X-Men: First Class

Last night I went to see 'X-Men: First Class'. It's not quite an origins story, not quite a reboot - though it's more of the latter. The film opens exploring the history of Magneto, and looks at his relationship with Xavier. Given they're on opposite sides, why are they so pally? Why is Magneto so ant-human in the first place?

Due to the ages of the characters, this necessitates being a period piece, although that in turn means that it doesn't quite tally with the existing films. Sure, they made an effort to do so by dropping in referencing to slower ageing for Mystique, and the history of Beast suggests the same idea could be used there. However it wasn't really possible to apply this across the board, i.e. it is suggested that we saw a young 'Storm', and she would also have to age slowly.

For me, I'm quite happy if the franchise were to continue with this new baseline. It was nicely period (with a few anachronisms), and drop in references were fun (for example, a certain actor from earlier films shows up).

There was one too many reference to Xavier going bald for my liking (yes, we get it, he turns into Patrick Stewart)

The films strongest point, as with the source material, was in the exploration of the dynamic between Xavier and Eric (Professor X and Magneto). They each saw the same evidence, each felt the same experiences, and yet, they came to different conclusions about how they could coexist with humanity. Though Xavier had done a thesis on how Homo Sapiens out competed with the neanderthal, it was Eric who took the logical step at the end of the film and applied this thinking to their existence. Both men had their viewpoints, but arguably, Magneto's view was more logically self consistent - and this is what makes the X-men such an interesting and powerful franchise.

I have fond memories of the saturday morning cartoon, and it's complex storytelling for such a medium - it's not often you get an exploration of holocaust, resistance, survival and cooperation in kids TV, and this film brought that to the modern cinema, all without losing sight of the fact that it's a fluffy piece of entertainment.

Yes, most of the audience will go away thinking 'that was cool' (or not), but X-Men has a deeper undercurrent if it is given any attention at all.