Sunday, April 29, 2012

Magneto's Rainy Past

This post is part of Andrew's "All Wet Blogathon" in which the participants must post a picture of their favorite rainy scene from a film.

With anticipation for The Avengers reaching feverishly high levels just a few days before its stateside premiere, I thought it would be fitting for this particular blogathon to go back more than a decade, the year 2000 to be exact, and highlight a brilliant rainy scene that opened the film that revived the superhero film genre.

As a huge fan of the X-Men TV series as a kid, I greeted Bryan Singer's X-Men film adaptation back then with the same excitement and appreciation as fanboys today would greet the next Christopher Nolan film. Its opening scene, showing a young boy being separated from his parents en route to a Nazi concentration camp in 1944 Poland, was and still is one of its most memorable scenes. It was certainly a very risky and brave choice by Singer and writer David Hayter to open up this rock-em-sock-em summer superhero film with something so serious and dark. And it worked in so many levels. It at once introduces us to our main antagonist, Magneto (born Erik Lensherr), his past, his powers of magnetism, and his reasons for his distrust of humanity. All of this, I think was encapsulated by the wonderful shot at the end of this powerful sequence of the barbed-wire metal gate crushed and distorted after Erik did his damage:

This opening also frames the film as something to be taken a bit more seriously than just a film about a bunch of people wearing costumes and saving the world with their superpowers. It immediately made parallel the plight of the mutants to the horrific plight of the Jews during World War II. This is a film about how these outcasts deal with this level of discrimination. With this said, I heartily applaud Matthew Vaughn's decision to not only bring back this opening in last year's X-Men: First Class, but to actually use it as the opening of the film as well. Many things are different, of course, namely the actors and the color tone of the scene, but Vaughn definitely made a very concerted effort to replicate the older scene as much as he could...

He even went as far as using actual scenes from that first film, like the soldiers closing the gate or the people through the barbed-wire...

Storytelling-wise this scene achieves pretty much the same thing in this more recent film as the earlier film with the introduction to Magneto, his powers, his past as well as highlighting yet again the very human plight of mutants against discrimination (see also all of the anvil-like references of them being "born this way" throughout the film). More practically, I'm sure Vaugh also wanted to re-capture the magic the first film weaved with its audience after the series hit a new low with X-Men: The Last Stand. What's a better way to do that than to copy this magnificent opener? It also made his prequel seem less like a reboot and more as an homage to the first film, which is quite a smart move. You can see the scene from that first film here.

1 comment:

  1. I've never put much thought into the way the opening is suggestive of so many things. It's nice how this is both a post about rain and about bigger issues.


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