[identity profile] penknife.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] ship_manifesto
Title: Bad Guys Need Love Too
Characters: Magneto/Mystique
Author: Penknife
Spoilers: Both movies + a couple of comicsverse references
E-mail: penknife@livejournal.com
Website: Penknife to Paper

Bad Guys Need Love Too

Why Magneto and Mystique? Because the bad guys are such fun, and the two of them together plot and snark with undeniable style.

Magneto: (to Rogue) We love what you've done with your hair.

Magneto is a tremendously popular villain, because he's snarky and smart and so very sure that he's right that after a while you start to believe him. There's something terribly attractive about his righteous rage, even when it leads him to do horrible things. He survived the Holocaust as a child, and sees the current conflict between humans and mutants as a battle only one species can survive, and he refuses to see his people wiped out even if he has to destroy humanity to prevent it.

Mystique doesn't get a lot of lines, but what we do see suggests she's not just there for decoration and to kick people in the head. She's good with computers and good at manipulating people. After a day at Xavier's, she knows just what to say to get Rogue out from under Xavier's protection. It's implied that she spends several months impersonating first Henry Guyrich and then Senator Kelley, both of which would require both a lot of nerve and some real political skills; it's worth noting the defeat of the Mutant Registration Act because of "Kelley's" influence is more of a success than any of Magneto's schemes.

And her plan to spring Magneto from prison is clever and ruthless.

Magneto: Mr. Laurio, never trust a beautiful woman. Especially not one who's interested in you.

They're well-suited to each other; they share a common cause, a ruthless streak, and a scathing sense of humor. There also seems to be some genuine affection in the relationship, at least on Mystique's side.

In the scene when Mystique-as-Kelley is meeting with Stryker and the president, the perfect spy visibly loses her composure when "the prisoners from Liberty Island" are mentioned.

Mystique: Erik? ... Erik Lehnsherr? You have access to him?

How much that affection is returned is a good question, and an interesting one; some writers paint Mystique as Erik's equal, and a serious romantic interest, while others see her attachment to him as one-sided (if useful for him).

And, of course, for the fan writer, there are the endless possibilities afforded by Mystique's talent: she can be anyone Magneto wants, of either gender. It's a slash writer's het ship, and not just because Mystique makes such a charming young man.

Mystique and Magneto are often both portrayed as bisexual in movieverse fiction, Mystique because she's canonically bisexual in comicsverse and Magneto because ... well, it might be the body language. Or the clothes. Or Ian McKellen's chemistry with Patrick Stewart. In any event, it gives their relationship some interesting twists and turns, and keeps it from easily settling into a conventional het romance.

Whether this is a canon ship is a good question. They're certainly physical enough with each other, but a lot of the time, as [livejournal.com profile] trollprincess put it in her hilarious XMM summary for [livejournal.com profile] crack_van, "they appear to behave like bitchy girlfriends." One of the lines that implies the relationship most strongly is this one:

Logan (watching Mystique beat up Stryker's troops): She's good.
Magneto: You have no idea.

But not even the actors seem to know for sure. Ian McKellen has said on his web site that Magneto and Mystique are a couple; Rebecca Romijn-Stamos has said in interviews that they're not. Who knows?

Who cares? It's an interesting pairing, canon or not, and one you can take in a lot of directions. We know so little about Mystique in movieverse. She's sometimes written as much younger than Magneto, to explain why she puts up with taking orders from him, although if she's Nightcrawler's mother (as she is in comicsverse), she's hardly a young woman in X1. Other times she's near his age, an equal partner who matches his ruthless practicality with her own. Sometimes she's written as Magneto's pawn, other times as his reluctant ally in a battle of wills, and still other times as his faithful longtime companion.

Whatever the setup, one thing's for certain with this pairing: it's a bad idea to get in their way.


Magneto/Mystique is a fairly rare movieverse pairing, and I don't know of any sites or communities specifically devoted to the relationship.

ETA: [livejournal.com profile] cruellyhandsome is a new Magneto/Mystique community.

[livejournal.com profile] raven_darkholme is the Mystique Fans community, but it seems largely abandoned.

[livejournal.com profile] magnetic_appeal is the Magneto Fans community, mainly used by comicsverse fans.

[livejournal.com profile] xmmff X-Men Movieverse Fan Fiction is a community for all pairings and genres of XMM fan fiction.


Custom Cannot Stale by Sarah T.
Under Cover of Darkness and His Mother's Eyes by Artaxastra
Skin by Kass Rachel
Infinite Regress by Trismegestus (Mystique/Destiny, Magneto/Mystique)
Going Down and sequels by Astolat (more Magneto/Xavier than Magneto/Mystique, but well worth reading for the Mystique characterization in the final story in the series)

Date: 2004-10-05 05:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kayim.livejournal.com
Do you think that maybe Magneto is portrayed as bisexual because of the actor's sexuality?

Great manifesto, btw!

Date: 2004-10-05 05:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] flarn-chef.livejournal.com
Who knows what shape or character or gender she adopts in bed?" isn't exactly a rousing proclamation of his character's heterosexuality.

A very cool and mind bending thought!

Date: 2004-10-05 06:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] flarn-chef.livejournal.com
Thanks for the link!

I have an amusing pic of Sir Ian doing his version of Maggie Smith; I'm making into an icon. *snerk*

Date: 2004-10-05 06:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anese.livejournal.com
Awesome. I've always liked this pairing.

Date: 2004-10-05 07:22 am (UTC)
ext_23120: (mystique)
From: [identity profile] hibernate.livejournal.com
This is one of my favourite pairings in X-Men movieverse, though I tend to see them more as close friends and companions than romantically involved. But after reading this I'm feeling like maybe experimenting with that too. :-)

Thanks for writing this!

Date: 2004-10-05 11:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] viciouswishes.livejournal.com
Excellent essay. They're such a fun pair, with so many possibilities. *g*

Date: 2004-10-05 12:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jjtaylor.livejournal.com
What a wonderful essay. I'd never heard about Sir Ian's comments about the "partnership" before this, but that's very intriguing.

Date: 2004-10-05 01:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zeelee-penguin.livejournal.com
Great essay. I liked how you mentioned the versatility of this pairing; there's really so many different ways to interpret it.

Date: 2004-10-05 08:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] minisinoo.livejournal.com
terrific job on a pairing that's always interested me for the complexity of the dynamics. :)

Date: 2004-10-15 01:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] adjectivegirl.livejournal.com
Wonderful work! I love these two, they're totally complimentary partners. Whether or not they shag is moot. :) Though I'd like it.

A Magneto/Mystique Community

Date: 2006-09-11 02:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] angelofsnow.livejournal.com
You've done a lovely job with this essay [livejournal.com profile] penknife. You definitely did the Magneto/Mystique pairing justice.

I found it really weird when I joined LJ from fanfiction.net that there was no Magneto/Mystique community. So I created one. It can be found here: [livejournal.com profile] cruellyhandsome

Everyone is welcome to join and post any fic, artwork, icons, or vids they have made.

I hope you don't mind... I linked to your essay from the community, because it is quite informative.

Re: A Magneto/Mystique Community

Date: 2006-09-11 08:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] genkaishihan.livejournal.com
Angel informed us about this little essay, and I have to say, you've spoken what's exactly what I've been thinking for the longest time. I'm going to link to this if you don't mind, or credit you for this. Word must spread!!!


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