X-Men: First Class (May Contain Spoilers)

When I saw the first trailer for X-Men: First Class, I was pretty reluctant to get excited about it. Being a fan of the comic books and original stories, and after enjoying the first two films so much, the look and feel of the trailer didn’t seem to sit quite right with me. There was something about the way Michael Fassbender’s Magneto helmet didn’t quite fit, the way Nick Hoult looked as Beast, and the way the trailer used a lot of shots from the first movie to sell itself. But after realising all these things were for a reason (the helmet wasn’t originally built for Magneto in the plot; Hoult only becomes Beast at the end and there is a lot that ties this in with the first X-Men), I started to warm to the idea of an “origins” movie without it actually being another X-Men Origins – frankly, one of those was enough!

In 1944, Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) lead very different lives, but they are both discovering incredible powers from genetic mutations. Years later in 1963, they unite with a common goal – to find others like themselves with amazing mutant powers and bring them to a safe haven, where they can harness their powers and use them to protect people. But when Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), leader of the Hellfire Club and the man Erik has been tirelessly hunting down, is tied in to military actions in Russia and aims to create the Cuban Missile crisis, Xavier and Erik must gather their new team in order to stop his threat to the World. But in the process, a rift forms in their alliance and sides must be chosen by their new members, creating a struggle between the two former allies.

It may be the fears of an X-Men Origins repeat, but I was concerned that this would be another black mark on the X-Men legacy. However, safe in the knowledge that Kick-Ass director Matthew Vaughn was in control and Bryan Singer, director of the first two X-Men, was a producer I became more hopeful, X-Men: First Class definitely has a good, solid storyline behind it especially when compared to Origins (in fact, watching X-Men Origins felt like witnessing a movie version of Top Trumps – Wolverine VS Sabretooth = Lose; Wolverine VS Helicopter = Win; and so on), and that made it all the more grounded and realistic. Plus, there are enough cameos to satisfy audiences mostly familiar with the first few films – at one point you see a child Storm and Cyclops, when Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) makes herself look older its Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, and yes even Hugh Jackman appears as Wolverine albeit for three words! While the storyline only plays with bits of the X-Men mythos a little, it mostly remains loyal to the source material and you get to see all the different parts of the X-Men Universe coming together, and that definitely works in its favour.

What I liked about X-Men: First Class, aside from the storyline, is the way the continuity ties in well with the start of the first X-Men, even though for the most part it doesn’t feel like you’re watching an X-Men movie. Having it set against a backdrop of the 60’s gives the whole film an entirely different feel, and it manages to get the look and style of that era without it becoming kitsch-y. What confused me at points was the age of some of the characters, and how they can still be so young later in the film or at the start of the first ­X-Men but even those get explanations, like the way Sebastian Shaw absorbs energy and therefore stays young, and Mystique only ages half as fast as others so she’s still in her 20’s when the first X-Men rolls round.

I was also impressed at how James McAvoy played a young Charles Xavier. You get an idea that in his youth, Xavier was a bit cocky but knew what he was doing, and in X-Men: First Class you see him become a part of the action with the rest of the team for the first time.

One scene I didn’t like so much was when everyone picks their “codenames”. While I appreciate that it had to be included for the benefit of some people who might not be as familiar with the X-Universe as others, and that if this scene had to happen at all it was done in a way that felt at least semi-natural, there’s always something about a “My name will be this and your name will be this” scene that feels a little forced and uncomfortable. Still, the benefit of this is that Matthew Vaughn manages to do it in as swift a way as possible – while it may not be the “I’m Kick-Ass!” scene, it’s still done in a way that eliminates any confusion over characters.

Overall, X-Men: First Class is a worthy addition to the X-Universe, and if they’re going to make more films to tie-in with the first X-Men then doing it in this style and with this cast and crew definitely seems to be a winning combination.  X-Men: First Class gets 8 out of 10 for having all the elements and storylines of a good X-Men film with only the bare minimum of Hollywood cheese.

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4 Comments

  1. Just saw it yesterday – I thought it was great fun. The scene with Wolverine really made it for me!

    • How much do you think they paid him to do that 20 second scene? I bet they only wanted to do it in one take as well. He’s a pricey man.

  2. I’m not reading this review yet! I need to con Shelby into seeing it!!!

    • Fair enough. See it soon though!


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