I was never a good collector. Action figures, pogs, Magic cards… I didn’t possess the drive to find them all, to make complete sets. It was too much work, and I just wanted to have fun. But the things that I did own, I took great care of.
I had a dozen or so X-Men comic books, each one read gently and then stored in plastic sheet protectors. That white binder held a special spot on my shelf for years. I used to flip through it reverently, running my fingers over the colorful illustrations of my favorite characters.
Rogue, the sassy Southern belle whose touch could kill. Gambit, the sweet-talking Cajun with a dark past. Their flirtation, their love. Their misunderstandings and secrets. The invisible, insurmountable wall between them.
The X-Men were so damn cool. They had superpowers, adventure, and yes, sexual tension. Most of the mature themes were beyond me, but the hint that I understood was enough. I was hooked for life.
Even more than the comics, I loved getting up early on a Saturday morning, sitting on the couch with my T-shirt pulled over my knees, and waiting for the glow of the television to light up the room. Every week before Chinese school, Professor X and his students battled evil — both human and mutant. Then my friends and I would continue the story after our classes let out. JM was usually Cyclops or Wolverine, and we always made his little brother Eric play the bad guys. The three of us raced around their room, jumped on the bed (or each other), and generally let our imaginations run the show.
It was fanfiction before the age of the internet.
As with most childhood passions, my love for the X-Men has cooled. But I still “geek out” a bit whenever they show up in my life. It’s hard to silence the echoes of your younger self, you know?
The latest film was fun. Not perfect, but what is? I loved the “bromance” between Charles and Erik. I loved the humor, especially in the recruiting and training scenes. I loved the cameos, and I loved Michael Fassbender.
Most of all, I loved all the memories it brought back. Of that precious binder, and those Saturday mornings, and that big dark theater in Madrid where I watched the third X-Men movie dubbed in Spanish.
Sometimes it’s not about the quality of the script, the performances, or the visual effects. Sometimes it’s just about how you feel when you walk out of the theater.
And me? I felt like a kid again.