X-Men: First Class part 6
While Shaw is at the North Pole in his submarine, preparing to destroy the world or something, Raven and Hank waste no time in getting to know each other. They bond over their shared desires to appear “normal.” The 1960s are still young, and the postwar conservativism that affected the US, despite the election of Kennedy in 1960, is still very much the order of the day. Perhaps the hippies of San Francisco would accept a boy with hands for feet or a scaly blue young woman, or perhaps they would be accepted at Harvard, where Timothy Leary was beginning his experiments with LSD. (Both Raven and Emma wear miniskirts even though they would not be invented until 1964. Mutants, as always, lead the way in evolution.)
Hank, we learn, has developed a serum that, he believes, will help a mutant maintain his or her abilities while making them appear “normal.” (How this is supposed to work, I have no idea — that’s right, I doubt the veracity of the science of X-Men.) Raven can’t wait to be jabbed by Hank’s needle, so to speak, but Erik comes along to pour cold water on their romantic-scientific tryst. Not only is Erik older and sexier than Hank, he’s prouder and more persuasive than Xavier. When he tells Raven “I wouldn’t change a thing,” it carries more weight than when Xavier says “Mutant and proud,” because Erik has been through the worst a mutant, an Other, can be put through, and come out the other side, while Xavier has never had to suffer a day in his life. Thus, he turns Raven’s head as her one-on-one with Hank suddenly becomes a triangle.
Erik, for his part, just wants to grab the CIA file on Shaw (which is left sitting around in someone’s office) and get back to his vengeful manhunt. Xavier holds him back, offers him something more than vengeance. He offers him, essentially, a family, which he lost to Shaw, and a community — a place at the table. That is, of course, the thing that Xavier’s position of privilege can offer the rage-filled loner Erik, although Erik is obviously loathe to accept Xavier’s charity. The basement-dweller can only see the garden, the attic-dweller can see the whole block. Erik and Xavier are both Other, but from different ends of the spectrum: Xavier defines himself by his expansiveness while Erik defines himself by his solitude. That bar of Nazi Gold, remember, that lump of metal, was “all that’s left of my people,” Erik said, not understanding that he might belong to another Other.
Speaking of Xavier’s expansiveness, we soon see that it not only knows no bounds, it seeks to expand the bounds it doesn’t have, as the MiB shows Xavier the prototype of Cerebro, a machine designed (by Hank, the Lucius Fox of the team) to help Charles expand his mind, literally, not just in the Timothy-Leary sense. Erik announces that he’ll help Xavier find Shaw his way (with lots of lingering close-ups between them) as long as it’s just mutants, no CIA agents doing the hunting. The MiB, with no alternative, agrees: the Other, only two strong, is already wresting control from the Establishment, and it’s only 1962.
But immediately, all is not well between Xavier and Erik. Erik resents Hank, not just because Hank is ashamed of his Otherness, but because Hank literally controls the machinery. Erik, of course, could easily dismantle Hank’s machinery with a flick of his wrist, but he’s now beholden (and falling in love with) Xavier. “You look like a lab rat,” he sneers to Xavier as Hank hooks him up to Cerebro (Hank explains to Xavier how the machine works, even though I would imagine it’s unnecessary to explain anything to Xavier). Erik, of course, has been a lab rat, and he resents the notion of Xavier, himself or any mutant working in the service of anyone, even the CIA, even in the service of capturing dangerous criminals and defusing an international crisis.