X-Men: First Class (2011)
April 30, 2024 2:29 PM - Subscribe

[TRAILER] In the early 1960s, during the height of the Cold War, a mutant named Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) meets a fellow mutant named Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender). Despite their vastly different backgrounds -- Charles grew up with a wealthy family, while Erik lost his parents at Auschwitz -- the two become close friends. As the world teeters on the brink of a nuclear war, Charles and Erik join forces with other mutants to save humanity. However, a situation soon tears the friends apart.

Also starring Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Rose Byrne, January Jones, Oliver Platt, Kevin Bacon, Lucas Till, Jason Flemyng, Caleb Landry Jones, Zoë Kravitz, Edi Gathegi, Álex González, Matt Craven, James Remar, Ray Wise, Michael Ironside.

Directed by Matthew Vaughn. Screenplay by Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn. Story by Sheldon Turner, Bryan Singer. Based on the comic book series created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby. Produced by Lauren Shuler Donner, Bryan Singer, Simon Kinberg, Gregory Goodman for 20th Century Fox/Marvel Entertainment/The Donners' Company/Bad Hat Harry Productions/Dune Entertainment/Ingenious Film Partners. Cinematography John Mathieson. Edited by Lee Smith, Eddie Hamilton. Music by Henry Jackman (no relation).

86% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Currently streaming in the US on Disney Plus. JustWatch listing.
posted by DirtyOldTown (14 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
For better or worse, I believe all of the live action X-Men movies have been posted now.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:31 PM on April 30 [3 favorites]

Let's stipulate that putting Auschwitz in a superhero film can never not imperil good taste (at the very least). I still have Feelings about this one. McAvoy and Fassbender are great at conveying the chemistry that has those two fighting, hating, and loving each other for decades afterwards. Erik is mesmerizing as Lone Nazi Hunter (sometimes when I get depressed about the state of the world, I just watch the scene in the Argentinian pub a few times) and the movie goes surprisingly far in showing Charles as brilliant and perceptive, yet cosseted and blinded to the darker side of...just about everything, until it's too late. Poor Raven gets stuck with some terrible clunkers of lines, but she's a more interesting character than she gets credit for. Villains only so-so, and how Darwin was supposed to die, I'll never know, but it's really all about the X-Mansion drama, anyway.
posted by praemunire at 5:14 PM on April 30 [2 favorites]

I liked that this just intentionally (even it if didn't, it did) leaned into the gay "subtext" between Charles and Erik. I think I read that McAvoy & Fassbender totally decided their characters were attracted to each other. (I've said elsewhere that if it's obviously subtext, it's just text, so yes ...)

I do think Raven doesn't quite get what she deserves here, yeah, but such a great cast and also just such weirdly fun. I've been an X-Men fan since 1990 and this isn't perfect but I liked this quite a bit. The sequels ... er. em.
posted by edencosmic at 6:28 PM on April 30 [1 favorite]

This one also does a good job of making a divide between mutants who have “totally good” powers and/or can pass as human and those that don’t/can’t, and how Xavier, who won just about every lottery can’t see or understand the issue, which is weird for a telepath.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:29 AM on May 1 [3 favorites]

Quite good in a lot of ways, and the ways that it wasn't didn't really derail the movie. One of my complaints about X3--that they didn't seem to put a lot of thought into world-building--gets handled here, pretty well; Cerebro wasn't fully developed in a day, Magneto actually gets his helmet from Shaw, they need to develop relevant training, the government is more involved with the mutants at this stage, etc. Other things that I liked:

- Retconning Hank as being a shapeshifter to bridge the more human-looking Beast that he was at first with the later blue furry mode. That also sets him up as being a more assimilationist mutant and Mystique at first being attracted to him, but eventually joining Magneto's group.

- Magneto being a Nazi hunter. As already mentioned, the scene in the pub is great.

- Tying the plot into the Cuba Missile Crisis.

Stuff I didn't particularly care for:

- Shaw being a secret Nazi. The Hellfire Club being interested in power for its own sake is reason enough to dislike them, without it being tied into Magneto's personal revenge.

- Azrael. It was a dumb storyline in the comics and they could have had another teleporter to enact the grisly but effective scene at the CIA HQ. (Some of this, I'll admit, is knowing that they never really followed through with the idea that Azrael and Mystique were Nightcrawler's parents, unless I missed something in the later movies.)

- For someone who has a big role in the latter-day comics, Emma Frost doesn't seem to have a lot to do here.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:47 AM on May 1 [4 favorites]

Oh, and of course: Darwin dying. Doesn't make sense. (Oddly, his adaptive power would make more sense in terms of setting up the Sentinels in the next movie than Raven's, so he really should have survived this.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:51 AM on May 1

I love Wolverine's cameo. The exact line he says was an ad-lib, so when it's called back in DOFP, they got the quote wrong by reviewing the FC script and not the scene.
posted by Servo5678 at 7:39 AM on May 1 [2 favorites]

Oh, and of course: Darwin dying. Doesn't make sense. (Oddly, his adaptive power would make more sense in terms of setting up the Sentinels in the next movie than Raven's, so he really should have survived this.)

One more person to chime up and say Darwin's dying was utter B.S. I also thought Havok's powers were presented in a weird way "Chest blast!" versus how Havok released energy from his fists in the comics.

I remember thinking that January Jones seemed perfectly cast as the Ice Queen Frost...but then somehow she was directed to go with a cool detachment that really came across like almost mindlessly moving along with whatever Shaw had to say. From Mad Men, I knew Jones could act better than she did in this movie, so I blame the director.

The Cuban Missile Crisis was a fun incorporation of the film and the duality of Magneto and Xavier as characters representing their respective philosophies of mutantkind's future.

After X3 and the not so great Wolverine films, this was a nice refreshing approach to the X-Men.
posted by Atreides at 8:25 AM on May 1 [1 favorite]

I love Wolverine's cameo. The exact line he says was an ad-lib, so when it's called back in DOFP, they got the quote wrong by reviewing the FC script and not the scene.

It's an absolutely stellar example of using a PG-13's sole allowed "fuck" perfectly.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:10 PM on May 1 [2 favorites]

Reposting something I put in the X-Men '97 cartoon post on the Blue:
This also reminds me of when X-Men: First Class was about to come out, and since it was set around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, some enterprising person decided to do a whole title sequence as though it had been released in the early 60s, complete with a Saul Bass inspired title sequence and a morose cello take on the cartoon theme.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 5:41 PM on May 1 [3 favorites]

The best X men movie. Because Darwin didn't actually die, he just knew that he had to flee this franchise before it got worse.

which is weird for a telepath.
posted by GenjiandProust

But not for a rich kid
posted by eustatic at 6:42 PM on May 1 [2 favorites]

This movie always makes me think of my Tumblr friend wellntruly, who somehow ended up watching X-Men: First Class while knowing absolutely nothing about the X-Men. A link to the tale of her woe is below and it never fails to make me laugh.

"Let me tell you, with no global X-Men knowledge, the ending of First Class is a swing out of the blue dead-aimed for your heart, and you will not be prepared for it!!!!"

posted by merriment at 2:30 PM on May 3 [1 favorite]

Shaw's whole plan is really f'ing stupid, when you think about it. Even if mutants have been created by "the atomic age," that doesn't mean they are all going to survive the earth getting nuked to shit! Like, there's fire and stuff too, not just radiation. And then what, those who do survive slowly starve to death on a devastated planet with no viable way of growing food? Genius!

Darwin's death: so apparently his "adaptation" is really just two powers: growing gills and a tough skin.

January Jones & Jennifer Lawrence seem like totally dead-eyed line-readers in this film. A little energy, please?
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:30 AM on May 11 [1 favorite]

Although to be fair, the fault lies with the director. JLaw is better in the next film, which gives her more chance to work.
posted by Saxon Kane at 6:35 PM on May 13

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