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X-Men: First Class (2011)

It’s the 1960’s, and a new breed of human is making itself known to the world thanks to Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender). As the two travel the world to recruit individuals with superpowered abilities, they form what will eventually come to be known as the X-Men. X-Men: First Class presents the world with a duo like oil and water, and the vengeful Erik will allow a man from his past to alter the plans of the newly formed mutant team. As past discrepancies begin to make their way to the present, the world’s view of mutants will soon change drastically, forever.

The most important aspect of X-Men: First Class is the chemistry between McAvoy and Fassbender, as well as Charles and Erik. There’s an incredible juxtaposition between Charles and Erik on screen, and the film’s two leads are the primary reason why the film finds success. Both McAvoy and Charles are goofy, even nerdy, but they possess a vigor that allows them to exude confidence, honesty, and relatability. As McAvoy navigates this role, one of the most well-known in the history of Marvel comics, he nails every line, every facial expression, and he is so brilliantly astute in creating relatable emotions so that viewers can connect with the film. On the opposite side of the same coin lives Erik, the angry, out-for-revenge, metal-bending man, who simply wants to move past all that has haunted him for decades. Fassbender expresses malevolence, anger, frustration, and, just as strongly, love. He, more than anyone else in X-Men: First Class, is tasked with conveying a slew of emotions, gripping the audience, and adding layers to an already wonderful film.

Drama exists in each and every nook and cranny of X-Men: First Class. Even in the moments of peace and calm, a character, a word, or the music reminds viewers that superhero movies, particularly this one, aren't all about fun and games. The undermining drama and darkness that resides in the cobwebby corners of the film leaves viewers uneasy, and there’s seemingly no way to escape the reality that hardship and pain are constantly around the corner. The edginess of what director Matthew Vaughn and his series of writers bring to the table is interesting, because along with the darkness is a level of innocence that revolves around Xavier, Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), and the other young X-Men characters present in X-Men: First Class. The melding of tones, but with that constant, overarching darkness, lends itself well to the film, and allows the film to remain vibrant throughout its entirety.

By now you know that the fan-favorite Hugh Jackman (Wolverine) makes a brief cameo in X-Men: First Class. His one line, “Go fuck yourself,” as wonderful as the rest of the film is, is the most powerful, hilarious, and well-received line in the entire film. His presence is always welcome, and this is proof of how whitty this crew is.

Sure, X-Men: First Class came out years after the initial X-Men installment, and it absolutely acts as a prequel (and somewhat of a soft reboot), and, yes, it shifts slightly from the algorithm used in previous films, but it works so well. X-Men: First Class is a massive risk in a number of regards, but it more than certainly has its merits. It’s inviting yet dark, exciting and reserved, but most importantly it introduces the world to a group of immensely talented actors that will one day play pivotal roles in Hollywood. On a cinematic level there is hardly anything to dislike, and on a meta level, it’s superb.

Directed by Matthew Vaughn.

Written by Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn, Sheldon Turner, Bryan Singer, etc.

Starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Kevin Bacon, Rose Byrne, Oliver Platt, Álex González, Jason Flemyng, Zoë Kravitz, January Jones, Nicholas Hoult, Caleb Landry Jones, Edi Gathegi, Lucas Till, etc.




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