Top 10 Movie Mutants
To celebrate the release of the upcoming X-Men: First Class, we present 10 of movies' most memorable mutations.
Mutants: for good and for and for evil, terror and wisdom, metaphor and good old fashioned gross-out, movies have seen them in all shapes, sizes and skin conditions. The most famous, arguably, are Marvel's X-Men, who've enjoyed four big screen incarnations and an enduring place in the popular mind. This week, the gifted outsiders return in X-Men: First Class, Matthew Vaughn's anticipated prequel that takes the series' characters back to their origins. To celebrate, we've put together a list of 10 of movies' most memorable mutants -- so kick back in the teleportation chamber, pass the radioactive goo... and enjoy.
All mutant movies are about how these aberrations collide or co-exist with society, whether it's Godzilla stomping Tokyo or Godzilla defending it against the Smog Monster, Ninja Turtles saving Manhattan from Shredder or Belial killing off its sleazy doctors. But the X-Men series of films explores this theme better than any other, with Xavier and Magneto's camps believing respectively that they can co-exist with humanity or dominate them. There are all sorts of messages about intolerance to be found. But what really gets us amped? Powers and sexiness! The array of mutant powers on offer fufills every fanboy and fangirl fantasy, from telekinesis and telepathy to laser-beam eyes and conjuring the weather. Oddly, while mutation usually means victims are hit with the ugly stick, X-Men's heroes and anti-heroes are all hotties. And first among these equals? Undoubtedly it's Wolverine, the renegade with adamanantium skeleton and claws, super-duper healing powers and lady-wooing mutton chops.
"How does Brundlefly eat?" That's one of the questions asked in David Cronenberg's 1986 classic about an eccentric scientist named Seth Brundle who mutates into a fly-monster after a teleportation experiment goes wrong. The answer, as demonstrated by Jeff Goldlum (with an Oscar-winning assist from make-up artists Chris Walas and Stephan Dupuis), is playfully known as the "vomit drop," and it's one of the great gross-out moments of 1980s horror. But while there are plenty of gorily realistic mutant moments, where the film really succeeds is in making us care about the tragic fate of our main fly-man. The 1958 original, starring Vincent Price, is well worth checking out, too.
The Anglicized version of the name gets the "god" bit right because this mutant dinosaur -- born of atomic radiation -- has divine powers of destruction and protection, depending which of his more than two dozen films you're watching. The Japanese name was reputedly a combination of the words for "whale" and "gorilla" but Gojira most readily calls to mind a supersized T-Rex, albeit one with back scales, atomic fire-breath and martial arts skills. His tale was re-told with so-so results in the 1998 Roland Emmerich remake and another reboot is planned, this time with Monsters' Gareth Edwards directing.
If Basket Case's Belial had a far-flung space cousin, it'd be this little dude, who's the leader of the Martian rebels. Still attached to his human host, Kuato has all the wisdom and righteousness of Yoda, even if looks like a baby who's been on an eight-day bender. "Open your mind to me" he tells Arnold Schwarzenegger, telepathically hooking into the big man's brain but failing to find evidence of any love children. Kuato's an impressive feat of animatronics who required 15 people to make him work. So, why don't you remember Kuato better? Because your total recall is focused on that film's other mutant, the three-breasted hooker named Mary.
The effects of radiation saw those tiny nuisances at picnics mutate into huge people munchers in Them!, which marked the first giant-atomic-monster movie. Possibly giving Steven Spielberg an idea or two for what to do when Bruce broke down filming Jaws, director Gordon Douglas didn't show his gi-ants until about a third of the way into the film, unsettling audiences instead with superbly creepy stridulating sound effects. James Cameron was perhaps also paying attention, with Them!'s hero James Whitmore drawn into this adventure after he discovers a little girl made mute by the terror of seeing the mut-ants snack on mom and dad.