Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mutants Hit the Big Screen

X-Men First Class
X-Men: First Class

It's no secret. As a comic book fan, I've been holding a grudge against the X-Men franchise for years for its script writing that blatantly ignores comic book canon. In fact, I almost avoided X-Men: First Class in fear of it turning out like X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which remains notable for its leak onto the internet before it hit theaters. Whereas fans left X-Men Origins: Wolverine wondering why they skipped some of the largest chapters in Logan's life, like living in Japan and fathering a son, X-Men: First Class does a good job of taking an old story, freshening it up, and presenting it to an overly critical audience (myself included).

As children, Erik is raised in a Nazi prison camp while Charles adopts Mystique into his family. Years later, Erik is hunting down the Nazi who killed his mother and trained him. Charles has just become a professor focusing in mutations and is recruited by the CIA to find Sebastian Shaw (played by Kevin Bacon), the mutant leader of the Hellfire Club. The CIA reveals that the Hellfire Club aims to start World War III, a nuclear war, in order to destroy humans and allow mutants to rise to rule the world. The CIA recruits Erik and Charles and introduces them to Hank McCoy, a mutant scientist who created Cerebro, a brain wave intensifier, to locate other mutants around the United States. Erik and Charles volunteer to find these mutants and recruit them to an all-mutant team.

Shaw and Emma
Shaw and Emma Frost in diamond form

Charles' new team soon faces Shaw as he comes to recruit them out from beneath the CIA. Angel leaves with him much to the disappointment of her friends, and one member dies in the ensuing fight. With their recent failure close at hand, Charles takes the group to his home in New York to hone their abilities. There, Mystique and Hank bond over their odd looks, while Erik and Charles become closer friends over their mutual respect for mutants. Using Mystique's DNA, Hank attempts to heal his mutated feet but instead mutates further into a blue-furred creature the team refers to as Beast.

X-Men: First Class' Beast
Beast's new look

In an alternate telling of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the G-Men, the name the CIA calls the team of mutants, come to the frontlines to stop Shaw as he attempts to start a world war. Erik goes after Shaw for revenge and finds him absorbing nuclear energy. Erik kills him with the very coin Shaw gave him as a child. Charles, overwhelmed with grief for Erik's choice, tries to convince him to stop his thoughts of hatred, but Erik won't be convinced. The group returns to the beach to find that both the Russians and the United States Army are targeting them with missiles.

Erik uses the crises to show the G-Men that humans will only use and then destroy mutants. When the armies launch missiles, he turns them back towards the firing ships. Charles and Moira, a woman from the CIA, attempt to stop Erik, but when Erik deflects one of Moira's bullets, it is lodged in Charles' spine. Erik loses his concentration and the missiles explode, leaving the armies in the water safe, while Charles realizes he cannot move his legs. Erik leaves with many of the mutants on shore, including Mystique.

The rise of Magneto

In the final scenes, Charles declares that he is opening his home in New York as a school for other mutants while Moira pushes him in a wheelchair. She calls him Professor X and refers to his students as the X-Men. Erik, however, returns to prison for Emma Frost, showing that he is recruiting a large team of anti-human mutants.

Overall, I was really pleased with the film. It didn't ahere to comic book canon, but it was still a nice look at the origins of the X-Men team. Let's face it: If an X-Men movie can please me, it's going to be a box office smash hit. To get you in the mutated mood, check out the available X-Men costumes, and the Wolverine Muscle Chest adult costume. If you haven't seen X-Men: First Class yet, I suggest you do before your friends leave you in the dust. With great acting and some killer costumes, check out this movie ASAP!

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