WWCXD?  (What Would Charles Xavier Do?)

Even though there’s “no ‘I’ in ‘TEAM’”, Wolverine seems to be on every team in the Marvel Comics universe.  So it was only a matter of time before they put their most well known and popular member ahead of the rest of the group.  He is the Gladys Knight to Cyclops, Iceman, the Beast, et. al’s Pips.

The show begins after a psychic attack of some sort takes out Charles Xavier and Jean Grey.  With Charles Xavier out of the picture, the individual members of the X-Men lose faith in their mission and slowly go their own way.  It’s up to Wolverine to put the band back together.  That’s essentially the storyline for season one, though along the way, the writers give plenty for diehard fans of the comics and movies to enjoy.  From the convoluted time jumping/parallel universe storylines to familiar villains and heroes, the show is every bit as beholden to the X-Men’s extensive history.

From the movies to the comics, the story of the X-Men is about a mission: the reconciliation between people groups, mutants and humans, to bring them together for peaceful coexistence. The mutant struggle has been used as symbolic commentary on racism for much of its run (such as in the classic X-Men graphic novel, God Loves, Man Kills), but has come to also symbolize the plight of homosexuals (the legacy virus that afflicted mutants standing in for the AIDS virus or even the current worldview of mutants suffering from a genetic condition that possibly has a cure). The X-Men have sworn to use their gifts for a world that fears and hates them.

They are about an ideal, the peaceful coexistence of people, one in which they often can’t live up to themselves. Mutants may see themselves as a community, and that may be the goal that they work toward, but they aren’t there right now. The X-Men start by trying to be an example, a team. Despite their different gifts, their different temperaments, their different socio-economic backgrounds, they rally around a common goal. Unity in diversity.

“You’re more like family.” –Rogue

This set apart group of mutants see themselves as an elect, a group called for a purpose. Part of their mission is to provide a place for “evil mutants” to find redemption for their actions.  We are looking for a story to define us, a community to belong to, be it punk (the anarchist story), militia (the story of ”patriotism”), gang (the story of street families), or being a mutant (the story of how they were born). When institutions fail to do what they were created to do, be what they were supposed to be about, other places–not often looking like one expects–will spring up to do their job. Professor Xavier preaches a gospel message of peace and reconciliation. He believes that the best way to spread this message is by providing a safe place for people to work out their questions all the while teaching them ways to discipline themselves so that they can control themselves. Such safe havens involve first being a community, allowing people to have a sense of belonging before believing. People need to find a place to call home, a place to belong, and people to call family.

There have been several series based on the X-Men:  X-Men: The Animated Series, X-Men: Evolution, and Wolverine and the X-Men.  The characters which comprise the X-Men are so rich and developed and the team has such a varied history to draw upon, that any iteration seems to strike gold.  One might get tired of them treading the same stories every time (all have variations of the Phoenix/Dark Phoenix saga, for example).  The best part about Wolverine and the X-Men is that it really feels like it picks up by ignoring the last movie and “fixing” it for the sake of better continuity and story.  I only wish there was a second season to see where the show would go.