It is 1944 when Matthew Vaughan’s first adult superhero movie opens. (He also directed KICK-ASS but that’s more pubescent superhero-ish really.) The man who would become Magneto, Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender), is but a boy, being separated from his mother in a Nazi concentration camp in Poland. Across the world, a boy named Charles Xavier (played in adult form by James McAvoy) is alone with his thoughts in a Westchester, New York, mansion. They don’t know it yet but they will grow to become sworn adversaries in an eternal debate surrounding the true nature of humanity – are we in fact inherently good, hopeful and open to change or are we just hateful beings acting out of fear and desperation attempting to destroy everything we cannot understand? One believes is harmony while the other doesn’t believe humanity capable of it.
Saturday, June 04, 2011
X-MEN: FIRST CLASS
Written by Ahsley Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughan
Directed by Matthew Vaughan
Starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence
and Kevin Bacon
Charles Xavier: I believe that true focus lies somewhere between rage and serenity.
I’ve always had a soft spot for the X-Men within the ever-expanding realm of comic book film adaptations. Given my own, and what I imagine are most people’s insecurities, it is easy to identify with people who feel they don’t belong amongst regular society, people who genuinely believe themselves to be freaks. Only these particular freaks aren’t ashamed of who they are, rather they are more advanced specimens because of their abnormalities. That confidence can perhaps be no better pinpointed that at its moment of inception. And so X-MEN: FIRST CLASS tells us the tale of how a mutant comes of age.
A little less than 20 years later and these boys are now adults. Charles is bit of a cad with the ladies, finishing his doctorate on genetics at Oxford University. Erik however has focused his ability to manipulate and control all metals to a fine art and is determined to find the Nazi officer that ruined his life. Unbeknownst to either of them, this particular Nazi is a mutant himself and one with grand plans at that. Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) wants to start World War III by pitting the Russians against the Americans in what we would know as the Cuban missile crisis. As nuclear radioactivity gave birth to mutation in humanity, Shaw believes a post nuclear war world will be a mutant utopia. Charles and Erik must band together, along with a group of misfit mutants who have barely become adults, to defeat a common enemy. Their idea of defeating him though differs drastically.
I’ve always known Professor X and Magneto to be enemies. I knew they had a respect for each other, which at times bordered on admiration but all the same, they ruled on opposing sides. X-MEN: FIRST CLASS provides the insight as to just how complex their relationship truly is. They are not really enemies after all; they are equals and even brothers who have fundamentally different values. The fact that they each adhere to their core beliefs so passionately and with such unflinching resolve is what inspires the respect that each accords the other. The strength of their fraternity is testament to the great depth Fassbender and McAvoy bring to the roles, all of which allows Vaughan to bring a great deal of class to a franchise that was going the route of crass.