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No. 81: X-Men

Jewish revenge, mainstreamed

Len Small
December 05, 2011
(Twentieth Century Fox)
(Twentieth Century Fox)

2000, dir. Bryan Singer. In this comic-book blockbuster’s opening scene, a boy and his family are split apart at a concentration camp in 1940s Poland—a moment that triggers the boy’s latent mutant super-powers. He grows up to become the powerful villain Magneto, marvelously played by Ian McKellen. Director Bryan Singer uses Magneto’s origin to frame a McCarthy-esque senator’s attempts to round up mutants, turning a Red Scare plot into a universal meditation on otherness. But who are the good guys? While the X-Men debate assimilation, Magneto wants to beat back those who would persecute his kind. This film mainstreamed the concept of Jewish revenge.

Len Small is Tablet Magazine’s art director.