Ever since the first details of X-Men: First Class started hitting the Net, fans have either been wary or downright upset about the film, claiming that it is presenting the origins of the X-Men in a manner that is seemingly dismissive of the continuity established in X-Men comic books, or even the X-Men movie trilogy.
While the X-Men: First Class trailer and recent Russian trailer have both served to sway some fans over to the possibility that First Class may in fact turn out to be a good film (against all odds), there is still a substantial amount of concern about the movie’s plot, and how seemingly different it is.
Yesterday I was writing an article questioning whether or not Hollywood should cater to the fan community when it comes to superhero movies, and in that process, I found myself focusing on the case of X-Men: First Class in some detail. As I dug into the topic, one question quickly emerged: Is the plot of X-Men: First Class as far removed from the comics as some fans seem to think it is?
In case you aren’t yet aware, here’s complete breakdown of which actors are playing which roles in X-Men: First Class. Click on any name for more info on the character:
- James McAvoy – Professor X
- Michael Fassbender – Magneto
- Kevin Bacon – Sebastian Shaw
- January Jones – Emma Frost
- Nicholas Hoult – Beast
- Caleb Landry Jones – Banshee
- Lucas Till – Havok
- Zoe Kravitz – Angel Salvadore
- Alex Gonzalez – Riptide
- Jennifer Lawrence – Mystique
- Edi Gathegi – Darwin
- Jason Flemyng – Azazel
- Rose Byrne – Moira MacTaggert
- Ray Wise – Unamed Government Head of State
- Oliver Platt – Shady Government Agent
We know that this First Class movie has been described by director Matthew Vaughn as a quasi-reboot of the X-Men franchise – one whose center would be the relationship between Charles Xavier and Erik “Magneto” Lehnsherr and how a rift formed between the two men, leading to the warring factions of Magneto’s brotherhood and Xavier’s X-Men. In the film, Magneto is seemingly a part of Xavier’s school, teaching young mutants to master their powers. This is, of course, also part of X-Men comic book canon. In fact, Magneto was the first headmaster of Jr. X-Men squad The New Mutants, until the loss of several team members and continuous conflict ultimately turned him away from Xavier’s school and pacifist ideals.
There are hints that X-Men: First Class‘ history-meets-comic-books storyline is also drawing from Ed Brubaker’s miniseries X-Men: Deadly Genesis, which retconned the classic story told in Giant-Size X-Men #1, the issue that brought fan-favorites like Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler and Colossus into the X-Men fold. In that story, the first class of X-Men (Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman, Beast, Angel) were sent to investigate and island called Krakoa; however, upon arriving there, they are ambushed and captured. Only Cyclops escapes, but seemingly has no memory of his ordeal. He and Professor X recruit new X-Men (Wolverine, Storm and others) to save the captured team members. On the return trip, they discover the island is in fact alive, having gained sentient life as a result of Cold War A-bomb tests in the area. Krakoa is beaten, and the combined team of X-Men is formed.
X-Men: Deadly Genesis “re-imagined” the X-Men’s Krakoa mission by introducing the story of the “Lost X-Men,” a team of mutants tutored by Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne in the film) and psychically trained by professor Xavier. The Lost X-Men’s first mission was to rescue the original X-Men from Krakoa, but the team was only able to save Cyclops and seemingly perished in the line of duty. This “Lost X-Men” team included Darwin (Edi Gathegi), an elemental-powered X-Man (Riptide (Alex Conzalez) instead of Petra) and a new Summers brother (a re-imagined Havok (Lucas Till) instead of “lost” Summers brother, Kid Vulcan).
Brubaker’s “Deadly Genesis” story even features a young Emma Frost graduating from stripper to queen of the Hellfire Club; she was approached to join the Lost X-Men, but turned the offer down. Ultimately, the demise of these Lost X-Men proved too traumatic, and Professor X used his power to wipe the memory of the encounter from the minds of those involved.
Clearly there is room to suggest that the inclusion of characters like Darwin, Riptide – and to a certain extent, Havok – could be First Class‘ tweaked version of the Lost X-Men team. Having a roster of essentially expendable characters would also negate the problem of why the old X-Men in Vaughn’s film would have little influence on the newer X-Men presented in Bryan Singer’s films: Hard for the old class to influence the new class if most of the old class is dead…
It would be especially interesting to see Xavier and Magneto try to lead a young generation of X-Men, only to have the children meet a grisly fate trying to play hero – a trauma which would potentially cause Magneto to split from Xavier (like in New Mutants). Will that mission be to stop (or save) Krakoa, the mutant island? Judging by some early set photos it’s possible…but all the same, it’s unlikely that this film would go so far as to feature a living island as the villain. (Unlikely, not impossible.)