Pitchmas 2019, Part 10: X-Men

X-Men: Cages of Grief

In a pitched battle between every Marvel movie villain and every member ever of Magneto’s brotherhood of mutants, the combined forces of the Avengers and the X-Men are losing (if we want to be timelier about it, they’re the tip of the spear of Thanos’ army). We watch a few Avengers take a dirt nap, before Scarlet Witch, with her dying breath, utters, “No More Mutants.” Suddenly, both the Brotherhood and the X-Men are gone in a blinding scarlet flash. Deadpool (it’s unclear which side he’s on), runs into the middle of the now mostly deserted battlefield and asks, “Wait, what’d I miss?” before being caught by one last spark of the red magic and disappearing, too. Cut to black, white text slowly appears, “Five… years…” Deadpool interrupts. “No, no, no. Do you have any idea how much havok five years can wreak on the glutes? I will find Thanos and have him snap every screenwriter in LA.” Years changes to weeks, and Deadpool says, “That’s much more reasonable.” (And yes, I either have the one joke I will wear into the ground… or I have cleverly fulfilled the promise of the rule of threes- okay, it was the third when originally written).  

Cut to a news broadcast, of kids in cages, one of whom has purple skin, another has glowing eyes. A reporter narrates, “What authorities initially believed was a second Blip, we now know to be an invasion of powered beings from an alternate Earth. Viewing them as a potential threat to American sovereignty as well as a potential carrier of otherworldly infections, the United States Government is now asking that all of these so-called Homo Superior race surrender themselves for decontamination, registration and monitoring.” Cut to another broadcast, far more Foxy, over phone footage of Magneto lifting and throwing cars at police. “Some of these so-called mutants refuse to recognize any human authority. They hate us, and will stop at nothing less than the utter destruction of the white- I mean human- race.” Another commentator, a Bill O’Reilly type: “Especially the mutant terrorist who calls himself Magneto. He’s struck ICE detention facilities in 3 states in as many days, killing all personnel and recruiting the captured mutants to his cause.”

Cyclops, Storm, Xavier (still walking) and Deadpool are hiding in New York. The rest of the X-Men are scattered, some captured (behind them is a board similar to the infamous cover to the first Days of Future Past issue (think it’s 141, showing which mutants are believed captured or at large). On another board, we see Xs for every ICE facility Magneto has hit, circling around Washington, D.C. They discuss the mutants they’ve seen Magneto has with him, and needing a force tailored to striking at Magneto quickly; without him his insurrection ends. As they’re selecting their team, it’s kind of like a heist movie, going over strengths and weaknesses. One thing they decide is that they need an international team- if this is going to be the face of mutant-kind standing up to tyrants like Magneto, it can’t just be Americans.

Xavier uses telepathy to get access to a secret government spy plane. Then they go for Wolverine first, mostly because he and Deadpool are bullet sponges, being held at Guantanamo Bay as an enemy combatant. Storm gives them cover with a tropical storm, and Cyclops blasts his way in. “Aren’t you the best there is at what you do, even though it isn’t very nice. How’d you get caught?” “They dropped a MOAB on me.”  

Mostly fairly quick cuts as we assemble the rest of the team, Wolverine tracking down Sunfire in Japan where he’s gone to ground, Deadpool reuniting with Colossus in Russia (and hugging him with a little butt grab). Quick stop in Germany for Nightcrawler, who quips, “It would have been faster for me to come to you.”

Deadpool finds Vanessa on Muir Island, where an identical Moira McTaggert is quickly boning up on mutant genetics with Hank McCoy, where they pick up Banshee. Vanessa throws Deadpool down the rolling hill they’re standing on, and he yells, “As you wish!” as he tumbles down. She meets him at the bottom, twisting his head back on straight. He says, “You never told me you were a-” he wiggles his index finger. “A lifesize replica of your erection?” she asks, and he puts his index finger to his nose behind the mask, and she jumps on him and kisses him. Still at the top of the hill, the other X-Men are uncomfortable. “Should we wait for Wade?” Colossus asks. Cyclops shrugs. “It is quieter without him,” Kurt says. “And we’ve already got a Canadian, and one of them spreads mighty far,” Banshee says, and Wolverine growls.

Lastly, they stop off near Washington, where Wolverine tracks down Warpath (or Thunderbird, if you’re a stickler), operating an underground railroad smuggling mutants up into Canada. They served together, and he calls him Proudstar. (so we aren’t completely neglecting Latinos, we could have Xavier telepathically call out to Sunspot in Brazil and tell him to meet them in Washington).

Cut to the Oval Office in siege mode. We see the exterior, Magneto and his legions flanked by American protestors. Inside, Henry Peter Guyrich hangs up the phone, “Captain Rogers said, and I quote, ‘I don’t think I will.'” “Sir,” Bollivar Trask leans forward, “you still have our failsafe.” “But once the surprise is out of the box, will it still function as a deterrent?” asks President Kelly. “They asked the same about the atom bomb, sir. The world needs a demonstration.”

Sentinels, clearly based on Hammer tech from Iron Man 2, tear their way up out of the White House lawn. For a moment, they are immune to Magneto’s control, and blast the crowd, peaceful demonstrators and agitators alike. Magneto rips pipes out of the lawn and surrounding street, and uses them to puppeteer the Sentinels, and uses one to tear Robert Kelly out of the White House and throw him onto the White House lawn, amidst the gathered crowd.

Fog rolls in, obscuring Kelly, as the X-Men’s stolen plane lands between the crowd and the White House. They first deal with Magneto’s Sentinels, then fight to get to Magneto. He’s too much for them, and when it looks like they’re beaten, Xavier controls a mutant behind Magneto to attack him (I’m thinking Rahne Sinclair or Feral) and he goes down. 

Kelly, meanwhile, is back on his feet, not distinguishing between friend or foe in the crowd. Xavier produces a mutant version of his daughter. “That’s not my Anika.” “But she is, Mr. President. No different from the one you raised.” Xavier joins their minds, and we see flashbacks of the alter Kelly with his daughter. Kelly collapses to his knees. “My, God, what have I done?” “It matters less what we’ve done,” Xavier soothes, “the future belongs to what we’ll do. It is within everyone, human or mutant, to be better; all we ask is that we try to teach each other how.”

Magneto throws a metal rod at Kelly. Xavier pushes him out of the way, and is impaled through the spine, on live television. Wolverine growls, and guts Magneto. For his trouble, he’s flung across the White House lawn, and Magneto flees. 

For the epilogue we cut to the Xavier Institute, owned by Cain Marko, but due to his negligence, operated by a nonprofit in the family’s stead. Marko has been pissing away his inheritance on various schemes to become more powerful, running for office, starting then abandoning companies. Virtually the only remaining part of the family legacy is the charity started to posthumously honor first Charles and then their parents, most prominently running a school for troubled but gifted youngsters. The charity head says that he can’t think of a better use for it than housing refugees, including an alternate version of their son. He leans in closer, whispers that he knew their Charles, grew up with him, that they were, “Closer than brothers, to borrow a phrase.” 

Most people in the room are glued to the TV. The calm newscaster returns. “With the mutant threat abated for the time being, repurposed ICE facilities are returning to their mission of housing separated families.” The Bill O’Reilly type returns. “I for one, am not convinced that Magneto and this Xavier didn’t plot it out together, and I’m not going to sleep soundly until we manage to round all of them up and send them back where they came from.”

Xavier steps away from the charity head. “Part of this world may always hate and fear us, but we mustn’t despair. Humanity is better than the worst of us. It’s up to us to prove it to them.” Mid-credits scene: Cain, who we recognize from the gaudy portrait at the Institute, is running through some Tomb Raider-esque ruins. The music swells, and for an instant as he defies deadly traps we forget who he is, until he grabs his guide and uses him as a human shield to survive the final trap. He approaches the Crimson Gem of Cytorrak, reaching out for it. Close on the guide, his dying words, “You don’t deserve the power of Cytorrak,” as the room is bathed in Crimson light, and we hear him changing, as we see his shadow grow from a normal man to that of the Juggernaut.

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