X-Men: First Class
By Sr. Rose Pacatte, FSP
This latest installment in the Marvel comics-into-film
“X-Men” franchise is one of the best of the four, so far, if not the best. It
is, indeed, “first class.” Actually, the story is based on characters from the
comic book series, rather than an actual comic.
It is a prequel written by four people, based on a story by two others,
including Bryan Singer, the entertainment virtuoso who directed “Superman
Returns” (2006) and other notable films.
Usually too many writers spoil the plot, but in this case
the collaboration worked. We learn how
mutant Charles Xavier (James McEvoy) meets Raven (later Mystique played by
Jennifer Lawrence), and how the CIA eventually recruits them, after a fashion.
Xavier and Raven seek out others like themselves, who have unique superpowers
and abilities, due to the exploitation of atomic energy. They gather for
training to go up against other mutants who do not have the good of the world
While the story runs from about 1944 through 1962 where the
“X-Men” team thwarts the Cuban Missile Crisis, rewriting history for those who
enjoy fantasy speculation, the themes of self-acceptance, respect for others
who are different, and empathy run throughout this film, as they do through the
previous X-Men movies.
The moral or ethical tension in almost all comic book based
films is dualistic: characters are good or bad, the choices are for good or
evil. What I have always appreciated about the “X-Men” films is that they
illustrate that morality is more than black and white, or a choice between two evils. It’s more complex. Here the characters
consider consequences and while not all choices are good or even the best for
the common good, the characters struggle
to do the right thing, and often do – which is why we like them.
There are bigger issues in this film, however, than the
personal ones the characters deal with. Nuclear power, atomic energy, once
unleashed, cannot be contained again except through the efforts of people with
the political will to choose to do so. Documentaries, such as “Countdown to
Zero” (2010), deals with the same issue in stark, unadorned terms.
Without spoiling of “X-Men: First Class”, the ending seems somewhat dualistic. However, it is an
invitation to another prequel, and I think I’d like to see it when it comes
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