‘X-men: First Class’ Proves That Superheroes Have Something to Say
X-men: First Class is a daring movie. After the failures of X-men: The Last Stand and X-men Origins: Wolverine, it seemed that the franchise had been tapped. Enter Matthew Vaughn (who also did last year’s unseen gem Kick-Ass), the franchise’s own superhero. First Class brings back everything that was great about Bryan Singer’s first two movies, and adds its own unique signature to the series. The cast is brilliant. The story is exciting. The action is dazzling. Pretty much everything about the movie works.
The story follows the young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) as they discover the true essence of their powers and expose mutants to the world. The duo must recruit mutants for a special team working with the CIA to defeat a mutant called Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) who wants to start World War III. Set in the 1960s, the writers integrate the Cuban Missile Crisis into the mutants’ story. This never feels forced and brings the mutants to the real world in an exciting way.
However, it is the acting and the characters that drive this film. McAvoy and Fassbender and great together. Their friendship is absolutely believable, making the end of the film all the more heartbreaking. Jennifer Lawrence, playing the shape-shifter Mystique, does an incredible job of showing just how difficult being a mutant is for some. Her evolution throughout the film is beautiful. Kevin Bacon is a good villain, but it is January Jones who shines here bringing all of the cold evil that she uses as Betty Draper on Mad Men to her role here.
The only problem I had with the film was the supposed romance between Xavier and Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne). With everything else going on, their relationship does not get fleshed out at all. However there are plenty of other romances in the movie that did work, so this is a minor issue.
However, the best thing about First Class is the message it carries with it. Any group that has ever been discriminated against can relate to these characters. Xavier simply wants equality. Mystique strives to be accepted in her natural, blue form. Magneto believes mutants are better than the rest, and is willing to go to war for his kind. Every character in the film shows a different aspect of the mutant struggle. It is impossible not to see the parallels between the Civil Rights Movement or the fight for Gay rights today. This is what takes First Class to a higher level of summer blockbuster.
X-men: First Class is successful in nearly everything it tries to do and has an emotional core that will resonate with audiences for a long time afterwards. The film is truly unforgettable with a great story and fantastic characters. Ladies and gentlemen, the X-men are back, and as long as Vaughn is directing, hopefully they won’t be leaving anytime soon. (**** out of 4)