Very loosely based on the hugely popular comic book, X-Men: First Class was one of several superhero films released in the summer of 2011 (along with Green Lantern, Thor, and Captain America: the First Avenger). The movie was directed by Matthew Vaughn, fresh off making another superhero film called Kick-Ass. And it starred James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender as the two leads, Charles Xavier/Professor X and Erik Lensherr/Magneto. Likewise, the movie featured Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw, Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, and Rose Byrne as Moira MacTaggert. Likewise the movie featured Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy/Beast, Zoe Kravitz as Angel Salvadore, Caleb Landry-Jones as Sean Cassidy/Banshee, Lucas Till as Alex Summers/Havoc and Edi Gathegi as Armando Munoz/Darwin, the different mutants that Xavier and Lensherr recruited to be the original X-Men (though Angel would later switch sides). In addition, the movie also featured January Jones as Emma Frost, Jason Flemying as Azazel, and Alex Gonzales as Riptide—each members of the Hellfire Club and henchmen of Sebastian Shaw.
In the end, the movie had very little respect for the original source material but that’s become quite the norm for the X-Men film series. Yet, they’ve developed their own world which is quite entertaining if you don’t count the piece of crap known as the Last Stand. This movie features Xavier and Lensherr recruiting the first class of X-Men to help them fight the Hellfire Club (with a very memorable Wolverine cameo). Xavier only wanted to stop them, but Lensherr wanted revenge. Sebastian Shaw (the leader of the Hellfire Club) had essentially killed his mother. Meanwhile, two of the X-Men develop feelings for one another (Mystique and McCoy). This relationship revolved around them both having a desire to look normal. Mystique ended up changing her mind, due to Lensherr’s influence, but McCoy ended up making his mutation worse. He developed his signature blue form due to his miscalculation. Throughout the movie, Angel switched sides and a rift started to slowly form in the friendship of Xavier and Lensherr.
Despite the different take from the comics, I did enjoy the movie. Both McAvoy and Fassbender did stellar jobs and (Fassbender, in particular) stole the show from the rest of the cast who mostly did stellar jobs in themselves (especially Lawrence and Hoult)—all with the exception of January Jones who was way too wooden for her own good. She seemed to think that Emma Frost was the Ice Queen, instead of the White Queen. Also, the X-Men training montage was quite funny. It mainly revolved around Banshee and Havoc with a little less time devoted to Beast, but I couldn’t stop laughing throughout (especially when it came to Banshee’s first attempt at flying. In the end, the only thing that hurt this movie—besides its lack of respect for the original source material—was that it came out during a summer with two much better superhero movies (Thor and Captain America). I mean, as good as it was, the movie couldn’t come close to either one of those in terms of writing or entertainment value.
All in all, a mostly stellar cast along with some decent writing has turned X-Men: First Class into the best of the series.