Monday, June 8, 2015

Assemble & Unite: Always There, Old Friend

     Finding friends can be difficult and finding good friends is even more of a challenge. Friendship is one of the most important relationships in human living. From childhood we are encouraged to be friendly and befriend others, and we carry this with us our whole lives. The term friend can have a whole manner of meanings behind it. Like love, friend is more abstract in feeling than it is concrete in physicality. Friends (real friends) hold you to a level of accountability; they are honest and sacrificial. Friendship can give you comfort in your times of grief and provide you with a sense of never-ending trust and respect.

     Some friends last a season while others last a lifetime, but there are also friendships that may break and the breaking of a friendship can damage a person in more ways than they realize. Broken friendships are created from betrayal, jealousy, hate, anger, lies and deceit. What is broken can be fixed, can’t it? There is an old saying that true friendship is like fine china, once broken, but made stronger with mending. That doesn’t always mean that mending is going to be painless.

     The broken friendships of Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes, and Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr are classic examples of broken friendships. Forged from betrayal and deceit, their broken friendships can tear harder at the heart and the soul than a tragic love story. The person who once trusted with your life is now the person you can never trust at all.

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Capt. Steve Rogers & Bucky Barnes

     In the case of Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes, there was no choice at all. Steve and Bucky were friends since childhood and grew up together. War separated them and then brought them back together making their friendship stronger than ever. Then after Bucky was killed in an accident, Steve almost went into a downward depression than only Peggy could get him out of.

     Fast forward 70 years later. Steve Rogers in now living in modern times and learning to relive his life in a very different world. When suddenly he comes face to face with his former best friend, who is now the deadly assassin only known as The Winter Soldier. One could safely assume, that Steve is confused, but even more so terrified. Now, Steve must make a choice, save his friend or stop him.

     On Bucky's side, he's been kidnapped, mutilated (they actually sawed off his entire left arm), abused and brainwashed. He has no idea who he is or what he is. All he knows is his duty and mission and that he must carry it out. When he comes across Steve on the bridge, certain memories are triggered ad he begins to ask questions. "Who was the man man the bridge?" or better yet, who am I and how the hell did I get here?

     Although Bucky and Steve's friendship was broken through HYDRA and their diabolical plans, it was never broken by themselves. Both have been made to be enemies, but their friendship runs so strong and so deep, that not even HYDRA has been able to crush the soulful friendship that has remained intact for over half a century. When Steve refuses to kill Bucky and would rather die than give up on his friend, something in Bucky changes. His humanity is revealed and for the first time, someone sees him as a human and not a machine. Someone is here to help him and not hurt him.

     After Bucky saves Steve's life, he has a choice, either report back to HYDRA or run. Either way he becomes a fugitive with no where to go to, but he takes a risk and hides, while going on his own mission of finding out who he is, all because one man said that he was his friend and refused to let HYDRA or S.H.I.E.L.D. break the friendship they had forged so long ago as children.

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Charles Xavier & Erik Lensherr

     They say that opposites attract and for Charles and Erik, this is an absolute truth. Both men meet in 1962 to create a CIA faction made up of mutants in case of world attack. While they had severely different childhoods, what brings them together is their desire for mutant freedom, but in very different ways. Charles wants equality between humans and mutants, while Erik wants supremacy over humans. In spite of their contrasting views, both are committed to gathering and training young mutants to control their abilities and live ordinary lives.

     What Erik and Charles meet, Erik is a man who has been broken since childhood. Stripped of his dignity and hope, all Erik has is his anger that fuels him everyday to accomplish his personal vendettas. While Charles is aware of all that is happening with him, he can also see a small amount of goodness in Erik and that belief in Erik's goodness is what unites them and makes them friends. Charles sees what Erik cannot. Charles is able to bring to light all the dark paths that Erik has taken and tell him that he can be a better person.

     While Erik appreciates all that Charles can see, he has known his own revenge since he was 13 and believes that to be his true ally. Choosing his own path of destruction breaks the allied friendship between him and Charles. Time and again Erik stabs Charles in the back for his naive beliefs in his soul and his humanity. Charles is not someone to give up easily and in spite of their different sides that they are, if they themselves can unite a mutants, maybe they an also unite a world. First, Erik must learn to care about the rest of the world. 

     As old men, Charles and Erik are still going at it with one another. Erik planning on suppressing humans and Charles spending every moment he has protecting them. So why does Charles not give up on Erik? That question can have more than one answer. First and foremost, they are still mutants and in the prejudiced and hateful society, mutants need to unite if they are ever going to survive. Charles lives his life trying to dwell on the good in others and tries to understand the human heart and nature in everyone. 

     Although, they are on opposing sides, Charles and Erik never really ended their friendship. It was still there holding on to a couple of threads. Although broken due to their different beliefs and allegiances, both still remembered a time when they thought they could change the world together and use their abilities to create a better life for their own kind. 

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