Rogue Against The Machine: Superheroes Don’t Kill but Freedom Fighters Do

Killing in the Name of X-Men '97
Rogue Holding Captain America's Shield in X-Men '97

X-Men ’97’s episode “Remember It” gave audiences the first ever depiction of the Genoshan genocide, the most recognized tragedy within the X-Men’s lore. Until now, we’ve only ever seen this genocide depicted and mentioned within the Marvel comics. Rogue being one of the survivors gives us an up-close point of view of the before and after of Genosha. Here, we get to see the reality of being a mutant in the Marvel Universe firsthand. Genosha’s genocide marks the biggest killing of mutants in the history of Marvel Universe. Though this is the biggest attack on mutants, it’s not the only one. 

Mutants have been getting massacred and dealing with numerous war crimes being committed against them throughout the years. Especially in the comic books, mutants don’t ever get peace or a reprieve. Every time mutants try to create a space for themselves away from humans (Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, The Morlock Tunnels, Asteroid M, Genosha, Utopia, Jean Grey’s School for Gifted Youngsters, Krakoa, Arakko) regardless of where they are or how peaceful they are, eventually the status quo always gets set back to “another month, another mutant massacre.”

Charles Xavier’s dream of mutants and humans coexisting peacefully feels hard to believe in when this is the result of mutants existing in their own space (or just existing in general), which brings me back to this iteration of Rogue in X-Men ’97. While the X-Men are grieving the death of their golden-hearted draft pick Gambit, Rogue is healing in her own way… by getting the people responsible for this shit: the creator of the sentinels, Boliver Trask, and the man that funded the sentinel program, Henry Gyrich. Instead of attending the funeral for the man that she loved, Rogue is on a main story mission to get her lick back – not a side quest in sight. Ya Southern Belle is locked-in as she busts into a government bunker with her Marvel vs. Capcom 2 move set to find the man that she needs to put on a t-shirt.

Bulls Rogue On Parade

Image via Disney+

First and foremost, I wanna make it clear that Rogue’s actions during this entire episode were entirely justified. The only thing she did wrong was not hit someone with her newly invented upside-down piledriver. A beautiful thing about X-Men ’97 is how it can call back to different points in time within the X-men comic books. Even though we’re talking about Genosha in the show, there are certain moments that felt like they were homages to the recent Krakoa era of X-Men comics. Krakoa was the second attempt of an island paradise for mutants, but this time they’d give the world miracle drugs that cured diseases and extended human life. All the mutants asked for in return was the recognition of Krakoa as their own sovereign nation. Long story short, humans showed their entire ass and proceeded to mess with them mutants once again by creating a whole S.H.I.E.L.D.-like organization called Orchis to slander and hinder mutants in any way possible.

When Orchis started legally detaining, exiling, and even killing mutants, this is one of the first times we get to see the X-Men matching their enemy’s energy. If your oppressor knows all they need to do is use violence against you because you’re going to turn the other cheek, then they’re going to use that method to their advantage. The X-Men even saved a member of Orchis (which was dumb as hell to me) following that belief that they must be better than their enemies. I never understood this belief when it pertains to people trying to kill you because they believe you to be “less than” – all you’re doing is giving your oppressors and enemies another chance to kill you. In the comics, Kitty Pryde shows us who the X-Men are when they stop turning the other cheek. Rogue does the exact same thing and when told, “I thought you were one of the good guys” she paraphrases the exact same line Kitty says to her ops. 

Kitty Pryde snaps an Orchis members neck
Image via Marvel Comics

Honestly, I didn’t expect X-Men ’97 to have this type of energy. They could have gone for an easy cash grab but they said, “nah, we breaking new ground with social commentary, homages and character development.” I wasn’t expecting to see Rogue out here getting it in the mud for the entirety of this episode, however, I am so glad that this is the approach that was taken. Not only is she given her own agency but we see how Rogue’s reaction to the mass killing of her people is put under a microscope by others. We hear about mutants protesting in the streets and riots ensuing. It then gets commented on that sure, they got a right to be angry but “that’s not the way to go about it”. We’ve been seeing mutants and X-Men having to be policed on their reactions to events. How you tone police someone in regards to 33-to-1,000 foot tall robots trying to kill them is wild work to me.

That Five-Sided Fistagon
Image via Disney+

I find it ironic that when an oppressed group gets attacked, their reaction is the one that gets scrutinized – not the actions of the oppressor. The first thing Captain America tells Rogue is that, “the attack on Genosha wasn’t just an attack on mutants. It shames us all but rampaging across the country dishonors those that died.” That ain’t how you ally, fam. This genocide should shame humans because it was done in their name and it was strictly against one specific group: mutants. Telling this woman, who lost her people and the men that she loved, that her actions disgrace those that died is a wild statement. The problem here is that Captain America is talking to Rogue like she is a fellow superhero. She isn’t. In my eyes? The X-Men are freedom fighters. Not superheroes. 

Superheroes go on adventures, go on patrol and stop petty crimes. The X-Men go on missions to stop war crimes. They keep humans from attacking mutants and mutants from attacking humans. They are liaisons and ambassadors to human and mutant relations at best. At the heart of it all, the X-Men are freedom fighters/revolutionaries fighting for equal rights of their people. Captain America is a superhero, who believes in the American court system. Let’s not forget, the X-Men handed Boliver Trask over to the authorities for their court system. Now, all of a sudden, no one knows where he is after this genocide goes off and he’s being moved around. Nah, they tried things the “right” way – now it’s time for a much more direct approach. 

For years in comics, Captain America and the Avengers haven’t been seen or heard when it comes to these numerous mutant tragedies. They’ve come to the X-men’s front door sometimes to ask them to get involved in their own issues (Civil War) or to tell the X-Men to hand over one of their own to their custody (Avengers vs X-Men). This has been something finally addressed in more recent comic books where we see Avengers aiding the X-Men and Tony Stark being set up as a huge ally to mutants. That’s all well and good (if not performative), but also Captain America and The Avengers having a blindspot to mutant tragedies over the years is an example of how not every hero is perfect, gets everything right, or can be everything to everyone.

Rogue Holding Captain America's Shield in X-Men '97
Image via Disney+

Steve Rogers is supposed to reflect not the American government but the American dream. When America is doing some messed up shit, Steve is ready to be anti-establishment and for the cause. However, we see when it comes down to heading over to Mexico to get Henry Gyrich, politics trump Steve’s allyship. The government been playing in the face of the X-Men for the entire season. The authorities that should be holding Gyrich and Trask responsible aren’t, the President ain’t doing shit for mutants cause it’ll affect his poll numbers, and now Captain America talking about red tape, optics, and politics. Rogue chucking Steve’s shield five states over was the only logical response to the situation. Rogue didn’t launch that b**** outta spite and pettiness (only). She yeeted that ultimate frisbee to show her frustration for a government that should be doing something instead of nothing. Sound familiar?

*Zach Morris pause* Just in case that last part didn’t sound familiar, lemme break the 4th wall to inform you that we are seeing an entire genocide happening over in Palestine. It didn’t just start on October 7th, 2023 – it’s been in effect for nearly 80 years. It’s ironic that Steve Rogers was talking about needing government approval before he could help Rogue out by getting the extradited Henry Gyrich (who funded the sentinel program) from another country because in the real world, America is Henry Gyrich. America been funding the genocide that Israel has been committing. It’s real hard to believe in the system of justice when a reason for the banning of TikTok is because Palestinians have been showing the world the violence being used against them in Gaza, which is directly countering the Israeli propaganda of what’s been happening. My mutie, Senator Pete Ricketts (who is pro ban) said “Pro-Palestine content has more reach than the top US news websites combined.” Translation: “hey, Tiktok helping to push out facts faster than our propaganda can. They gotta go, y’all.” This is the situation we dealing with. The X-Men are an allegory for groups of people facing discrimination. It’s art imitating life. The people of Palestine been showing us the reality of the horror in their day-to-day lives so that what’s being done to them isn’t sugar-coated or swept under the rug. *Unpause*

Here Is Something You Can’t Understand, How I Could Just Kill A Man
Image via Disney+

Rogue dropping the beat Boliver Trask in front of her team is the most human and logical thing she could have done. There’s no moral high ground taller than the death toll of Genosha. Look at the numbers: the mutant population before the attack was 17,508,236 (25% of earth’s population). The attack killed 16,521,618 mutants (dropping mutants to 14% of Earth’s population). There is no handing Trask back to the authorities because the President already said the optics of this shit too crazy. Trask may even get off for his crimes cause a jury of peers ain’t mutant-friendly. Trask was all too willing to “get his life back” with the help of Mr. Sinister but when he saw that death toll on Genosha, now he wanna grow a conscience? Trask the type of dude to order mad shit at a restaurant then when the bill comes and he sees the prices, all the sudden he get amnesia over what he ate.

All Rogue did was remind this man of the consequences of his actions. Trask doesn’t get to have a change of heart when we all up in the thick of it. He was fine killing mutants when it was in the hundreds but once he went platinum and killing millions, now he wanna find God? Cool, Rogue reschedule that meet-and-greet with his maker then. Looking back, we can see that Xavier’s dream of existence was really steeped in respectability politics. The X-Men went out on dangerous missions to have humanity’s back and to show that mutants can be trusted. They risked their lives to get mutants a seat at the table just to exist. This is how humanity thanked them. You might be saying this is more Sinister’s fault than Trask and that Sinister is a mutant. Nope, Mr. Sinister is a human that experimented on mutants for years then used their genome to make himself one.

Throughout the original X-Men animated series, mutants got discriminated against, rounded up, put into slave labor, and told to leave –  so they did and they made something of their own. They couldn’t do that in peace, and when Rogue sought justice revenge a reckoning, she got told that it’s not the right way to go about it. The West/politicians love to talk about proper procedure and paperwork in order to keep things within the system and to keep the wheel turning. We watched Rogue break the spokes on that wheel. Sure, there’s bound to be consequences for her actions. She busted a military base up, but she ain’t hurt anyone. Rogue’s going to get in trouble for damaging property and not working with the system that has continually failed her and mutants.

Wolverine said it besWolverine said it best, Rogue did what they all wanted to do. Maybe it was the shock of the moment but not one X-Man that coulda helped Trask did. Jean caught a whole building and launched that shit like an NFL quarterback over half the city into a nearby ocean. Jean ain’t do nothing when Trask fell. Nightcrawler can teleport (though velocity is an issue when someone is falling). Nightcrawler was church mouse quiet. Morph has turned into mutants that can fly and we saw him not even 5 minutes later change into a speedster. Morph ain’t change nothing about that scenario but he wanna ask, “Is this who we are now?” My mutie, this is who the X-Men have always been, it’s just that this time, your enemies made it impossible for you to turn the other cheek.

In the end, Rogue was right. Remember it.

Rogue watches Bolver Trask fall to his death
Image via Disney+

For more of Rogue’s mental state as an empath check out:
Rogue: Play With Her In the Danger Room But Don’t Play With Her Emotions

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  • Omar Holmon is a content editor that is here to make .gifs, obscure references, and find the correlation between everything Black and Nerdy.

  • Show Comments

  • Madelaine Wilson

    Yaaassssss to the Nth power! Rogue is, and always has been my girl, and this is absolutely the only way to respond to not only what she witnessed, but what happened to her directly.

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