2009’s X-men prequel; “X-men Origins : Wolverine” was by far one of the weakest films of that year. Hugh Jackman was simply no longer exciting any more as the abrasive Logan and despite fleeting appearances from some of the best X-men Characters, nothing really gelled together. Here we have another prequel from marvel. But this time, they’ve made a first class film…
There are a number of significant reasons why ‘First Class’ is a much better prequel than Wolverine. Significantly, the cast is FAR better. Hugh Jackman may have been fun in the first few X-Men Films but there’s only so many times you can get the laughs from the same old joke about his lack of care for others. Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy are dynamic, interesting, exciting and humorous as the young Magneto and Professor X. It is clear that they aren’t just cashing in a pay cheque like Jackman seems to be doing in most of the X-Men films; they really are putting their all into the performances.
‘First Class’ also has a story which seems to hold some significance. By setting it during the Cuban missile crisis and the potential start of a third World War the writers have really raised the stakes and made the action far more dramatic and exciting.
But it isn’t just the setting which infuses a tangible excitement into the film. It is Magneto and his confused background, many fans will know that he was a Jew liberated from a concentration camp; this story infuses real depth into the character. Michael Fassbender makes Magneto’s anti-hero a truly believable character.
No longer is X-Men simply about mutants with super powers (although there’s a fair share of CGI enhanced cool powers) it has actually become a rather clever epic action film, inter-weaved into history that many of our generation will be fairly unfamiliar with. Kudos must be given to director Matthew Vaughn whose previous film (‘Kick Ass’) was one of my favourite films of 2010, he has revitalised what, was before now, a dying franchise.
In many ways, I hope there is another film following young Professor X and young Magneto, but I’m already apprehensive that a whole ‘new’ franchise flogging these characters to death will be introduced. Will Marvel take these fantastic characters and reduce them to boring drones like the other X-Men trilogy? Who knows, all I know is that for now they have redefined X-Men as a quality series again.
Verdict: A great cast, great writing and the right Director at the helm makes ‘First Class’ the best superhero film since ‘The Dark Knight’ in fact, in many ways, it is better. It’s shorter; it has more interesting lead actors and far more interesting superpowers!