December 3rd, 2012 / 12:48 pm
Vicarious MFA

Professor X’s Magic Yellow Wheelchair

Dear HTMLGIANT, today sees me researching Professor X’s wheelchairs for a disability studies paper that I’m writing. In particular, I’m looking for information on the magical flying yellow one that he was given by the Shi’ar Empire (I think?) in the early 1990s—the one designed by Jim Lee. If anyone can direct me to any documents describing this fabulous device, I would be most grateful. (Yes, I am trying to figure out its capabilities, including whether it housed missiles, etc.)

So far, this site is the best I’ve been able to find. It says there:

This high-tech chair was a gift from the alien Shi’ar. Over the years, its appearance has varied a bit. Both gold and silver versions have appeared and some models have been slightly sleeker than others. [X-Men (1st series) #125]

In other words, not much. (Incidentally, that citation should be X-Men Vol. 2 #125, aka New X-Men #125. Part of what’s so maddening about researching the X-Men is how many different series there have been, and how many times those series have been retitled.)

Again, any help, much appreciated. Otherwise, feel free to chime in with your favorite memories/anecdotes/conspiracy theories regarding Marvel’s Merry Mutants.

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  1. rawbbie

      apparently they’re doing a days of future past movie ( Do you want the multicolor spandeX-men, or stick with what they’ve done onscreen so far?

  2. A D Jameson

      I rather liked X-Men: First Class, and I guess I’m curious to see how Bryan Singer follows up Matthew Vaughn’s take on the characters. I liked Singer’s Superman film, but wasn’t crazy about his original take on X-Men, though I guess it was OK. Those movies, though, struck me as more geared toward fans of the 90s cartoons? I can respect that, but I preferred the lighter direction Vaughn took that material in. (I wrote some about First Class here.)

      I guess I’ll be happy if I like the new movie, but it isn’t something I’m really invested in. I was a big X-Men fan growing up, but my fondness is rooted mostly in the comics from the 70s and 80s, and very early 90s. And I’ve made my peace with the fact that I’m never going to get a New Mutants film that looks like animated Bill Sienkiewicz pictures, or an X-Men movie set in the Australian Outback, featuring the Reavers.

  3. A D Jameson

      How about you, rawbbie, others? What cinematic version of the X-Men do you most want (if any)? And which adaptation do you think has been the best? (cartoon, movie, video game, etc.)

  4. Mike Meginnis

      The only thing I remember about that chair with any specificity is the fact that it will totally respond to magnetism — I remember an episode of I believe the 90s cartoon wherein Xavier finds a watch that had been in Magneto’s presence and drops it onto his chair to demonstrate the watch has been magnetized. (The watch really flies, too — it must have been hell of magnetized.) Which is kind of interesting, given the power it gave Magneto over his body, though I think Magneto generally respected him too much to use that power.

  5. Mike Meginnis

      I had very little money for comics as a kid so I mostly watched the 90s cartoon. We had a couple episodes on VHS that we watched nearly to death. I re-watched that recently via Netflix and found a number of episodes surprisingly tolerable, although the animation is in a really weird place in terms of detail, fluidity, and tendency to drift off-model. The guy who played Magneto had a pretty incredible voice, and the cast generally was not half bad — I’m very fond of that Beast, and that Wolverine is still used for video games and films for a reason (though I don’t completely love him). Jean Grey’s tendency to disappear randomly was kind of weird, though, and the Nightcrawler episodes are just intolerable.

      We also had the ’89 “Pryde of the X-Men” pilot on VHS, and I remember that one very fondly, though I’m too far removed from it to say if there’s a good reason for that. I feel like the tone was a little calmer and less histrionic, maybe? I might have also liked the art style a little better. Hard to say now.

      As for the movies, I enjoy them all moderately, though X3 has the distinction of being the only superhero film to ever actually outrage me as a fan. I enjoyed Spider-Man 3 and I still hate X3. But as I get older I find the X-Men to be by far my least favorite major super heroes — their teenage whininess has not worn well for me, and even fan favorite characters (Wolverine, Nightcralwer, etc.) make me feel ill with prolonged exposure. I may also feel a little betrayed by the way Cyclops has taken up with Emma Frost in Jean Grey’s absence; it always feels so porny and weird when I see them together. … First Class was harmless fun.

  6. A D Jameson

      I never really watched the cartoon, I guess cuz I’d outgrown X-Men at the time. I should check it out now, though.

      Pride of the X-Men was a fabled treasure when I was still reading the books. I’d see stills from it, but not know how to find a copy of it. How the world has changed!

      I didn’t hate X3, though I didn’t really care for it, either. (I also didn’t really care for X1 or X2.) Spider-Man 3 didn’t offend me, either. (I feel the same way about Raimi’s Spider-Man films as I do about the original X-Men films—they just don’t do much for me.) Very few of the superhero movies made in the 2000s interest me all that much; I find them for the most part pretty boring. (The problem may lie with me?)

      That said, the geek movies that have the power to make me see red are Peter Jackson’s LOTR trilogy (though with those at least I can see why, economically, they ended up like they did) and Abrams’s Star Trek, which I vehemently despise, and consider an absolute betrayal of everything that is Star Trek. Someday I’ll write down all the reasons why, in a beautiful list… (Actually, I’ll probably do it when the sequel comes out.)

  7. A D Jameson

      Magneto can do anything, really.

  8. Mike Meginnis

      Have you written something about your LOTR hate? I enjoy the movies fine, though I also find them super-boring most of the time (the opening of RotK being the main exception I can recall), and I don’t really love the books anyway.

  9. Mike Meginnis

      Seems that way.

  10. A D Jameson

      I tried to, back when they first came out on DVD, but lacked the strength to continue. I ended up watching Fellowship like 19 times. It was too much.

      Since then I’ve done some research into the production; I wrote a paper about it last year. So I have come to understand some more about why they ended up the way they did. Jackson had to make a lot of concessions to get the budget he did. His original script, New Line said something like, if we go with this, and all the fans in the world come, we’ll gross like 25% of the budget. So they forced him to go in and make a lot of changes.

      But what annoyed me about the films, really, was how they’re basically two things: extreme closeups of the actors faces (about half the film) and CGI flybys of vast landscapes/battles (the other half). I went through Fellowship shot by shot, and it really is like 50% closeups of the actors, with cuts ever 2–4 seconds, like clockwork. It’s just so boring. Of course I understand why Jackson did it that way. For one thing, he had to make the actors look different sizes, and closeups are a good way to do that. Second, the way they shot those things, they had numerous units running simultaneously. So Elijah Wood could go run his lines on one sound stage, while Ian McKellan could go run his lines on another sound stage, etc. And then it could all get cut together, with backgrounds added digitally.

      I understand the logic behind it, and I would even say that I think Peter Jackson found a good solution, economically, for putting the whole trilogy on film. He’s a very smart director, and what he accomplished was no small feat, financially.

      But, aesthetically, it’s just garbage.

  11. A D Jameson

      One of the things that makes the X-Men boring is that, given enough time, every power becomes the ability to control their body on some molecular level. Iceman becomes the same as Magneto.

  12. deadgod

      Jackson didn’t tell the story in the books.

      Aragorn and Arwen never waver in their commitment to each other during the tale and never test-drive a break-up. Aragorn never dies and is never brought back to life with a kiss telepathically delivered through a horse.
      There’s no textual justification for reading these events into the books, either. To the contrary, ‘the return of the king’ is spoiled by, what, humanizing Aragorn and magicking Arwen in this candy-assed way.

      Changing the story down to and beyond its roots didn’t have anything to do with money.

      It was plagiarism for Jackson to have used Tolkien’s characters’ names in his Rocky flicks.

  13. A D Jameson

      Yeah, I don’t know what, precisely, motivated those changes. My guess is it was one of two things. One, they thought it would make the films more dramatic. Two, someone at New Line thought it would make the films appeal more to a general audience. As far as I understand it, those were key policies in adapting the trilogy.

      A good source along these lines, btw, is Kristin Thompson’s book The Frodo Franchise, which I highly recommend. Its early chapter discussing how New Line and Jackson ended up with the rights, is a fantastic read. Also, Thompson’s analysis of the rise of franchises in current-day Hollywood is also quite brilliant.

      … And I agree with you that the films that ended up on screen were far removed from the source trilogy (which I really love). But my problems with the films have less to do with those changes, and more to do with the crappy aesthetics of the films themselves.

      Cheers, A

  14. deadgod

      Sure, either Jackson’s taste or a corporate focus-groupy thing. (–focusy-groupy? a focus-group groupie thing? is ‘focus grope’ a thing?)

      –or both – great minds drinking likely Kool-Aid.

      Sam’s distrust of Gollum turned into Biggest Fight To Be Frodo’s BFF Ever. Dwarf-tossing gag. –anyone could go on.

      It’s fine if Jackson doesn’t like or believe in the Tom Brown’s Schooldays idea of Virtue–you can easily imagine a devastating and hugely entertaining skewering of the morality and assumptions that enable the action to proceed in Lord of the Rings.

      –so don’t make the movie. AND don’t lard it with 4.5 hours of pensive and/or reverse-angle close-ups.

      That book sounds good.

  15. A D Jameson

      –so don’t make the movie. AND don’t lard it with 4.5 hours of pensive and/or reverse-angle close-ups.

      That’s very well said. That’s effectively my critique of the films, in 17 words. Thank you!

      I don’t doubt Jackson’s love of the books, or his skills as a director (in terms of getting films made). But my love for the books is not the same as his, because I would never have wanted to see film adaptations like that made. They don’t honor what Tolkien wrote.

      That said, I am somewhat keen to see these new Hobbit films. On some level, I can’t resist. On another, I’m curious to see whether Jackson, now possessed with world and time enough, and budget enough, makes something truer to the source? I’m probably just fooling myself.

      As for Kristin Thompson, I think the world of her.

      deadgod, have you read Guy Davenport’s essay on Tolkien, “Hobbitry“? I think it one of the best things ever.

  16. rawbbie

      I would love to see someone take the X-Men in that cartoon world. The movies so far have been way too sincere or obvious in the way they compare mutant treatment to racism. I feel like the story of the X-Men told in the comics is anything but sincere and slips in its critiques with much more subtlety.
      I felt like the most comical of the movies was the Wolverine Origins movie, but that was probably an accident. The story line from the comics was actually one of the most sincere and emotional story lines.
      I want spandex and poppin colors and no pupils and a billion pockets. I also want the Age of Apocalypse storyline, which I read religiously. It was the first time I was able to buy my own comics because I did yard work for neighbors. I shelled out a ton of yard work money to buy every Weapon X and Gambit and the X-Ternals comic. Neither survived my two younger brothers…

  17. rawbbie

      I’m watching A LOT of old Star Trek on Netflix, mostly TNG, and I absolutely HATE that Star Trek story, but do enjoy the visuals, the casting and the writing. It’s funny though, I didn’t hate it at all when I first saw it. It’s only after living in the old Trek world that I began to hate it. It’s also SO JJ Abrams. Like, it could have a Transformers scene and I wouldn’t bat an eyelash.

  18. A D Jameson

      I grew up a huge Star Trek fan. In many ways, my central geek identity is “Star Trek fan.” I even went to conventions. (This is all when I was young, mind you!)

      So I’ve found it distressing in extremis to watch was once a very well-intentioned, goodhearted, progressive enterprise (haha) be steadily transformed into another all-male, all-white action flick with digital stuntmen and nonstop explosions. Give me Star Trek: The Motionless Picture any day.

      …what’s even more upsetting to me is the insistence the new Trek makes on its having unwritten the original Trek. It hammers this point home repeatedly: old Trek never happened. That universe has been destroyed. It’s been replaced by this new Trek. On the one hand, that’s to give them the creative license to make new stories with a different cast. But it’s also, I think, some kind of admission of guilt. “We are replacing Gene Roddenberry’s science fiction of ideas with an action franchise. And there’s no going back.”

  19. A D Jameson

      Perhaps someday X-Men will get its equivalent of Turtles Forever, which (quite successfully, I thought) pitted all the different versions of TMNT against one another. And so the 90s version of the team can encounter the original versions, and the later versions, and we can finally find out what they needed those pockets for!

  20. deadgod

      That’s a sweet Tolkien appreciation (an underratedly informative form of ‘essay’).

      Linguists aren’t of the only fantastically erudite type who forgetfully assume similar encyclopedism on the part of their conversation partners, but that’s definitely a philological trait. I know with mathematical and physical-scientific erudition–and historical and literary–you often run into people – not necessarily haughty or abusive or even unkind – who call upon their funds of systematically coherent data without realizing the need for hand-holding. (–which escort service you could reasonably call “the art of teaching”.)

      Davenport is (knowingly?) exaggerating: if you can learn one language, you can learn how different languages are historically and structurally related. –but, at first, it can seem, as with any particular ‘foreign’ language at first, to be an unassimilable avalanche of information.

      If I owned a bar, tomorrow I’d paint on one wall:

      His was not a true imagination, you know. He made it all up.

      I’ll definitely watch the Hobbit movie(s? I thought there were to be three, but the ads don’t say anything about ‘Pt. 1’ (??).), but, equally definitely, I’ll withhold a first-weekend ticket sale.


  21. rawbbie

      The Turtles are awesome. They’ve NEVER been ruined for me. One of the only un-destroyed aspects of my childhood (baseball : steroids :: GI Joe : Channing Tatum). Every version of TMNT has been great… Though rumors of them being aliens in a new live action movie kinda scares the shit out of me…

  22. A D Jameson
  23. A D Jameson

      I’m going to buy a ticket to Hotel Transylvania, then sneak into Hobbit Transylvania.

      Guy Davenport was something else. He was my favorite author for a while, right after Donald Barthelme stopped being my fave.

  24. A D Jameson

      Oh, good, look, the new Star Trek trailer came out, and it’s a mash-up of Inception and Dark Knight Rises. With digital lens flares, no doubt. How wonderful the world is.