Despite my allegiance typically falling to Captain America in comics, this movie was probably the comic book movie I was most looking forward to this summer, after having the most doubts. Seeing how often Marvel had been knocking things out of the park while producing their own films, and remembering how shitty that Wolverine movie was, you can’t blame me for being a little hesitant. The first X-Men movie definitely was a game changer and really shot comic books into the mainstream, especially when it comes to financial value. All of these factors in mind, and knowing that this movie was supposed to actually be an origin movie focusing on Magneto, I watched the trailer with bated breath. Then when I watched the trailer, as much as I didn’t want to admit it, it was awesome. The more I watched it, the better it got. And then when more and more trailers and character trailers and TV spots kept coming out, I had to limit myself, thinking I would only be disappointed. Luckily, I was wrong. I’m going to try not to spoil too much, but if you’re one of those people who read this blog NOT looking for spoilers, go away and cry in a corner or something. Actually, I’m sure you can read this and be fine.
It’s almost like this chess match means MORE than just a chess match…almost…
This film starts off the same exact way as the first X-Men film starts, showing a young Jewish boy in a concentration camp being torn from his parents, and his emotions cause him to warp a metal fence. We then get to see this young boy having his mother threatened by a Nazi scientist, played by Kevin Bacon, and noticing how powerful his mutant abilities are after his mother has been killed. We then meet a young Charles Xavier catching a shape-shifting mutant named Raven Darkholme in his kitchen, and the two strike up a friendship. As these characters get older, we see that the young Jewish boy, named Erik Lehnsherr and now played by Michael Fassbender, is in pursuit of the man who killed his mother. meanwhile, Charles Xavier, played by James McAvoy, is attending Oxford, honing his telepathic abilities while also studying genetics. Charles is contacted by a C.I.A. agent after she witnesses people who appear to her as “mutants”, and knowing his expertise, gets involved in tracking these mutants down. While Charles helps intercept these powerful mutants, we also learn that Erik is after the same person, Sebastian Shaw, who was the person who executed his mother. Both Charles and Erik fail at apprehending Shaw, yet realizing how powerful a team they make, team up with the C.I.A. to track down other mutants, and then there’s a fun montage.
I tried to find a photo of everyone in uniform, but instead, all I could find was a picture of all the characters LOOKING at their box full of uniforms. Meh, you get the idea.
Through their searching, they find a mutant with insect wings, one who adapts to survive in any given situation, a mutant that can create super-sonic sound waves with his voice, another who can channel his energy into a focused energy beam, as well as meeting a mutant working for the C.I.A. named Henry McCoy, played by Nicholas Hoult, whose mutation involves the power, speed, and agility of some sort of animal. After these mutants are recruited, Charles and Xavier also learn of mutants working for Shaw, with abilities as strong as teleportation and another with the power to create powerful whirlwinds from his hands. Not to mention to telepathic mutant Emma Frost, played by January Jones, who also has the ability to turn her skin to diamonds, as well as always wear clothes where her boobs look huge. Very important superpower, clearly. After learning that Shaw is playing the Russians against the United States and vice versa, and considering the fact that it’s 1962 and the world is on the brink of a nuclear war, Charles and Erik start training their young recruits, thus making them the “first class” of X-Men. There are training scenes, and more fun montages, and then Henry tries to create a serum to hide the physical manifestations of mutants, only to get even more beastly, and being covered in blue hair. There’s a big fight between the good mutants and the bad mutants and some people get hurt and other people switch sides, and in case you didn’t know already, Charles and Erik become divided on their outlooks of humans. After the whole debacle, when referring to the fact that Charles will train as many mutants as possible, and claiming that these mutants weren’t quite “G-Men”, they are referred to as “X-Men”, and I guess that’s the end. By the way, THERE IS NOTHING AFTER THE END CREDITS. Don’t waste your time, because no, there’s no hidden scene after the credits of X-Men: First Class. Am I being clear enough here? You can leave…like, right away.
Just as much gesticulating, but now with a cooler helmet!
NOW THAT’S WHAT I’M FUCKING TALKING ABOUT. All of my doubts about this movie were completely squashed, because it was awesome. It’s also over two hours long, so they really embraced the opportunity to start up a new trilogy. It’s hard to appease fans of the comics, as well as fans of the previous movies, AND people who knew nothing about the comics, all in one shot. As far as referencing the previous films go, there were two actors from the previous franchise, but I won’t spoil who they were or the context. In addition to that, to those who were paying attention, the musical cues all seemed to be derivative of the score from the first three films. You might not be able to think of what that music was from those films off the top of your head, but when you hear it in this movie, you’ll definitely recognize it. As far as appeasing comic book fans, even though this lineup wasn’t actually the “first class”, I think they did a great job of picking who to highlight. Mainly, none of the characters were necessarily all that popular, and could be used in virtually any context. Of course there were people who knew them, but to just go to someone on the street and ask if they knew about the X-Men characters named Banshee, Havoc, Riptide, or Azazel, you’d probably be met with confused faces.
Must have been love at first…BITE! Hahaha, get it?! Because that’s Beast, and beasts typically bite things.
There were a few characters in this film that had already been featured in X-Men movies, so obviously there were certainly expectations as far as their portrayals. James McAvoy showed Charles as cocky and confident, using his knowledge as pickup lines , which isn’t really a side of him we’ve seen before. In addition to that, we also got a chance to see him being unsure of himself, at times, as well as extremely passionate and emotional, which could only have been shown with a younger Charles, compared to the more wise interpretation by Sir Patrick Stewart. Mystique was played by Jennifer Lawrence, who is a character we have only known as evil, and generally is pictured as being blue and covered in scales. Despite typically picturing her as blue, the character was extremely human in this movie, and you understood her feelings of isolation from humanity a lot more clearly. With Henry McCoy, we got to see a genius who was timid and a little unsure of himself, even though he was rarely, if ever, wrong about anything. Nicholas Hoult did an excellent job with this character, as opposed to Kelsey Grammer, who was basically blue Frasier. Kevin Bacon had to convey an inherit evilness without being too over-the-top, which he managed quite well. I was quite nervous about Emma Frost, considering how she is such an exaggerated version of anything ever, both her physical form as well as anything she ever does or say. January Jones even admitted that being as curvy as Emma Frost is drawn is practically impossible, and once people accept that, they’ll accept her. And ya know what? I did. She managed to be a bitch in the few lines of dialogue she had, and managed to dress in an extremely revealing way without necessarily looking like a slut. Even if there weren’t as many strong actors as I’ve mentioned, it wouldn’t matter, because this really was Michael Fassbender’s film. He was able to show Erik Lehnsherr in his prime, who was driven, powerful, angry, and had something to prove. He was ruthless, and didn’t care who or what got in the way of his mission, even if it was his best friend Charles. Man, he was awesome.
HAVE NO FEAR…YOU SEE EMMA FROST IN HER UNDERWEAR. SEE? LOOK UP.
The reason why this movie worked is because it really seem like 20th Century Fox knew that this would be one of their last chances to make money from this franchise. They had to be able to not only treat this movie as a starting point for all of these characters and these storylines, as well finish out the story in case there couldn’t be another one, and still leave things open for a sequel. They managed to achieve all of these things in a fun and exciting way, and by placing it during the Cuban missile crisis, also added quite a bit of seriousness and legitimacy to the whole thing. This movie was more of a spy movie from the 60’s than it was your typical comic book movie, and hopefully people come out to see it by the millions. I know that I really can only compare it to Thor so far, but it was better than Thor. Fuck it, it was better than most of the other X-Men movies, with maybe the exception of X2. This movie set the bar even higher than it had already been for Green Lantern to come out in two weeks, but even if that sucks, I can always go see X-Men: First Class again. Unless of course, they cut out scenes of January Jones, because then I might as well blow my brains out.
Wolfman Moon Scale