5 Screwed-Up Messages Hidden In Famous Sci-Fi Films
Not every movie has some deep subtext. Air Bud: World Pup probably isn't about neocolonial economics in the Caribbean basin, no matter what Slavoj Zizek says. But some unexpected films actually do contain interesting commentary on the world around us. Sometimes that subtext is benign, like when X2 taught us that we should treat gay people as equals, lest they blast us with their mighty flamethrower hands. Other times, it is rather ... unfortunate.
In Logan, Technological Advancement Ruins Everything
Logan follows an aging Wolverine and a geriatric Professor Xavier as they try to keep a young female clone of Logan away from the evil company that created her. But that's not what it's really about. Logan is a Western lamenting the loss of classic America to the deadliest of plagues: science.
In the movie, Logan and Professor X are trying to live low-key, mundane lives, but are beset by the forces of technological advancement, represented by cyborgs chasing them with super guns.
Pretty much every interaction Logan and the professor have with technology leads to terrible things. Their journey is interrupted when a self-driving truck pushes a family and their (good, wholesome) horses off the road. Logan and Xavier are invited to stay with the family, which has been having a tough time due to a biotech company trying to buy their land in order to harvest it with giant, ominous-looking machines. Naturally, this leads to the entire family getting whacked.
It then turns out that the same biotech company not only cloned Logan and others for sinister purposes, but has also been genetically modifying food in order to suppress natural mutations in people. And it worked. Yes, GMOs killed the X-Men, like your crazy aunt always said they would! In the end, it wasn't Magneto that did them in, but Monsanto.
Throughout all this, Logan and the Professor are portrayed as relics of the past, before America became lazy and complacent. Ah yes, a simpler time, when mutants flew around in futuristic super jets and lived in hi-tech mansions.
Wonder Woman Shows Us The True Evil: Trying To Broker Peace
Wonder Woman is set during World War I, a nightmarish conflict that killed millions of people for no reason whatsoever. Very few action movies have been set in that period, since "For the treaty our aristocrats signed 30 years ago!" isn't a very inspiring thing for a hero to shout right before battle.
The film's villain is a British politician who wants to negotiate an end to the conflict, seeking "peace at any cost" ... that motherfucker. Wonder Woman and a time-displaced Captain Kirk ultimately reveal that signing an armistice would be a mistake, as General Ludendorff and his German troops have a secret plan to unleash a deadly gas. The Allies would be fools to even think about making peace ... at least, not until Germany is naught but rubble and corpses.
When Wonder Woman is stopped from murdering Ludendorff, it directly leads to him gassing the shit out of a quaint little village, killing hundreds of civilians. As an added bonus, it turns out that the peace-seeking politician is secretly an evil deity who only wants the armistice because he knows it would fail. He is in fact Ares, the Greek god of war and proud member of GWAR.
Within the context of the movie itself, Wonder Woman is totally justified in turning a few hundred Germans into poppy food. Ludendorff was evil, whatcha gonna do? But the filmmakers had total control over that universe and how they wrote it. They chose to make the guy who wants peace pure evil incarnate. If you made a movie where anti-Iraq-War protesters were all evil werewolves, then in-universe Sylvester Stallone would be totally right to throw them from a series of blimps. It's still hella weird that you made that movie, though.
In Mad Max, Homosexuality Represents The Decline Of Civilization
In the first Mad Max movie, an increasingly mad Max goes up against Toecutter and his flamboyant motorcycle gang, who represent the anarchy overtaking Australia as civilization collapses. They mostly do that by molesting other men -- one early scene has them terrorizing a town by grabbing dudes and giving them big smooches.
A later scene has them rape a guy off-screen. Toecutter himself keeps a younger gang member in line by talking about his "sweet, sweet mouth," and then doing this:
The subtext gets a bit less sub in the sequel, wherein the villainous Wez drives around with his boyfriend on the back of his bike, and Lord Humongous' gang has units called the "gayboy beserkers" (cool) and the "smegma crazies" (less cool). Sure, those sound like run-of-the-mill indie band names today, but back in the '80s, the message was clear: Those people are gay as hell.
In the first movie, civilization is teetering on the brink of collapse, and the bad guys, representing the breakdown of law and order, are sexually aggressive toward other men. In the sequel, civilization has collapsed, and the villains have progressed to being openly gay (and fabulously evil). In both movies, homosexuality is used to represent the "other" -- dark impulses that society has kept at bay, and which are now bursting out of the apocalyptic closet.
In Iron Man 3, It Is Shockingly Easy To Turn Wounded Veterans Into Super Terrorists
In Iron Man 3, the evil acronym lovers at Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM) have developed Extremis, a serum that lets people regrow limbs -- and also gives them heat-based superpowers. Unfortunately, they also sometimes explode. Instead of giving Extremis to a rat and then getting like $8 trillion in venture capital money to fix the explosions, AIM decides to secretly test the serum on wounded American soldiers. In return, the surviving veterans help AIM fake a bunch of terrorist attacks and then try to assassinate the president as part of a coup attempt.
So AIM just went up to a bunch of former American soldiers and was like, "We want to murder several civilians, the president, and also some billionaire our CEO has beef with," and they were completely onboard? Bear in mind that nobody in the movie ever says or implies that Extremis turns you into a psychopath or something. Gwyneth Paltrow uses the serum at one point, and she definitely gets aggro, but is mostly still her lovably bland self. She tries to kill zero presidents during that time.
Also, it's clear that the veterans aren't being blackmailed or threatened by Killian. They all seem to really enjoy their work.
Whatever your feelings about the U.S. military might be, these guys all signed up to fight for their country. Did Killian luck out and find a couple dozen smirking freaks who were happy to help a corporation overthrow the government? Did being wounded make them crazy? Hey, is Tony's friend Rhodey gonna turn into a raging dick now that Civil War put him in a wheelchair?
Aliens Argues That America Didn't Go Far Enough In Vietnam
For those seeing the words "Aliens" and "Vietnam" in the same sentence for the first time, this isn't some wacky theory we made up. James Cameron has talked about the movie's Vietnam War inspiration multiple times. Cracked has previously covered how the space marines in particular were intended to represent ordinary American troops sent into a shitty situation by even shittier leaders. But let's go a little deeper down this rabbit hole, shall we?
A common complaint during the war, especially in right-wing circles, was that the U.S. was fighting with "one hand tied behind its back" because of those bleeding-heart liberals and their concerns about "bombing civilians" and such. There were even suggestions that the U.S. should say fuck it and nuke the whole place. Why does that sound so familiar ...
If you accept Cameron's idea that the space marines are like the U.S. troops, then the movie is suddenly about how the people with "Nuke 'Nam!" bumper stickers were right all along. At one point, the marines have their pulse rifle ammunition confiscated to avoid damaging cooling systems, and the magazines are taken out of their powerful superguns. Only Drake and Vasquez manage to secretly slip their magazines back in, which is why when the shit hits the fan, they're the only ones who are really able to fight back. Vasquez then suggests using nerve gas on the aliens, while our brave protagonist Ripley demands that the planet be nuked from orbit. The sniveling company man played by Paul Reiser stupidly refuses to listen, which of course leads to more deaths -- and worst of all, Alien 3
For some less-screwed-up sci-fi, might we recommend Doctor Who?
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