The X-Men serve and protect a world that hates and fears them. In defending itself against the so-called ‘mutant menace’, humanity has created the ultimate nightmare – the robotic monsters known as the Sentinels! Now, at long last, the Sentinels are coming to the big screen. In honour of this, here’s today’s special – a focus on the Sentinels!
What are the Sentinels?
At the heart of the X-Men’s mythos is the concept that the heroes are the ‘outsiders’, forever feared and persecuted by the world around them. In one sense, this prejudice is understandable; imagine if your boss could read your mind, or if a country had a spy who could walk through walls! Through an accident of genetics, many mutants have the potential to become walking weapons. Entire worlds have been shaken at a mutant’s whim.
Charles Xavier dreams of peace. Others, however, see that idea as naïve. On the mutant side, some mutants imagine themselves to be the future of Humanity (‘Homo Superior’), and believe that humanity should get out of their way. On the human side, some humans see themselves as at risk of evolutionary replacement, and frankly fear the tremendous power mutants wield. You have to understand that there are three strands to this reaction. From a logical viewpoint, in the X-Men universe evolution has accelerated, and the old Human race will potentially one day be extinct. No human would feel entirely comfortable with this thought. Then there is fear; fear of something that cannot truly be understood, of the boy next door suddenly being able to blow your house down when he’s throwing a teenager’s temper tantrum. Finally, there’s hatred; by defining these people as ‘mutants’, they become the ‘other’, the ‘different’ that is perceived as somehow wrong.
So humanity has to find a way to defend itself. Sure, some humans can become cyborgs or mutates or living weapons or whatever, but few are willing to go to such lengths. Instead, in the early twentieth century, a band of humans began playing with the idea of humanity’s guardian – a mechanical Sentinel to stand watch against what they then called the Overman. It was decades before their dream was realised, but they were visionaries; Bolivar Trask birthed the Sentinel proper, a towering robot designed to hunt down and neutralise mutants.
Sentinels became increasingly flexible, adapting quickly to the mutant threats facing them.
As time has passed, we’ve seen many reinventions of the Sentinels; but always the emotional resonance stands firm, and the Sentinels are always the weapon of choice against the mutant race.