Friday, 28 April 2017

X-Men: First Class (5 Stars)

I've read various articles that call the first X-Men film, made in 2000, to be the best super-hero film ever made. Even writers at Empire magazine subscribe to this opinion. I don't understand why anyone would say something like that. The best super-hero film is Sam Raimi's Spider-Man, made two years later in 2002. Usually I accept other opinions because I know that tastes differ, but in this case it's so obvious that "Spider-Man" is better that I want to shake the head of anyone who contradicts me.

Even among the X-Men films the first film wasn't the best. "X-Men: First Class" is a much faster paced and better crafted film. I consider it to be the best of the six X-Men films. It catches the essence of the early X-Men comics, even if it features different characters. Apart from Charles Xavier (Professor X), the only member if the original group that appears in the film is Hank McCoy, the Beast.

There's one thing that the X-Men films do better than the comics. That's the portrayal of Magneto. He was admirably portrayed by Ian McKellen in the first three X-Men films, and Michael Fassbender was even more impressive as a younger Magneto in "First Class". In the comics Magneto was aloof. He always wore a helmet, so we never saw his face. He was utterly evil. It wasn't until the 1980's, 20 years after his first appearance, that we found out his real name was Magnus. Later it was said that his name was Erik. First it was said that Magneto came from an East European gypsy background, but later he was said to be Jewish. Marvel went on to write stories to explain the discrepancies, saying that he used different pseudonyms in his youth and only pretended to be a gypsy. That was merely an attempt to fix a mess that should never have been there in the first place. In the 1980's Marvel continuity, the thing Marvel had been famous for since the early 1960's, was breaking down. Different authors wrote whatever they wanted without reading previous comics, and they contradicted one another. They made mistakes. The real Magneto, as created by Stan Lee, faded away some time in the mid-1980's and was replaced by the re-imaginings of less talented authors, despite the valiant attempts of Chris Claremont to hold continuity together.

I'm drifting away from the point I wanted to make. What I want to say is that the real Magneto was a big bad monster that we knew nothing about. The X-Men films develop his character. We know him. We sympathise with him. Even when he does wrong we see that he's trying to achieve good goals. This is the case in all six X-Men films, but never more clearly than in "First Class". This is a film that concentrates on the relationship between the two idealistic young men, Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr.

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P.S. I want to keep my readers up to date on what television series have been keeping me away from my films lately. This week I've watched the whole second season of "Teen Wolf" and the first half of the second season of "Vikings". Maybe I should write something about "Vikings". Wait and see,

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