Motivation and Character: X-Men’s Trask

I finally saw X-Men: Days of Future Past yesterday and thought it was awesome. I expected it to be the final instalment in a series that lasted twelve years and seven films with a few that never came to pass (the Origins spin-off series faltered with Wolverine yet what we got in its place – First Class – handled a number of origins story lines really well). I was pleased however, to see that there is an after credits clip featuring a character known as Apocalypse. My X-Men loving friends have told me that this represents all sorts of mind-blowing coolness and I am looking forward to seeing where the future of this film series now lies.

Peter Dinklage as Bolivar Trask.

Aside from the awesomeness of seeing Jennifer Lawrence, Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender, Ian McKellen, James McAvoy and Patrick Stewart (and punching the air in delight at seeing both Magnetos and both Professor Xs working together) all on one screen there was one character that really stood out for me. Peter Dinklage as Bolivar Trask. Now I know he has already been elevated to “Living Legend” for his part in Game of Thrones (I haven’t seen the series but still reading book 1) but for me, he was the surprise of this film.

Trask is a businessman, weapon designer and is a dwarf (hold that thought, it is about to become important to my hypothesis about the character’s motivations). He could so easily have become a pantomime villain, going around doing nasty things for the sake of it and seeming rather like a Mini Me or worse, a buffoon like Sam Rockwell’s Justin Hammer from Iron Man 2. Yet he proved himself to be an overtly dangerous and covertly sinister character, driven perhaps by any number of motives to wipe out the mutants.

I understand that the Bolivar Trask in the comics is not a dwarf which for me gives a bit more weight to his motives for the genocide he wants to exact. Anyway, without further waffle this is what I think of the character.

Dwarfism is a mutation and to all intents and purposes it is a negative mutation… it has stunted his growth and nothing more. He cannot fly, teleport, read peoples’ minds, shape-shift, manipulate metal etc. Through his life growing up in the 1940s / 1950s and onward (a less politically correct time) he was probably bullied and marginalised. At best he would have been treated like a child by even the most well-meaning of people. Furthermore, with a visible and obvious disability he had to fight hard to get where he is within the business world in a time before anti-discrimination laws, before employment equality laws, disability employment initiatives etc. He had to be exceptional as a businessman and as a weapons engineer – he appears to be both.

Trask is angry at the world because he has a mutation but not one that would elevate him over the people that would once have picked on him. Secondly, he sees X-mutants as people who might one day become the dominant species when he has fought so hard to be accepted by ordinary people who took so long to accept him because of his mutation. If mutants became the norm in his lifetime, where would that leave him? This is the question I feel would have been going through his mind. His weapons are designed in order to maintain the status quo as he sees it with him as one of the most powerful people in the world, knowing what he has had to do to get there. He is angry and he is bitter and driven by a mentality to protect what he has and probably with a dose of “it’s not fair!” too.

Some have asked whether there is a bitter irony in the fact that a mutant (a dwarf) wants to wipe out other mutants. If my theory is correct, the fact that he is a dwarf is not ironic… it is actually a very clever plot device.

So, what do you think?!


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