In the latest issue of X-Men, an infamous movie threat by Magneto is twisted into a threat against all mutants by a formidable group of enemies.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for X-Men #19 by Jonathan Hickman, Mahmud Asrar, Sunny Gho, VC’s Clayton Cowles, and Tom Muller, on sale now.
The X-Men, along with the rest of mutantkind, have long felt both the pressure and pride of being the next step in human evolution. The road to their island nation on Krakoa has been long and fraught with tragedy. Currently, a crack squad of elite X-Men have infiltrated the home of their most immediate threat with hopes of avoiding yet another catastrophic battle. Much like the X-Men themselves, the Children of the Vault have evolved far beyond their human ancestors in a hyper-accelerated bubble of time within the Vault.
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Unfortunately for the heroes, they have no plans on trying to coexist, even calling back a classic movie moment to make sure their message is heard loud and clear in X-Men #19.
Of the three mutants sent to investigate the Vault, Darwin falls victim to its inhabitants, becoming their captive and leaving his teammates on their own to find a way out. Synch and Wolverine are barely able to escape, with Laura Kinney’s Wolverine sacrificing herself so that Synch has time to make it outside the Vault where he can contact Professor Xavier telepathically. Of course, the Children aren’t far behind, and they catch up to Synch just as he is calling out to ensure his memories of the Vault will remain intact upon his resurrection. While he speaks into the void hoping that the Professor hears his call, the pursuing Children stand over him with a message to be delivered before killing their quarry. In an homage to the film that kicked off the superhero craze in Hollywood over twenty years ago, one of the Children tells Synch and whoever else is listening that “We’re the future. Not you.”
This is a callback to Ian McKellen’s iconic line from 2000’s X-Men directed by Bryan Singer and written by David Hayter. The film sees the titular mutant super-team face off against Magneto and his Brotherhood who plan to usurp humanity’s place as the dominant species. One particularly moving scene features Ian McKellen’s Magneto uttering the famous line to his rival: “We are the future, Charles. Not them. They no longer matter.”
Though that last part of the line is omitted from what is said during Synch’s final confrontation with the Children, the same demeaning and dehumanizing intent that it implies is still clear as day in the moment. Even worse, that particular brand of condescension is one that the X-Men are already intimately familiar with as an indicator of their worst fears coming true.
When Magneto uttered those famous words in the 2000 film, there was some amount of naturally occurring truth behind them as mutantkind undoubtedly was “the future” that humanity had to look forward to. Mutants were the next step in human evolution, something greater than ever before and determined purely by natural selection. For many people, the emergence of mutantkind was something to be fearful of or at the very least concerned about, but all of the uncertainties regarding them were still in acknowledgment of the nature of how mutants came to be.
The Children of the Vault, on the other hand, have forced their own evolution and accelerated progress as a civilization. They might still be living, breathing beings, but their place on the evolutionary chain is entirely manufactured, which itself seems antithetical to their claims. The X-Men being forced to fight against a society that is forcing its own evolution to combat mutants is nothing new. Still, the idea maintains its relevance by cutting to the core of just who the X-Men are not just as heroes, but as pillars of the Marvel Universe itself. With any luck, that’s a place they’ll get to keep after the Children of the Vault try to claim its future for themselves.
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