Should the MCU Gender Swap Some Pivotal X-Men Characters: Which Ones?
When the X-Men finally join the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Fox/Disney merger’s purpose will, at last, come into the light. The potential narratives for Avenger-mutant mash-ups are endless (and existent in the source material). Yet, one would be wise to presume that Disney will not simply reiterate Fox’s former plotlines, or revamp character dynamics that are old-hat and worn out. Different mutants may be at the center of various conflicts. Yet, if Kevin Feige and Co. wish to throw fans for a loop — they could do some gender-swapping. Done correctly, a few gender swaps could breathe new life into the familiar material.
Gender swapping has grown quite common in cinematic interpretations of various novels (as well as reboots of previous films). It often serves a particular purpose — to reinvent a familiar character with a new vibe.
The visual alone creates a stark degree of separation between the “new” and the “old,” even if the personality traits are similar. Fans get a new voice, a new look, a new gate, and so on. Gender swapping could prove most useful when a character’s existing persona remains fundamentally connected to, seamlessly intertwined with their gender (or the various gender norms and orthodoxies tied to their persona).
Which X-Men are intimately connected to their gender? Which mutants carry an unshakeable vision in fans’ minds? Such mutants would offer the greatest surprise, allowing Feige and Co to bring already popular mutants (from Fox) back to center stage — with a different presence. Three X-men seem perfect for the swap.
1. Professor X
Professor X has always been a man; he has always had a deep and commanding voice and a wise-old-owl-type presence. When you think of Professor X, you see Patrick Stewart. The character is in line with what calm and collected male leaders tend to bring to the table. The illustration remains a norm in sci-fi-oriented fiction. So, what could a woman bring to the table?
A woman should retain Professor X’s signature qualities — wisdom, foresight, leadership potential, and more. Professor X’s characterization should remain unchanged, for such would have the greatest impact and highlight an important fact of life — men and women can and do accomplish the same feats. Women can be just as brave, just as stubborn, and just as wise. To make her maternal or soft would be a disservice to the character, and only fulfill a trope when it comes to female leaders in fictional works.
Mystique has been an overtly sexualized female character since the beginning. From Rebecca Romijn’s manipulative and sly take to Jennifer Lawrence’s turn, the character’s physical movements, even in combat, are swift, and even sometimes deemed arousing.
What’s wrong with a male Mystique? Can a man not offer the same level of coyness, cunning, and manipulative seduction? It’s time to break some gender norms. What’s wrong with a little homoeroticism in an X-Men movie; heteroeroticism has defined Mystique’s presence in the MCU for ages, as her character seems written with the male gaze in mind. It’s time to change it up.
It goes without saying that Wolverine is a bit of a beast. He is an unpredictable, sometimes vicious character who uses adamantium claws to tear his opponents to shreds. In short, he embodies the characteristics that the term “masculinity” often implies.
Daphne’s Keen’s X-23 in Logan was impeccable. She was a young girl with the same tendency towards violence, the same deftness in combat, and the same rage-fueled responses to her opponents. A female Wolverine would offer up a needed change of pace, and hopefully, limit comparisons to Hugh Jackman’s unforgettable performance.