X-Men 2 : The deep fantasy of being saved in spite of myself
I was 10 or 11 years old when I saw X-Men 2 for the first time. One scene, however insignificant, left a deep impression on the child I was, and continues to move the man I've become.
Without even being able to understand it at the time, I happened to be in need of a form of maternal domination, or a restrictive female protection. As a child, I dreamed of being "saved" by a woman who would leave me no choice about it. It's a fantasy that's still with me today as I grow into an adult male, and one that I need to put at a distance and understand, for my own personal growth.
I - The scene in question: captured, protected and cared for by two women
• Movie and scene context
In an alternative contemporary reality where mutants exist, they are violently discriminated against by society, and sometimes hunted by the government. The overwhelming majority live in seclusion, ashamed of themselves.
Some mutations are visible (like the blue-skinned Nightcrawler), others are not (like Jean Grey and Storm). The latter are part of a wealthy private organization, created by and for the mutants. One of the organization's missions is to find and collect the most endangered mutants.
Jean Grey and Storm, two powerful mutants and executives of the organization, have been sent to find and bring back Nightcrawler, a troubled German mutant who earns his living working for circuses. They're going to bring him back, whether he likes it or not...
• The capture phase: compelled for its own sake
The video above is what I call the capture phase. When I was a child, this scene deeply moved me. Today, it's likely to give me an erection, as my eroticism is so intellectualized, for both better and worse.
At first, the two powerful women take a gentle, reassuring approach - "We're not here to hurt you" - before quickly losing patience and resorting to coercion. Two sides of the same coin, both of which I'm impressed by.
Immobilized, Nightcrawler is even graced with a "He's not going anywhere", underlining his utter helplessness. As if the scene wasn't already striking enough for the 10-year-old me, the two dominants briefly poke fun at the situation, challenging him with "Are you?", a question the captive couldn't answer freely: he was trapped anyway.
• The care and protection phase
The capture giving life to my fantasy of fusion with an authoritative mother figure would not be so beautiful without the concluding phase of this scene: lying down, Nightcrawler is nursed and tenderly examined by his rescuers.
They heal his wounds, at least his physical ones. One of them runs her fingertips over his scarred body. Although mine bears no self-inflicted scars (leaving aside the question of tattoos), it does have some, one of them particularly imposing and disgraceful, as the main witness to a difficult past and construction.
Another discreet element that doesn't leave me unaffected: they talk about him in his presence, evoking subjects of which he knows nothing about "I'd rather get him back to the Professor". A situation that marks his lack of control. They know better than he does what's good for him, and it's so obvious to them that Jean Grey is content to remain elegantly silent when Nightcrawler raises questions. She's in charge, whether he likes it or not.
The whether he likes it or not part is central to the scene that left such a lasting impression on me as a child. I dreamed of being in Nightcrawler's shoes. An outcast, disturbed, lost boy. But a constrained, cared for, considered boy, and the subject of a genuine concern. Even if he didn't want it to be, too wild and fearful to let anyone get close to him.
The parallels felt between the child I was and Nightcrawler were then obvious, hence the strong memory this scene left me with, and, perhaps, hence my shifted eroticism as the adult man I've become.
II - The importance of putting this damaged child fantasy at a distance
The idealization and fantasy of a strong, capable and powerful female figure to save me from myself is, I think, the obvious emanation of major problems in my relationship with the mother - at least in my own case.
While this fantasy can be heard, understood, and even experienced in the right context (where my deep emotional needs and sexual arousal intersect), it's important for me to never forget that no one can "save" me from my own demons, except myself. I'm capable, I'm strong.
A mentality and construction which, as a young adult, enabled me to take a crucial turn in my life, a necessary turn, without which my ill-being of the time might well have ended up getting me permanently.
In an intimate, even amorous setting, my pitfall, my natural inclination, is still to seek too much that fusion, that unilateral takeover. Although I'm aware of this pitfall and have already worked on it and to take action to embody the capable, responsible adult I know myself to be, I still sometimes let myself be swallowed up by this deep-seated fantasy. Nothing to worry about, except when it impinges on the balance and energy of a relationship, and of the other person. This stumbling block, outside the reserved sphere, is no longer acceptable.
While the lost boy will always need her to believe in him, the grown man needs to know that all he needs to do is believe in himself.