From the time she was thirteen, the world has had a lot of opinions about Kitty Pryde. Some define her as just a mutant with many of the prejudices that come with that identity, while others see her as a champion for justice as a member of the X-Men. For me, Kitty Pryde has always been one of my favorite comic book characters and one of my personal heroes. Kitty has always represented a strong, intelligent superheroine, as well as someone who happens to share an identity of mine.

Kitty Pryde is without a doubt one of the most visibly Jewish characters in Marvel comics. Kitty’s Jewishness has been shown through wearing a Magnum David or lighting a Yahrzeit candle for a fallen teammate, presenting her Jewish identity in a positive, respectful, and visible manner. Yet, as of right now, the only canon Jewish character in the X-MEN films is Magneto. The erasure of Kitty Pryde’s identity in the films is not only a lost opportunity for Jewish representation, but also for a powerful dynamic between Magneto and the X-Men, as shown by his relationship with Kitty in the comics.

Kitty Pryde

READ: Here are a few of the reasons why we love Kitty Pryde!

Magneto as a Holocaust Survivor in the X-MEN films

X-MEN FIRST CLASS (2011) opens with a quiet, but powerful scene in which a young Magneto is separated from his family in a concentration camp in World War II, presenting Magneto as a Holocaust survivor. X-MEN APOCALYPSE (2016) ventures back to this backstory by presenting the remains of Auschwitz, the concentration camp that killed millions of Jews, inflicting a severe wound that both physically and mentally shaped the Jewish psyche forever. Magneto is an incredibly complex and valuable character in the X-Men universe. He is a powerful example of how hostility presented from the outside world, both as a mutant and a Jew, can reflect inward and inflict bitterness and righteous fury. However, reflect on this: the only character who has ever been defined as Jewish in a world of superhero films has been presented as a vengeful, murderous anti-hero.

Kitty Pryde

Kitty Pryde and Magneto are Two of a Kind

In the comics, Kitty and Magneto share a volatile relationship. They are often on separate sides of the battlefield, yet possess a common intersectional identity as both mutant and Jew. In UNCANNY X-MEN #199, both Magneto and Kitty Pryde put their differences aside to attend the Washington National Holocaust Memorial, Magneto as a Holocaust survivor and Kitty as the descendant of survivors. In this subtle, but powerful comic, the two reflect on the effect of mass-hate against an entire people, their people. Both Kitty and Magneto are reminded of the need for peace and the true meaning of heroism: holding on to one’s humanity even when the world is trying to treat you as a monster, as something less than human.

In UNCANNY X-MEN #150, when Magneto hits Kitty with a powerful electric shock, we see a rare, gentle picture of remorse from this normally vengeful character. He cradles Kitty in his arms, saying, “I swore that I would not rest ‘til I had created a world where my mind… could live free and safe and unafraid, where such as you little one. Instead, I have slain you.” In this issue, Magneto, in his quest for violence, is distressed by the idea of killing someone like himself, someone also persecuted for their faith and mutant-ness. Within the comics, Kitty Pryde reminds Magneto of his basic humanity and provides a valuable foil to his character, representing a character working for peace between humans and mutants, rather than violent separatism.

Kitty Pryde

LISTEN: Want to learn more about Chris Claremont? We interviewed the famous MARVEL writer here!

Kitty’s Jewish Pride

Whether as a mutant or as a person of Jewish descent, Kitty Pryde never lets any injustice or ignorance be tolerated for a second. In UNCANNY AVENGERS #5, X-Men member Havok delivers his infamous M-Word speech in which he regards the word mutant as a “divisive” term that separates him and other individuals like him from the rest of society. Rather than be known as a mutant, he says he would rather be known as a person named Alex.

Kitty reacts to this speech in ALL NEW X-MEN #13, calling out the fallacy in Havok’s identity politics. In this issue, Kitty recalls a moment in her life when she had an intense crush, and then describes the heartbreak when said crush made an anti-Semitic remark. Rather than staying silent, Kitty chose to confront the creep, revealing that she is Jewish herself. She recalls the pride she felt in standing up for her identity, announcing point-blank, “I am Jewish, I am a Mutant. And I want people to known who and what I am.”

The same goes for me. Like Kitty, you wouldn’t be aware of my Jewish identity (“whatever that looks or sounds like”) unless I told you. Yet Kitty tells people about her full identity, choosing to want to be aware of people’s prejudices so that she can confront and fight it. She says, “I tell people because, hey, if we’re going to have a problem with it… I’d like to know.” While it might be painful to hear and experience prejudice because someone chooses to hate you based on any aspect of your identity, I’d personally rather know. Like Kitty, I would like the potential opportunity to confront that person first hand and let them know exactly who they’re talking about.

Kitty Pryde

The Mutant Metaphor

The X-Men comics have always been about diversity, a metaphor for anyone who has been defined as different or an outsider. Within herself, Kitty Pryde associates this metaphor as a source of pride and strength. Kitty refuses to let anyone insult her or make her feel ashamed, whether for her Mutant identity or her Jewish one.

Kitty Pryde’s identity is a strong part of who she is, shaping her viewpoint of the world and her subsequent need to defend humanity and justice. Just as Ms. Marvel wouldn’t be who she is without her Muslim faith and upbringing, nor Daredevil without his Roman-Catholic background, Kitty Pryde’s Judaism or Jewishness (since not all Jews practice religion) is an essential part of her character and deserves to be respected and treated as such.

READ: Recently MARVEL said that diversity contributed to fewer sales. Here are the reasons why they’re wrong.

Erasing Kitty Pryde’s Jewish identity is not only a transgression against her character but an offense to fans like myself who look to her as a hero and role model, identifying in her struggles and strength. So the next opportunity she gets, let Kitty Pryde be Jewish. Let her show us that she can be seen for all that she is, and so can we.

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