With X-Men: First Class having hit theaters this weekend we thought it appropriate to take a closer look at the X-Men movies. The movies have become a continuum all unto themselves. Still we have to ask: where exactly does X-Men: First Class fit into the other movies? Does it follow the timelines and stories set up in the original trilogy? Does it have the core essentials from the comics? That is what we are going to explore.
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There are currently five X-men movies out and one that’s a bit stalled. The movies are: X-Men, X2: X-Men United, X-Men: The Last Stand, Wolverine Origins, and X-Men: First Class. There is a sequel to Wolverine, but the director has walked off due to a divorce. So far the X-Men movie franchise has made $786,495,030. Granted this doesn’t include the latest installment X-Men: First Class. So far the numbers for X-Men: First Class is $56,000,000. The interesting aspect of the franchise is that the latest installments have been prequels. Wolverine Origins specifically follows Wolverine on his journeys before joining up with the X-Men. First Class is the formation of the X-Men and how Charles Xavier and Eric Lehnsherr formed their friendship before becoming frenemies.
The first two X-Men movies were great in that they had the classic characters that everyone knew as well as showing the hardships of being a mutant in society. There were tweaks such as a younger Rogue and the brother/sister bond she formed with Wolverine. Then they made Toad a much more athletic character because of getting Ray Parks Jr. to play him. Those were all little adjustments that were livable and that worked. Then there were some things that didn’t. One of the biggest faux pas in the first movie was Mystique being able to get into Cerebro. She can change her appearance, but not alter her retinas.
Granted we could spend all day nit picking on every little thing they did wrong, but that’s just being petty. After all the movies did allow us to see these characters brought to life on the big screen. Having said that, lets just focus on the big mistakes that have been made and where the latest installment fits in.
No one makes a movie with a prequel in mind. At the same time though, if a prequel is made they should pay attention to what came before as well as making sure it’s true to the source material. These are the biggest problems with X-Men: First Class between the original trilogy, Wolverine Origins, and the comics themselves. We should caution you that there is the possibility of spoilers. Having said that, let’s take a look at how this X-Men prequel relates, or doesn’t, to the X-Men continuum.
1. In the end of X-Men: First Class Xavier loses the use of his legs
a. In the end of Wolverine Origins Xavier WALKS off of a plane to take the mutants from the evil mutant experimentation island
b. The beginning of X-Men: The Last Stand Xavier WALKS into Jean Grey’s house to recruit her to his school
2. The original First Class in the comics consisted of Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Beast, Angel, and Iceman
a. In the movie the First Class was Havok, Beast, Mystique, Banshee, and Magneto
3. Cerebro was built by Hank McCoy
a. In the first X-Men Xavier told Wolverine that he and Magneto had built it
4. Xavier and Magneto go their separate ways at the end of the film
a. Again in the beginning of X-Men: The Last Stand a young Xavier and Magneto go into Jean Grey’s house to recruit her for the school
Granted that these are the things that the movie missed. There were some things that X-Men: First Class did very well. For instance:
1. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender not only looked like younger versions of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan, but did a fantastic job conveying the motivation and emotions of the characters as they started on this epic journey.
2. The chemistry between the two was phenomenal.
a. It would have been great if they had built more upon that for the movie, but after all it wasn’t supposed to be a superhero bro-mance.
3. It was nice to see more of Beast
a. It seemed like Kelsey Grammer got a little short changed in X-Men: The Last Stand.
4. It was good to see the fun playful side that McAvoy brought out in Xavier.
a. Being able to see a lighter side to the always serious Professor X.
5. Kevin Bacon makes a great villain
a. To him killing someone is simply on the “to do” list
6. Having the film take place in the 1960’s during the Cold War made for a wonderful set up for the plot as well as the start of the hatred towards mutants in a time when African Americans and women are seeking equal rights.
a. Much like Watchmen the time period really helped to make the film work as well as add a level of social complexity which has always been a signature for the X-Men.
7. Get to see new mutants brought to life on the big screen.
Overall X-Men: First Class is a fun movie looking at the X-Men from a slightly different perspective. If it was a stand alone film it would have been perfect. Unfortunately there was a trilogy that came before it that had established characters and given a rough timeline. Although to be able to see what makes these two mutant advocates and leaders tick makes the movie very worthwhile.
Remember, no movie adaptation is ever going to be 100% accurate and a prequel is always going to do something to mess up the timeline set by the original. Still, go watch it for yourself and let us know what you think.