X-Men First Class

No villain is more evil... than Kevin Bacon.
"The story begins"

Skimming my archives I realized that somehow, I managed to never cover my thoughts about X-Men: First Class, the pseudo reboot of the X-Men franchise. I say pseudo reboot because, unlike The Amazing Spider-Man which was more or less a direct reboot of the franchise, First Class was a dramatic re-imagining of the franchise. Set in the 1960s, the movie is an origin story for the generation of superheroes before what could be considered the contemporary X-Men. Primarily, it is the origin story of Charles Xavier (aka Professor X) who is portrayed by one James McAvoy (you might remember from the not quite so terrific movie adaptation of Wanted) and also Erik Lehnsherr (you know Magneto) portrayed by Michael Fassbender (the creepy cyborg from Prometheus among other roles). The two are brought together thanks to a mutual enemy, the extremely bad news mutant Sebastian Shaw (the sinister KEVIN BACON). Charles wants at him because he is threatening the free world, but for Erik it's personal: the bastard killed his mother in front of him in a Nazi concentration camp (it is worth mentioning: Shaw does not age). Sebastian Shaw leads the mysterious Hellfire Club members including Emma Frost (in the comics also known as the White Queen) and Azazel, who like he sounds looks like a devil and has the same teleporting powers as Nightcrawler (in traditional canon Azazel is his father).

Ooh ooh they're playing chess! Like you know, other movies!
So what are Shaw and his cronies up to? Well naturally his goal includes things like nuclear war, because what self-respecting super-villain wouldn't love something like that? One of my favorite things about this movie is its use of a variety of obscure characters. Sure everyone is super excited for Wolverines and Cyclops, fighting against Sabertooth and Magneto, but the Hellfire Club is pretty far off the beaten path. Sebastian Shaw is a sinister, really bad dude, and with Emma Frost backing him up the White Queen I mean come on man. I was getting nerdy shivers down my spine just with the character selection. Along with the mentioned headliners the cast is rounded out with some fantastic talent de jour, including Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique (this was before the Hunger Games so it was basically what put her on the grid) Rose Byrne as Moira MacTaggert (she has been a pretty frequent guest on this blog hasn't she?) and Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy/Beast (you might remember him as the little goober kid from About a Boy, he is a zombie who feels love in the upcoming Warm Bodies). The whole movie is put together with a kind of serious attention to detail that helped to finally cleanse my brain of the past two X-Men efforts (namely X3 and the Wolverine movie, ouch man).

I wonder how much they paid Hugh Jackman to tell these
guys to fuck off in this like 15 second scene.
The movie also captures a really retro feel that comes with the setting. After all this is 1962, and we're sitting on the edge of the Cuban Missile Crisis, which was apparently caused by a devil man, a girl made out of diamonds, and Kevin Bacon. the costumes of the characters manage to be relatively demure and I guess the world would be realistic, but also harken back to the stark yellow-heavy outfits of the ye olde X-Men. The effect is a pleasant compromise that mixes a sense of nostalgia with the good sense and tasteful execution of modern comic movies (well the good ones anyways). I should also mention that, while it packs a fairly large cast of characters, First Class sidesteps a lot of the pitfalls of other movies (cough X3) by emphasizing a core cast of main characters over the supporting cast, rather than just throwing a scatter-shot style of mutants as fast as possible at the audience.

Everdeen. Katniss Everdeen.
It goes without saying that even the most critical members of the film press were taken by this movie. It is purportedly up for a sequel, though details on that film are still hazy at best. With luck it will come out before the end of the world. In the meantime we can all wait to see if the Iron Man franchise can do the previously impossible for a superhero franchise, and achieve a good movie hat trick (traditionally the third entry has been where every other good marvel franchise shit the bed, by which I mean Spider Man and X-Men). Here's hoping.

So long as I'm spreading baseless rumors about X-Men movies, I should also mention that I caught wind of one that suggested that in addition to a sequel to first class, and an almost certainly shitty Wolverine movie (set in Japan I guess?) there was talk of a movie based on the Days of Future Past storyline (which you might guess involves time travel. Currently the trending rumors are that this film IS the sequel to first class, and will feature much of the same cast. I personally hope that is true, because that would be a really awesome premise for an X-Men movie. We'd love to see that right?

That's all for today folks, join me again for more movie mayhem, as I attempt to get to the theater to see Les Mis before it goes out of the box office.

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