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Analyzing the Marvel Cinematic Universe Villains: Colonel William Stryker (X2: X-Men United)

Col. William Stryker

X2: X-Men United (2002)

This villain represents an amalgamation of several characters from the X-Men comics/cartoon, but they’re all basically the same guy–a bigot. And the scary thing is he exists in real life. This isn’t Mephisto or Stegron. This is your next-door neighbor. This is a congressman working right now and he’s in charge of a hell of a lot of tanks and missiles.

Characteristics and Powers: None. He’s just a human. But that gives him an advantage–being human (and a decorated military scientist) he can borrow the ears of politicians and influencers, especially with his background in mutant research. And from that research he’s developed a “magic potion” to keep them docile and under his control. Plus a female Wolverine as a bodyguard and loyal troops for everything else.

Relationship to the Hero(es): Not much, at least not directly. I mean, he did invent Wolverine and had a previous dealings with Xavier, but neither of those are terribly relevant to the plot at hand. It’s more of a relationship to the race of mutants itself. Hitler didn’t know any Jews personally, he just wanted to kill them. But that relationship gets more intimate when you learn that his son is a mutant himself. One that he wanted “cured” but Xavier wanted “empowered”. Failing that, he lobotomizes his son and uses his psychic abilities to A) extract the “magic potion” from his brain B) manipulate Xavier. Doesn’t get much more evil than that.

Goals/Motivation: First, Stryker uses his controlled mutants to attack those in power (specifically Nightcrawler to assassinate the president). This scares the government into giving Stryker a blank check to remove the mutant threat. That’s just good business–create the problem to sell the solution.

To that end, Stryker builds a second Cerebro, using information extracted from Magneto under duress. This “Dark Cerebro” is configured to kill all mutants everywhere. Using his mind control potion and his psychic mutant son, he fools Xavier into targeting all mutants worldwide, then sending enough psychic power to kill him all.

Relatability: Very, because look at our country. We’re dealing with all kinds of mini-Strykers right now, using fearmongering and terrorism to gain power. People who want to put children in cages. If you are not this guy (and I hope you’re not), then you probably unfortunately know someone like him. Someone who spews hate against Mexicans and Blacks and women and the disabled–anyone different than them. Anyone “less”. They even give him a southern accent like many anti-civil rights governors (I’m looking at you, George Wallace). This is the type of guy who would have been there on January 6th. And the fact that this could be a real person is what makes “X-Men” awesome.

Fun Factor: Not much here. He’s a tough old man who’s willing to sacrifice his own son in the name of genocide (not unlike Thanos). That’s pretty grim. Not someone whose shoes I’d want to be in. But that’s fine — this movie is really about mutants putting aside the differences between themselves and their ideologies to unite against a common foe. There’s a lot more time spent on the good guys dealing with their shit than the bad guys.

Fatal Flaw: This doesn’t come out strongly–it’s really just a matter of the X-Men infiltrating Stryker’s base and overpowering him. But I can say that Stryker’s assumption that all mutants are animals, that they’re inhuman, is his undoing. In fact, his own mind control potion just reinforces his own beliefs. He never stops to consider that Wolverine is a person, he just pumps him full of adamantium. But the mutants putting aside their differences proves him wrong.

Method of Defeat: Wolverine catches up with Stryker, who is escaping because the dam that powers his facility is about to break. Stryker agrees to tell him about his past (and that he wasn’t a very nice person before) if Wolverine helps him. Wolverine ties him to a helicopter. If they die, he dies too.

Later Magneto finds him and gets his own vengeance by chaining him to a concrete block. Wolverine finds him again later and leaves him, no longer concerned about who he was, only who he is now. Presumably Stryker is obliterated when the dam finally breaks.

Final Rating: Four stars

And will someone feed this cat please?

Eric Juneau is a software engineer and novelist on his lunch breaks. In 2016, his first novel, Merm-8, was published by eTreasures. He lives in, was born in, and refuses to leave, Minnesota. You can find him talking about movies, video games, and Disney princesses at http://www.ericjuneaubooks.com where he details his journey to become a capital A Author.

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