After the quite disappointing Wolverine my hopes for First Class, a prequel to the original trilogy were rather tempered.
I turned out to be wrong, First Class turned out to be a good movie on its own and a return to the form in the franchise.
First Class is indeed a prequel – it is set in 1962, and it cover the inception of the superhero team known as X-Men.
Despite the era this is not a Mad Men / X-Men- mashup. Casual sex and smoking are not part of the plot.
And neither does the film have that much to do with the comic book origins of the group. This is a stealthy reboot, as most viewers (including me) had no real idea how the team got started.
But despite the rewritten plot strands, there’s plenty that’s familiar and expected: Magneto cannot be a good guy, Xavier needs to end up in a wheelchair and the seeds of distrust between mutants and humans need to be sowed.
First Class accomplishes those tasks, and plenty more. This is far more than Marvel history by the numbers.
A lot of the weight is borne by the leads in the cast, and both James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender execute themselves well. But the cast is much larger – and a lot of characters barely have a blip on screen. One of those blips is the one of the greatest cameos ever – a totally unexpected visit by a short-tempered canadian mutant.
But it’s not perfect, far from it. The family relationship between Xavier and Mystique doesn’t work at all, and while Kevin Bacon puts on a nice display of villainship as Sebastian Shaw the character feels like a spare Bond supervillain.
But it’s a huge improvement over Wolverine’s solo movie, nonetheless.