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Logan does what big, established franchise films should: it uses its built-in budget and audience to do high quality, authentic storytelling rather than safe-bet replication of the usual action-hero(es) formula. Imagine: the entire movie—employing 15,000 people, the end credits tell us—has not one youthful action hero-protagonist at the height of (or discovering) his powers. Instead, it has a run-down guy who looks fifty, a guy in his nineties, and a kid. My God, it's a breath of fresh air.

Logan is a story about getting old. And superhero movie though it is, its exploration of aging could hardly be more down to earth. It has introduced me to an entirely new experience: personally identifying with Wolverine! He's in a position that many of us are in, myself included: feeling the wear and tear of age sapping our physical strength and energy at the very time we find ourselves caught between caring for aged parents and raising still young and needy children. We find ourselves Aeneas, carrying our father on our backs, holding our son by the hand, and hoping to survive whatever ordeal a difficult world has thrust us into.Read more... )
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(Probably my last fic before my kids arrive from Haiti and there is no fic time for years!)

Fandom: X-Men, Movieverse with comics insertions

Summary: Reflections on the life Charles and Gabrielle's mentally ill son, David, through the relationships among Charles, Erik, and Gabrielle. Set during the first X-Men movie, around the year 2000.

Notes: This story is a hybrid of various canons and my own ideas. David is my own version: readers of the Legion stories will note right away that my conception of his life and powers is quite different. However, I've tried to be consistent within the fanon of my own fic, which is why Moira shows up late to Muir Island: she would have been going back to school when David was first placed there. I feel I should subtitle this fic, "People Have Lunch."

"The Calling or the Whale": Read at Ao3
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The latest X-Men film, The Wolverine, has recently opened in theaters. As you might guess, it’s about Wolverine–but I need to talk about the women. As gender fail goes, The Wolverine is by no means an egregious offender. In some ways, it handles its female characters well, but this is all the more reason to critique it: its gender fail not a fluke. It’s not a movie that just happened to be penned by a sexist writer. If anything, its handling of women is better than the norm for a Hollywood superhero flick. Yet it’s still offensive, and we have to do better. Now.

Spoiler-lite summary: the film is set after X-Men: The Last Stand, in which Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) killed an insane Jean-Grey-as-the-Phoenix (Famke Janssen) to stop her wreaking destruction. We catch up with him haunted by dreams of her and trying to put his identity as “Wolverine” behind him. But his past finds him in the form of an old Japanese acquaintance (Haruhiko Yamanouchi) he saved from the bombing of Nagasaki.* This old man wants to see Wolverine before he dies. Thus, Wolverine is whisked off to Japan where adventure ensues, including romance with his old friend’s granddaughter, Mariko (Tao Okamoto). The story is based on one of Wolverine’s more famous comic book plotlines, but I’m going to address the movieverse as a standalone.

The film does some redeeming gender work. One enjoyable character is Yukio (Rila Fukushima), a multitalented mutant sidekick with amazing fighting skills, wit, charm, courage, and culturally plausible Japanese cuteness. (But note the word “sidekick.”) Mariko is also updated from the traditional damsel in distress. Though not a mutant, she has some decent fighting skills of her own and is courageous, proactive, and intelligent.

Read the rest at The Geek Girl Project.
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I put together a list of fic recs for a friend and thought I'd share it here. It's Charles/Erik oriented.

[livejournal.com profile] sasha_b's work in general.

"And Miles to Go before I Sleep" by Dee: A slashy C/E fic, prior to the Divorce.

"Leitmotiv" by Zetaori: Erik can't describe what Charles is to him. A nice metaphor, nicely followed through.

"How Much I've Been Touching You" by Sinuous_Curve: How to use a sex fic to generate excellent character development.

"Not a Good Man" by Tacky_Tramp: very short fic but nicely sums up their falling in love.

"Libertad" by Ariadnes_String: Erik, pre-Charles, gen. One of the best X-Men fics I have read. Erik goes to Temple in Argentina.

"Big Fish Little Fish" by Lilacsigil: Erik-centric. This is an AU splicing comics canon with movie canon. This fic explores how XMFC would play if Erik were pursuing Shaw with his daughter in tow. Necessarily, this diminishes the C/E focus, which is the only reason I can't take this on board as my fanon, because it is sooo well written.

"Our Fallibility" by Lyceumidence: This is an extrapolation on Charles's XMFC/comics backstory, positing that, as a child, he unintentionally screwed his mother up by controlling her telepathically. From his mom's POV.

"Savage Love" by Renata_Kedavra: Satire, based on the Dan Savage advice column. Very cute.
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Title: "Paint Job"
Fandom: X-Men (movieverse)
Length: about 180 words
Ratings/Warnings: PG for angst
Characters: Erik, Raven
Summary: How come Erik's helmet is a different color from Shaw's?

Paint Job )
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Watched XMFC again with my friend, G; I am now at the point of evaluating minutia, viz, Erik's floating accent. Whatever the production-level explanation for the migration of his accent from more American to more British and vice versa, the shifts in-universe are fascinating. In a nutshell, his English starts out very American, moves toward British/mid-Atlantic almost as soon as he meets Charles, then migrates back again toward American right near the end.

light spoilers follow )
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Wherein I gripe about one song and praise another, with X-Men: First Class as a common thread (with a brief digression into Mirage of Blaze).

This Charles/Erik vid, by KaseytheJudge, was one of the early XM:FC vid recs I came across, and it remains one of the better Charles/Erik vids I've seen. The song, "Losing Your Memory" (Ryan Star) has a elegiac feel perfect for the arc of the Charles/Erik relationship in XM:FC. When I first saw the vid, however, I was jarred by its abrupt stop, in the middle of Star beginning the wail the next verse. Having acquainted myself with the song, I have a much more sympathy for the vidder's difficulty here.

It is close to being a good song... )

On a happier note, I have found the quintessential Charles/Erik song, and it is Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." Now, this is a very famous song precisely because it speaks broadly to many people's experience of love. There's no shortage of stories it could apply to. But I truly have never encountered a story it fits so perfectly as it fits the trajectory of Charles and Erik.

Finding a really good version of this song with more than the original four verses is frustrating in the manner of looking for a Hamlet fan vid that is not a re-enactment filmed for someone's Shakespeare class. But after much listening, I have settled on Jeff Buckley's cover as the best version I've come across. It cuts two verses, including (happily) the one fits Charles/Erik least ("You say I took the name in vain..."). It also cuts the verse that is usually last ("I did my best; it wasn't much..."). This is a bit of shame but no great impediment.

I'm not going to bother to gloss this one for Charles and Erik because it's obvious, isn't it? Here are the lyrics.. I will love forever someone who would vid this... but I suspect there's not currently enough material. Maybe if they get another movie or two out of the XM:FC franchise?
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Title: After the Love Affair
Fandom: X-Men (movieverse)
Characters/Pairings: Charles/Erik (mentions of Charles/Moira, Erik/Raven)
Words: 8500
Rating/Warnings: NC-17 for sex, possible triggers surrounding ableism and heavy moralizing about war, with a side of racism. Also evolutionary discourse.
Summary: (1967) When your true love is your arch enemy, sometimes you need to take him on vacation.
A/N: This is something of a sequel to "Scenes from a Love Affair". Though long, it's another "scenes" fic and can be read bit by bit. For more on how Moira pops up doing doctoral studies, see "Reinvention". Thank you, Google books for these Wagner lyrics, which are stuck in Erik's head. The musical passage he refers to is here, about half way through the clip.

After the Love Affair )
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"The X-Men, Evolution, and Non-Allegorical Interpretation"

In her commentary on X-Men: First Class, Abigail Nussbaum argues that the film unintentionally downplays Nazi atrocities and promotes anti-Israeli sentiment by equating dominant Western culture's fear of the Jewish "other" with non-mutant humanity's arguably justifiable fear of dangerously powerful mutants, the unfortunate implication being that fear of the Jewish other may be justified. Nussbaum, oaktree89, and others make important observations about the problematic linking of Jewishness, villainy, and the dangers of mutation in the plotline of Erik Lehnsherr. However, Nussbaum's reading of The X-Men as a "parable" for social issues such as homosexuality and Jewishness oversimplifies its symbolic structure. I would argue that The X-Men (the franchise and its specific iterations) is most sociologically useful when it is read not an as allegory for real-world issues but rather as applicable to them.

Read more... )
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Title: "Daughter"
Fandom: X-Men (movieverse)
Characters: Charles, Jean
Word Count: 960
Rating/Warnings: PG for angst, discussion of parental neglect, yet also kind of fluffy
Summary: Trying to cheer up a depressed pre-teen Jean, Charles reflects on their relationship.

Daughter )
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Title: "A Dash of Truth Spread Thinly"
Fandom: X-Men (movieverse)
Characters/Pairings: Erik, Raven, Charles
Word Count:~5700
Rating: PG-13 for sex, language, and themes
Summary: Who is Mystique if not Magneto's follower? A reinterpretation of the end of X2 in the light of Raven as Charles's sister; implied AU for X3.
A/N: This is a heavy revision of a story of the same title I posted earlier. The title is from Tori Amos's "Pancake," my new X2 Erik and Raven song.

A Dash of Truth Spread Thinly )
labingi: (riki)
Title: "Blemish"
Fandom: X-Men (movieverse)
Characters: Erik & Charles (gen)
Rating/Warnings: R for Holocaust.
Word Count: ~1000
Summary: In the midst of a pleasant evening, Charles says the wrong thing.
A/N: This fic is an attempt to explain what seems to my eye a casting discontinuity in XMFC (but perhaps my eye is deceiving me). The Nazi bits (minus mutants) are based on historical information, which makes me feel rather ill.

Blemish )
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Title: "A Dash of Truth Spread Thinly"
Fandom: X-Men (movieverse)
Characters/Pairings: Erik/Raven, Charles
Word Count: 3500
Rating: PG-13 for sex and themes
Summary: Set after X-Men: First Class and after X2, implied AU for X3. Erik and Raven: Forty years together, and it does seem a day too much.
A/N: The title is from Tori Amos's "Pancake," my new X2 Erik and Raven song.

A Dash of Truth Spread Thinly )

More A/N: I am not best pleased with this fic, maybe it wanted to be in Raven's POV. Or maybe it just covers so much territory, touching on so many characters' lives that it needed to be a novel. Or maybe I've come up against the fundamental ideological conundrum that drives The X-Men: there is no easy solution and thus no real space for narrative closure. Or maybe I just need to revise more...
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I have written Charles/Moira fic. Why? Nobody knows.

Title: "Reinvention"
Fandom: X-Men (movieverse)
Characters/Pairing: Charles/Moira
Word Count: ~5700
Rating: R for sex, talk of sex, disturbing themes.
Warnings: Reference to domestic violence and sexual violence and ableist triggers. (This is the most heavily warned story I've ever written.)
Summary: Charles and Moira's arduous journey to sexual friendship.
A/N: This story comes from a desire to find some continuity between movieverse Moira and comicsverse Moira. To that end, I've spliced pieces of comicsverse backstory onto movieverse Moira. I lightened up her past of abuse a lot, yet it still manages to remain rather shocking.

Reinvention )
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"X-Men: First Class as a Love Story"

The Trope of Falling in Love

"Falling in love" has been the dominant trope in our literary landscape several hundred years, and as with any such overriding cultural construction, one need merely nod at it to claim one has created a sufficient story. This descent into narrative laziness is succinctly invoked in Avril Lavigne's exceptionally grating song, "Skater Boy," which opens, "He was a boy. She was a girl. / Can I make it any more obvious?" No. In eight words, every one of us instantly understands; that's how thoroughly embedded the cliché is.

In the majority of narratives, nodding at the cliché largely stands in for developing a compelling relationship between two individuals. The highest literary example of this may be Romeo and Juliet, in which two teens have sexual chemistry at a dance, spend a few days obsessing over each other due to hormones and reverse psychology, and end up killing themselves for the love of someone they scarcely had a chance to get to know. It's sad, and it works as a story because it's about the sadness of the social situation rather than Romeo and Juliet. It's not, however, about falling in love.

Like most every cliché, "falling in love" gained its stature because it has real power. People really do fall in love, and it's amazing. And in those rare instances where this narrative is executed as a natural, dynamic building of relationship between two people who genuinely "click," it can create an extremely compelling story.

Read on: this will be about Charles and Erik eventually )
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Tidbits (mostly X-Men):

Dreamwidth
There has been a sea change: for the first time, I'm getting more comments on DW than LJ, supporting [livejournal.com profile] louderandlouder's hunch that DW will eventually be the greater fandom hub.

X-Men Soft Skills
Reading Skip Downing's On Course: Strategies for Creating Success in College and Life (the text for several of our college's learning communities) made me want to grade Charles and Erik according to their soft skills: )

Brief review of X-Men graphic novel, God Loves, Man Kills

This is early 1980s graphic novel is the principal basis for the film, X2. It concerns the machinations of William Stryker (in this version a televangelist) as he tries to a) convince the world that mutants are unholy and b) exterminate them. As in the film, the X-Men and Magneto team up to foil him while Xavier is imprisoned and telepathically manipulated. It's a good read on the whole and has some moments of philosophical depth that outstrip the movie. spoilers )
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In previous X-Men meta, [livejournal.com profile] lyonesse, [livejournal.com profile] goodbyemyfancy, and I shared some confusion over Charles's backstory in X-Men: FC. This led me to ponderings...

Why is Charles not utterly screwed up?

There's a Twilight Zone episode in which a little boy has the power to make people disappear at will. Understandably, everyone who knows him is terrified of him and, thus, caters to his every whim, lest he get testy and zap them. As a result, the boy is a petulant brat with a sense of entitlement the size of Texas. Why was Charles Xavier not this boy?

Read more... )
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I made some previous reference to upcoming meta on the relationship between Charles and Erik in X-Men: First Class (with some reference to the chronologically later X-Men movies and a few broader, cross-media statements). Here 'tis.

Stories are like points on the compass: their basic courses are limited, and new cardinal directions are unlikely. But the stories that catch the heart are the ones that point their arrow at a precise degree no other story has touched. Stories in which friends become enemies or enemies friends are common. But only in The X-Men have I encountered a story in which friends become enemies while (more or less) remaining friends and continue simultaneously enemies and friends for forty years. The psychological gymnastics involved are so prodigious Charles and Erik surely deserve an Olympic medal.

Read more... )
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I am still exorcising the X-Men bug. More fic...

Title: "Scenes from a Love Affair"
Fandom: X-Men (movies)
Characters: Charles, Erik
Rating/Warnings: R-ish for tame sex and infrequent swearing
Spoilers: X-Men: First Class
Summary: Young and in love and recruiting in Mexico.
A/N: Songs courtesy of Tom Lehrer and the Kingston Trio. There is political incorrectness in this story, particularly in Lehrer's humor, in defense of which I can only say it was 1962, and I don't mean to say it's not problematic.

Scenes from a Love Affair )
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Character thoughts sparked by X-Men: First Class...

X-Men has long been typified by excellent character development, well beyond my expectation for superhero comic fantasy. This was true in the cartoon (my first introduction) and truer in the (good) movies. But X-Men: First Class has raised the standard for me and prompted meta.

Beneath the cut, some character thoughts on Charles and Erik (respectively; I'll do relationship meta in the next installment). Spoilers for X-Men: First Class and potentially the first three movies, though I hereby decanonize the third, which I can only explain as Jean telepathically infecting everybody with a horrible, horrible dream.

Read more... )

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