A Review of X-Men: The Last Stand from a Disability Perspective

In Movies & TV by Kara Sheridan

Driving to the theater to catch the matinee showing of X-men: The Last Stand, I heard some pretty dismal reviews expressing what many expect from a third movie in any series.

It can be difficult to match or top one, much less two, previous blockbusters. But, unlike many who rushed to the theaters on the day of the film’s debut, I have next to no interest in the literal X-men politics or how closely this movie recaptures the years of comics many viewers have devoured.

Instead, I was ecstatic from the parallels I noticed in the previews with many of the underlying themes of the Disability Movement. It’s safe to say that my boyfriend and I were probably one of the few in the theater that noticed nearly every twist and turn of the action-packed movie symbolically portray several issues that disability activists fight today with equal fervor.

Of course, I’d like more to be aware of our issues, but it was also interesting to enjoy a different side of a film from hundreds of fellow movie-goers. Perhaps, that’s the reason that my review is completely contrasted to many of the critics I’ve heard share their opinions.

Definitely no worry of spoilers from me since I’d have a difficult time updating from the last movie if I was asked to! But one thing that everyone sees in this movie is the premise of the cure and to what degree people will sacrifice their defining differences in exchange for greater acceptance within society.

The X-men and people like them are classified in this fictional world as mutants, conveniently matching the genetic explanation of my own condition! In this sequel, the humans (non-mutants) have developed a cure to permanently squelch the many differences among mutants.

Most have what would be considered positive powers, like the ability to manipulate metal, read thoughts, or animalistic strength.

But all of these attributes come at the price of marginalization and fear from the general public. Mutants have a representative within the Presidential cabinet of this world, who immediately expresses his concern when the announcement is made to the country that a cure is now available.

Mutants on both sides take the streets, whether it be standing in long lines for the cure or protesting to preserve the future of a culture.

One of the first questions raised in the movie is fairly obvious. If a cure for your particular disability was available tomorrow, would you seek to acquire it? For the sake of the principle, let’s exclude considerations such as the improbability that past body changes as a result of your disability could ever be altered.

At the moment the cure was injected in this hypothetical condition, all mutant differences from the majority were eradicated. Many, if not all, of us have already pondered this question and likely have a determined opinion on what our personal decision on this matter might be.

The representative of Mutant Affairs also had strong feelings along these lines, which strongly opposed the notion of cure.

Still, one of the more subtle, yet poignant, moments in the film occurs when this character touches the boy from whom the cure was developed.

A simple handshake temporarily morphs the representative’s hand into normal function and appearance. Without speaking, the character’s gaze at his now normal hand brings about the question of whether even the most hard core of our activists might at least temporarily waiver on the same question were it to actually be raised in our world.

As the movie erupts into a few battles, another interesting parallel is drawn reflecting many recent controversies of the disability community that have elicited quarreling within the culture and the ever present danger of apathy.

Two groups of mutants are led throughout all three of these films, not as necessarily arch enemies, but as two parties of sorts with differing agendas. For this reason, they often do square off, but they remain bonded by their mutant status.

The X-men are composed of a group of elite leaders, which fight for both the preservation of their culture and acceptance into the greater society. Their goal could be conceptualized as inclusion without assimilation. This group excitingly enough is led by a character in a wheelchair, Professor Xavier.

The opposing group is headed by primarily one staunch character, who uses the gathering of the masses of other mutants as his most potent weapon. These hundreds of other mutants have no name in neither the movie or within our context the disability movement.

It might be viewed that these individuals had not yet had the chance to develop their cultural identities or their most significant flaw might be in their previous apathy and lack of action to propel any agenda related to battling oppression.

Once they were rallied for a cause, many jumped upon the bandwagon without looking to the past or with considerations of the future. What does this say about our Disability Movement? Do you share similar frustrations with our apathetic members during times of war within the community?

Before seeing the film, take a guess at which side you predict will prevail?

Part of the fun in the experience of X-Men: The Last Stand was most certainly in finding my own meaning to the countless quite obvious underlying messages and questions of the film.

In this not-so-critical review, it was my aim to offer a teaser of just a few that you can consider. There are many more, including parents’ quests to accept their children’s disabilities and the variable of severity in considering the degree of disability.

I appreciated the questions posed instead of the feeling of a forced persuasion. You can truly enjoy the movie from many different angles and I would encourage anyone with an interest in the history and future of people with disabilities and the issues that surround our lives, both personal and political, to check it out and form your own parallels.

For those of you without an interest in digging deep to find barely there symbolism, rest assured! You’ll definitely connect the dots within the first few scenes of the movie.

Whether you find the movie overflowing with connections or simply relish in the action scenes, we can all appreciate the dialogue this film opens to consider these possibilities within the futures of our own societies.

What revelations do these questions and discussions reveal as you discuss them with friends, family, and perhaps most importantly, with yourself?

Kara wants to know what you think about this movie and this topic. Discuss it with her at the Online Forum.