X-Men: First Class
Release Date: June 2
X-Men: First Class sits on the intersection between Personal Identity Ave and Self-Control St., a difficult crossroads which every teenage audience member will have to navigate.
The film joins Wolverine: Origins as the second prequel to the Marvel comic inspired X-Men trilogy. In it fans of the franchise discover how Charles Xavier became the legendary Professor X, and how he first forged a friendship with his nemesis Eric Lehnsherr, better known as Magnito. It covers a surprising amount of ground in just over two hours – the development of both protagonist’s skills, the creation of the first X-men team, the establishment of Charle’s school and the rise and fall of the Nazi mutant Sebastian Shaw. Possibly too much. It’s never a good sign when you mentally step outside of a fantasy and wonder just how long a film will go.
That said, X-Men: First Class is everything you’d expect from this Marvel comics universe. Every mutant character reveals their particular abilities with an excellent array of special effects, and there are enough explosions to ensure a mild case of industrial deafness. James McAvoy does a fair task of presenting the young Professor X, along with Michael Fastbender as Magnito and Kevin Bacon as the megalomaniac Shaw. Probably the most interesting contributions, though, come from the lines the scriptwriters who steer their dialogue.
The X-Men series has always been about the “… new door of evolution,” that its characters’ mutant genes represent. However First Class concentrates more on the nurture of these super heroes than their natures. Each character, including a new batch of young heroes, has had to battle degrees of social rejection. The film constantly affirms that finding their place will not involve changing who they are. A young Mystique tells the troubled Harry ‘The Beast’ McCoy,
“You’re beautiful, Frank. Everything you are is perfect. We shouldn’t have to change to fit into society. Society should change to fit us.”
It’s a philosophy that will be familiar to the film’s teenage audience, having been marshaled by everyone from immigrants to same-sex couples in a world where tolerance has become the greatest virtue. However the catch-cry ‘Mutant and proud!’ shows what’s really at stake – the affronted pride of the individuals involved. Professor X suggests a different path, submitting their gifts to the needs of everyone – including those who fear them – rather than fighting to claim their rights. The foundation of his response is actually a Christian one: those who would lead must first learn how to serve.