If you couldn’t afford a college education and are too timid to get a degree in the school of hard knocks, maybe it’s time you considered a crash course at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. It won’t cost much since the films taking place there regularly run on basic cable; besides, the lessons taught are invaluable. We’re not talking about learning how to hone your mutant powers for combat. We’re talking about life lessons.
The X-Men learn powerful lessons about themselves and the world around them. Of course, the anti-bigotry, equality, power, and responsibility stuff is pretty front loaded and hard to miss. However, there are deeper lessons within these films waiting to be revealed and absorbed. Consider this list your own personal session in the Danger Room and prepare your mind for an evolutionary upgrade.
X-Men — Your Whole Life Is Just Part Of A Larger Ensemble
When Xavier discovers Rogue and Wolverine on the run from the Brotherhood, he assumes Magneto was trying to capture Wolverine. It’s not until Wolvie and Rogue go toe to toe with Magneto the truth is revealed: Magneto was actually after Rogue the whole time. We can forgive Logan for thinking Magneto wanted him; after all, he was clearly the lead character. But there’s the rub: we’re all the lead character in our own life. It isn’t always easy to notice or accept that the world doesn’t revolve around you, but just like with Wolverine, doing so can help give you direction.
X2 – X-Men United — You Can Change. In Fact, You Have To
Magneto and Mystique put aside their differences to work with the X-Men for the greater good, Pyro switches sides and joins the Brotherhood, Bobby tells his family he’s a mutant, Wolverine overrides years of training and mind control to evolve past being a mindless killing machine, and Jean turns into an underwater fire bird hologram. X2 wasn’t really about ‘uniting’. It was about realizing that you don’t have to be a slave to political ideology, the way you were raised, the limitations of you body, or old grudges. This may be controversial, but I propose that evolution is the key to our survival as a species on this planet. Those who don’t recognize when it’s time to pivot and evolve will be washed away by the changing currents of time.
X-Men: First Class — It Gets Better
OK, so your trilogy ended in an unsatisfying way with Last Stand and the Wolverine spinoff didn’t do much to restore faith in non-Bryan Singer X-Men projects. But what if I told you that if you hang on and tough it out it’ll get better? First Class was a number one movie with an 87% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. More than fill FOX’s coffers and please critics, though, the film shined a light on a new way forward for a franchise that was lost.
The Wolverine — The Past Has Passed
The deal the studio made with 2013’s ‘The Wolverine’ was essentially this: If you come and see our new Wolverine movie we promise not to reference the other one. “What other one?” you say. Exactly. Technically “The Wolverine” is a sequel in the sense that it’s the second consecutive solo movie with Hugh Jackman playing Wolverine. But considering the bizarre choices Origins made, everyone involved just politely agreed the original didn’t exist. The lesson here is simple: No matter what, the best place for baggage is behind you.
X-Men: Days Of Future Past — Barriers Offer Alternatives, Not Defeat
Why hold a grudge when you can laugh about it all the way to the bank? That’s the lesson behind the softboot/prequel/sequel time travel odyssey that is Days of Future Past. Instead of taking his toys and going home after he departed the X-universe, Bryan Singer came back (first as a producer on First Class and then as a director Days Of Future Past) and demonstrated his value. Faced with a broken franchise, two timelines and two disparate casts Singer found an ingenious way to make what should have been the fifth movie in a fractured franchise function as the first as well as being a sequel to First Class. Outside the box thinking but what else would you expect from the man who gave us the Keyser Soze twist.
Deadpool — Perseverance Pays Off, Big Time
You know what’s better than a million dollars? 762,372,803 dollars. Ryan Reynolds fought for six years to get a spin-off made that was rated R, true to the comics, featured the actual costume, and which was completely unrelated to the Wolverine Origins movie. And when he got his way, the finished product wound up being the most successful R-rated film of all time. And to add some sugar, it’s also a film that is celebrated by fans and critics alike. If you have something you believe in, something you want, whatever it is no matter how crazy, work towards it and never give up. Perseverance pays off. Just ask Wade Wilson.
So, in closing, the X films are chalk full of lessons that everyone needs to be reminded of every now and again and now you know to look out for them.