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X-Men (movieverse): Magneto/Mystique

Title: Bad Guys Need Love Too
Characters: Magneto/Mystique
Author: Penknife
Spoilers: Both movies + a couple of comicsverse references
E-mail: penknife@livejournal.com
Website: Penknife to Paper

Bad Guys Need Love Too

Why Magneto and Mystique? Because the bad guys are such fun, and the two of them together plot and snark with undeniable style.

Magneto: (to Rogue) We love what you've done with your hair.

Magneto is a tremendously popular villain, because he's snarky and smart and so very sure that he's right that after a while you start to believe him. There's something terribly attractive about his righteous rage, even when it leads him to do horrible things. He survived the Holocaust as a child, and sees the current conflict between humans and mutants as a battle only one species can survive, and he refuses to see his people wiped out even if he has to destroy humanity to prevent it.

Mystique doesn't get a lot of lines, but what we do see suggests she's not just there for decoration and to kick people in the head. She's good with computers and good at manipulating people. After a day at Xavier's, she knows just what to say to get Rogue out from under Xavier's protection. It's implied that she spends several months impersonating first Henry Guyrich and then Senator Kelley, both of which would require both a lot of nerve and some real political skills; it's worth noting the defeat of the Mutant Registration Act because of "Kelley's" influence is more of a success than any of Magneto's schemes.

And her plan to spring Magneto from prison is clever and ruthless.

Magneto: Mr. Laurio, never trust a beautiful woman. Especially not one who's interested in you.

They're well-suited to each other; they share a common cause, a ruthless streak, and a scathing sense of humor. There also seems to be some genuine affection in the relationship, at least on Mystique's side.


In the scene when Mystique-as-Kelley is meeting with Stryker and the president, the perfect spy visibly loses her composure when "the prisoners from Liberty Island" are mentioned.

Mystique: Erik? ... Erik Lehnsherr? You have access to him?

How much that affection is returned is a good question, and an interesting one; some writers paint Mystique as Erik's equal, and a serious romantic interest, while others see her attachment to him as one-sided (if useful for him).

And, of course, for the fan writer, there are the endless possibilities afforded by Mystique's talent: she can be anyone Magneto wants, of either gender. It's a slash writer's het ship, and not just because Mystique makes such a charming young man.

Mystique and Magneto are often both portrayed as bisexual in movieverse fiction, Mystique because she's canonically bisexual in comicsverse and Magneto because ... well, it might be the body language. Or the clothes. Or Ian McKellen's chemistry with Patrick Stewart. In any event, it gives their relationship some interesting twists and turns, and keeps it from easily settling into a conventional het romance.

Whether this is a canon ship is a good question. They're certainly physical enough with each other, but a lot of the time, as apocalypsos put it in her hilarious XMM summary for crack_van, "they appear to behave like bitchy girlfriends." One of the lines that implies the relationship most strongly is this one:

Logan (watching Mystique beat up Stryker's troops): She's good.
Magneto: You have no idea.


But not even the actors seem to know for sure. Ian McKellen has said on his web site that Magneto and Mystique are a couple; Rebecca Romijn-Stamos has said in interviews that they're not. Who knows?

Who cares? It's an interesting pairing, canon or not, and one you can take in a lot of directions. We know so little about Mystique in movieverse. She's sometimes written as much younger than Magneto, to explain why she puts up with taking orders from him, although if she's Nightcrawler's mother (as she is in comicsverse), she's hardly a young woman in X1. Other times she's near his age, an equal partner who matches his ruthless practicality with her own. Sometimes she's written as Magneto's pawn, other times as his reluctant ally in a battle of wills, and still other times as his faithful longtime companion.

Whatever the setup, one thing's for certain with this pairing: it's a bad idea to get in their way.


Sites:

Magneto/Mystique is a fairly rare movieverse pairing, and I don't know of any sites or communities specifically devoted to the relationship.

ETA: cruellyhandsome is a new Magneto/Mystique community.

raven_darkholme is the Mystique Fans community, but it seems largely abandoned.

magnetic_appeal is the Magneto Fans community, mainly used by comicsverse fans.

xmmff X-Men Movieverse Fan Fiction is a community for all pairings and genres of XMM fan fiction.

Recs:

Custom Cannot Stale by Sarah T.
Under Cover of Darkness and His Mother's Eyes by Artaxastra
Skin by Kass Rachel
Infinite Regress by Trismegestus (Mystique/Destiny, Magneto/Mystique)
Going Down and sequels by Astolat (more Magneto/Xavier than Magneto/Mystique, but well worth reading for the Mystique characterization in the final story in the series)

Comments

I think that's possible, although Sir Ian has certainly convincingly played straight men in the past. I think he's very aware of the parallels in the movies between mutation and homosexuality, though, and plays up the subtext. And "As for sex, Magneto's mate is Mystique. Who knows what shape or character or gender she adopts in bed?" isn't exactly a rousing proclamation of his character's heterosexuality.
Who knows what shape or character or gender she adopts in bed?" isn't exactly a rousing proclamation of his character's heterosexuality.

A very cool and mind bending thought!
Sir Ian is a lot of fun: he's outspoken, irrepressible, an out gay actor who's active in politics, and generally entertaining to listen to. His website is worth checking out both for his accounts of the filming of the X-Men and Lord of the Rings movies and for his responses to email from fans, which are often terribly funny.
Thanks for the link!

I have an amusing pic of Sir Ian doing his version of Maggie Smith; I'm making into an icon. *snerk*
Awesome. I've always liked this pairing.
Thanks! It's one I really enjoy.
This is one of my favourite pairings in X-Men movieverse, though I tend to see them more as close friends and companions than romantically involved. But after reading this I'm feeling like maybe experimenting with that too. :-)

Thanks for writing this!
You should! The M/M pairing could definately use more attention.
Excellent essay. They're such a fun pair, with so many possibilities. *g*
Thanks! They are a lot of fun, yes.
What a wonderful essay. I'd never heard about Sir Ian's comments about the "partnership" before this, but that's very intriguing.
Thank you! I always try to take what actors say about their characters with a grain of salt, but it's usually fun to read Sir Ian's take on things.
Great essay. I liked how you mentioned the versatility of this pairing; there's really so many different ways to interpret it.
Thanks! Yes, it's one that people seem to take in a lot of different ways, mainly because there's so little canon for movieverse Mystique. There are interpretations of the relationship I prefer (I'm not much into the idea that Erik is coldly using Mystique while she pines for his affection, myself), but you can make all kinds of interpretations work with canon.
Thank you. They're interestingly complicated, yes.
Wonderful work! I love these two, they're totally complimentary partners. Whether or not they shag is moot. :) Though I'd like it.

A Magneto/Mystique Community

You've done a lovely job with this essay penknife. You definitely did the Magneto/Mystique pairing justice.

I found it really weird when I joined LJ from fanfiction.net that there was no Magneto/Mystique community. So I created one. It can be found here: cruellyhandsome

Everyone is welcome to join and post any fic, artwork, icons, or vids they have made.

I hope you don't mind... I linked to your essay from the community, because it is quite informative.

Re: A Magneto/Mystique Community

Thanks, and thanks for the heads-up about the community! I'll add it to the list of sites in the essay.

Re: A Magneto/Mystique Community

Angel informed us about this little essay, and I have to say, you've spoken what's exactly what I've been thinking for the longest time. I'm going to link to this if you don't mind, or credit you for this. Word must spread!!!
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