Document Type

Oral Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 4-24-2013

Abstract

In 1963, the first issue of X-Men was published, introducing the Marvel Universe and the world to mutants, super-powered individuals born with amazing powers. Feared and hated by the world they have sworn to protect, the mutant X-Men are often interpreted as representing a variety of marginalized groups. Modern scholarship generally focuses on the Bryan Singer film series and mutants as representative of homosexuals and Jews. Despite the validity of these modern readings, this focus has neglected the depiction of race in the original X-Men comics and has reduced the racial message of X-Men to a simple allegory in which mutants represent the oppressed minority, the X-Men represent civil rights activists, and humans represent the oppressive majority. However, a close reading of X-Men comics from the 1970s and 1980s indicates that the series' depiction of racial and ethnic minority characters complicates this simple allegorical reading. Although the series seems to emphasize diversity through an ethnically diverse cast of characters, X-Men's exclusion of minority characters that identify with their cultural backgrounds, along with its emphasis on the cultural backgrounds of the Caucasian characters, presents a problematic picture of race in which sameness is valued over the diversity the comic supposedly advocates.

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