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SECOND LOOK: X-Men: First Class

Written by Robert Bagley

Tonight, the editors of AP2HYC will be rewatching X-Men: First Class and playing a drinking game. Join them on Twitter and see how long they can stay coherent!

X-Men: First Class was a breath of fresh air for some of us, rubbing out the travesty of X-Men: The Last Stand. Oh I hear you wail in agony. First Class featured younger more idealist versions of the characters. Professor X is a young man about to pass in exams and become a professor. Magneto is a man fuelled by rage that was spawned from the concentration camp we saw in X-Men. He sees history repeating itself, people being hunted and killed purely for genetic reasons.

This film both fills in the history of the X-Men franchise and is a great set up for the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past. It is steeped in X-Men lore with characters like Hank McCoy/Beast), Alex Summers/Havoc (better known as Scott Summers/Cyclops’ brother), and Sean Cassidy/Banshee joining the ranks of the X-Men, and classic villains Azazel (Nightcrawler’s father), Emma Frost, and Sebastian Shaw making their on-screen debut.

When the film opens, Charles Xavier is a carefree and optimistic man chatting up girls in pubs and proposing a great future in which mutants will live in harmony with humans. Meanwhile, Erik Lensherr is an troubled and angry young man dead set on a course of revenge and destruction that would lead to his own death if not for the intervention of Xavier. Seeing these two iconic characters meeting for the first time and bashing heads about ideology is a thrill. When they start recruiting young mutants into their ranks, you get the feel that they are trying to form a community, a family not just a team.

Sebastian Shaw is an excellent villain, and it’s hard not to draw similarities between him and Ian McKellan‘s Magneto. Shaw’s goal, like Magneto’s, is for the mutant race to dominate over the humans. Magneto even says that he agrees with everything that Shaw says during the film’s epic climax, and if Shaw hadn’t killed his mother, Magneto would have joined him. The main contrast comes from the fact that Shaw wants to create a nuclear holocaust, which his powers will allows him to survive, so that he can rule the new mutant nation forever. However Magneto is motivated by his reasoning that mutants should be the dominant species because they are far superior to humans. Magneto feels he is doing it for the good of his people but Shaw is more selfish in his motivations.

Caught in the middle of Xavier’s idealism and Magneto’s will is Mystique, who demonstrates early on that she does not want to have to hide her true form despite how easy it is for her to do so. Her character journey takes us through the film, helping us understand the visions of both men and letting us see their merits. Ultimately, she turns her allegiance from Xavier to join Magneto, a blow that has as much impact on the young Xavier’s life as the bullet that paralyses him.

 

I’m greatly looking forward to the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past as we will get to see how the events of this film effect both the mutant community and world as a whole. We get glimpses of this in the trailer which only serves to heighten my anticipation of the next instalment. X-Men: First Class fills in the history hinted in the original X-Men trilogy and sets the stage for Days of Future Past.

What did you think of X-Men: First Class? Do you like that it is going to be linked to the rest of the X-Men franchise in Days of Future Past  or would you rather have it spawn its own series? Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Twitter!

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Robert Bagley

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