Did First Class make X-Men movies great again?

One of this summer’s biggest blockbuster movies, X-Men: First Class, boldly attempts to entertain us by telling us what we already knew.

And, thanks to some incredible storytelling, it was successful.

Remember X-Men 2’s opening? Erik Lehnsherr is at a concentration camp in Poland, we see his mother being taken away, and his anger causes him to destroy the metal gate. The opening scene of First Class is the same, as we see a young Erik being persuaded by a Nazi official, Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), to display his powers, and in return, his mother’s life would be spared. But, unable to control his powers, the young boy watches as his mother dies before his eyes.

It is in that moment that Magneto’s hatred for the “homo sapiens” is fueled, giving us a better understanding of this very complex character. Slowly, throughout the film, his philosophy begins to unfold, and at some point even convincing us that his approach is the right choice.

In a distant location, a young boy steps into his kitchen where he finds his usually-distant mother scouring the fridge for food.  It’s not too long before we realize that the young boy is none other than Charles Xavier. He attacks the imposter mentally, projecting his thoughts into her mind, a skill we have seen him use in the previous movies. The imposter morphs into her true blue form, revealing a young Raven/Mystique. In the matter of minutes, she forms a close friendship with Charles – something that was never revealed in the original trilogy.

On the paths of the two young men, Charles (James McAvoy) and Erik (Michael Fassbender) cross as they attempt to prevent Sebastian Shaw from starting a third world war between the Soviet Union and the United States.  The young men begin their recruitment phase in order to build an army of mutants.

Hugh Jackman’s very brief cameo was truly amusing, but slightly disappointing. X-Men fans had hoped that he’d be seen fighting alongside Magneto and Charles, but much to our chagrin, his only words were pure profanity.

The odd relationship between Magneto and Xavier was explained, and one begins to realize that no resentment exists, but instead, genuine respect. 

The movie’s success can be credited to the fresh writing talents of Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn and Sheldon Turner. Combined with Bryan Singer’s previous X-men experience, the movie’s purpose as a prequel to the original trilogy was successful.

For those who admire the X-Men franchise, this newest addition is truly magnificent. If you’ve been putting off that visit to the theatre, First Class is a great reason to delay no longer, and for me, this is one of those movies that can be seen over and over again.

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