The unexplained mutant problem
August 25, 2010 Leave a comment
The general populace of the Marvel Universe do not really like mutants. After all, the X-Men’s tagline says “Sworn to protect a world that hates and fears them” for good reason. The general idea is that mutants are just like ordinary humans until puberty, when they develop superhuman abilities. Ordinary folk dislike this for two reasons: first, the powers can have unpredictable results. Perhaps a mutant might lose control of their powers and blow up a city block. Perhaps they might take advantage of their ability to walk through walls and rob a bank. Second, humans have a natural dislike of anything superior to themselves. Mutants are refered to as the next step in human evolution. Hell, they’re refered to as “Homo Superior”. That’s pretty much rubbing it in the face of the rank and file civilian.
But this is well-known information. Why break up the Fables countdown for this? I have a problem with the reaction towards mutants in the Marvel Universe. Actually, not so much in that I question the response towards them – that is completely understandable by looking at human nature. Rather, I question the trust thrown towards other super-heroes while all the hate is being lobbied at the X-Men and their kin. To me, it’s a contradiction of opinion that has gone on mostly unquestioned for nearly 50 years.
Arguably the most beloved characters in the Marvel U – in the eyes of its in-story populace – would be the Fantastic Four, and for good reason. The First Family are celebrities, with their identities and stories well documented for some time. The people know that Reed Richards made an illegal space flight with a crew made up of his former roommate, somewhat ditzy girlfriend and her kid brother and came back with crazy powers. And for some reason, they’re completely cool with it. The people have reason to appreciate this group. They understand how they achieved their abilities, and they know that since getting them, the Four have used them to help mankind.
But a separate case applies to the equally beloved Avengers. The original lineup – Thor, Iron Man, Wasp and Ant-Man/Giant Man – were not so forthcoming about their origins. Sure, readers knew their origins – an Asgardian god, an industrial playboy, an emotionally unstable scientist and his girlfriend whom he gave powers to get into her pants – but this was not public knowledge. And chances are that no one got close enough to ask. So why, therefore, were the public so cool with the Avengers? Who’s to say that the super powered beings there weren’t mutants themselves? Why all the trust?
The difference in treatment between mutants and other super-powered beings is one of the unexplained discrepancies of the Marvel U. It took an unauthorized invasion of Latveria and an explosion destroying a sizable chunk of Stamford, Connecticut caused by reckless heroics to enact a registration act for super-powered beings. For mutants, a registration act came decades ago, care of the fear mongering of a Senator and several government agents. Why wouldn’t that have been extended to all supers? Why just mutants? Why aren’t insults and bricks thrown every time an Avengers fight causes damage to a city block?
The answer, in a creative perspective at least, is storyline necessity. The X-Men have to be hated and feared by the general populace. That’s their whole point. Other super-heroes are supposed to be loved and admired by the public. That’s their thing. The difference between the two groups is assumed and ignored by creators because there’s simply no way to easily have it make sense. If a new mutant hero pops up, the public decry it for being a mutant. If a new hero joins the Avengers, they’re accepted as one of the good guys. It’s just the way it has to be. If the mutant hero wasn’t to be feared, they wouldn’t have made it a mutant.
Until this is explained, I’m going to chalk it up to an assumed selective clairvoyance on the part of the citizens of the Marvel U. Which, technically, would make them all mutants. This could get ugly…