Aside from Ian McKellen’s Magneto, 2000's X-Men most important villain was Senator Robert Kelly, a character whose sole political goal was to pass anti-mutant legislation. Through the lens of the (superpower compromised) civil rights allegory that informs X-Men stories, Kelly was a recognizable version of the worst kind of politician—a bigot who plays into cultural tensions to sow division and hatred. Unsurprisingly, his character was a big hit with real-world Republicans, who seemed to think that a prejudiced comic book villain was actually onto something.
Inverse spoke to Bruce Davison, the actor who played Senator Kelly, about his experiences being “sent to lobby Republican politicians on behalf of the entertainment industry” after the first X-Men’s success. As it turns out, these politicians were big fans of a character written to be a huge piece of shit.
“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,” Davison recalls. He mentions Sam Brownback, former governor and senator of Kansas, who told Davison he “can really identity with [Senator Kelly”] and that his aides “loved” the character.
The article also touches on the more modern Senator Kelly comparison (that people have definitely noticed), saying that while he’d “rather not be compared to him,” Davison thinks “Pence is that guy.”
Read the entire article at Inverse.
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