"We should come up with secret codenames, we're secret agents now! I'll start, I'm gonna be Mystique." -Raven Darkholme, X-Men:First Class.
Growing up, the mutant shapeshifter, Raven Darkholme, whose natural form is blue-skinned and scaled, feels alone and isolated. But when she is united with her fellow mutants at the Charles Xavier Academy, she is finally able to understand how to feel “mutant and proud”. It is only then she is able to free herself and become the iconic figure of Mystique from the X-Men series.
Set against the backdrop of the Cuban Missile Crisis, X-Men:First Class focuses on origins of the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Mutants. As a child raven feels abandoned by a society where the idea of mutations within the human race is feared. This forces her to have to fend for herself. However, she is soon ‘overjoyed’ to find someone else ‘different’ when she meets a telepathic boy called Charles Xavier, whilst scrounging for food in his kitchen. She is then invited to live with the boy’s family in New York, as his foster sister. Being the only male figure in her life, by the time Raven reaches adolescence she starts to experience con-deluded feelings for Charles. Though loving him as a brother, Raven appears to be over protective of him around other females, making her prone to jealousy.
What makes Raven/Mystique a great feminist icon and role model is that girls can relate to her insecurities, especially with her body issues. This is because, just like any teenager who has a secret to hide, she becomes very unsure of her identity and is almost ashamed to feel comfortable in her own skin. For instance, this is seen in her scene with Erik (later ‘Magneto’) when she is too embarrassed to show her real form to him. After she finally does reveal herself, albeit reluctantly, Erik declares her to be a “magnificent creature”, who has hidden away from a world that has tried to ‘tame’ her. Only after this, does she learn to appreciate the “real Raven”, slowly starting to realise that her differences are actually a blessing. This empowers her to at last feel “mutant and proud”.