Fuckable Fictional Characters: Magneto

Over the weekend I went to see X-men: Apocalypse. I enjoyed the movie. In fact, as I usually do when watching Marvel movies, I experienced some catharsis. Marvel’s heroes and villains have always had a powerful effect on my psyche, and more often than not, when I see a movie featuring these amazing characters I cry. Laugh if you need to, but Marvel characters tend to experience some heavy-duty tragedy in their fictional lives, which makes them interesting, believable, and deserving of our empathy. Like regular old people such as you and me, they react to this tragedy in a multitude of ways. Some of them channel those negative feelings into helping others, while some take their pain and channel it into seeking revenge.

I don’t condone the choice to take revenge for the pain and suffering that people (fictitious or real) have experienced in their lives, but that doesn’t mean I don’t understand the desire to do so. Revenge always seems like it’s going to be satisfying and it tempts us into believing that making our enemies pay for the hurt they’ve caused will somehow heal us. Unfortunately, for most people, revenge only causes more pain and turns people into the villains they hate so much.

A Heartbreaking Villain: Magneto

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Erik Lehnsherr is a tragic character. His story line is riddled with black moments. Born Jewish in Germany, he survived the Holocaust, but his family didn’t. In the comics, we are told that he not only survived, but also was later made to work in the death camp at Auschwitz to remove the dead bodies of his fellow Jews who were murdered in the gas chambers. The Nazis persecuted him for being a Jew, and then because of his mutant ability, he was hunted and threatened by people who feared him, which put other people he loved in danger. His daughter Anya died at the hands of an angry mob after people witnessed his mutant power. His wife, pregnant with twins, left him because she was devastated by the loss of their daughter and frightened by his power. To say that Erik is emotionally damaged by the terrible things that happened to him and his loved ones would be an understatement.

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When I was first introduced to Magneto as a kid, I didn’t understand why he was viewed as a villain. In fact, Stan Lee has been quoted to say that he never intended for Magneto to be seen as a villain. Inspired by the leaders of the Civil Rights movement, he envisioned Magneto as the Malcolm X to Professor X’s Martin Luther King Jr. – two men fighting for the same cause, but with different ideologies. Each man wishes to protect mutants from persecution and violence, but Magneto prefers to be proactive and confront the enemies of mutantkind BEFORE they can hurt his brothers and sisters. Charles Xavier has chosen to walk a more peaceful path, and never gives up hope that mutants and humans can live peacefully together. However, he also understands that the path he’s chosen is dangerous and trains his students so that they are ready to fight when the war against mutants ends up on their doorstep. He’s hopeful, but not an idiot.

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Our tax dollars at work.

The common struggle that initially unites these two men is compromised by their opposing views on how to deal with the threat of humanity. Magneto has witnessed the evil of humankind time and time again. His trust for humans will only extend so far, because he is always waiting for them to disappoint him. If we were to diagnose Erik with a psychological disorder, I think it would be safe to say that he suffers from PTSD after the atrocities he witnessed in Nazi Germany, which has contributed to his trust issues and difficulty maintaining relationships, romantic or otherwise. Intimacy can be a real challenge when you ultimately trust no one.

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They need more on-screen smooch time.

Because, even the people Erik has loved and attempted to trust have either abandoned him, or given him a reason to turn on them. Or his paranoia leads him to betray them before they can betray him. His agenda, to punish those who threaten him and his mutant brethren, has destroyed more relationships than healed them. His pursuit of revenge alienates him from friends and family, potentially making him one of the loneliest villains in the Marvel universe.

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What? That there should be scenes of both of you naked? That’s totally what I was thinking.

There’s a lot of ground to cover with Magneto seeing as how he appeared in the first X-men comic in 1963. Since there’s so much material to pull from, I’m going to cheat a little and only focus on the films that he’s appeared in. Yes, I’m fully aware that these films deviate from the original storylines that appeared in the comics, but since amazing actors have portrayed him on screen, I’m going to focus on them for the purposes of this blog post. I’m sticking to the films mainly because while Magneto has always been an inspiring character in print, it’s Michael Fassbender’s portrayal of him that stirs my heart (and loins) the most.

Magneto, played by Ian McKellen, first appeared on film in X-men (2000). McKellen did an amazing job of conveying the complexity of the character, as well as his cleverness, his power, his skills at manipulation, and his single-minded determination to stop all threats to mutant life. No matter what. McKellen reprised the role several times, including his appearance in X-men: Days of Future Past in which he plays the older Magneto and Michael Fassbender the younger Magneto.

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The sassier side of Magneto.

When we were given an in-depth peek into Magneto’s origin story in X-men: First Class (2011), Michael Fassbender had the unique opportunity to convey the raw emotional turmoil and rage-inspired violence that labeled this misunderstood character a villain. Not to mention the fact that he also brought Magneto to a level of sexiness that pairs well with James McAvoy’s equally sexy Charles Xavier. Maybe it’s the costuming from the 1960’s that reminded me of some of my favorite spies played by gorgeous British actors, or maybe it’s just the fact that Michael Fassbender is simply one of the sexiest men alive. At any rate, I have no complaints about the casting.

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Speaking of fantastic casting choices, when I saw X-men: Days of Future Past, my head nearly exploded when Evan Peters took on the role of Quicksilver, Magneto’s son. He was amazing, and his scenes were by far some of my favorites in both Days of Future Past and Apocalypse. Evan Peters stole my heart in the American Horror Story series, and he’s definitely on that list of actors who portray monsters in such a way to make me lust after them. I’m not one of those women who considers marrying serial killers on death row, but I do fantasize about fictional characters who commit similar acts of horror.

I think anyone would find it difficult to argue against Magneto’s complexity, or the fact that he is a damaged soul. And, even though he makes a lot of terrible decisions, I often find myself cheering him on. Humans do terrible things to each other, but those horrific acts become even worse when targeted at people who don’t look like them or share their cultural beliefs. You’d have to be an idiot not to grasp that the battle between humans and mutants is an allegory for racism. The fact that Erik is a Jew who survived the Holocaust allows me to overlook some of his methods for dealing with his enemies.

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In fact, I applauded his mission to track down and kill former Nazis who associated with the man who exploited his power and turned him into a monster. However, his belief that mutants are superior to humans sounds an awful lot like the ideology of the Nazis. That’s not a coincidence. Ironic, yes. Coincidence, no. It’s one of the personality quirks that make him such an interesting character. His psyche was so damaged by his tormentors that he uses their ideas and methods to smite his enemies.

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A friend of mine who also saw X-men: Apocalypse over the weekend was unable to accept Magneto’s actions in the film as redeemable. He’s right. A lot of people died because of his choices and the actions of the people he teamed up with to essentially destroy the world. Again, we were reminded that his pain and rage are his two biggest motivators. Does that excuse his actions? No. Do I still feel a kinship with him because of his pain and because he’s one of my favorite fictional characters? Of course I do. Is it true that each time I see Michael Fassbender in that role I want to help Magneto heal his pain any way I possibly can? Absolutely.

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Seriously. Look at this guy. You know you want to hug him. Kiss him. Handcuff him to a bed frame. Whatever it takes to distract him from making any more mistakes.

I’m not going to lie. A character with a backstory like his in the hands of a gorgeous actor like Fassbender is going to win my heart every single time. He is powerful, emotionally damaged, fighting for a cause I can get behind, and smoking hot. And he fucks up constantly and continually drives a wedge between himself and the people who care about him the most. In his efforts to protect mutants, he ultimately destroys all hope of uniting them on a common front. He becomes worse than the enemy he’s fighting. And, my heart breaks for him. There isn’t enough love in this world to heal Magneto, because he refuses to be healed. He isn’t redeemable because he doesn’t wish to be redeemed.

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Let Magneto’s major flaw be a lesson for us all. You can’t heal your own pain by causing pain in others. But, that doesn’t make him any less deserving of our empathy and love. Magneto will always have a special place in my heart, in that dark corner I reserve for the justifiable villains, antiheroes and monsters. Always.

Fuckable Fictional Characters: Tate Langdon

Back in November of 2012 my life was forever changed as I binge-watched the first season of American Horror Story on Netflix. I had begun my MFA in Writing Popular Fiction at Seton Hill University earlier that year in June, and as my second residency was rapidly approaching, I had assignments and manuscript deadlines looming over me, I was working a soul-sucking job at the University of Pittsburgh, and juggling parenthood. Let’s just say I was burdened by adult life and needed an escape. Netflix rarely disappoints in that department, and I can usually count on finding a film or series that will transport me into the realm of escapism.

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It was a Friday night. Everyone was asleep. I was up late reading, writing, doing laundry and making a grocery list. It felt good to be writing again, but also a little overwhelming when I considered all of the other responsibility I had. I turned on Netflix and saw that American Horror Story: Murder House was available. A few friends who had watched it in real time insisted that I watch it as soon as humanly possible. They said it was right up my alley. They were not wrong.

I sat alone in my living room with only the glow of TV for light, wrapped myself up in a blanket, cracked open a beer, and settled in. As I watched the first episode and was slowly introduced to the characters, including the house, I got excited about the fact that a TV show was focusing on a haunted house and showing the history of why it was haunted and how it affected the people living in it over time. Brilliant. What I didn’t expect was how gloriously violent and gratuitously sexual the show was. I was given glimpses of some of the most private and intimate moments of a person’s life, including their deaths. I was instantly hooked. I stayed up past 3:00 a.m. and managed to watch four episodes before I had to crash.

They next day I woke up with a physical urge to watch more. The show was like a horror movie on crack that only adults are allowed to watch. This show had captured the concept of spectacle in all its glory. I spent several hours watching more of the show on Saturday and Sunday. And I’ve been a fan ever since.

February 10: Tate Langdon

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If you’ve never watched the first season of American Horror Story, shame on you. And, you probably shouldn’t read any further, because this post is riddled with SPOILER ALERTS.

Tate Langdon is a 17-year-old boy with a history of mental illness that his abusive alcoholic mother, Constance, is in denial about. She brushes off his violent outbursts and rage by saying that he’s overly sensitive. One day, in 1994, he showed up at his high school armed to the teeth, and single-handedly killed 15 people. In one respect his mother is right. He is a sensitive boy. He is extremely protective of the people he loves. If he thinks they’re going to be harmed, he resorts to violence. But that doesn’t exactly explain his choice to commit mass murder at his high school. Tate is misunderstood by most people, confused about his own thoughts and feelings, and homicidal.

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Every day is Halloween.

The police track Tate to his house after the shooting, and a SWAT team kills him in his bedroom. But death doesn’t get Tate down. He simply continues to exist as a ghost in the house. Unlike some ghosts we’ve encountered in fiction, or perhaps real life, Tate is a tangible ghost. He appears to be alive and is able to interact with the living as if he never died.

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In death, Tate is no less violent. In fact, his emotional imbalances are heightened by the other ghosts haunting the house who encourage him to commit unspeakable acts. The house has a long history of violence at the hands of several deeply disturbed individuals. The house is essentially a receptacle for sin. The evil that saturates the house from attic to basement demands to be fed more souls. The house uses Tate to get what it wants, but he struggles against his darkness. Tate may feel guilt for doing the terrible things he does, but he sure is good at being a homicidal maniac.

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This is why we can’t have nice things.

When a psychiatrist and his family move in, the house awakens and the ghosts come out to play. Tate becomes one of the doctor’s regular patients as he masquerades as a neighbor boy with depression. After one of his sessions, he meets the psychiatrist’s teenaged daughter, Violet Harmon. Tate catches Violet attempting to slit her wrist over a bathroom sink. Helpful boy that he is, he explains that she’s doing it wrong. If she really wants to kill herself, she needs to cut vertically, not horizontally, because “they can’t stitch it up.”

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They’re totally fucked.

Tate and Violet bond over their teen angst and morbid interests. And it doesn’t take long for them to become more than friends. Can you blame her? Look at that boy. He’s dark, brooding, dangerous, and absolutely fucking adorable.

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Cutest psycho on the block.

They spend a lot of time together, but have to keep the nature of their relationship a secret from her dad. The boy develops an unhealthy obsession with her that manifests as love in his mind. Violet’s dad knows that Tate is disturbed, and doesn’t want him near his daughter. And he especially doesn’t want Tate having sex with her. Against her dad’s wishes, Violet continues to see Tate. They meet secretly in the basement or he appears in her room at night.

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A match made in Hell.

Violet is a positive influence on Tate. He can be sweet and charming when given the chance. It’s hard not to feel sorry for him at times, because he seems to genuinely love Violet even if he is a psychopath.

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Violet is having a hard time fitting in at her new school and is going through a period of depression, which is why she’s been cutting herself. One particular girl is bullying Violet and upsetting her so badly that she starts missing school. Tate wants to help, so he tells Violet to kill the girl. Violet invites the girl over and Tate not only scares the bully, but Violet too. Violet is so disturbed by the weird and terrifying shit she sees in the basement that she tells Tate she doesn’t want to see him anymore.

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Creepy is the new sexy.

He’s crushed, but his rage manifests when she rejects him. He yells at her, “I thought you weren’t afraid of anything!” They spend some time apart. Violet continues to struggle with depression, and Tate has some projects to work on around the house.

They can’t stay away from each other, and their relationship begins to deepen. Tate tells Violet more about himself – not everything – but he begins opening up to her. They still meet in the basement, but Tate takes Violet on a real date and she has such a good time that she decides she’d like to have sex with him.

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99 problems and the size of his penis isn’t one.

As their physical relationship blossoms, so does their emotional attachment. Tate is already unstable. It probably isn’t a good idea to have a sexual relationship with someone as fucked up as he is, no matter how big his dick is. Okay, maybe just once. Or twice. But the consequences could be pretty bad. Especially if you find out that your crazy ass boyfriend murdered 15 people, got shot, and died, but is still taking you on dates.

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Just in case you were looking for a word to describe your feelings about Tate.

The closer Violet gets to Tate, the more she learns about who he really is. When she discovers that he not only killed a bunch of people, but is in fact dead, she takes it pretty badly and commits suicide.

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Nothing says love like dragging her unconscious body down a hallway while trying to save her from a drug overdose.

Despite Tate’s efforts, Violet dies. But, she doesn’t know that she’s dead. And neither does her family. Tate knows the truth but doesn’t tell her right away. Instead, he tells her that he loves her, asks her to kill herself, and be with him forever. When she refuses he tells her the truth.

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Things a serial killer would say.

Now that Violet’s dead, they make a great couple, right? Well, once Violet dies and has insight into what’s happening in the house, she learns about Tate’s violence, and is absolutely revolted and heartbroken when she finds out he raped her mother. And, is the father of her new baby brother.

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I fell in love with a dead boy.

Seriously. Fucked up stuff like that happens all the time on the show. Why aren’t you watching it right now?