According to X-Men trilogy actor Bruce Davidson claims that Republicans of the 2000s loved his villainous politician Senator Robert Kelly. As Davidson tells it, his role in the X-Men proved to be advantageous during the Bush era in Washington, as a fondness for Senator Kelly's character amongst Republicans opened doors to helping Davidson lobby for funding for the arts. As the actor revealed to Inverse: “I was spending a lot of time in Washington with the Creative Coalition campaigning for the arts, and they would only send me into the Republican offices because the Republicans would all go nuts over Senator Kelly."
In particular, Davidson remembers that controversial Kansas senator Sam Brownback was particularly fond of Senator Kelly's character:
“It was great, talking to Brownback and his people about, ‘Oh, yeah, Senator Kelly. I can identify with this guy.’.. [Brownback] was a "brick wall when it came to funding the arts,” Davidson continued, adding that the senator's support staff "loved Senator Kelly.” As stated, his Senator Kelly role helped Davidson actually subvert some the more traditionally conservative politicians into funding arts programs they might have otherwise overlooked. If one must play a hateful character that helps inspire negativity, this is a pretty good way to balance out those scales.
It's curious to hear that Bush republicans took so Senator Kelly's character so warmly - did they even watch X-Men? In the film, Senator Kelly's anti-mutant views eventually make him the target of Magneto's Brotherhood of Mutants. The Brotherhood abducts Senator Kelly and uses him for experiments using Magneto's radiation machine, which turns normal humans into mutants. What happens next is something no one expected: Senator Kelly's mutation turns him into unstable blob; he escapes into the ocean and makes his way onshore and into the X-Men's care. In his final moments, Senator Kelly turns into a pool of water and disappears forever. Kelly would continue on into X2, as the senator's death was covered up when Mystique took his place.
That's kind of a strange character arc for any real-world politician to root for. In the context of the X-Men's thematic subtext, it's like rooting for an radical faction of an oppressed group to rise up and kidnap and torture the politician standing in their way. Yeah, that sounds a little too close to where we are in 2020, for comfort...
Speaking of the current year and its tumultuous events, it will be curious to see how Marvel Studio's rebooted X-Men franchise takes shape, now.
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