervillain, and he has shown in the past that he has the political and economic savvy ability to lead an entire nation.

But we've also been given plenty of indications that he has not really reformed - just become very pragmatic about working with heroes whenever it best suits his purposes, rather than against them. While I can see Magneto giving orders in the coming months, and formulating all sorts of plots to advance the interests of his family and loved ones, and of mutantkind more generally, I can't imagine him being accepted as any kind of global leader by the majority of the X-Men or by the Avengers. He is likely to come into conflict with them once, more, though hopefully Marvel will continue to make his clashes with its heroes more complex than in the Silver Age days when he was just a recurring bad guy to get beaten up, now and then, by a team of good guys.

In fact, Kitty Pryde may be next in line for mutant leadership after Cyclops - she is the bright young protégé of all the older mutant leaders. Even Magneto has cultivated her in the past (and they have strong connections - he first turned from pure villainy after his remorse at almost killing her, while more recently he brought her back from space where she was exiled in ten-mile-long bullet travelling away from Earth at superluminal speed). Given time, Kitty could be anointed by all the mutant powerbrokers, but she is far too young at this stage to be a credible leader for an entire people.

There are various other possibilities. Right now, Storm may be best qualified for the job, and my vote would go to her if there were some editorial mandate for a new leader of mutantkind. She's smart enough, experienced, suitably regal, and personally powerful. She's never shown much ambition to lead mutantkind, as opposed to acting as leader of a combat team, but there have been glimpses of it, and she's ruled as a queen as well as being worshipped as a goddess. Storm is one character who could play a much bigger role in the Marvel Universe, so I hope she will be highlighted more in the wake of AvX.

Halle Berry's portrayal of Storm in the X-Men movies fell pretty flat, I thought, and this was a pity because Storm is such an iconic character, with a lot of potential. Maybe the character just doesn't translate well to the cinema screen, or maybe Berry was the wrong actress for the role. Be that as it may, let's see more stories that put Storm at the forefront.

Who else? Namor? He has deep (sea see what I did there?) experience as a ruler, but would be incongruous in the role of a mutant leader. Wolverine? Please spare me. Anything like a statesman role would be way out of character, irrespective of how popular he may be with fans. Rogue? Contrary to the impression some fans seem to have of her, she's smart, articulate, passionate, tactically resourceful, and saturated from childhood in mutant politics. But I doubt that she's done enough at this stage to make her the credible leader of much more than a combat squad.

It looks like we have a power vacuum here. Perhaps Storm is the right person to fill it, but, like Hoffman, I can't see that happening. Perhaps, sadly, that's not so much for an in-world reason, but just because there's still too much sexism in comics. Magneto will surely be looking out to steer things in certain directions, but even he must realise how unacceptable he is to almost everybody in the Marvel Universe as leader of mutantkind. Surely he'll continue to show some subtlety about how he makes his moves. Or has the time come for him to make a dramatic grab for political power?

No one else seems plausible in the role of mutant leader. So I'm hoping to see some interesting machinations, following the mess that will undoubtedly be left behind at the end of AvX. There are endless possibilities here for the continuing political narrative of how mutants are supposed to respond to a world that hates and fears them.

1 comment:

Stuart peace said...

I gotta go with storm. I think magneto or rogue would be a huge mistake. If mutants eventually wan integration with humans, they cannot name a former villain as their leader. It's one thing to let a murderer out of jail, another to name him president.

I think kitty and Sam guthrie would make intersting choices, but they are too young and not respected enough.

Although perhaps the xmen should start to abandon the monarch-like society they have, its not like it's served them that well in the past