ext_18985: (ship)
[identity profile] aj.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] ship_manifesto
Title: A Gentleman and a Lady
Author: A.j.
Spoilers: Both X-Men movies and about 30+ years of comics backstory.
Pairing: Scott Summers/Rogue

***

Welcome to a quick rundown of one of the smaller subgroups in a freakishly intermingled knot that is X-Men comics and movie canon. If you're new, please take a deep breath and try not to panic. If you're really new, please go camp in front of the graphic novel section at your local Borders/Barnes&Noble/Walden/local bookstore and dig out the X-Men graphic novels that were published before 2000. Or, if you don't want to do that, read the character summaries below and go rent X-Men and X2.

Because like it or not, you need to know a little something about the backgrounds of Scott Summers (Cyclops), Rogue (Marie for the movie peeps), Jean Grey (Phoenix), and to a much lesser extent Logan (Wolverine). Why? Because it makes everything better when you watch the movies. Things that aren't funny, are suddenly hysterically so when you have a context.

Also, I want to be extremely clear right now that this will not degenerate into character bashing of any type. I am absolutely in love with Scott, Rogue, and Jean. And while Logan is not my favorite character, his presence is one of the defining guideposts in the road to understanding why a Scott/Rogue pairing is not icky, wrong, or completely insane. Which, dear friends, is the goal of this particular essay.

So, background. The short versions are as follows, and we're going to assume that at least chunks of comics canon can be cut and pasted onto movie canon, mkay?

Scott Summers: Oldest son born to Christopher and Mary Summers. He and younger brother Alex were onboard a small aircraft that Chris was flying when it experienced engine trouble. Having only one parachute, Chris and Mary strapped the boys in and tossed them out of the plane before it crashed. Both boys were put into foster care, and Alex was eventually adopted. Scott eventually landed in an orphanage where he stayed until 16/17 when he manifested his mutant powers (optical blasts that are ambiguously solar-powered,) ran away and joined a Dickensian street gang. He was eventually arrested, and came to the attention of Charles Xavier. Xavier was creating an 'exclusive' academy that served the special needs of the mutant population and saw Scott's potential. It's here that movie and comic canons seem to diverge. The movie audience assumes that Scott joined this academy, met Jean Grey and began a courtship. The exact details are unknown. Comics canon is considerably more complex (throwing in a rivalry with Warren Worthington for Jean's affections and the still-to-be-explored Phoenix Saga - movie #3!) but basically establishes Jean and Scott becoming extremely close friends and then romantically involved in a very sweet "we're both 20" way. Movieverse Scott and Jean appear to be engaged at the end of X-Men, so for this essay, it will be considered canon that they fell in love/got squishy cute/had monkey sex.

Rogue: Rogue's comics backstory is much more complex than her movie backstory. In X-Men, we basically get her history tied in a nice neat bow. She had two nice parents in Mississippi and she manifested her powers while making out with a boy (Cody) in her room. Because she and her parents were so freaked out, she took off on a cross-country journey to Alaska where she wouldn't look like an idiot when she was wearing ski-gloves in July. Comics canon has her much younger (either 8 or 13) when she manifests with Cody. She is saved from being beaten to death by a mob by Mystique, who takes her to a safe house and raises her to become a mutant terrorist. All goes well until Rogue accidentally, permanently absorbs Carol Danver's (Ms. Marvel) powers and goes to the Xavier Institute for help because she's suddenly got a multiple severe personality disorder. She ends up joining the X-Men and to make a difference, but with the cold knowledge that she will never actually be 'well' again. (For a more in-depth history, go here.)

*

Something that needs to be mentioned here at the beginning is that this pairing is a direct result of the pushed onscreen chemistry between Logan and Jean Grey. While something of a minor (if reoccurring) story arc in the comics, this was made one of the larger themes in X-Men and X2. There is intense interest on Logan's part for Jean and some reciprocation of Jean to Logan. But Scott loves Jean and Rogue has a mad-on crush for Logan.

In canon, Scott and Rogue spend approximately ten minutes of screen time together with maybe one or two lines of interactive dialogue. Most of what makes me rabidly want them to hang out and have lots of hot monkey sex has to be read between the lines of character interaction. All character interaction. And motivation.

I need to say now that I am, and forever will, be one of the biggest Scott/Jean shippers on the planet. That decision took a long time to reach. The first actual X-Men comic book I ever read was Uncanny issue 310, where Jean proposes to Scott at Thanksgiving. I didn't know the whole backstory, so the subtlety of that issue and the almost storybook span of the next several issues of Uncanny and X-Men totally passed me by. It wasn't until I'd read all the back issues I could get my hands on* that I realized Scott and Jean weren't boring. They were fascinating. A couple who went through all that and still managed to come to the other at the end of the day as friends.

But it was exactly that realization that spun my interpretation of what I saw in the X-Men movie and, consequentially X2. As much as the writers and director and producers did to clearly define X-Men as its own stand-alone universe, the emotion attached to these familiar strangers couldn't help but carry over. There was Scott onscreen, if a bit different. The same could be said for Jean, and Logan, and Rogue.

To me, the Scott/Rogue relationship is not a given. It's a fanciful idea based on knowledge of these characters as people, and a wish for them to find something better than what they have. Scott desperately needs someone to reciprocate his own, for lack of a better term, need. He needs to be wanted the way he wants. Jean is too independent for that.

Strangely, it was a fan fic sex scene between Jean and Scott that completely and totally won me over to the idea of a Scott/Rogue pairing. During the end of the second chapter of "You Can Still Be Free" by San, there's a short little section that reads as follows:

Did something happen in class?" Her eyes are narrowed, red mane framing her face. He loves her. He does. He knows what love is, doesn't he? He believes in it. Why shouldn't he?

"No, nothing happened," he says calmly. There it is. That tiny hope that she would look inside his head, his mind, his fears. But she doesn't. She doesn't know it's not as systematic, as organized inside as is outside. She doesn't want to guess.

But she
had to see what was inside the Wolverine. She was scared and excited and he saw it. On her face, in her kisses, that night. He, Scott Summers, Fearless Leader, Sir, is safe, isn't he? Isn't that why Jean loves him? Because he rises above?

She's not convinced, but she let's it go.

Just like he knew she would.

Minutes later, she is breathing normally once again, snuggled into his arms.
He hasn't found it. Neither the comfort, nor the passion.

But it's probably his fault anyway.


To me, this completely encapsulated the Scott Summers, Jean Grey, and Logan we saw onscreen in X-Men. There was that need and the feeling that he was just slightly worth less effort and interest for Jean than Logan was. And that is how Scott was portrayed in both X-Men and X2. From the mocking about his ability to land a plane (X-Men) to the stupid pot-shots about his manliness with the Backstreet Boys playing in the car (X2), it's obvious that the producers and writers have gone above and beyond the call to make Scott less 'manly' in the eyes of moviegoers.

Despite my obvious annoyance about the decision - and internal rant about how gender roles and portrayals in modern society are supremely screwed the hell up - that character work molded my view on a possible Scott/Rogue relationship.

It was pretty obvious that the 'rift' being put between Scott and Jean with the whole 'Wolverine is Manlier' campaign was done to generate tension. That's fine. It worked. But it also got me thinking about possibilities and how maybe movieverse Jean wasn't the best choice for movieverse Scott. Not because she was interested in Logan (because really? As-played-by-Hugh-Jackman, there are few heterosexual females or homosexual men who didn't feel a happy tingle when he came onscreen,) but because there's a palpable vulnerability in Scott that is pushed as less attractive.

A characteristic neatly matched in Rogue.

Rogue is a really vulnerable kid. Her powers are pretty much set up so she will both mentally rape/be raped every time she touches someone. Thoughts and emotions and a person's entire life experience is downloaded into a portion of her brain, and while there have been numerous conflicting reports on just how her powers work, it's pretty much canon that this information doesn't just dissipate after some time has passed. It's incorporated into her mind and becomes permanent. Not dominant, but there.

Basically, as a person and an emotional being, the girl needs someone stable. Her family has basically disowned her, her adopted 'father figure' (because One True Logan Love belief or not, he is a father figure too, if nothing else) runs off a lot, and she's got a multitude of internal monologues blowing through her brain. She's got adaptability and abandonment covered.

So does Scott.

Basically, my main argument for people 'shipping this couple is that as people, they make sense. They're lonely and would fill a really deep need in each other that isn't addressed by their current perceived partners. Scott needs someone to need him, and Rogue needs someone who won't run off, no matter what the problem.

These two make a scary kind of sense.

Maybe it's just projectionism on my part. But, on a more shallow note, picturing Anna Paquin and James Marsden being all porntastic? There are certainly worse things...

But again, this is definitely not a 'ship you want to dabble in if you're not open to character motivation and exploration. It didn't take much to convince me of the potential of this pairing, and I hope that this essay was able to lay that out a little.

And something that may or may not be telling is that at the end of X2, Rogue is standing beside Scott when he breaks. And really? Beautiful relationships have been started with less.

-fin-

*Recommended reading list for Scott and Jean and Rogue and Logan related comics that, mostly, don't suck:
The Phoenix Saga
X-Men Classic
Fall of the Mutants
Inferno
Early X-Factor
Uncanny X-Men 280-319
X-Men 1-31
The Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix
The Continuing Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix

Scott Fiction: http://www.dreamwater.org/scottsummers/index.html (X-Men Hero Cyclops)
http://www.medicinewheel.net/ (The Medicine Wheel)

Rogue Fiction: http://alykat.hispeed.com/rogue/index.shtml (Downhome Charm)

Recommended Scott/Rogue fan fiction: http://www.dreamwater.org/scottsummers/fanfiction/scottrogue.html (Scott/Rogue Fan Fiction, X-Men movieverse and Evolution)

Specific Stories
http://www.fanfiction.net/s/285241/2/ - You Can Still Be Free by San

http://home.att.net/~lubakmetyk/because.htm#kaylee - Seeing Red and Shades of Red by Kaylee

http://silverlake.imjustsayin.net/princesst-dallacqua.html - Dall'Acqua and
http://www.fanfiction.net/s/1345597/1/ - The Road Away From Heartache by Princess Twilite

http://www.xmmff.com/movieverse/cc.htm - Clinging Cures by Molly

http://www.stoic-simplicity.net/imperfect/fiction/xmen/pretense.html - The Complication of Pretense by Melissa Flores

Date: 2004-12-14 06:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] inlovewithnight.livejournal.com
That was really interesting. I'm very intrigued by this pairing now, I'll definitely read some of those fics you've linked. ;)
Oh, gee, I might have to re-watch those DVDs, ain't that a hardship...

Date: 2004-12-14 07:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] minisinoo.livejournal.com
Much saner than some defenses of this pairing that I've seen. I'll admit that I tend to be squicked by teacher/student fiction that romanticizes the relationship and ignores any of the power issues that are instrinsic to it. My main issue with Scott/Rogue is one of power more than age. Scott and Jean (if we assume the characters' ages are approximate to the actors' ages) are the same difference in years as Scott and Rogue. But Jean was never Scott's formal teacher. And that does matter, automatically placing them in an uncomfortable power/authority position and any fic that approaches Scott/Rogue has to deal with that. This is also why I find it easier to handle (well done) Logan/Rogue than Scott/Rogue. Logan is never placed in a position of formal power over Rogue in a classroom situation. He never has to grade her, and speaking as someone who's been a teacher, that's a hurdle. (I still tend to see Logan and Rogue as Father/daughter, or Uncle/niece, regardless of Rogue's crush on him.)

One asset to a Scott/Rogue relationships, though, is the same one that makes the (better) R/L fiction work -- the fact that Rogue is not exactly a 17-year-old girl, but has two older men in her head. If one can avoid the Bitch!Jean cliche where Scott falls into Rogue's understanding arms (ignoring all power issues), it could work. 8} The cliche story is boring, in fact. Really looking at the interpersonal dynamics in all their complicated glory is far more interesting -- although I would say that the 'need to be needed' can, in the end, become a fault rather than a virtue in a relationship. (Sets up co-dependent characteristics that are unhealthy.) Still, what happens when Rogue grows up and she's not Scott's student anymore? How DOES one make the awkward shift from "used to be my student" to "now my colleague"? Any grad student who's ever moved from "student" status to "colleague" status knows how fraught with confusion that can be. "Dr. ___" suddenly becomes "Jim." That's actually rather *fun* (and challenging) to explore.

A type of fiction I've always loved is Scott/Rogue as mentor/student (not necessarily romantic interest). As with the romance element, there's not a lot of film canon to build on, but there's one other aspect they share that I see drawing these two together -- the fact neither of them can control his/her power. They are intrinsically dangerous. That gives them each a sympathy for the other that most can't share. There's not a big step from that to a more mature relationship between them as adults, as long as it's gently handled with all the complexity explored.

(And thank you for putting up The Medicine Wheel, although it's not much Scott/Rogue beyond "Letters and Papers," and that's friendship.)

Date: 2004-12-14 07:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] minisinoo.livejournal.com
Er, that was really rambly, but hopefully, it made some sense. Mostly riffing on what you posted. 8}

Date: 2004-12-14 12:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sweptawaybayou.livejournal.com
Wonderful essay! I enjoyed reading this so much.

And as much as I may bash and/or slash Scott, I agree with you, his character is complex and powerful. And Rogue would make a fitting choice for him. Much more than Jean and her indecisive, flighty, flirty ways.

Thank you for the hard work you put into this and the links you provided!

Date: 2004-12-15 10:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] profshallowness.livejournal.com
Great essay, with very persuasive arguments, and it's given me justification to shift away from my attitude that this was a fanonical 'ship (which I liked dabbling in) as you say:
To me, the Scott/Rogue relationship is not a given. It's a fanciful idea based on knowledge of these characters as people, and a wish for them to find something better than what they have. (Although I'm coming at it from a Logan/Rogue perspective so it was insightful to read about a differing perspective.) As [livejournal.com profile] minisinoo pointed out, there's the understanding that would exist because of the similarity in powers.

Date: 2004-12-23 06:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] adjectivegirl.livejournal.com
Definitely intriguing. Coming from someone who almost never likes Scott until he's vulnerable and/or insane (Black Bug room, anyone?) I do like the idea of Rogue being the counterpoint- or you know, the catalyst- to that messed up mindset. Then again, I love that guilt/angst over whoever Scott lusts after, as long as it's not Jean.

::pause:: Or Emma Frost. Okay I'm done. :)

Date: 2004-12-30 01:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ergo-ego.livejournal.com
nicely done. ^.^ just thought I'd point out that Minisinoo's site (under Scott fanfiction) is http://www.themedicinewheel.net/ - heh, I was wondering why the link wasn't directing me to the right place.

Persuasive. Shall be checking out some of the other links.

Date: 2009-04-26 02:45 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Oh, how lovely to see a movie/comics-based justification of Rogue. I was ten years old (that was in 2003) when X-Men: Evo came out, and that was the closest I ever saw canon come to shipping Scott/Rogue (though it was hot, even with the terrible characterisation of Evo!Rogue) - the 1992 series, which I'd watched at eight, never had shipping register in my brain. I think younger Rogue works better with most pairings (except Gambit/Rogue), and I love this essay. :D

Date: 2010-11-29 08:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rosaxx50.livejournal.com
I... am not a Scott/Rogue romance shipper. That said, this was a lovely essay to explain between them. You've gone through the facets of their relationship clearly and yet thoroughly, and I admit, I'm intrigued by the possibility.

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