Oh Lordy do I love me some X-Men. After Thor, it is probably my favorite comic book series. No offense to Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, etc. I adore you all but I had a particular hard on for X-Men growing up.
So I’ll admit it. When I first heard that there was going to be an X-Men prequel, my heart sank a little. I’m generally pretty wary of prequels. They scream “desperate attempt to make money off of a beloved franchise” to me. But thanks to the successful prequel-ness of the latest Star Trek incarnation, I was willing to give it a shot. That, and it couldn’t possibly be worse than Brett Ratner’s disjointed X-Men: The Last Stand.
I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. And despite the fact that it went completely against pretty much everything that’s been established by the comic books as far as character histories, I had so much fun watching it.
So I’m structuring my review much like I did for Thor. Because I can. Beware, I spoil the crap out of things….
I pretty much fell in love with James McAvoy the instant he came on screen as Mr. Tumnus in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and my love for him only deepened when I heard him speak in his native Scottish accent. Drool. I don’t know what it is about Scottish accents but they sure do it for me. He also happens to be a brilliant actor. It’s the little things about him, the slight facial expressions, how he reacts to the other actors, those dreamy blue eyes *le sigh*
Anyhooters…he was an excellent choice to play a young Charles Xavier.
Main deviation from the comic books:
In the movie, Charles comments about being glad that he still has his hair. In the comic books his hair is gone by the time he finishes high school. Too much mental power for it to stick around (be grateful Jean Grey and Emma Frost, that your mental powers didn’t do that to you). The idea of him growing up with Raven Darkholme was an interesting choice. He actually grew up with his step-brother Cain aka Juggernaut, and they most definitely did not get along. And Hank getting all of the credit for building Cerebro is ludicrous. Xavier built Cerebro, Hank later enhanced it. His first students did include Beast and Angel…but it was Warren Worthington III (later Archangel) not Angel Salvadore. Another of the first class? Scott Summers aka Cyclops, NOT his brother Alex Summers aka Havok. Iceman and Marvel Girl weren’t cool enough for this movie apparently so they just got ignored altogether. I’ve been asked more than once how Professor X became a paraplegic. Well thank you Matthew Vaughn, because now all of those people probably think I’m a jack ass. Contrary to what First Class would have you believe, Charles was NOT crippled by a bullet intended for Magneto. He was actually crippled by an alien named Lucifer who dropped a big ol’ boulder on his legs. MUCH more believable thankyouverymuch.
I vaguely remember Michael Fassbender from Inglourious Basterds but, to be honest, I never really paid much attention to him. Until now. Damn, that boy can act too. I liked that he looked a little older than everyone else after what he’d been through during the holocaust and the scene in the bar in Argentina was one of my fave moments in the film.
Main deviation from the comic books:
Erik Lehnsherr (who was actually born Max Eisenhardt by the by) was not experimented on during the holocaust (at least, not that I remember, correct me if I’m wrong). In a way, his experience was even worse. He was a Sonderkommando. For those who don’t read up on history as a hobby (yeesh, could I get any nerdier?) a Sonderkommando was a Jew whose job in the concentration camp was to dispose of the bodies of fellow Jews killed in the gas chambers.
Yup, that’s bound to fuck you up a bit.
He later met Charles while working at an Israeli mental hospital…around the time Charles knocked up a girl who had been in a coma. Uhhh yeah…we won’t go into that. Erik does get his hands on some Nazi gold that he uses to fund his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, but that was only after he had teamed up with Charles to defeat Baron Wolfang von Strucker.
As for the other good guys…it’s so funny to me how, in the movies, they took the scales and ran with it for Mystique. I’m assuming it’s just an excuse to get away with seeing a hot naked chick while maintaining a PG-13 rating. Mystique did briefly have scales in the comic books when she was exposed to radiation while saving Toad. But the vast majority of the time, she’s just blue….and clothed…albeit scantily. Her flirtation with Hank in the movie was cute but her true love was a blind, alien-looking chick named Destiny. Jennifer Lawrence is a promising young actress though. I’m super looking forward to seeing her as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games next March. Hank McCoy and the whole serum thing was pretty right on. Although I remember Beast turning gray when he first sprouted hair. Nicholas Hoult (the kid from About a Boy) has grown into quite the handsome young dude! I liked the sheepish nerd vibe he brought to the character.
As for Lenny Kravitz’ little girl, Miss Zoe is still honing her acting chops but she did alright. I’m just glad they didn’t show Angel laying eggs or eating her dinner like a fly. Blech. Oh, and she was rescued by Wolverine and brought to Professor X…not found by Cerebro. I already brought up how Havok should not be in the picture yet but I’ll add one more bit. Much like Shaw, Alex has to store up energy in order to be able to send out blasts of plasma. It’s not infinite. So that whole bit about him being in jail because he can’t control himself was definitely manufactured for the film. Sean Cassidy was another puzzling addition for me. He had a whole life as a detective in Ireland and was involved in the whole IRA thing. Banshee was a codename assigned to him by Factor Three who forced him to commit crimes by strapping a headband full of explosives to him. Stylish, right? He was later rescued by Professor X but not before he pissed off his brother, Black Tom Cassidy and lost his daughter, Siryn…all of which happened before he joined the X-Men. I honestly don’t remember much about Darwin, other than him being a ghost for a while, but I’m pretty sure he never got killed off.
Aaaaaaand…where do I begin with Moira??? First off, she is a geneticist, not a CIA agent. Her last name should be Kinross at this point, not MacTaggert. She is Charles first love and helps him found the X-Men and all but in the end she ends up with Banshee. Seriously, my head was spinning with how off her character was. BUT I LOVE Rose Byrne and she did a fantastic job. And damn that girl looks good in a garter belt.
They chose Sebastian Shaw to be the main villain. It was a good choice. Aside from Magneto, he’s one of the most prevalent villains in the X-Men ‘verse. Kevin Bacon cracks me up. He’s so good at being a snarky little shit. He doesn’t disappoint here even though it’s a little bizarre seeing him as a Nazi.
Main deviation from the comic books?
They beefed up his power a bit and I don’t remember him using his power to keep his looks youthful but otherwise they pretty much nailed his billionaire playboy attitude. As far as I know he was never involved with the Nazi’s. He was, however, responsible for the mutant destroying Sentinels. His first battle with the X-Men was during the Dark Phoenix saga. At that point Sage was working for Shaw as a personal assistant while spying on him for Professor X.
Anyone know how Shaw is connected to Iron Man’s dad Howard Stark?
January Jones wouldn’t have been my first choice for Emma Frost but I think she did a pretty good job. I wasn’t hugely impressed with the effect of her in her diamond state, but as many a Twilight fan can attest…getting those damn diamond effects can be challenging. I remember Riptide releasing little projectile stakes while spinning really fast…not so much for creating tornados and crap. I’m not sure why they felt the need to change that, other than to bring down the stealth jet during the climax…which I guess is an ok reason. That devil-looking guy that looks an awful lot like Nightcrawler and uses the same teleportation effect? That would be Azazel. And he looks like Nightcrawler because he’s Nightcrawler’s daddy. Are you wondering why Nightcrawler is blue? That would be because Mystique is his mama…and threw him down a well after he was born. Azazel is biblical and should TECHNICALLY be trapped in an alternate dimension. Thanks to his teleportation skillz he’s able to come here every once in a while for just long enough to knock up a random woman. Which he does. Often.
It may sound like I’m being critical but these are all details schmetails. I really did LOVE this movie. The Cuban Missile Crisis scene is fantastic and the cameos by Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Romijn were brilliant.
Now please excuse me while I go drool over James McAvoy some more.
4.5 out of 5 sci-fives