My Apprehension With X-Men: First Class

What is it about the X-men that makes it hard to produce the awe of the comicbook, on the silver screen?

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The first two installments were helmed by director Bryan Singer, who jumped into the age-old concept where the X-men were adults, with a smattering of chosen characters defused into the adolescent category - which off the bat was confusing and somewhat irresponsible to the fictional lore, especially to the comicbook reader, which in any case reveals the need to adhere to the story premise in the first place. But yes, we all know steps were needed to prolong the celluloid-longevity of the soon-to-be-trilogy, it seems.

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[James McAvoy as "Professor Xavier" - back in the day when he had hair]

Regardless, Parts 1 and 2 took their course, stirred up emotions (it sure did in me hahaha) and plodded along with a hunky Wolverine by Hugh Jackman, which turned out to be the most popular character in the series (ironically based on a comicbook character creation that does not look like the comicbook character, well, at least in height). SNIKT goes the claws, and riiiiing goes the tills. So much so he even got his own first spin-off movie (which I have not watched, and swore never will - WHY).

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[James McAvoy as "Professor Xavier" with hair, trying not to mentally cheat at chess]

In a situation where the X-Men felt more like a family drama and less of an epic film (in intent), it felt weirdly "comfortable", if not subdued - which was one of the main complaints I had when both films came out. Then came X-Men: The Last Stand aka Part Three of the trilogy, this time helmed by Brett Ratner - who delivered a piece both bursting with fanboy-powers, as well wrought with the pain of adaptation. More characters were re-invented and introduced, more mutants started wearing leather, and the entire movie turned out to look like a motorcycle-gang-clash flick. Ironically the resultant film felt different and separate from the first two outings by Singer. But hey, I enjoyed it for what it was! And that was the only way I could watch it till the end. That was the only way I could cope with what I saw, Storm's new funky 80's hairstyle not withstanding.

I am also painfully aware that the trilogy was written by a whole host of folks who I choose not to list, nor care much about. And that there is a different writer now for First Class. Yes, I am being utterly shallow, but I do not care. What I do care for is, is to be proven wrong with my assumptions hopefully, I really do.

In the world of Joss Whedon's first run of Astonishing X-Men (the comic's best run to date, IMHO), and the world of Ultimate X-Men, the crossover concept stood proud when it was first introduced, and has since doubled-over and lie amidst the wet ground of despair, a footnote in celluloid history - a relishing footnote nevertheless.

Joss is now attached to direct The Avengers comicbook movie, a film with all adults, no less.

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[The lineup of First Class, looking much like a bunch Suburbian Desperate Mutant-Folk]

And as all movie-pushers realized in the past decade, comicbook movies actually do make money in the long run (most, anyways - of course including the all-might DVD/Blue-ray arena) and is a highly achievable concept with adapting stories already written (how they adapt and if they do it well, is often a pain of contention in my book), and the high-tech resources to support the notion.

Who would have thought The Watchmen would ever get made? Who would ever thought Chris Nolan's Batman and Dark Knight would rock the industry on it's four-color-foundation? And Iron Man becoming the success it turned out to be? (I would quote Transformers too, but that's an 80's cartoon). And who would've thought Bryan Singer's Superman Returns would bomb, and Fantastic Four would turn into a mockery?

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[The uniform that broke the mutant's back. Who could
ever blame Magneto for getting back at humanity?]

By now, no doubt movie-mogols also realized, there were less longevity for the characters to develop and grow, along with tickets sold and the evolution of the generic average man who grows up on these staple of movies. And then we now have "X-Men: First Class". "Prequels" had become the next dirtiest word right next to "trilogy".

One parallel to this event is that Director Sam Raimi's Spiderman trilogy would now be superseded with a rebooted and a knocked-back age category. Marvel Comics is aiming them young nowadays, aren't they?

Make no mistake, I heart my trilogies and prequels (the term "sequel" seemed abolished in the filmmaking vocab), and look forward to extremely well made films, like the Harry Potter series, or even Lord Of The Rings (but I stop my passion at "The Hobbit"). And "First Class" looked to be a desperate reach for that market, IMHO.

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[Kevin/Sebastian about to break into song, while January/Emma is the only saving vavavoom-grace]

"X-Men: First Class, due for release on June 3, 2011, is directed by Matthew Vaughn. It stars James McAvoy as the young Professor X,[21] and Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr, who becomes Magneto. It is a prequel focusing on "the formative years of Xavier and Magneto, and the formation of the school and where their relationship took a wrong turn." The villains of the film will be the Hellfire Club, featuring Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw, and January Jones as Emma Frost." [Wiki]

magneto-back
[Now THIS is the sort of awe the film should exuded - even within a room with grids]
[Image above from Entertainment Weekly - released a day ahead of the trailer release]

"The film, set during the 1960s, will focus on the relationship between Professor X and Magneto and the origin of their groups, the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Mutants. The film stars James McAvoy as Professor X and Michael Fassbender as Magneto. It also stars Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw, the antagonist of the movie. Other cast members include January Jones, Rose Byrne, Jennifer Lawrence and Lucas Till. The film is mostly being shot in England and parts of the United States. Fox envisions this film as the first in a new trilogy." [Wiki]

Woah. Sudden flash of "Austin Powers Is A Ruddy Mutant Innit?" - yes, but of course I am utterly unfair here. Forgive me if you take offense. But feel free to chuckle along with me, I wouldn't mind, really.

Ironically, or perhaps tis but The Will Of The Celluloid-Cycle, Bryan Singer is back, this time producing the film instead of directing it. This does not fill me with hope nor excitement. In a notion of a "prequel" or dare I even say it, a reinvention, I would rather see someone else wholly, attached to the movie to make it different from what we have witnessed before. The saving grace thus far is Matthew Vaughn, who had earlier helmed the awesome "Kick-Ass" (which always was a comicbook adaptation from an indie comic - seeing the trend now?).

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This is the first time I am ever addressing this film, primarily because every other image from the film (posted here), failed to excite me, and drag me away from the "OMG-What-Are-They-Doing?" doldrums the picture is exuding. And having just read there were "reshoots"? Does not instill "desire-to-watch" in me, yet again. Because a high-concept movie franchise like the "X-MEN" demands excitement, and not a faint vibe of a "growing up" movie it is so much synonymous with now. Keep the "reality-teevee" vibe to television, and bring some lustre and bam-pow-panache back to the silver screen, particularly in this genre, IMHO. But if the teaser images attached to this blog-post excite you, then you have nothing to loose. And thank you for reading thus far.

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[Best part of the film so far is shown above]

Credit: All film promo stills via LatinoReview.

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