It’s Groovy and Psychedelic, Man: Exploring The Drug Dependency of ’70s Charles Xavier
X-Men: Days of Future Past is largely responsible for rebooting and reviving the X-Men film franchise to an extent. While X-Men: First Class and The Wolverine were largely hits, they did not feature the original cast from the X-Men films and focused on an earlier time period and a single character, respectively. They did not allow the audience to continue onward with the characters they had built up a great deal of love for, despite the just OK X-Men: The Last Stand. However, X-Men: Days of Future Past brought back most of the original X-Men film cast as well as the newest one from First Class. When the audience heard John Ottman’s iconic original score begin as the movie started, they knew they were in for something special.
According to Rotten Tomatoes, the film still holds a 91 percent on the Tomatometer. The site states: “X-Men: Days of Future Past combines the best elements of the series to produce a satisfyingly fast-paced outing that ranks among the franchise’s finest installments.” Box Office Mojo states that the film’s final worldwide gross was $747,862,775 ($233,921,534 domestic and $513,941,241 foreign), which is a pretty good profit over its production budget of $200 million. With a multitude of interesting character arcs, one of the most interesting was that of Charles Xavier’s.
In the film, we meet both his older self, played by Patrick Stewart and his younger self, played by James McAvoy. His older self sends Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back in time to prevent the current timeline from happening. When Wolverine returns back to the ’70s, he finds that younger Xavier is a shadow of his former self. He is hooked on drugs, which Hank McCoy/Beast prescribed him, that prevent his powers from returning. He cannot deal with the difficulties his telepathy bring him, so he has decided to avoid them altogether.
Xavier’s drug dependency is not an unusual one actually. According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse, 4.4 percent of adults, aged 18 to 25, abuse prescription drugs for non-medical uses. More than 80 percent of adults, who are between the ages of 57 to 85, use at least one prescribed medication and another over 50 percent take more than five medications each day. Such numbers are scary and reflect upon Xavier’s struggles in the film. He probably would need help from dual diagnosis treatment centers had he not received help from Wolverine and his older self.
It’s almost an intervention of sorts that Xavier has with himself. Older Xavier is able to travel through time to an extent via Logan’s connection between past and future with the combined use of his and Kitty Pryde’s (Ellen Page) powers. The two have a conversation about pain. It is the pain of others, which he hears through his telepathy; and his own pain that he is trying to avoid dealing with. His use of drugs to numb that is something Dr. Tian Dayton says is relatively normal. “And as they increasingly depend more and more on a substance to change their mood, their relationship with the substance comes to have a life of its own,” Dayton, a clinical psychologist and author, stated. It’s likely why Xavier could benefit in the film from help at dual diagnosis treatment centers.
However, his older self is able to get Xavier back to where he needs to be at again. What’s fascinating is that his older self has already gone through that pain and become the legendary telepath he is in the normal present day. Younger Xavier, though, is still just starting out and learning how to deal with the difficulties that come not only with being a superhero but running a superhero team and school.
Once younger Xavier is able to recognize his self-worth once again, he decides to go on. Of course, that’s not how things work in the real world. Xavier would technically have to move off whatever Beast prescribed him. It would have been a much more complicated process at a rehab center. Yet, that’s not how film works in its portrayals of real-life difficulties within the world of film. Despite that, it still provides a mostly accurate depiction of someone struggling with a substance abuse problem that has its origins within the mind of the depressed victim. That’s a dual diagnosis problem and something many struggle with every day. Adding that layer of complexity to Xavier humanizes him even more, despite the legendary man he later becomes. It makes the audience see they can overcome any challenges or barriers that may come in the way of their goals in life.
About the author: Tommy Zimmer is a writer whose work has appeared online and in print. His work covers a variety of topics, including politics, economics, health and wellness, addiction and recovery, and the entertainment industry.