X-Men: First Class

Over the years we’ve come to recognize Patrick Stewart as the wheelchair bound mutant Charles Xavier and Sir Ian McKellen as the powerful Magneto, bitter rivals until the very end. That wasn’t always the case, however, as the two were best friends when they first met, brought together by the one thing that united them; mutation.

While World War II may be over, its effects still linger in 1962. At the beginning of the war, a young Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) was forced to use his magnetic powers to assist the Nazis. Since then, he has been hunting down those responsible for turning him into this monster. Meanwhile, Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) has just published his graduate thesis on genetic mutation. His paper quickly attracts the attention of the CIA who is trying to track down Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), a powerful mutant capable of harnessing immense energy. They decide to fight fire with fire and establish the first team comprised entirely of mutants led by Charles and Erik. They are the X-Men.

X-Men: First Class introduces us to the origins of the most famous mutants, before they became the heroes and villains we recognize today. There’s a young Mystique, Beast before he was blue, and a load of new mutants who fans will instantly recognize from the Marvel universe. That’s the thing about First Class. While the film is full of action and mutant powers, it’s the little hints and references to the other films or the mythology of the franchise that really solidifies First Class as the best X-Men film yet.

Whether it’s watching Azazel, Nightcrawler’s father, use his teleportation abilities to decimate an entire army or Xavier jokingly talk about getting his head shaved, fans will no doubt have a good time scanning the film for any little reference. There’s also one of the best cameo appearances ever in film but I won’t spoil the fun for you. Don’t worry if you’re not too familiar with the X-Men either because there’s plenty of action interesting mutants to excite you.

Another fascinating aspect of the film is its 1960’s era. Mutants and real world events are intertwined seamlessly together into a story that appears both plausible and real. Events such as the Cuban Missile Crisis and footage from around the same time are used as source material for the inevitable friction between humans and mutants.

X-Men: First Class is hoping to be the first in a new trilogy of films. Questions have been answered (ever wonder how Xavier came to be in his wheelchair?) but more questions arise as well. Sure, we may not see any of the more popular mutants such as Cyclops, Storm, and the rest of the traditional X-Men but that’s what makes the film so great; it’s new and fresh yet still familiar. No doubt we’ll be seeing more of Professor X and Magneto in the future as they fall into their respective roles as mutants. X-Men: First Class is clearly the next evolutionary step for the franchise. 

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Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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