Why It Worked: X-MEN: FIRST CLASS

Why It Worked: X-MEN: FIRST CLASS

With X-Men: Days of Future Past hitting the big screen in less than four months, SauronsBANE1 takes an in-depth look at the previous, somewhat under-appreciated film, X-Men: First Class, and delves into precisely why it worked so well.

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By SauronsBANE1 - 2/11/2014
Despite the original X-Men trilogy starting out with the surefire hits of X-Men (2000) and X2: X-Men United (2003), it ultimately fizzled out with a resounding thud in the form of the almost universally-hated X-Men: The Last Stand in 2006. Despite having the biggest budget and making the most money of any X-Men movie thus far, it seemed like the franchise was finally damaged beyond repair after such a debacle.

After all, the characters of both Scott Summers and Jean Grey/The Phoenix were butchered, Xavier was unceremoniously killed off, a mutant 'cure' had been found, and hate for director Brett Ratner (and, funny enough, for Bryan Singer as well for choosing to direct the ill-advised Superman Returns over The Last Stand and a potential sequel) was at an all-time high.

How could the X-Men brand name possibly make a comeback from that mess?

Well, as any fan can tell you, the journey hasn't been easy, painless, or even pleasant to get to where we are today.

Enter X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which arguably set the standard even lower...a feat that few even thought possible after The Last Stand. Terrible CGI, cardboard-cutout and one-dimensional characters, and even more continuity issues turned this poorly executed origins story into a critical and commercial dud and, even worse, into a laughingstock. And that's not even taking into consideration what most fans claim to be the absolute travesty that was director Gavin Hood's interpretation of the iconic Deadpool character.



But as it turns out, X-Men: First Class might have been exactly the film we needed to help restore the franchise to the heights it had previously reached.

Mostly set in 1962 and dealing with the events leading up to the Cuban Missile Crisis in the Cold War, First Class set itself apart by focusing on the younger years of the compelling Charles Xavier/Erik Lensherr dynamic. Indeed, with the X-Men chronology in tatters after the previous two films, the only logical step to take was bringing the movie further into the past and making it into a period piece.

Yes, I'm fully aware of the numerous complaints thrown at the film, such as the costumes the characters wore or the terrible supporting cast of mutants or just how 'overrated' and 'boring' it was. Valid complaints? Some of them, for sure. But enough to completely ruin the entire film? I wouldn't go that far at all.

So what stopped this from becoming another X-Men Origins film? What prevented its large scope and scale from devolving into the mess that The Last Stand found itself in? Let's find out.

What First Class did Right:


1) Focusing on Relationships.

Arguably one of the biggest strengths of the first X-Men film was the fact that it was careful to pay special attention to the characters. Sure, Wolverine was pretty much the main character in that entire trilogy, which was something many fans understandably took issue with. But beyond that, the heart of the first film was Wolverine's journey, his relationship with Rogue, his relationship with Charles Xavier, and Professor Xavier's relationship with Magneto.

(And honestly, ignoring those factors was probably one of the biggest downfalls of X3 and the Origins disaster. At least the latest film, The Wolverine, smartly decided to focus on Logan’s unresolved feelings towards Jean, his guilt and regret over having to kill her, and his decision to finally move on with his life.)

Fittingly, First Class returned to its roots in a matter of speaking. Rather than pulling a 'Gavin Hood' and making the movie solely about the plot with no other emotional pull, director Matthew Vaughn decided to go in a completely different direction.

He made it about the interconnecting relationships between the main characters of Charles, Erik, Raven, and even Hank McCoy. The entire film revolved around these important character interactions and how they affected one another. And that's precisely the reason this quasi-reboot worked so well. To fully understand why, let's take a closer look at each specific relationship...



CHARLES & ERIK:

It's only appropriate to start off with this critical, yet complicated, friendship as it's the driving force behind most of the events in this entire film and, both directly and indirectly, all the ones that take place after.

Maybe it's all due to the actors, but this relationship comes across as well-defined, completely fleshed-out, and stays true to the previous films as much as it can. Of course, it doesn't hurt one bit that James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are perfectly cast in their respective roles. Both lead actors fill their characters with the precise balance of boyish charm, dark brooding, and everything in between.

First Class opens by recreating the original X-Men movie's infamous and chilling opening scene in the World War II concentration camp. We see an adolescent Erik Lensherr torn away from his family and use his mutant powers for the very first time. The fact that this only occurs in a situation born from pain and anger becomes an important plot point throughout the film.

But right after this, the hopelessness and grimness of the Nazis is immediately contrasted with a young Charles Xavier opening up his home to a scared, wandering Raven.

To me, this was a brilliant decision. It informs and reminds us of the most important qualities of both lead characters right from the get go: Erik's tortured upbringing marred by death, suffering, and a stripped-away innocence, and Xavier's genuine love, kindness, and natural urge to help Raven and other mutants.

There's a wonderful juxtaposition of Xavier showing his understanding and acceptance of others at such an early age, while it's clear that Erik will only be driven by pure hatred and cold revenge.

Right after the Charles and Raven scene, we come right back to the German doctor Klaus Schmidt (the alias of Sebastian Shaw) forcing Erik to use his mutant powers again, this time by trying to move a metal Nazi coin at the threat of killing Erik's mother. Again, it's incredibly crucial for the audience to actually witness how his anger seems to be the key to unlocking his 'gift', while also seeing the devastation that results from watching his mother shot right in front of him.

The themes of anger vs serenity, the fear of being alone, the strong bond of friendships...all of these aspects are immensely important in the movie, and all of it is set up for us right from the first 15 minutes!



As the film progresses, Charles and Erik's friendship develops and becomes even closer than it would in 'normal' circumstances, thanks to Charles' mutation. In their very first meeting during the attack on Shaw's yacht, Charles saves Erik from drowning by looking into his head and telepathically convincing him to let go of Shaw's escaping submarine. As a result of this mind-reading, Xavier sees and experiences everything that Lensherr has gone through, and thus sees why killing Shaw means so much to him.

Charles genuinely seeks to help him sort through these complicated emotions because he understands Erik in a very unique, intimate way: he knows what scares him, what angers him, what drives him, and the hidden potential that he has deep inside him.

Later on when Charles talks Erik out of running away from the CIA base and, in effect, from the only other mutants he has ever known, this proves to be one of those little scenes that could've easily been overlooked by the filmmakers and omitted entirely without the audience ever knowing the difference. Thankfully, this is one of the many examples of a movie that pays close attention to details.

The scene serves the story purpose of showing Erik come close to leaving, but choosing to stay and be on their team ("I could stop you leaving. I could...but I won't," Charles tells him. He knows exactly how important it is for Erik to actively choose to stay. It's a fantastic bit of character development...for both characters). But much more importantly, it serves to significantly strengthen the friendship and bond between the two. Really, it's here where Charles formally offers his help. As Charles walks away and quips that even someone like Shaw has friends while Erik could definitely use some, it's here where he truly offers his friendship.

When it's revealed that he's come back to stay, this unlikely friendship is even further delved into by then having them both team up together to find other potential mutants for their division. When talking to the CIA guy, Charles' resolute statement of "I'm with Erik" sticks out to me for a few reasons. Obviously, when you look at the context of that scene, he means 'I'm agreeing with Erik's stubbornness in having only us mutants look for other mutants, rather than getting the CIA involved.' But the subtext reads 'I'm going along with Erik's request to show him that he can trust me and that he doesn't have to be alone again. That we can be friends. That I'm with him.'

A bit melodramatic? Am I reading too much into it? Perhaps, but of course it sounds cheesy when it's fully spelled out and explained in no uncertain terms. To the film's credit, it manages to bring that emotional point across perfectly with just one brief line of dialogue and one knowing glance from Charles to Erik, showing off finesse and underrated subtlety that you don't usually get from most comic book movies.

The high point of their relationship occurs dramatically during the training scenes involving the mutants in and around Charles' mansion. Xavier begins to take on more of a mentoring role as he mentally and physically challenges his entire team, but especially Erik, and pushes them beyond their limits.

But this is also when their differences in philosophies become very apparent. While trying to hone his mutation, Erik believes that his rage, hatred, and anger can continue to control his powers. Charles, on the other hand, has a different approach: "I believe true focus lies somewhere between rage...and serenity," he tells Erik before jumping into his mind and bringing up a beautiful childhood memory involving his parents.

As the raw emotions overwhelm them both, he urges Lensherr to use those kinds of memories (rather than just the pain and anger) in order to perfect and develop his powers into something powerful and incredible. "There's more to you than you know. There's good too, I felt it." As both of them stand there with tears in their eyes, this truly becomes one of the best, one of the most raw, and one of the most emotional demonstrations of their unique and special friendship.

It pays off perfectly when, with Charles looking on, Erik summons up the strength and will to physically move the enormous satellite dish far off in the distance as the soundtrack rises to a swelling crescendo.



Seriously, take notes folks. This is how you depict a strong, compelling, emotional friendship on the big screen.

But of course, the good times don't last. Simply put, they can't. Their differences are just too much, as we later see them discuss over a game of chess on the eve of a potential outbreak of World War III.

Erik's obsession with killing Shaw hasn't gone away, and his pessimistic viewpoint of the human race certainly hasn't changed either. While Charles somewhat naïvely believes that the act of stopping Shaw from instigating the start of nuclear war will win over the support of regular humans, Erik is convinced that they won't differentiate between the good mutants and the bad, that humans are controlled by fear and suspicion of the unknown and will do whatever it takes to avoid potential extinction.

This brings us to the pivotal moments of the Cuban Missile Crisis, where the stakes are raised to near-suffocating levels and almost everything is on the line, for humans and mutants alike.

Of course, the final missing piece in the Charles Xavier/Erik Lensherr dynamic is the betrayal. Preventing a nuclear war, showing the world the true power (and possible threat) of mutants by raising an entire submarine out of the ocean (a huge accomplishment that he wasn't able to even come close to performing earlier in the story), and stopping an energy-absorbing, war-mongering mutant villain in his tracks all provides the ammunition for Erik to finally get his revenge, prove his point about humanity, and split away from Charles once and for all.

We can see this all happening in his final confrontation with Sebastian Shaw. One aspect I personally enjoyed the most was how you can see exactly where Erik first validates his twisted views of the human race, which he considers to be beneath him. It comes straight from the mouth of his most hated enemy. In fact, it's hinted that Erik might have been seriously tempted to join forces with Shaw...if only he hadn't murdered his mother in cold blood.

It really makes so much sense that the man who destroyed his childhood, the one who he'd been hunting all this time, the one who pretty much first unlocked his gifts...it's just so fitting that this is also the man who ends up influencing Erik's ideology the most.

But it's the tragic acts of putting on his enemy's helmet (which cuts off his communication with Charles for good. Symbolism, anyone?) and murdering Shaw that finally pushes Erik past redemption. From this point on, his path is more or less set in stone. He's made his choice, and the only thing left to do is protect his people against his perceived threat of the humans, effectively forming the Brotherhood of Mutants.

It's safe to say that at least part of Charles' world shatters and falls apart when the Americans and Soviets train their guns on the mutants on the beach and launch everything they have. While all of his optimism and faith in mankind can't stop the missiles...Erik can. He has expected this treachery all along from humans, and chooses to make an example of them by turning their weapons back on themselves.

In a way it's almost poetic that the only thing that stops the deaths of all those humans and, most likely, an all-out war against mutants, is Erik inadvertently causing the paralysis of his best friend by deflecting the bullets fired by Moira MacTaggert right into Charles' spine. A metaphorical and somewhat literal back-stabbing that both have to live with for the rest of their lives.

By the end of the movie, everything seems to be complete. The U.S. and Russia avoid World War III, Sebastian Shaw is dead, Charles is in his wheelchair, and Erik has his Brotherhood and completes his transformation into Magneto. I couldn't ask for a better interpretation of the iconic relationship between Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr.

It also brings their relationship full-circle. As Charles warned Erik earlier, "Killing Shaw will not bring you peace." Erik coldly replies, "Peace was never an option." By the end of the movie, it rings true. Peace never was in the cards. The struggle, told beautifully through their friendship on screen, has only just begun.



CHARLES & RAVEN:

Don't worry, dear readers, the rest of these segments won't be nearly as long as the first one! Still, it's almost amazing just how much material there is to cover in a character-dense story like X-Men: First Class. That's a testament to a well-written script, excellent writers, and the director's vision.

To a non-comic book reader like myself, one of the more surprising aspects coming into this film is how Charles and Raven start out as childhood friends. Perhaps it's jarring because of their lack of recognition or emotional responses to one another in the original trilogy, but decades take place after this and before the events of X-Men occur. Plenty of time for a once-loving relationship to sour considerably. I'm confident the sequel will address this.

So despite not fitting in 100% smoothly into the X-Men continuity, I absolutely enjoyed this change. Building this particular relationship up and making it abundantly clear that Charles and Raven are platonic, brother/sister-type of friends (rather than succumbing to the terrible cliché of making them romantic interests) is a very refreshing, non-indulgent choice that makes their eventual falling-out that much more devastating.

Beyond that, the film tackles the incredibly creative issue of exactly why their different mutations would eventually drive a wedge between them (Seriously, this is a complex part of their friendship that would be wholly unique to mutants, and obviously it never would have even occurred to me. Brilliant).

Let me explain.

Raven, with her shape-shifting abilities and natural 'ugly' form, feels forced to spend a considerable amount of energy hiding her powers from the world. On the other hand, Charles is free to live it up and flirt and pick up women using the advantages of his invisible powers, with no ill effects.

In fact, the carefree Xavier probably takes it too far when he uses the trite phrase of "Mutant and proud" within earshot of Raven in order to get laid. To someone who has had to struggle her entire life to fit in and hide, of course Raven would be upset by Charles' naïve, lackadaisical attitude towards it. After all, what could he possibly know about the hard side of being a mutant?

Charles' inability to understand that feeling makes just as much sense, however. For all his smarts and intellectual capacity, he's in way over his head by trying to reconcile how Raven may feel about the sensitive subject. Throughout the rest of the film, Raven grows more and more distant from him while Charles misinterprets this as immaturity or simply a bad mood.

Raven's kinship with Hank McCoy, whom she identifies with because of his abnormal mutation, and her interactions with Erik Lensherr (both of whom I'll talk more about in a bit) both serve to influence her in major ways. By the time she angrily confronts Charles the night before the pivotal events of the Cuban Missile Crisis about what her life might be like had they never crossed paths as children, making a point to be in her naturally naked blue form...their relationship is already well on its way to fracturing completely.

Charles' immediate knee-jerk reaction of telling Raven to cover up and put on some clothes serves to confirm to her that he will only ever attempt to fit in with the rest of the world, rather than proudly standing apart. She's disgusted with that attitude, and naturally joins up with the one person who, in her mind, actually accepts her for who she is: Erik Lensherr.



RAVEN & HANK:

Before we get to Raven's relationship with Erik, we must first acknowledge her brief fling with Hank McCoy.

Admittedly, this is probably the weakest relationship in the film. On paper, it makes sense that Raven would be attracted to him, but their little romance is ridiculously rushed...Raven is already making googly-eyes towards Hank simply for revealing his mutant powers during their first-ever meeting. It's really as superficial and shallow as it gets.

Unfortunately this burgeoning relationship is only developed in one other scene: where Hank draws a sample of her blood to help his efforts of developing a cure for the physical side-effects of their mutations. Again, it makes logical sense that the two would emotionally connect over their abnormal appearances and their common problem of wanting to feel normal. It's just a shame that so little screen-time is devoted to exploring this dynamic a little more.

But of course, before Hank and Raven can kiss, they're interrupted by Erik and his piece of advice for Raven: "By the way, if I looked like you, I wouldn't change a thing." This opens the door for Raven's eventual betrayal of both Charles and Hank, and it also serves as the perfect segue for me to talk about...

RAVEN & ERIK:

After that brief moment of cock-blocking Hank, Erik doesn't really interact with Raven for a large part of the film.

It's only during the training scenes at Charles' mansion that Erik pops in again for some more friendly advice as she works out.

This time he needles Raven about shying away from showing the world who she really is and hiding behind her mask of normalcy instead. Obviously, he's referring to her habit of walking around in her 'fake,' Jennifer Lawrence skin rather than showing off her natural blue form: "If you're using half your concentration trying to look normal, then you're only half paying attention to whatever else you're doing...You want society to accept you, but can't even accept yourself."

It's apparent that all of Erik's advice has finally gotten to her when Hank arrives with a supposed cure to their physical mutations. I have a tremendous respect for the filmmakers choosing to include these potentially distracting subplots in the first place, as it absolutely adds several layers of depth and complexity to the characters.

It's debatable that Raven's growth and change into her new attitude of not wanting to hide anymore and fully embracing the mantra of "Mutant and proud" is a crowning moment in her character's journey. The intricacies and complicated nature of this becomes clear when you ask yourself, how could it not be a good thing to accept yourself the way you are and choose not to hide?

I mean, when you think about it, it's not like Erik is really all that wrong about any of this.

As Hank sits there, uncomprehending of her sudden reversal, Raven realizes that looking 'normal' doesn't quite appeal to her as much as it used to. Now, the one unifying thing she had in common with Hank doesn't have that same spark to it anymore. By rejecting Hank's cure, she's basically rejecting Hank, his continuing need to fit in, and his love.

It's also possible that she's developed a touch of Erik's arrogance as well, evidenced by her statement that humanity should aspire to be like mutants, rather than the other way around.

It's a delightfully deep moral question that is asked of the audience, as we soon see Hank's misguided efforts of normalizing himself backfire tragically. The very thing that he wanted and needed to cure him of his abnormality...ends up permanently turning him into a mutant monster. Into a freak. Into a Beast.

While that is going on, Erik and Raven share one more intimate scene together as she sneaks into his bedroom. As they share a kiss, this is the final push Raven needs to fully come over to Erik's side and to his worldview. This is physically represented by how Raven chooses to walk around in her natural blue form from that point on through the end of the film.

The greatest thing you can say about a relationship between any two characters is that it works. That it makes all the sense in the world. And to be perfectly honest...this one does. By this point, it's established that Erik and Charles' mindsets are diametrically opposed to one another, so it's perfectly logical that Raven would choose to oppose Charles as well. The double-whammy of having both Erik and Raven turn their backs on Charles is exactly what makes the ending of the movie so painfully emotional.



So what was the point of going into detail about this? Hopefully I've shown how movies should be more than just extremely convoluted chains of plot and story held together by vague coincidences, big explosions, and sex. Characters are the glue that hold everything together. And the filmmakers of First Class didn't just stop at giving us a bunch of interesting, well-written characters. They took the next step and clearly defined their relationships to one another. That accomplishment is something I feel can't be overstated enough.

The real stand-out aspect of this entire web of character interrelationships is how each and every one of them has an arc of their own. This bears repeating: every major player in this film has a character arc. It's really incredible that Charles, Erik, Raven, and Hank all learn something, change, and are affected by the events of the movie, especially when you compare that with other comic book movies which can't even develop a character arc for their one main character.

X-Men: First Class does many things right. The biggest of these is the fully fleshed-out relationships between the main characters.


2) Coherent Themes and Foreshadowing.

For a movie so chock-full of stuff going on, it would've been easily understandable had the filmmakers not taken the time to attach messages and themes to the main characters. However, that probably would've led to a much lesser quality of film. Everyone involved with First Class showed tremendous dedication to their craft by leaving all of that in.

THEMES:

Traditionally, some of the more defining elements of the X-Men include the ethical themes of prejudice, freedom, being outsiders, wanting to feel normal.

Personally, I'm more impressed by how deftly and delicately the filmmakers managed to broach each theme, both minor and major.

Constant repetition of specific visual and audio cues throughout the film could've easily felt forced, but they never do. From the repeated closeups of the Nazi coin that haunts Erik and represents so many things to him, to the numerous times that Charles and Erik play the game of chess, to the phrase "Mutant and proud" that we first hear at the very beginning as Charles is hitting on that 'mutant' heterochromatic-eyed woman in the bar, to the ever-present question of exactly how beneficial mutations are for people like Raven or Hank vs someone like Charles...all of these things only strengthen and add more layers to the characters without ever feeling like too much of a good thing.

As I've mentioned before, one of the more major themes is the concept of being isolated and alone. The build up to this is shown through Raven, as a scared little girl trying to survive on her own at the very beginning, through Erik, who was convinced he was the only mutant on the entire planet, and through several other mutants as well. This running theme pays off in a hugely dramatic, satisfying way in the beautiful montage sequence of Charles using Cerebro for the first time and finding out just how many mutants there really are. And of course, this gives the perfect opportunity to witness arguably one of the best cameos in any comic book movie in recent memory.



FORESHADOWING:

One of the best qualities of First Class is how it caters to its established fanbase, audiences that have watched all the previous films and know the history of the characters. But it doesn't shy away from explaining things and keeping it simple for the newer fans who may not immediately know the significance of people like Charles Xavier or Erik Lensherr. But for those of us in the former category, the heavy doses of foreshadowing are a like a shout-out and reward while serving as fun clues and hints into the inevitable paths our favorite characters will take.

One great bit of characterization, which also serves the dual purpose of foreshadowing, is the very brief scene of the CIA agents bullying and mocking the prospective mutant team of new recruits. To Raven and the others, it's a wake-up call and a harsh reminder that not all humans are accepting of this new breed. This behavior also perfectly aligns itself with how humans generally reacted towards mutants in previous X-Men movies.

Soon after this, when Shaw attacks the CIA building, he launches into a speech about revolutions and how humanity will undoubtedly react when they find out exactly what mutants have the potential to do and to be. All of this is a bit unsettling, because it echoes almost exactly what Magneto will eventually adopt as his philosophy.

That leads into perhaps the most recognizable example of foreshadowing in the whole movie: Erik's eventual obsession with fighting the human race to protect the mutants. The first time this is shown is early on when Charles reads part of his thesis to Raven. This fantastic monologue of evolution and how the dominant species usually causes others to become extinct directly transitions into the sight of Erik in Switzerland, continuing his mission of vengeance.

The film again does a great job of subtle foreshadowing when Erik and Charles find themselves on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, after rounding up enough mutant recruits for the team. While playing yet another game of chess, they debate whether the identification of all these mutants will lead to another Holocaust. Only this time, mutants would take the place of the Jews.

While Charles is confident that the common enemies of both the Russians and Shaw will keep humans and mutants united, Lensherr expresses uncertainty. This World War II-era analogy completes itself much later on, after Erik kills Shaw. As they stand on the beach and the military fires their weapons at the mutants, Charles attempts to save countless lives by (ill-advisedly) claiming that the soldiers on the ships are innocent men who are just following orders...something that Erik himself has been a victim of at the hands of the Nazis and knows all too much about.

Conclusion:


Now I know I skipped over the crucial segment of "What First Class Did Wrong," but I'm trying to shorten this up as much as I can! But don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to say the movie is perfect.

Far from it.

Briefly, the most glaring weakness would have to be the villains. Both Emma Frost and Sebastian Shaw are a bid ridiculous, even by mutant standards. Specifically, January Jones' acting is downright horrific, while Shaw's villainous plan of causing World War III, killing the majority of humans, and then having mutants rise up into power is just too hammy and cliché. And that's not even mentioning his weird backup plan of absorbing energy from the sub's nuclear reactor and turning himself into some kind of bomb.

Why does he do this, you ask? Good question. How exactly would unleashing that kind of destructive energy cause both Cold War factions into declaring nuclear war on each other? It's conveniently never explained...just like his motivations for hating the human race to begin with.

Let's move on to the supporting cast of characters. The problem here is that other mutants like Havok, Banshee, Darwin, and Angel Salvadore just don't have enough screen-time devoted to them in order to make their betrayals and sacrifices worth much.

The training scenes involving Havok controlling his powers and Banshee learning to fly definitely go a long way towards rectifying that, but I'm not sure if anyone really cares when Darwin sacrifices himself trying to take out Shaw, or when Angel Salvadore defects over to Shaw's team. The film builds these moments up to be pretty devastating and emotional, but I just couldn't care less about them. And that says a lot.

It's completely understandable that the filmmakers gave these characters the short end of the stick in favor of the major players of Charles, Erik, and Raven, but the addition of these minor characters can't help but give the impression of a film that's a bit cluttered and overstuffed with unnecessary characters.



So where does that leave us with X-Men: First Class?

Simply put, the flaws don't come anywhere close to outweighing the strengths. It's a pretty great movie with a strong plot, entertaining action, genuinely heartfelt moments, and impressively well-thought-out character interactions.

Maybe even more importantly, First Class delivered the type of X-Men film most fans had been waiting for since X2. In my opinion, this movie worked well enough to help restore the damaged reputation of the franchise, while also opening the door for some highly anticipated sequels.

In May we'll finally get to see the older X-Men characters converge with their younger versions introduced here, in X-Men: Days of Future Past. And a few years after that, Fox is already planning to up the ante with the follow-up, X-Men: Apocalypse.

Despite some grumblings about Bryan Singer's vision for the upcoming films, I believe that X-Men fans have reason to be a little more optimistic. Continuity issues and character assassinations aside, X-Men: First Class proved that this franchise can still be successful, that fans still care, and that, in the right hands, it can still deliver and be an entertaining time at the movies.

Thanks for reading, once again! Agree, disagree, or indifferent, sound off below and let me know your thoughts!
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SauronsBANE1 - 2/11/2014, 9:51 AM
Hmm...I never bothered with creating a fansite until today, so I guess that's why the thumbs up button isn't showing? If any CBM editor could help fix that, that'd be great!
DEVLIN712 - 2/11/2014, 9:56 AM
Use the Fansite tab in your user account area
anthonyEstark - 2/11/2014, 9:56 AM
@SauronsBANE Yeah, you need a fansite.
McNyagano - 2/11/2014, 9:56 AM
@Sauron

You have to make a fan site first. Great article btw. :)
DEVLIN712 - 2/11/2014, 9:57 AM
Just hit "New Fansite" and fill in the details
SauronsBANE1 - 2/11/2014, 10:00 AM
Thanks guys!

Okay I made one, but it's weird since none of my other articles ever had this problem. New update, I guess?
CaptShipwreck - 2/11/2014, 10:07 AM
It worked because of two words .....

Low Expectations
McNyagano - 2/11/2014, 10:09 AM
It's a toss between this and X-2 as my favorite Fox-men films.
Godzillafart - 2/11/2014, 10:09 AM
It was good...but it would have been much better if they had expanded Erik's Nazi hunt and early relationship with Charles. That bit was great, and we needed more of it. All in all a solid show.

Godzillafart - 2/11/2014, 10:10 AM
@McNyagano: I would agree with that.
BatManiac - 2/11/2014, 10:12 AM
Great article, man! Thumbs up from me.

My only gripe is the misinformation about X-Men: Last Stand being universally hated. X-Men: Last Stand may not have received the critical praise of X-Men and X-2, but it was far from being universally hated.
SauronsBANE1 - 2/11/2014, 10:12 AM
Oh absolutely, the low expectations resulting from The Last Stand and Origins definitely factored in. But hopefully the point I got across was that the movie worked because of a bunch of other stuff too, not just the low expectations going in.

Thanks for reading!
I love First Class. Best team movie next to Watchmen.
ralfinader - 2/11/2014, 10:13 AM
CaptShipwreck nailed it on the head. The movie is decent, but Wolverine and X2 were far superior. Charles power was cool in the first 5 minutes, that was it. Banshee fliying was all right, and every scene with Mags was good. The rest was shit, really. My 2 cents!
Hero2719 - 2/11/2014, 10:13 AM
Great job. This was a good read.
GliderMan - 2/11/2014, 10:15 AM
I just hope First Class series and the original X-Men trilogy remain in the same timeline. It would be so easy to fix the continuity errors, and such a cop-out to separate the two.
@Gusto, I'm guessing you didn't like the movie because there was no fat chicks.
CherryBomb - 2/11/2014, 10:16 AM
I liked First Class, it felt fresh and definitely had a nice tone to it.
I wish they would've included Storm in the team.

I like the dynamic between mystique and Charles and Erik. Mystique is just as old as them, even older it makes sense that they'd all could have a relationship.
SauronsBANE1 - 2/11/2014, 10:16 AM
@ Batmaniac, Fair point. I'm sure our viewpoint on The Last Stand is a bit biased because the cbm community absolutely seemed to hate it, but it's probably true that the general audience embraced it much more. Thanks for the kind words!
CherryBomb - 2/11/2014, 10:17 AM


A lot did seen rush, Erik should've had longer scree time hunting nazis. Emma Frost should've been in the final battle and Sebastian would've been a great recurring villain but they had to kill him off for some reason.
SuperSpiderMan5778 - 2/11/2014, 10:20 AM
too long but still point taken
SauronsBANE1 - 2/11/2014, 10:21 AM
After re-watching the movie before I wrote this, I was a little surprised how long it was. To me, it makes sense that they didn't devote even more screen-time to other, more minor things. But some parts do come across as a bit rushed, which was probably unavoidable.
SauronsBANE1 - 2/11/2014, 10:22 AM
23 comments in and the first TL;DR comment! With my ridiculously long articles, it usually doesn't take this long haha
DrunkenPirateNukem - 2/11/2014, 10:22 AM
Good movie
MrLoki - 2/11/2014, 10:22 AM
That was reeeealy long!

And really, really well-written! I loved the movie to death, for all the reasons you explore!
TayDee - 2/11/2014, 10:23 AM
The film wasn't that good. Just better than the garbage before. There hasn't been a great X-Men film yet, they just had great moments here and there.
KidGoku - 2/11/2014, 10:23 AM
Even you pointed all of these amazing details out, it still is not the best X-Men film. CaptShipwreck was right, low expectations really helped this film A LOT, along with The Wolverine (which is my favorite X-Men film). A lot of these themes are present in X2 which in my honest opinion does it a lot better and fleshed out the supporting cast so well (which was the problem for First Class).

Great article though!
ezio619 - 2/11/2014, 10:24 AM
this is my favorite xmen movie,i like x1, x2 is really good, i dont care for X3 ,i dislike Origins, First class is great, the wolverine was great imo,i love the charles and erik dynamic,i personally think with the exception of beast and mystique cause they have an arc through the film, i would have been fine with just charles, erik,beast and mystique going after shaw but u need to have xmen in an xmen film,the charles and erik dynamic and shaw and the shaw-erik dynamic are what i love about this film the most..also i love fassbender as Magneto,especially this scene

Nomis - 2/11/2014, 10:25 AM
WHY DIDN'T YOUNG MAGNETO KILL SCHMIDT ALONG WITH THE OTHER SOLDIERS AFTER HE SHOT HIS MOTHER WHEN HIS POWERS MANIFESTED THEMSELVES ?????

KidGoku - 2/11/2014, 10:27 AM
X2 really puts the spotlight on Charles and Erik's relationship. My favorite scene in the movie is Magneto under Stryker's mind control and tricks Xavier into being captured.
DonaldBlake68 - 2/11/2014, 10:28 AM
I know many on this site don't share my opinion in this but, I think First Class is one of the best Comic Book Movies to date. Top 5 for me. And I am what people patrolling this site refer to as a Marvelite.
1. Avengers
2. Spiderman 2
3. Iron Man
4. Dark Knight
5. First Class

The casting was brilliant. Fassbender as Magneto in my opinion, is one of the best casting decisions in comic book movie history, right after Heath Ledger, J.K. Simmons, and Tom Hiddleston.
SauronsBANE1 - 2/11/2014, 10:28 AM
Thanks so much, MrLoki and spideyboy! I don't want to get bogged down by officially ranking the X-Men movies, but IMO First Class is the best X-Men film since X2. And though the low expectations definitely have something to do with it's perceived success, it was more than good enough to stand on it's own two feet.
SauronsBANE1 - 2/11/2014, 10:29 AM
@Nomis, Simply put, because he was a kid. It would've been a pretty big stretch for him to immediately take out all those Nazis RIGHT after his mom died. I think it's forgivable that he wasn't exactly thinking straight at that moment haha.
wookiefit76 - 2/11/2014, 10:30 AM
@SauronsBANE1

Great article. Great read. Thumbs up. Can't wait for your next article.

Out of all the X-men movies, this is my favorite. It's basically an origin story of Erik and Charles. I didn't mind the supporting cast not being like in the comics, but even now we have a series that shows Logan created them with different mutants. I liked the costumes, seemed more realistic and pays homage to the comics 1st class costumes. I don't mind changes as long as they make sense. I just hope Singer doesn't mess it up, but I have no real faith in him. I'll wait until DoFP comes out on tv before I waste any more of my money on this franchise.
MercwithMouth - 2/11/2014, 10:32 AM
Awesome article @SauronsBANE1

But, like Gusto, I didn't really like First Class. Wasn't a fan of the period setting, didn't like the cast(aside from McAvoy and Fassbender), and yeah, it was boring. It did do something important though. It brought back a lot of fans that Ratner and Hood alienated with their disasters.
HelaGood - 2/11/2014, 10:33 AM
great article. i didnt care for the movie though.
KidGoku - 2/11/2014, 10:33 AM
SauronsBANE1

No problem. First Class definately was the best X-Men film since X2, but X2 still is a classic and one of the best CBMs. Looking forward to Days of Futures Past, hopefully it surprises me and ends up being the best
marvel72 - 2/11/2014, 10:34 AM
i thought x-men first class was a good movie but a crap x-men movie,continuity wise it doesn't even fit in the x-men movie universe.

things i liked about x-men first class

-the performances of mcavoy & fassbender
-the siege of the c.i.a building
-the music

disliked everything else

it should of been a reboot with the original five x-men from the comics.
@ Nomis, I think it's because Schmidt didn't have a metal helmet, and he didn't have much control of his power when he was younger.
Lobo89 - 2/11/2014, 10:35 AM
I liked First Class, it had bacon in it and who doesnt like bacon besides Gusto. Nice article btw...
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