Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr

Alright, before I say anything at all, I am *not* a slash fan girl. I don’t do the whole “ship” thing. So, what I’m writing about here is not fan fiction or slash or projecting my desires onto the characters- however, I am pointing out that those that believe there is something serious implied between Charles and Erik in the new X-Men series have a point.

And before I go any further, I’d like to point out that the writers, the director, James McAvoy, and Ian McKellan have all confirmed this several times. The film is widely known and accepted now as the “tragic love story of Charles and Erik.” And for those fan boys who flip out every time this subject comes up, I’m sorry, but there’s plenty of evidence in the already established canon of their story in the comics. No mention of a sexual relationship, but remember this was during an era of intolerance, and the writers took it as far as they could without crossing that line. The new X-Men films change that.

In the first film, First Class, we see Charles as self-absorbed, smug, immature, and somewhat of a womanizer. He uses his power of telepathy and mind control as often as he can, though in secret, to get what he wants. Erik is a tormented soul who spent his boyhood in the concentration camps during the Holocaust. His mother was shot right in front of him when one of the Nazi leaders spots Erik’s power to manipulate metal, and uses his mother to get Erik to give him a demonstration. This is what defines Erik. He’s a loner, sad and angry, and on a path of revenge against those who killed his mother and tortured him. These two, Erik and Charles, meet by chance in the film when Charles saves Erik from drowning as he tries to pull a submarine carrying the Nazi leader out of the water. It’s in this moment that an *immediate* bond is formed between them.
Erik: “I thought I was the only one.”
Charles: “You’re not alone. Erik, you’re not alone.”
The film after this point is all about Charles and Erik, and their INTENSE bond, as they scour the earth looking for other mutants like them in order to bring them all together into a community. Erik does try to walk out once to continue his agenda of revenge, but Charles stops him, and uses very telling words revealing the extent of their relationship:

Charles: “From what I know about you, I’m surprised you’ve managed to stay this long.”
Erik: “What do you know about me?”
Charles: “Everything.”
Erik: “Then you’ll know to stay out of my head.”
Charles: “I’m sorry, Erik, but I saw what Shaw did to you. I felt your agony. I can help you.”
Erik: “I don’t need your help.”
Charles: “Don’t kid yourself, you needed my help last night.”
Erik turns to leave. Charles comes after him.
Charles: “It’s not just me you’re walking away from, but from something that’s bigger than you, bigger than all of us.”

After this passionate exchange, Charles and Erik effectively become the same-sex parents of a horde of mutant children. And during the course of this, the two are never apart, constantly talking and discussing ideas, playing games of chess, sharing long and intense gazes at one another, especially during the iconic scene where Charles asks for permission (which he never did before) to penetrate Erik’s mind, and he unlocks a long lost memory of Erik and his mother leaving both of them in tears. It’s this that gives Erik the ability to control his power, this incredible scene of intimacy is what unlocks Erik’s true potential.

Charles: “You know, I believe true focus lies somewhere between rage and serenity.”

When the two of them eventually catch up to the Nazi leader Shaw, Erik tests his new ability to pull the submarine out of the ocean, but doesn’t succeed until Charles enters Erik’s mind and tells him “Remember, the point between rage and serenity.” All of a sudden, Erik’s demeanor changes, and both their musical themes in the film start to weave together in a *gorgeous* symbol of their love, creating a new and gloriously passionate musical theme. He succeeds in pulling the submarine out of the ocean.

Charles and Erik Pull the Submarine out of the Water- joint themes

(And I’d be remiss if I didn’t allude to the scene where, as their plane is crashing after being attacked by Shaw’s minions, Charles falls and Erik throws himself over Charles to protect him, and Charles holds onto Erik’s wrists.)

But all of us that are familiar with the films know the horrible, tragic ending, don’t we, where Erik shuts Charles out of his head, and kills Shaw, and effectively becomes Magneto from this moment on. The two brawl and fight over how to handle the humans who are now coming after them, which results in Charles being shot in the spine when a bullet ricochets off Erik. This scene is famous. It’s everywhere. Why? Because it’s where these two break up. It’s a divorce. And I’m including the video of that scene (albeit a horrible quality version of it, but it still shows everything well) because it’s quintessential to understanding these two and just how deep their relationship really goes. The long, soulful gazes these two give each other are heartbreaking. You can *feel* the love they have for each other, you can feel their agony, you can feel their desire to be together but realizing they aren’t compatible. It’s heart-wrenching. These two are soul mates, they know it, but they don’t know how to compromise and settle their differences.

It’s fucking tragic, it’s fucking beautiful.

And the film ends with Erik leaving Charles, and taking half the kids with him (like I said, divorce) and Charles ends up paralyzed from the gunshot.

Break-Up on the Beach, First Class

….which leads us into the sequel, Days of Future Past which I heavily anticipated to see how they were going to work out Charles and Erik. A good portion of the first half of the film deals with the aftermath of their break up, where we see Wolverine going back in time to the 1970s, ten years after the break up, to help stop a future war of humans against mutants, and in order to do that, Charles and Erik *have* to be together. So, Wolverine goes back to convince Charles to help him, and we see a very different Charles from the previous film. He’s dirty, unkempt, basically a drug addict (he takes large doses of a serum that stop his telepathic powers but allow him to walk), and so lost, so sad and so angry that he hasn’t left his home in a decade. Wolverine tells him that he needs help to stop the future war from happening, and in order for that to happen, Charles and Erik need to be together. Of course, Charles doesn’t take that well, and walks out on Wolverine, who confronts him with this telling revelation:

Wolverine: “The Professor I know would never walk out on someone who’d lost their path, especially someone he loved.”

Now, there’s a lot of debate over that line- it’s possible that Wolverine could be referring to Raven (Charles’ “sister” who left with Magneto at the end of the first film) but I am convinced Wolverine was referring to Erik. That’s who they were discussing right before this comment and they are still discussing him after it. Wolverine gives Charles a very knowing look, like a “yeah, I know about you two.” Charles immediately replies with “Now I recognize you, yeah, we came looking for you to help, and I’ll tell you what you told us then- fuck off.”

Charles retreats upstairs, and Wolverine inquires as to what the hell happened to him, and he’s told, in very telling words: “You know, he lost everything: Erik, Raven, the use of his legs.” Erik is mentioned first. Eventually, he agrees to get help get Erik, who is imprisoned for killing JFK (creative way of explaining the curving bullet). They break him out with the help of another mutant, and when they first one another, passions fly off the damn handle, with Erik’s shock of seeing Charles and Charles laying a massive punch on Erik’s face, knocking him down.

Charles: “We do this, we’re doing it my way, no killing.”
Erik: “No helmet. I couldn’t disobey you even if I wanted to.”
Charles: “I am never getting into that head again.”

And then follows the scene on the plane as they both fly out to their destination, where they finally get to confront each other about what happened between them, and… Well, it’s intense, arguably the most intense scene in the entire film.

Erik: “You sacrificed your powers so that you could walk?”
Charles: “I sacrificed my powers so that I could sleep. Anyway, what do you know about it.”
Erik: “I’ve lost my fair share.”
Charles: “Dry your eyes, Erik, it doesn’t justify what you’ve done.”
Erik: “You have no idea what I’ve done.”
Charles: “I know you took the things that mean the most to me.”
Erik: “Well, maybe you should’ve fought harder for them.”
Charles, getting up: “If you want a fight Erik, I’ll give it to you.”
Erik: “Let him come.”
Charles, throwing himself on Erik: “YOU ABANDONED ME! You took her away, and YOU ABANDONED ME!”
Erik about brings the plane crashing down with his firing back with the names of all the dead mutants, telling Charles “Where were you when your own people needed you? Hiding, pretending to be something you’re not! You abandoned us all!”

Charles and Erik on the plane, Days of Future Past

(As an aside, I don’t know how anyone could watch that scene and not see it as a lovers quarrel.)

Later, after they’ve both calmed down, Erik suggests a game of chess, and they talk in hushed tones to one another, conceding to one another, and as the conversation stops, Charles gazes at Erik with a mixture of heartbreak and intense love, tears filling his eyes, and Erik responds to him with an apology of everything that happened. It’s absolutely breathtaking, the two of them. And before Charles loses it, he swallows his drink, and agrees to play the game of chess.

Charles: “It’s been a long time since I’ve played.”
Erik: “I’ll go easy on you. Might finally be a fair fight.”
Charles: “You have the first move.”
Erik moves a piece, Charles half smiles and looks at the board. Erik watches intensely for Charles’ move.

At the end of this film, which has them averting the future war, though with Charles and Erik once again at each other’s throats. However, the strange ending where they part has Erik leaving without his trademark helmet, and he leaves without it intentionally. There is a lot of speculation about this, but I honestly believe Erik did it as a nod to Charles that he trusted him, that he wasn’t going to shut him out, likely in order for Charles to know where he was at all times and know what he was planning. I also believe it leads into the next film which, according to rumors from the writers, is the “culmination” of this tragic love story of Charles and Erik.

My point to this very long winded rant is that the Erik and Charles “shippers” have valid points on which to base their theory. I agree with them, I believe Charles and Erik are intentional, and that their characters are very seriously in love. Forget the Raven theory- Charles says outright he “loved her as a sister,” and even though there is an attraction between her and Erik, it’s only that, and doesn’t have an eighth of the passion that Charles and Erik have together. I also have this theory that the relationship between Erik and Raven is one of control- he sees her as a soldier for his cause, and he manipulates her. Also, she’s the closest thing to Charles, and it’s as close as he can get at the moment. (Hello, Brideshead Revisted all over again?)

But the real love story is between Charles and Erik. Their relationship defines the community around them. It creates and destroys. They are constantly at odds, but their fiery love for one another lasts the entirety of their lives. At the end of Days of Future Past, we see the older Magneto and Professor X (Charles) sitting across from one another as the war rages around them, and the brief words exchanged I think are the *best* example of their love:

Magneto, gazing at Charles: “All those years wasted fighting one another, Charles. If only to have precious few of them back.”
Charles nods, looking at Magneto intensely, and they both take each other’s hand.

Powerful. And note they weren’t referring to the war, to the community around them, but to their relationship, and only their relationship.

I’ve obsessed over these two for a few months now… It’s this quality of love that I’m trying so hard to figure out so I can translate it into my own writing. These two are unlikely pairs, opposites in many ways, not to mention both men during an era that was severely intolerant of homosexuality, but their love exists, it exists, and it completely baffles them both. But it’s there, it’s intense, it’s against the grain, and it’s that quality that makes it so fucking addicting, so burning hot. I’ve been studying how the writers did this, what maneuvers and words they used to convey this. And, yes, it was intentional on the part of everyone involved in the story- the writers, the director, and the actors.

And it’s fucking gorgeous.


~ by hln351 on February 8, 2015.

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