X-Men: First Class is just about perfect and definitely the best movie in the X-Men saga. But is it the best comic book movie ever made? Let’s find out.
As a huge comic book fan, I’m going to make a bold but true statement: X-Men: First Class is the second greatest movie based on a comic book series. It sits comfortably behind The Dark Knight in the echelons of comic book adaptations. And while some may disagree and say that the original Iron Man, or Spiderman 2, or even the second X-Men movie takes that spot, I’m going to disagree. While all those aforementioned movies were great comic book flicks, that’s all they’ll ever be -- comic book movies. They were great because fans felt that, wow, Hollywood actually got the characters right for a change. But X-Men: First Class has the rare distinction of being a comic book movie so good that its source material is almost beside the point. It’s just a great movie, period.
First Class is more about the characters and story than the whiz-bang of their powers. That’s not to say that First Class is a boring slog of emotions, lacking any "gee, wow" moments. Not at all. The special effects in this movie are astounding and I’d say better than the whole trilogy that came before it. But like The Dark Knight, it never puts the action first. Instead, it leads with story and works in the action around the characters, making it all the more relevant when we find out how Professor X (James McAvoy in this version) became crippled, or why we don’t see some of these mutants in the earlier pictures. The story, set amongst real world events, is surprisingly palpable, even though it’s about people with super powers. And it’s all because this film centers on one of the greatest characters in comic book history -- Magneto.
A while back, it was rumored that there would be two origin pictures after the original X-Men trilogy ended -- a Wolverine movie, and a Magneto one. Imagine my disappointment when I found out that Wolverine got the green light but the Magneto movie was cancelled. I always found the Hugh Jackman version of Wolverine to be soft. And Magneto, in my opinion, is a far more interesting character. Well, I actually got my wish with First Class because it’s seriously just Magneto, the movie. It starts off with him as a child in Nazi Germany and we learn why he came to detest mankind as an adult. But the movie doesn’t make it an easy decision in the slightest. We see throughout the film that he really tried to see both sides of the coin and ultimately decided it wasn’t worth it. And we don’t hate him for it. We actually empathize with him. That’s good storytelling.
Kudos also on the decision to make this a period piece set in one of the most tumultuous times in American history. The parallels of the black power movement for equal rights is evident here. It’s like Professor X is MLK Jr. and Magneto is Malcolm X, and neither is wrong. They just have different points of view.
Everything about X-Men: First Class is astounding. If you didn’t see it in the theater, see it now on Blu-ray. You won’t be disappointed. Non-comic book fans included.
X:Men: First Class is a great movie, and it has great special features to boot. “Cerebro: Mutant Tracker” lets you inside the brain machine Charles Xavier uses to track mutants. You’re able to watch clips of other characters from X-Men: First Class and previous movies, such as Cyclops, Sabretooth, and Gambit from X-Men Origins: Wolverine (barf!). It’s a nifty feature, and it’s nice to see the dramatic changes some characters went through over the course of the series, like the aforementioned Sabretooth (who looked totally better in X-Men Origins: Wolverine than he did in the first movie).
The “Children of the Atom” multi-part documentary is over an hour of footage discussing the many facets of the film, from the score to the characters in the comics. The deleted scenes are actually pretty good, too. One of them even has Michael Fassbender in drag. The only qualm I have on the whole disc is the “X Marks the Spot Viewing Mode.” Instead of being seamless, this featurette cuts into the movie at odd points with discussions on certain parts of filming. I would have preferred if they had a small box in the bottom-right hand corner. This is just awkward.
Overall, though. The movie’s great, the special features are great, and just about everything’s great. Buy this Blu-ray now.