Feb 10 2009

A minor quibble with X-Men

Published by at 3:25 pm under Making Comic Books Feel Realistic

One of the many things that annoys me about X-Men is that mutants are sometimes referred to as a separate species (which is sometimes called “homo superior”).

  1. As far as I know, mutants and humans are sexually compatible.  If mutants and humans could produce sexually fertile offspring, by definition they would be part of the same species.  (So, umm, yeah… if the kid shown in Superman Returns grows up to be sexually fertile, that would mean that Superman and humans are also part of the same species).
  2. Even if mutants were a distinct species, no self-respecting biologist would ever use such a loaded term for a phylum name.  Ok, Magneto uses the term because he’s a scientific racist.  But what’s Dr. Richards’ excuse?

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “A minor quibble with X-Men”

  1. t3knomanseron 10 Feb 2009 at 8:43 pm

    Well, it’s not that simple. You can have cross species hybrids that are sexually fertile. Especially in situations where we’re dealing with transitional forms and closely related species- mutants are identified as a divergent path of human evolution, and they only branched off about 50ish years ago or so, mostly.

    They have fundamentally different phenotypes, to the point where many mutants (like the Morlocks) aren’t even easily identified as human. Even those that look human have special phenotypes that don’t occur in the mainline population. That’s generally enough to categorize them as a different species.

    This discussion is somewhat absurd. Before we even get to the quibbles, we have to swallow the idea that genetic anomalies can not only bestow superpowers, but often utterly ridiculous superpowers. What genetic coding could possibly cause someone to shoot laser beams from their eyes? Or turn their skin to metal. There’s a serious mass/energy problem with that one. And flight.

    Basically, it’s part of the setting, it’s roughly plausible in the scope of the setting and with our knowledge of the real world. If you buy the initial premise, it’s easy to buy the rest.

    Objection #2 however, is a good one. It doesn’t make sense in the setting- no one but Magneto and his ilk should use that nomenclature.

  2. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 10 Feb 2009 at 11:48 pm

    You have a point in the sterility part. What if the two species had the same amount of chromosomes? Would that fix the problem?

  3. B. Macon 11 Feb 2009 at 7:28 am

    I imagine if they didn’t have the same amount of chromosomes, they definitely wouldn’t be part of the same species because they wouldn’t be able produce fertile offspring.

  4. Miusherion 11 Feb 2009 at 10:32 am

    Because Reed Richards is a colossal jerk. I thought everyone knew that.

  5. B. Macon 11 Feb 2009 at 1:23 pm

    Not as bad as Superman or Wolverine! 🙂 But you’re right. Among many other affronts to decency, he said some outrageously sexist things back in the ’70s.

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