When the X-Men comic book debuted in the 1960s, the centerpiece of the series was the conflict between Professor X, leader of the X-Men, and Magneto, leader of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. As time passed, Magneto’s influence on the series diminished until he was out of the series entirely, even when the series relaunched as the All-New, All-Different X-Men. However, Chris Claremont revitalized the relationship when he not only brought Magneto back, but revealed that he and Xavier had actually been friends when they were younger.
Both aspects of the characters have been at the center of every X-Men film so far, from Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen as older adversaries to James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender as young men who turn from friends to enemies. Enjoy these 15 memes about the rivalry between Professor X and Magneto.
One of the best sequences in the most recent series of X-Men films, which are set in the past and tell the story of how Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr went from being friends to being the heads of rival groups of mutants, is when Charles confronts Erik about Erik’s intent on taking his anger over the Holocaust out on the entire human race and argues that the best way for mutants to go forward is to live in peace with humans. Erik, though, argues that peace was never an option.
It’s a great line and it was popular enough that it soon inspired memes that were based on the word “peace” being substituted with a similar-sounding word. For instance, “Pizza was never an option” or, like this meme, “peas were never an option.”
14. FORGET MAGNETISM, HE IS THE MASTER OF SASS
When it comes to meme-creating, one of the most common tactics that people use is to freeze certain frames of the film and create a meme. That is the genesis of this amusing meme, which spotlights the moment in X-Men: First Class where the relationship between Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr reaches its literal breaking point, as their conflict over Magneto’s adoption of Sebastian Shaw’s plan to start a war between the United States and Cuba led to Moira MacTaggert trying to shoot Lehnsherr.
He uses his powers to deflect the bullet, but it inadvertently hit Xavier in his spine, paralyzing him. Michael Fassbender’s take on Lehnsherr, though, was so dramatic that this screen grab looks like he’s flamboyantly “striking a pose” and that it is the pose itself that is just so “fierce” that it snapped Xavier’s back.
13. WRONG MOVIE!
When it comes to superhero narratives, it is interesting to see how much so many of them overlap, especially the terms that people use. A great example of that is in this funny meme where we see the diverging views on the world between Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr. Erik, for the most part, has been driven by the tragedy of what happened to him as a young Jewish boy during the Holocaust.
Therefore, when Charles wants to try to find a way for everyone to get along, Erik instead is obsessed with vengeance. Therefore, he notes that this group of mutants that Xavier was putting together could be used to avenge the people of his past. An aggravated Charles Xavier, though, has to tell him that that’s a whole other superhero movie (the Avengers).
12. NOT A GOOD FRIEND
The final conflict in X-Men: First Class occurred on a Cuban beach, where Charles Xavier, Erik Lehnsherr and the earliest version of the X-Men had just seemingly succeeded in stopping Sebastian Shaw’s attempts to plunge the world into nuclear war. However, Magneto ended up being convinced that Shaw’s plan was actually a sound one (after he, of course, killed Shaw to avenge his family, since Shaw was a Nazi) and Xavier’s team suddenly were facing off against Lehnsherr’s team.
During the conflict, Xavier fell paralyzed and it caused Lehnsherr to drop his guard. This meme jokes that Xavier’s injuries were actually caused from sitting in a palm tree and it breaking under his weight (the palm trees, by the way, kept breaking in real life because they were filming the sequence during the winter in Cuba, so they were bitter from the cold).
11. WHY’S EVERYBODY ALWAYS PICKING ON ME?
Erik Lehnsherr’s evolution throughout the X-Men prequel film series has been an interesting one to watch, since what you see is a man who very much wants to feel like he belongs but can never seem to do so. He tries to become a hero with Xavier in the first film, but it did not work. He tries to do his own thing with Mystique and others in the second film and it didn’t work. He tries to just be a regular guy with a wife and child in the third film and it also didn’t work.
This hilarious meme establishes that, in the end, the problem really doesn’t lie with other people, which he probably keeps on telling himself; rather, the problem is more of himself, as he is a bit of a sociopath. He does become a supervillain, after all.
10. AT LEAST HE DIDN’T TELL YOU HE WAS HIS FATHER
Michael Fassbender’s portrayal of Erik Lehnsherr has been noteworthy in just how over-the-top the whole thing has been, as Fassbender has definitely embraced the freedom that you have as an actor in a superhero movie to sometimes vamp and pose and grandstand. This has proven to be a major boon to people creating memes, as there are so many over-dramatic screen grabs to choose from.
This hilarious meme picks a moment from later in X-Men: First Class, when Erik has begun to fully embrace his supervillain persona, complete with his imposing helmet (which helps to block Xavier’s telepathy) and then decides to show this as Erik deciding to become an over-the-top villain like Darth Vader from the Star Wars films (who also had his own imposing helmet).
9. I’LL SEE YOUR HULK AND RAISE YOU….
A notable scene in the first Avengers film is when Loki and Tony Stark have a meeting ahead of the impending invasion by the Chitauri alien army. Loki taunts Tony, but Stark explains that no matter what happens, Loki has screwed himself, because he pissed off the Avengers and that they are coming for him. Loki rebuffs this by noting that, “I have an Army.” Tony counters, though, “We have a Hulk.”
In this meme, that popular exchange from the Avengers is extended to include the moment in X-Men: Days of Future Past where Erik Lehnsherr tried to turn an entire stadium into a weapon with his magnetism powers, much to Charles Xavier’s chagrin. Loki has an army, the Avengers have a Hulk, but Erik has a stadium!
8. CHARLES XAVIER’S LIFE STORY
In any piece of popular culture that goes beyond a single installment (like an ongoing television series or a film franchise), you are bound to run into recurring themes and phrases in them. Kiefer Sutherland had so many recurring catchphrases during the filming of his TV series, 24, that not only were there drinking games based on them (“Drink every time Jack says ‘Who are you working for?'”), but Sutherland would even sometimes repeat some of the phrase repeatedly on purpose just to mess with people playing those games.
It is clear that in the X-Men prequel series, Charles Xavier’s catchphrase was “Erik, no!” as he had to constantly try to keep Erik Lehnsherr from doing crazy things, like start a nuclear war, throw a stadium at people, join forces with apocalypse… the list goes on with this guy.
7. AN EASIER WAY TO FIND MAGNETO
In an early issue of his run on Superman, comic book writer John Byrne had Superman run afoul of the Joker. The Clown Prince of Crime had kidnapped Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen and Perry White and hid them throughout Metropolis. Knowing that Superman had an inability to see through lead, however, Joker thought that he was being clever by locking them all within lead containers.
However, Superman foiled that plot by realizing that all he had to do was look for the areas in Metropolis where he couldn’t see and that would be where the lead containers would be. Similarly, this meme suggests that, okay, you can’t track Magneto because of his telepathy-blocking helmet, but then just track Mystique, who doesn’t wear a protective helmet and is always around Magneto!
6. MO METAL, MO PROBLEMS
When Chris Claremont finally re-introduced Magneto into the pages of the X-Men (after a number of years of the villain just becoming a bit of a generic Marvel Universe supervillain, taking on the Avengers, Defenders and others), he acknowledged right away that the All-New, All-Different X-Men were particularly at a disadvantage against Magneto due to the fact that one member, Colossus, was a walking metal man and that another, Wolverine, had a metal skeleton and claws!
Those were never going to be the most effective heroes against a guy who can control metal. This meme also questions exactly how effective that the X-Men could ever have been against Magneto when so many of them use metal in their day-to-day lives, from Wolverine’s claws to their aircraft to Professor X’s wheelchair.
5. A GREAT QUESTION
When it comes to measuring the impact of memes, there are tiers to how popular each one is. The highest tier is the “god level,” and one of the memes on this level (the ninth-most popular meme period, according to memegenerator.com) is the so-called Philosoraptor, a drawing of a Velociraptor who asks the deep questions that would only to the greatest thinkers of our society, such as, “If 4 out of 5 people suffer from diarrhea, does that mean that the fifth person enjoys it?”
The Philosoraptor took on the X-Men films by wondering why Professor X plays chess with Magneto so many times (in both series of films) when Professor X could just read his mind every time that they play.
4. THAT’S SO TAYLOR OF THEM
An interesting aspect of the volatile relationship between Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr in the X-Men prequel films is that their emotional back and forth often gets so dramatic that it fits in really well with certain memes. For instance, this meme that sets their friendship against the backdrop of the lyrics to Taylor Swift’s hit song, “Blank Space.”
That song is about Swift’s long and much-publicized series of relationships that ended poorly that she then turned into songs. It makes fun of her image, by suggesting that these men are interchangeable and that she can approach the next one by saying that she has a blank space for her next relationship that she will write the next guy’s name. This meme just concentrates on her descriptions of her volatile relationship, applying it to Charles and Erik’s friendship.
3. EVERYBODY CUT, EVERYBODY CUT
The original X-Men film series featured a number of actors better known for performance in other projects, with the two most notable examples being Patrick Stewart (better known as Captain Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation) and Ian McKellen (better known as Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings movies, which came out after the first X-Men movie).
However, this meme spotlights another famous role by an actor in X-Men: First Class. The villain in that first film was Sebastian Shaw, who Erik Lensherr had been hunting down since World War II. Shaw was played by Kevin Bacon, likely still best known for his role as the rogue dancing teen in Footloose. This meme then has Professor X mess with Magneto’s mind to make him see “Shaw” in Footloose.
2. TALK ABOUT A VERBAL VOLLEY!
At the end of X-Men: First Class, not only did Erik betray Charles and leave him crippled (albeit through an accident that at least rattled Magneto enough that he dropped his attempt to cause a nuclear war), but a number of their fellow mutants decided to follow Lehnsherr, including Raven, the shapeshifting young woman who had grown up with Xavier (she took on the name Mystique).
In the next film in the series, Xavier and Lehnsherr were forced to work together, but while doing so, they still managed to air their grievances with each other in a sterling example of verbal back-and-forth that was captured perfectly within this meme. They cut each other to the quick with their sharp lines about each other’s character faults.
1. ALL OF THOSE WASTED YEARS…
In X-Men: Days of Future Past, the world has been overrun by mutant-hunting Sentinels. Professor X and Magneto are some of the only mutants left free on the planet. The X-Men send Wolverine back in time to his younger body in the early 1970s to prevent the murder of Bolivar Trask, the creator of the Sentinel program, who became a martyr when he was killed. The younger Xavier and Lensherr have to put aside their differences to help him.
While in the future, though, the two men reflected on how they had wasted their lives not working with each other. In real life, though, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen are good friends. Thus, this meme hilariously counters “We wasted so many years” by using Stewart and McKellen’s real life photos to show Professor X and Magneto making up for lost time.
Which Xavier/Magneto pairing do you like better? McAvoy/Fassbender or Stewart/McKellen? Let us know in the comments!
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