If we talk about how one scene can change the entire fate and face of the film industry for many years to follow, we have found just that. In 2000, something similar to that sort happened and the future of cinema wasn’t the same and flawlessly transitioned into the honest, dark, dramatic, and grim presentation of superheroes and supervillains. When the first movie of the X-Men Franchise was released, things did not tend to stay the same.
If we breakdown the scene, we see a young boy called Eric Lehnsherr, also known as Magneto, in a Polan Concentration Camp in the year 1944. On being separated by his family, he retaliates, eventually unfolding these superhuman powers, i.e., his mutant abilities. He was then brutally hit in the head laying him down unconscious. It took almost 5 guards to control his unveiling anger and powers. While he was being dragged by the guards, he showed the world what he can do just with the power of his mind and bent the fences that surrounded the boundaries, and displayed metal manipulation powers.
This X-Men movie that was released in 2000 cemented the very foundation of how a superhero/hero and a supervillain/villain shall be portrayed. This was successfully carried on by Christopher Nolan in his Dark Knight’s Trilogy almost 5 years after the initial release of X-Men. The scene was written by Christopher McQuarrie, who was uncredited as he played a small role but, his little contribution changed the entire process of showcasing heightened beings. Regarding this scene, Christopher says,
“The movies I’ve worked on, like X-Men or The Wolverine… No matter how fantastic they are – you have to make sure they exist in a very real world… And that’s where the idea for that opening scene (at the concentration camp) came from.”
Now this very scene was also recreated in 2011, in which we see Sebastian Shaw, played by Kevin Bacon, was watching the events that were unfolding in the Nazi office. To watch Eric’s (Magneto) superpower or gifts, he ordered Eric’s mother to be killed so that Eric gets angry enough and lifts up a coin with his mind as he was said to do earlier. Eric, when he realized that he has failed his mother and himself, loses his control and all hell breaks loose as he goes on a rampage and destroys the office and everyone on it, followed by a heart-wrenching scene as Eric knows he’s never going to be normal.
Throughout the X-Men movies, we have seen that the mutants are always considered to be a threat more than an aid, and the irrevocable thought process of normal humans including the stigma with which the powers come. As we see two good friends turn into sworn enemies, we see their way of fighting this very mentioned stigma. The two ways are of Charles Xavier, a.k.a., Professor X, and Eric Lehnsherr, a.k.a., Magneto. On playing the character of Magneto, Sir Ian McKellen, an openly gay character said,
“I was sold it by Bryan who said, ‘Mutants are like gays. They’re cast out by society for no good reason… and as in all civil rights movements, they have to decide: Arey they going to take the Xavier line – which is to somehow assimilate and stand up for yourself and be proud of what you are, but get on with everybody… or are you going to take the alternative view – which is, if necessary, use violence to stand up for your own rights. And that’s true. I’ve from across that division within the gay rights movements.”
With the real-world problem of merciless killings of the Jews and incorporating it with the unacceptance of mutants, Christopher set the tone once and for all in 2000 for a scene he did not even get credits for. In 1995 he even got The Academy Award for the Best Screenplay, for the movie The Unusual Suspects, which was also directed by Bryan Singer. This scene alone took the X-Men Franchise and placed it on a whole new pedestal, as we see the same intensity in further movies as well. Magneto and Professor X,(Charles and Eric), start off as best friends, a duo that no one could stop, but eventually, the relationship between both of them derailed as Eric set on virtue to establish dominance as their mutants and shall not be afraid of their own gifts, and takes a 180 degree take on Charles’s mission.