Digging into Magneto’s past and setting up the X-Men is a big task for First Class.
While Magneto tracks his old Nazi enemy, Sebastian Shaw, for a revenge killing, he finds Charles Xavier, and together they collect a team of young mutants to combat Shaw as he prepares to cause a nuclear war between America and Russia.
The dark past of Magneto, is magnificently told with his powers being trained at a Nazi concentration camp and then later hunting down the Nazi that did him wrong. The character is portrayed menacingly by Michael Fassbender who offers a youthful and invigorated performance that suits this more action packed outing than Ian McKellen was required to do in previous films. Fassbender runs towards Russian soldiers, dives into the sea and overall comes across as more of an energetic Antihero than we’ve previously seen of Magneto. His powers are also visually spectacular with Magneto throwing a knife at a man before pulling it back and stabbing another man, and raising an entire submarine out of the ocean to amazed Russian and American naval forces.
But First Class is also about the introduction of the X-Men themselves, and cleverly merges the laddish Professor Xavier, who loves to drink and chat up women in bars, with the familiar wise and responsible mentor once he meets other mutants. And these other mutants make a welcome replacement to the too well known Wolverine and co. In particular, Beast and Havok create great on screen chemistry, with Beast as the shy, blue and hairy strong scientist and Havok as the pretty bad boy with laser abilities. This chemistry grows as Havok continues to tease Beast and shows that the X-Men’s righteous cause is helmed by kids who know no better, with some well needed humour added into the mix.
The story is also impressive as it links into the cold war, in particular around the Cuban Missile Crisis, and gives an opportunity for famous scenes and speeches of President Kennedy facing the imminent threat of a Russian nuclear attack. This is brilliantly interwoven into the real villain, Sebastian Shaw’s story, as he tries to start nuclear fallout with his band of powerful mutants. This story-line is fascinating to watch, and with the 1960′s setting adds a much needed visual difference to separate itself from the previous four X-Men films with clothes, military vessels, attitudes, and political agendas all being used to gain appeal.
First Class pushes the X-Men franchise forward in an exciting new direction, with an all new cast, and large new character base; the film revels in 60's glamour, the cold war confrontation and beautiful visual feasts during action sequences.
Does this younger version of the X-Men do the original films justice? What do you think of Fassbender and McAvoy as Magneto and Prof. X? Let us know in the comments below