A young post graduate with the power to read minds joins with a holocaust victim with powers of magnetism to found a C.I.A. sponsored training program for newly empowered mutants in the 1960’s.
X-Men: First Class is what the first film should have been. Instead of the clumsy and near constant exposition of the original, it expands on the best scene of the film featuring the first manifestation of Magneto’s powers and shows the origins of his relationship with Charles Xavier and how their ideologies and methods diverged. Not only that, but it does it with wit and style and the 1960’s setting gives it an epic quality that plays out on a world stage in history as well as some very appealing old school Bond imagery provided by SFX legend John Dykstra. The only real weakness lies in its being the victim of the franchise’s own continuity. The story was crying out for the original team but because most of the central characters have already been “used up”, the supporting cast include non-characters like Darwin plus quite how Angel made the cut I’ll never know; this fact is thrown into sharp relief by an amusing cameo by Hugh Jackman. This is also true of the villains; Sebastian Shaw and Emma Frost are not fully explored yet still interesting, but Azazel (who?) and erm…the other one are completely anonymous and I can’t remember either of them uttering a word.
Still, this film is all about the double act of James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender and their interplay is brilliant, setting up a potentially fantastic new direction for the series. Not quite the measure of X2, but a worthy runner up.