In typical nerd fashion, my friends and I made a b-line for the theatres once X-Men: First Class was released. For a number of reasons, I really wasn’t expecting much more than a sore face. You know, due to excessive facepalming.
What were those reasons? There was the gruelling experience that had been X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Furthermore, the original posters for XMFC looked like they’d been done by an eight year old on MS Paint. (Not the one on the right. That one’s nice.) And Kevin Bacon? Really? I don’t know if I can take a super-Bacon villain seriously. I didn’t care about the shiny trailers; the first fifteen minutes of X2 were mindblowing, but the rest was a disappointment. By that logic, there was a high likelihood that this movie was going to suck.
I consider this one of many situations where I’m glad I turned out to be wrong.
X-Men: First Class was awesome. In my opinion, absolutely nothing in the entire Marvel Universe could ever hope to make up for – or undo the emotional damage that was – X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
But holy crap, this comes close. Let’s say it healed 89% of Wolverine‘s damage. Not 100. Not quite 90. But it’s still an A.
The thing to bear in mind (and this is marginally more of a blessing than it is a curse) is that the writers are departing from the mainstream Marvel continuity. Just trust them: it works.
Casting was definitely well done. The characters they chose to feature are a refreshing change. Chuck and Erik are both nicely played. I typically find Emma to be annoying, but she kept her mouth shut for most of this – which is fine, because apparently she’s not English anymore. Moira MacTaggart is in it (though it’s pretty much just her name). Azazel is part of the Hellfire Club (if you recall his relationship with Nightcrawler, this should give you geekbumps). You’ll also see a softer side of Mystique, Havok, Banshee, Riptide and Beast, to name a few. Most of the (important) acting is stellar. I’m sure you can predict which characters were weaker… Here’s a hint: the ones with less clothing.
Special effects are awesome. Dialogue fluctuates between great and decent. It has a couple cheesy moments, but that’s to be expected from any superhero flick. I promise, there are no stupid lines involving toads and lightning. Mags has a Skywalker moment and Sebastian Shaw doesn’t flashdance.
Some nice work bending the plot to the era, even to the point of pseudo-historical fiction. Pacing was good and I didn’t notice any scenes sticking out like a sore thumb (see X-Men: The Last Stand. Or better yet, don’t.) and I’m always a fan of any X-Title that has nothing to do with Scott or Jean. Seriously, thank you for favouring Alex over Scott. He is by far the more interesting brother. You’ll also see a brilliant cameo during one of the more important montages.
What else can I say? This is right up there with Push for my favourite superhero flicks right now. (Note: Chris Nolan’s Batman doesn’t count; Bruce’s only two superpowers are his brain and his wallet. Likewise with Green Hornet.)
My only complaints are that for some reason there seem to be a lot of instances of women being told to shut up (and even then I find it kind of funny), and that Moira MacTaggart really is nothing like the Moira of Marvel lore. Honestly, did they just want to do a name drop? Because she’s not Scottish anymore… or a geneticist. I’m hoping that if they do any sequels, they’ll keep up the good work and not Fox it all up. No, that isn’t a pun. I just really hope Fox doesn’t do their usual thing and ruin it all (see X:Men Origins: Wolverine – that masterpiece that was doing reshoots in Vancouver two months before release).