Review: X-Men First Class

I saw the film today and was totally impressed. One of the best comic book adaptations ever. It tells the story how the X-Men came to be. How Charles Xavier met Magneto. How the Hellfire Club tried to start World War III. Eric Fastbender as Magneto was tremendous. He was arguably the hero of the film. A very cool anti-hero. You have no problem sympathizing with him as he hunts down the evil nazi scientist (Sebastian Shaw) who experimented on him as a child. While they took some liberties with the X-Men origin, they actually improved upon it and stayed very faithful to it for the most part.

It was thoroughly enjoyable.

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  1. Not commenting on the film —  I’m taking to task the idea that this film was FAITHFUL to the original comic!
    I’ve read X-Men #1…  Magneto was NOT Professor X’s buddy in the original 1963 comic.  Magneto was very much a mustache-twirling villain.  The idea that he was a Holocaust survivor and twisted into an egocentrist by his experiences then didn’t come until much, much later…  Most of Magneto’s backstory wasn’t written until well into Chris Claremont’s original run in the 1980s.  That was post-Uncanny X-Men #137!X-Men all along has had less to do with all these grandiose ideas of doing metamorphical analyses of racism, homophobia, and all the other -obia’s and more to do with exploring/EXPLOITING generational conflict and teenage frustrations. These comics aren’t the deep shit a lot of reviewers think they are!  It’s the same old crap — “My parents don’t know anything and don’t understand me!  Whoa’ze a’me!”  There’s only been about 3-4 years of the original comic (the Byrne/Claremont run) where it didn’t wallow into someone’s (INSERT writer’s name here) personal/identity politics or pandering to the same  maladjusted comic book crowd.Furthermore, excepting Beast and Professor X, the X-team in the new film ISN’T the original X-Men team — it’s a completely different group!   Beast wasn’t hairy (mutations into the blue furball happened 10 years later in another comic book series) and the Prof was already bald and well into his 40’s.  Professor X certainly didn’t look like a refugee from the Harry Potter films!  The rest of those characters on the “original” X-Men team in the film weren’t introduced in the comics until Claremont’s run excepting Banshee (who appeared circa issue 50 in the original X-Men comic) and the female Angel who was created for the film.  Mystique first appeared in an issue of Ms. Marvel — also written by Claremont.I’m not saying all adaptations/revisions are bad… The original 1960s X-Men comic was NOT Marvel’s finest.  It was outshined by far superior comics (at least more fun to look at and read!) back then in the Marvel stable as well as its nearest DC counterpart, The Doom Patrol.  Ironically, the 1960s Doom Patrol was writing-wise much closer to the late 1970s/early 1980s X-Men comics than the original run X-Men comic was!  1960s X-Men, by and large, was a paler, teen version of The Fantastic Four.Again, no bearing on the film’s quality.  I’m sure it’s okay (preponderance of reviews seem to confirm that) but please let’s not pretend the films that are being made now are faithful by the letters.  Far from it.  They all pick and choose from story strands over the past 40-70 years of comics.  The good intentions may be there but otherwise this adaptation is as faithful to the original X-Men comics as Walt Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was to Jules Vernes’ original novel.

    • It’s not true to the Stan Lee/Kirby story, yes. I was talking about the X-Men in general which has admittedly so many retcons that’s almost a meaningless thing to say. Sebastian Shaw is an American industrialist in the comics, not a nazi scientist. But they took the over all story and put together a very nice origin tale that captures the flavor of the X-Men better than anything I’ve seen before, either in film or animation or many comics.

      • Better could still be done…

        Someone just has to come along and decide that they ARE going to do better and be more faithful instead of doing yet another retcon or film that has little in common with the original comics besides the title.  (I just don’t see that happening any time soon with the way things are now in LA.)

        Frankly, I’m far from convinced live-action is the way to do superheroes at any rate.  It just hasn’t been practical to translate most of these characters faithfully to live-action — the various physical deformities some characters have and costume designs don’t look good in reality 90-some percent of the time.

        The WB TV animation based on the DC characters, as strictly budgeted as it is, still is far more faithful than any of live-action efforts done for at least 22 years now.  (I’m not including the first two Christopher Reeve films in that category because they were finished before the current production cycles and are a slightly different case than the later comic book films.)  The problem is that the general public and people who commission these films and TV works still regard animation as the strict domain of children and that is just an utterly insane attitude that has no basis in reality.  It’s just an ugly ingrained prejudice that has existed only because of the lower production standards set for TV production since the 1950s, and the resulting condescension in writing.

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