X-MEN: FIRST CLASS Review [Philosophical Monday]

When T.E. reported on Friday that X-MEN: FIRST CLASS was getting all sorts of great reviews, I got a bit excited and wondered if this would be the movie that would turn the summer around for me action-wise. I’m a big James McAvoy fan, and I loved the thought of getting to see the origins of some of my favorite X-Men characters, like Mystique, Beast, and of course, Dr. Charles Xavier. Did the movie live up to the hype? Not exactly.

What It’s About: It really is the X-Men origins story. The movie even starts off with scenes featuring, prepubescent Professor X, Mystique, and Magneto.

What Makes It Different: While all the other X-Men movies have only payed lip-service to the whole idea of mutants being a disenfranchised group, this movie puts that idea at the forefront. It also helps that this theme is set against the backdrop of the early 60s, featuring a CIA that is mostly male and lily white.

Four Things I Loved

1. Mystique. In a world where a young woman’s coming of age usually involves a pretty extensive makeover, it was refreshing to see one female character working toward self-acceptance.

2. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? This film is intelligent in that it offers us no easy answers to the questions that have been presented to disenfranchised minorities since the dawn of time: should we work with the powers-that-be or overthrow them? Both sides have strong arguments in their favor.

3. Xavier and Magneto. It was so nice to see these guys be friends as opposed to enemies. Their chemistry was so good, I kept on rooting for them to kiss when they had deep conversations. As a writer, it made me realize that at the end of the day, a great friendship is really a great love story.

4. Finally some answers. I found myself fiercely anticipating certain moments in the film. It was nice to finally receive answers to many of my questions, like Why did Xavier and Magneto fall out? and What paralyzed Xavier? I even got answers to some questions that I didn’t even know I had, like Where did all of Xavier’s money come from? and How did The Beast become The Beast?

What I Didn’t Like

January Jones as Emma Frost and Zoe Kravitz as Angel were basically badly-acted puppet jobs. In fact all of the female mutants in this film had power issues. Despite superior abilities, they seemed incapable of going at it alone, choosing to align themselves with one man after another as opposed to making decisions for themselves. Xavier bossed around Mystique so bad, that I wanted to enter the scene and tell him off myself. I won’t even talk about the fact that even though Moira MacTaggert was the only woman in her division of the CIA, how she either appeared in her underwear or seriously unprofessional short skirts the entire time. And don’t get me started on the stripper with the heart of stone, or the fact that while the guys had some diversity on the looks scale, all of the women, save for Mystique, could double as models — they even took away Moira’s glasses! Basically, this film would have come off as way more intelligent if it weren’t so ridiculously ruled my the male gaze. Oh, and then there’s the Anti-PAUL report…

Spoiler Alert – Don’t read on from this point if you want to be surprised!

The Anti-PAUL Report

Where there any people of color in this film? Yes, three: Darwin (pictured) a black super-adapting mutant; Angel (Zoe Kravitz) as a flying mutant who can shoot fireballs out of her mouth, and a vaguely Latino henchman mutant, who isn’t give any speaking lines, but looks fierce in a suit — so maybe he was Italian? [Okay, after a quick visit to IMDB, I just confirmed that his name was Riptide, and he’s played by Latino actor, Alex Gonzalez.]

Did any of them make it to the end of the movie? Basically the only mutant who doesn’t live is the black guy. He got killed off so quickly, I wondered why they hadn’t outfitted him in a red shirt. But of course the pasty Banshee and the obnoxious blond dude (Havoc) get to live.

Were any of them bad guys? By the end of the movie, all the female mutants and mutants of color joined up with the now-evil Jew, Magneto, while all the white male mutants stayed with the privileged white guy, Xavier. Kinda weird.

Were any of them from THE WIRE? No, but Darwin had a memorable stint on HOUSE  few years back.