Who doesn’t love the X-Men? Before Iron Man changed thing like a bat-themed vigilante changed Gotham, almost anyone you stopped in the street could reel off more mutants that any superhero type, even if they’d never held a comic beyond using it to beat its dorky owner around the head before going off to do man stuff (as one of the frequently beaten, I assumed this involves lots of sex making with those terrifying cootie-carriers called “girls”, and chopping down trees while shirtless). Yes the X-Men enjoyed some pretty lofty times capturing the hearts and minds of millions, helped exponentially by the still acclaimed 1993-97 animated series and game-changing block buster movies. But then Mojo infiltrated 20th Century Fox in order to destroy his enemies in the most effective way possible: bad ratings. Sub-standard films staring way too much Halle Berry, not enough Deadpool and WAAAAAYYYYYY too many subplots followed. Initially X-Men: First Class appeared to be a salvation from this near-devastating blow to the franchise. But as with a certain blue-skinned woman, looks can be deceiving…
Part 1: Children of the Atom – Literally
Our tale begins in that common staple of family-films: a Nazi concentration camp. When separated from his parents, Young Magneto, aka Eric, employs a newfound ability to control metals that renders Uri Gellers’ spoon bending redundant. Paedo-moustached Sebastian Shaw, head of the camp is impressed and summons Eric to his office-come-torture chamber.
Sebastian Shaw: Mien Gott Eric, you have a very special gift! If you can move this coin with your powers I shall give you some chocolate and some stripy new pyjamas.
Eric: Nnnnn…..guuuuuu…..Nuuuurg I can’t 😥
Sebastian: What the fuck?! Ian McKellen flew a bridge in the 3rd film, and he’s 100 years old! Maybe you need incentive: move the coin or I shoot your mother.
Eric: Y’mean so she can carry on starving to death in the camps? Oh yeah, a painless death via bullet to the head is so much worse.
Eric kills everybody in the room (EXCEPT the man who murdered his mother, imprisoned his father, and has been running experiments on his fellow Jews), using his metal manipulating might to trash the torture lab.
Sebastian: Wow…..so that worked pretty good. And now I shall train you to use your powers, in absolute certainty this is in no way going to come back and bite me on the ass.
Meanwhile, in the picturesque, Nazi-free house of smug young Charles Smuggy-Smug-Smug Xavier, young Charles discovers a smurf wearing his mothers’ skin raiding his fridge and decides to make friends with it, giving her a home in his luxurious mansion where she doesn’t have to fear the judgment of others…except maybe his mother, step-father, step-brother Cain “Juggernaut” Marko (yeah, ‘cuz he’s so accepting of others’ differences), the maid, or any house guest who’ll no doubt be curious to know who the fuck the little blue orphan scampering round the manor is. Okay it’s been 10 minutes and all we’ve seen are the X-babies.
Now I’m positive Mojo’s boneless fingers are all over this.
20 years later and Charles is a toffee-nosed Tory gimboid and foremost undergraduate authority on genetic mutation, mystique is a broken woman whose love for Charles is unrequited as she struggles to find a place in society from beneath his over-protective shadow, and Eric is a Nazi hunter. Whoa, stop! Magneto is a Nazi hunter – that’s a concept so beyond awesome it deserves a movie of its own, and yet it barely takes up 5 min of this 2 hour movie. Bad Matthew Vaughn, go back to the drawing board and make this film instead! So apparently after seeing Eric as a mini mutant-Messiah and tutoring/torturing him in the best way to use his powers, Sebastian just sort of got bored or distracted and left Eric to it. Why? What was the purpose in any of the opening scene if there was no long term plan? All you did was royally piss off a guy that can kill you with a spoon with his hands tied – did you not read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo?! The only answer is 20th Century Fox demanded a Jewish blood sacrifice before green lighting the production. Magneto has been killing high-ranking Nazis ever since the 1950s to track down Sebastian and have his revenge for wasting his time…oh and murdering his mutter.
The CIA is tracking the shady doings of the mysterious Hellfire Club (which is named once then never referenced again); an organisation that attracts mob bosses, foreign ambassadors and a N.A.T.O. colonel named Hendry. Not-Scottish in the slightest agent Moira MacTaggert strips down to her CIA issue lingerie and follows the trial of whores inside.
As practical as it is bullet-proof.
Oh shit it’s January Jones D: Quick, make a break for it before she spe-
Emma Frost: Monotone droo~ne.
FUCK! Let’s just prey that her T-100 Terminator acting chip gets upgraded to ‘human’ setting by the next film and count our blessings that the screen play can barely stop for breath, reducing her screen time exponentially. They disappear behind a curtain with Moira in pursuit, discovering they have withdrawn via a secret entrance to another room. In this room is another secret entrance to an even secret-er room, where in Sebastian is trying to coax Hendry into escalating an arms race with Russia.
Sebastian: I want you to vote ‘yes’ on the imminent decision to place Jupiter missiles in Turkey.
Hendry: Sir, ah may be bluff military type, but even ah know that’s suicide. And who are you ta make demands o’me?
Sebastian: Me? Oh I’m just a guy who can conjure convenient exposition at a whim.
He has all his fellow Hellfire members show off their powers for the purpose of trailer-fodder.
|Riptide, aka “shit trade off for Storm”||Mastery of wind…||Despite having ridiculous powers, a pimp-tastic purple suit and not saying a word the entire film, this guy leaves less impression than ghost-piss in snow|
|Azazel, aka “Communist Nightcrawler”||Teleportation||He and Mystique gonna get jiggy ‘wit it (look it up, non-nerds)|
|Emma Frost, aka “Terminator: Vajazzle Edition”||Diamond form, telepathy and the double-win of blocking other telepaths when in diamond form.||Ironically, as she’s being played by emotion-devoid Miss Jones, she ends up in a long lasting relationship with Scott “Cyclops” Summers: the most boring, monotonous, man in the universe. I can only imagine how boring their children will be.|
This…somehow convinces Hendry to go along with the plan – I suppose having ones’ faith in God torn apart in front of you makes a man compliant with the demands rock women and Russian demons. Sebastian has Azazel teleport Hendry to his important war cabinet meeting in a flash before anyone knows he’s gone No one at the CIA believes Moira’s insane claims, so it’s up to her to locate someone who might know something about these self-titled “mutants”. Her search brings her to Charles, who is more than happy to come along to the fucking Pentagon and show off his ability to read minds and Mystiques’ alien from in front of government officials who have no problem imprisoning perfectly normal people for simplistic fear of the different. One agent, played by Oliver Platt, is happy to take the abnormals under his wing until they can better think of what to do with the biggest threat to national security this side of Watergate. For now they will be pawns in the fight against the Hellfire Club.
Colonel Hendry comes to realise that the annihilation of all life on earth may hamper his promising career in the upcoming Nixon administration, tracking Sebastian down to his super-secret lair, cunningly disguised as a harbour-dwarfing yacht, and threatening him with a hand grenade.
Can’t help feeling a gun would be more practical, but the 60s were cra-zay times. Sebastian detonates the grenade, absorbing the explosion and inflicts a localised detonation inside the now late Colonel before he can make mutants a central feature of the Joseph McCarthy witch-hunt. Eric then shows up, having spent his best years slaughtering his way through various Swiss bankers to finally have his reunion with his creator. Emma throws him overboard as the US army, along with Charles and Moira, arrive in what can be modestly called a battleship, the USS Overkill. It has been a busy day for guests for the Hellfire Club, who are less that hospitable with their callers. The heroes stand agape as their plans rapidly crumble thanks to Riptide and his lethal mastery of localised air currents.
Oliver Platt: Sweet Aunt Petunia, our small rubber boats are no match for prevailing winds!
Moira: Then lets plough our ridiculously OTT war frigate into them – betting it’s pretty wind proof.
Oliver Platt: A bold and reasonable suggestion, however you are a woman and the 60s’ are still mired in misogynistic dogma. You leave me with no choice but to strike that option from our options. I hope you’re happy!
Charles: Maybe I could use my telepathy to see what they are thinking.
Moira: We know what they are thinking: “kill them all!” Do something constructive!
Charles: Hush my dear, men are working. Now lets’ take a peak…oh wait, he also has a telepath who can block my thoughts. Well that’s me out. If you need me I’ll be doing anything that requires no effort on my part elsewhere.
By using the ships’ anchor to rip their yacht apart, Eric forces Sebastian to flee in his SUBMARINE. Desperate to claim his revenge nearly causes Eric to drown as he clings magnetically to the fleeing submersible until Charles dives in and screams “calm your mind” into his thoughts, a sentence so befuddling and hilariously bad Eric looses concentration and the villains escape. Eric is sceptical but agrees to stick around if it means another shot at Sebastian.
Oliver Platt takes the freaks and shelters them in his high-tech government think-tank. Among his staff is young genius Hank McCoy, looking a lot less like Fraser and even less like the gorilla aliens from Evolution than when we last saw him in The Last Stand.
Charles: It’s so chuffing splendid that you have mutants working here, old sport.
Oliver Platt: What do you mean?
Hank: I hadn’t told him I’m a mutant, which you should have known, being a mind reader and all.
Raven: You can get up to speed on Moiras’ time in the Hellfire club in moments but you can’t tell this guy is a closet case after 30 seconds?
Hank: I never told anyone because…well, frankly my mutation is so disturbing, so monstrous, so horrifying it both curdles AND chills the blood. BEHOLD!
Everyone bursts out laughing.
Eric: Oh man, that has to be the most tragic thing I have ever seen – and I’m a Holocaust survivor.
For reasons never explained, Hank has been building a device to enhance the powers of telepaths despite never having met any until 5 minutes ago: Cerebro. Charles uses it to pinpoint fellow abominations unto the Lord, and together he and Eric cruise the world to enlist their homosuperior brethren. The final team is less than stellar: a flying stripper, a violent anti-authoritarian, a taxi driver and Chucky during his sexless teen years – great additions to team thus far composed of a spoon-bending sociopath, the lovechild of the Blue Man Group and a crocodile, and David Cameron. The Hellfire club must be shaking in their finely tailored pantaloons. Meanwhile, Hank and Raven share a tender moment in which she allows him to take her blood in the hopes he can make good on his word of a cure for their disfigurements. Oh Hank you lovable virgin, the manly thing to do is ask them for a blood test after you’ve had sex. As fan fiction goes, this is pretty tame and kinda sweet the way they grow close over a shared perception of the world. After seeing this, who wouldn’t want to see the big-footed, bulb-eyed dork get it on with the sweet, sensitive, lovable blue minx?
*Shudder* I stand corrected. Let this forever be the exception to Rule 37. Nearly an hour in and the film hasn’t stopped for breath; rather like a certain Terminator 3, it has sacrificed character development in favour of set pieces and narrative exposition. Thus I feel a need to take 5 on its behalf. To be continued in part 2: From Russia with Love of Armageddon.