The CBT2.0 Biotechnology Film Festival
X-Men: First Class: Real Mutants in a Nuclear World
Matthew Vaughn’s X-men: First Class (2011) is a captivating and action packed film that introduces young audiences to the Cold War era and the concerns of the time. The presentation of a film about mutation that features mutants fighting against and to control nuclear weapons is very interesting. Very clearly addressed within the film is humanity’s evolution beyond itself and the natural process of survival of the fittest.
But, in the “real world” the relationship between mutation and nuclear energy is a negative one. Despite Charles Xavier’s (James McAvoy) incredible ability to control and manipulate minds and Erik Lansherr’s(Michael Fassbender) epic raising a submarine out of the ocean, unnatural mutation can be caused by nuclear energy.
One of the theories on the origins of life on our planet says that ultraviolet radiation, along with lightning and volcanoes on ancient Earth, provided the zap of energy needed for non-organic molecules like methane and ammonia, to combine into more complex organic molecules that include the basic building blocks of life, like nucleotides and amino acids.
Where radiation once provided energy to simple molecules, it now can disrupt the more complicated bonds within more complex organisms. With high enough dosages, ionising radiation can cause the breaking up and mutation of our DNA, and disruption of our cellular function.
So this begs several questions:
- Can one separate natural evolution from a response to molecular stimulation by unnatural technologies and energy?
- Did the mutants of X-men naturally evolve to be special or did they become mutants because of toxic waste, or nuclear energy?
- Would it be ethical to artificially create super-human mutants?
- Do the warnings against nuclear energy resonate with us since the earth quakes in Japan the ensuing nuclear crisis?
- While biological mutations could not produce the powers portrayed in the movie, biotechnology could. Would this be ethical?
And for fun: What super power would you like to have around the lab?