On the Scifi.stackexchange someone posits a question after watching this video of the Honest Trailers series on the X-Men trilogy. His question reads:
“As CinemaSins snarkily wisely noted in “Honest Trailers – X-Men Trilogy“:
In the world where people cheer the Fantastic Four, Avengers, Spider-Man, those same people will inexplicably hate the X-Men.
Why is that so? As far as I know, all these superheroes exist in the same exact comic universe, yet X-Men seem to always be significantly more disliked.”
While the most popular answer from the Stack article answers the question from the rarefied air of intellectualism, saying
“It’s the tyranny of evolution. Sooner or later, you have a species that will have a genetic or technological advantage and that species will always conquer a species without that advantage. Carthage, the triumph of the Homo sapiens over the Neanderthal showed us that. Now what do we have? We have Homo superior versus Homo sapiens. On a level playing field, Homo superior wins every time.
That is a quote by the character Wade in season 4 of Babylon 5, explaining why he believed all telepaths in that universe needed to be either murdered or enslaved for use by “normals” (homo sapiens). The same guidelines clearly apply in the Marvel Universe.”
I posted a link so you can read the entire article at your leisure.
However, I disagreed strongly with this answer.
It is unlikely my answer will gain any traction because his is a rather easy to understand perspective but I posted my own answer by trying to look at the problem differently.
Rather than approaching it from a purely intellectual perspective, I tried to see the problem from the perspective of a person living in the Marvel Universe rather than from the viewpoint of a person looking at the Marvel Universe from the outside.
Why Fear the Mutant?
There are factors which play into the fear of mutants more than most metahumans from the perspective from a person living in the Marvel Universe.
A person living in the Marvel Universe has a life very different from yours and mine. His world is an uncertain one.
- One day Mr. Average is on his way to work and there is suddenly an invasion of Kree warriors bent on battling the Avengers right on the freeway he’s driving over. The battle ties up traffic for hours, costing him money and prestige at his job. Hundreds of people are injured in the collateral damage of buildings and cars being destroyed. (See: Kree-Skrull War)
- A month later, after they managed to repair the bridge, the Mole man ventures up from his subterranean lair and battles the Fantastic Four. Mr. Average’s car is destroyed as one of the Mole Man’s monsters trudges through the city before being put down by Ben Grimm. Hundreds of people are injured or even killed. (See: Fantastic Four #1, 1962)
- Three months after that Mr. Average, riding the bus to work now, finds his bus under attack as a powerful and hidden mutant is riding the bus with him, in disguise. Mr. Average escapes with a few burns and a deep abiding fear of giant robots which randomly attack buses full of normal people to reach “dangerous” mutants. (See: Master Mold, X-men #16, 1962)
- Every day after each attack news pundits like J. Jonah Jameson espouse about the dangers of mutants, Spider-Man and superheroes in general. But mutants catch special flack because they could be anyone. You. Your neighbors, the person on the bus next to you could be a mutant.
- Hysteria is a powerful tool in a world where uncertainty is fanned by fear-promoting pundits and the threat of attack is a regular event at least once every Marvel year, somewhere on the planet. (See: Kree-Skrull War, Galactus, Secret Invasion, Shuma Gorath, Magneto and his Acolytes, Apocalypse, etc.)
- Look how powerful hysteria is on our modern Earth when the random threat of terrorism is used to manipulate how people feel about other HUMANS. We created the Patriot Act, we dropped bombs on foreign countries for the FEAR of terrorism. The single act of the destruction of the World Trade Center over a decade ago STILL has people in the grip of fear.
- Now imagine you had events like this happening every year, some of them, not all of them are due to the mysterious mutants living among us, with fantastic powers capable of wiping out all of humanity with the blink of an eye, (so the news media sells it, no matter that it in the case of certain mutants is actually TRUE).
A Legitimate Fear of Incredible Power
As an individual without fantastic powers and a need to go to work, protect your family, pay your taxes, be a decent individual and maintain a role in society, the very fact that you may feel insignificant compared to the mutant superbeing carrying away the stadium you were hoping to watch tonight’s baseball game in undermines your self esteem, hell, your very sanity as you see the impossible being done before your very eyes.
- Imagine Mr. Average learns the person carrying away your stadium is a mutant, a being who was born this way and whose probably manifested as a teenager. He has a twelve year old daughter and a ten year old son. Could this happen to him? Is it possible that his children could have this mutant gene you hear so much misinformation about?
- What about that town that was blown off the map out there when those Young Warriors fought that criminal Nitro? Everyone was killed. Could that happen here? Should mutants and superbeings be registered? (See: Civil War)
- Maybe Strucker has the right idea. Maybe the best thing that could happen is we kill all the mutants before they take over the world. (Not knowing that it has already happened more than once and been reversed; See: House of M). Being an ordinary human in this world would be a terrifying experience akin to living in a warzone where you had no options but to run and hide whenever anything happened.
We Have Seen the Enemy…
Why do mutants have it worse than the rest of the metahuman community?
- Most of the metahuman community makes an effort to be seen as being on the same side as normal humans. At least some of them have been revealed to be normal humans (Tony Stark, Hawkeye, Black Widow) resemble normal humans (Thor) or were once normal humans (the Hulk).
- But mutants were born this way, their appearances vary wildly, along with their powers, many in learning to control their powers, harm innocents and even if they become “good” mutants have blood on their hands. When they are evil mutants, they seem to relish their powers and kill without reservation. There are reports (however unreliable) that more mutants are being born every day.
What is a normal man to do in a world where the uncertainty of his very existence depends on a very thin line of metahumans to protect him from the ever-growing menace of mutant power on an Earth in an ever-expanding hostile universe of threats? Aliens, gods, intelligent machines are terrifying but they are the Other.
Mutants? They are us. And they are everywhere.