The X-Men Rise to Greatness Once More

The first two X-Men movies were good. Really good. Fantastic even. They managed to take a universe that was so massive and make it into manageable, bite-sized portions that genuinely worked. Then came X3 and Wolverine, the cinematic bullet to the head of the X-Men movie franchise. They made the universe far too large for a single movie to focus, managed to make Wolverine boring, and had the perfect casting of Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool and ruined the character! After those two steaming piles, I hoped that Fox would pull the plug on the whole franchise and let the rights default to Marvel Studios as so that the X-Men could join the Marvel movie-verse.

Well, I still want that to happen, but X-Men: First Class is a really good movie.

When this movie was in production, I was not looking forward to this movie at all. The last two X-Men movies had left a very bad taste in my mouth and almost everything I was seeing was not looking too peachy. There had been reports of the script being re-tooled to appeal more to the Twilight crowd of theatre goers (not exactly the core group of people going to see comic book movies there, Fox) so I had naturally expected the movie to be full of lip biting passing as acting and nothing but annoying teenage angst.

When the trailer was released earlier this year, I still could not get behind this movie. Sure the trailer looked good, but after the cinematic atrocity that was the Last Airbender managed to actually trick me into thinking that it was a good movie, I still was not convinced. This was a movie that would need to prove to me that it was good, and so it did. The reviews are overwhelmingly positive, so on a complete whim, I went over to the local AMC this afternoon and took in a matinee showing of the first good X-Men movie since the early 2000’s.

X-Men: First Class, of course, centers around the earliest X-Men and the forming of the team, but it is also about the Cuban Missile Crisis and Cold War Politics. You now have my full attention, movie. Sebastian Shaw, of the Hellfire Club and played by Kevin Bacon of all people, is trying to start World War III by pitting the USA against the Soviet Union in Nuclear War. CIA agent Moira MacTaggert finds out about this plan and ends up enlisting the help of a young Professor Charles Xavier (played by James McAvoy) to help stop Shaw’s plot. The film also delves into the past of Magneto, his friendship with Xavier, and the forming of the Brotherhood.

The film manages to not only tell an interesting origins story, but also weave it into the threads of history to make the story have some real weight to it. With the background of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the first mission actually has some serious connotations to it if they fail. This isn’t just a “oh no, the villain is going to take over the world if we fail!” It’s a “oh no, if we fail the world will be obliterated by a nuclear war and we need to try to cool the hostilities.” Director Michael Vaughn proved that he can can work well in the comic adaptation field when he directed Kick-Ass and managed to make the source material into something better while still keeping the same story and feel, and with X-Men: First Class now under his belt, I will be eagerly anticipating more of his comic adaptations in the future. My only real problem with the movie is that Fox tried to make it be part of the X-Men movie franchise that they ruined. This film should have been a reboot as they could  have done so much more with it.

That being said, Wolverine’s cameo is easily the funniest thing in the entire movie.

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