Looking Back…X-Men: First Class (2011)

I am on an X-Men high at the moment. While I may still be recuperating from the disappointing affairs of X-Men: Days of Future Past and X-Men: Apocalypse, I can’t help but delve into the back catalogue of superhero goodness that revolves around the mutated genomes and a mutton chopped gruff Jean Valjean. Nevertheless, despite not truly loving the latest affair, the one film slotted in beforehand was incredible. Kicking off from some terrible movies beforehand, First Class came with fresh (and gorgeous) faced cast and an awesome story arch from the makers of Kick-Ass and Stardust. And this article has nothing to do with the fact I believe James McAvoy is one of the most important actors of our time.

Ok, maybe a little.

X-Men: First Class was aimed to be an origin story similar to that of Wolverine. What departed it from that series was ingenious content, comprehensive plot and stellar acting. After all, the only two mutant’s we really want to learn more about is Xavier and Magneto, especially on how they became the greatest frenemies of all time. Played by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, First Class tells the first story of how the evil band of mutants and the X-Men initially formed as well as the tense and wrought past of both leaders.

One of the important things for X-Men to work is chemistry. Placing a relationship such as Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart’s visceral and intelligent one into new hands was always going to offer up trepidation. Yet Fassbender and McAvoy present a new energetic look on the pairing that mirrors the original and develops on it. As Magneto and Xavier, they clash and unite, mixing up different levels of emotion in a magnificent way.  Add this to plight of Mystique, played superbly by Jennifer Lawrence, plus brand new mutants, and there are characters here that you are truly invested in.

Matthew Vaughn then manages to balance this content extremely well. With a villain as manipulative as Shaw, the clashes between the first collective group of youths with misshapen hereditary, the bubbling resentment lying in Eric plus the threat of nuclear attack AND the rise of resentment from the human species, you’d think it would all get muddled up. What Vaughn does is combine all these elements to an adrenaline-charged ride is both enthralling to watch and full of high octane action sequences (beautifully set up too.)

It’s a shame because Vaughn had been attached to direct Last Stand and openly hated the final result. With the intense work he did with First Class proves that he is vital as  Superhero director and it’s a shame to see him step down, leaving the franchise in a lesser position again. Alongside some stellar writing, First Class is one of the better episodes in the X-Men cinematic world. With a story arc that mixes different elements together while still being wonderfully coherent. It rivals the other tremendous effort with X2 and in many ways extends it. Exhilarating action, exciting acting and extensive content, X-Men is excellent.

And I hate to say this, but X-Men: First Class is….well.. first class.


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