X-Men: First Classis a 2011 American superhero film directed by Matthew Vaughn . Based on the characters appearing in Marvel Comics , it is a prequel to theX-Menfilm series .X-Men: First Classwas released June 1, 2011 in the U.K. and on June 3 in the United States.
The film is set primarily in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis and focuses 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. Other cast members include Kevin Bacon , January Jones , Rose Byrne , Jennifer Lawrence , Zoë Kravitz , Nicholas Hoult and Lucas Till . The film was mostly shot in England and parts of the United States .
At a German concentration camp in occupied Poland in 1944, Sebastian Shaw (under the alias Dr. Schmidt) observes young Erik Lensherr bend a metal gate with his mind when the child is separated from his parents. In his office, Schmidt orders Lensherr to similarly move a metal coin on a desk, and kills his mother when the child cannot. Lensherr's out-of-control magnetic power manifests, killing two guards and destroying the room, to Shaw's delight. Meanwhile, in a Westchester County , New York , mansion, young telepath Charles Xavier meets shape-shifter Raven . Overjoyed to meet someone else "different" like him, he invites her to live with his family.
In 1962, an adult Lensherr has begun tracking down former Nazis, hoping to find Shaw and take revenge. Meanwhile, in England , Oxford University graduate Xavier is publishing his thesis on mutation; his foster sister Raven, a waitress, lives with him. In Las Vegas , Nevada , CIA agent Moira MacTaggert follows U.S. Army Colonel Hendry into the Hellfire Club , where she sees Shaw, Emma Frost , and Azazel . After Shaw threatens Hendry, Azazel disappears with the officer; moments later Hendry is in the War Room , advocating that the U.S. install nuclear missiles in Turkey . Shaw later kills Hendry, revealing the energy-absorbing mutant power that makes him virtually immortal.
MacTaggert, seeking Xavier's advice on mutation, introduces him and Raven to the CIA , where they convince Director McCone that mutants exist and Shaw is a threat. Though McCone refuses to employ the mutants, they are sponsored by the unnamed "Man in Black Suit", another CIA executive. Xavier tracks Shaw down, arriving in time to stop Lensherr, who had attacked Shaw, from drowning as Shaw escapes. Xavier brings Lensherr to the CIA's secret "Division X" facility. They meet young scientist Hank McCoy , a prehensile-footed mutant whom Xavier inadvertently outs as a mutant. McCoy, developing a bond with Raven, promises her he will find a way to normalize their appearance. Xavier uses a mutant-locating device, Cerebro , to find and recruit mutants for training to stop Shaw. He and Lensherr find stripper Angel Salvadore ; taxi driver Armando Muñoz , who takes the code name Darwin; Army prisoner Alex Summers , who calls himself Havok; and Sean Cassidy , who dubs himself Banshee. Raven takes the name Mystique .
When Frost meets with a Soviet general, Xavier and Lensherr capture her. Meanwhile, Azazel, Riptide and Shaw attack Division X, killing everyone but the young mutants and offering them the chance to join him. Angel accepts, and when Darwin tries to rescue her, Shaw kills him. With the facility destroyed, Xavier takes the mutants to train at his family mansion. McCoy devises protective uniforms and a stealth jet.
During the Cuban Missile Crisis , President John F. Kennedy institutes a blockade to stop a Soviet freighter from moving nuclear missiles to Cuba . Shaw, wearing a helmet that foils Xaviers telepathy, accompanies the Soviet fleet to ensure the missiles arrive, trying to trigger World War III and mutant ascendency. Raven tries to seduce Lensherr, but he turns down her advances, and convinces her to embrace her nature as a mutant. McCoy soon offers Raven his cure for her appearance, but she refuses. The cure backfires on McCoy, rendering him a leonine beast. Though ashamed of his new appearance, he pilots the mutants and MacTaggert to the blockade line. In an ensuing battle with Shaw, Lensherr takes the helmet for himself, allowing Xavier to immobilize Shaw. Despite Xavier's objections, Lensherr kills Shaw by forcing the concentration camp coin through his brain.
Fearing the mutants, the fleets fire their missiles at them. In a struggle, Xavier keeps Lensherr from destroying the fleets with the missiles, but when MacTaggert fires at Lensherr, a deflected bullet hits Xavier in the spine. Lensherr, remorseful, leaves with Mystique, Angel, Riptide and Azazel. A wheelchair-bound Xavier and the mutants return to the mansion, where he intends to open a school. MacTaggert promises to never reveal his location and they kiss; at the CIA later, she says she has no clear memory of recent events. Lensherr, in a uniform with the helmet and calling himself Magneto, breaks Frost from confinement.
- James McAvoy as Professor Charles Xavier / Professor X : The telepathic leader and founder of the X-Men and one of Magneto's best friends until conflicts of opinion create a rivalry between them and their teams.McAvoy admitted that he did not read comics when he was a kid, but added that he was a fan of the cartoons from the age of 10. While he describes the older Charles Xavier as "a monk... a selfless, egoless almost sexless force for the betterment of humanity and mortality", he says that the younger Xavier is a very different person: "It's quite fun because the complete opposite of that is an ego-fueled, sexed up self-serving dude. And not going too far with it, but he's definitely got an ego and he's definitely got a sex drive as well."McAvoy admitted he felt that there was a comparison between Professor X/Magneto and Martin Luther King Jr./Malcom X stating that "A lot of the time... in the comic books, Erik comes and goes; he goes back and forward really in what he believes and how he is going to achieve it. And in this film it's sort of like meeting them at a point where they are still finding out who they are and you are still seeing some of the events that shaped them, not through their early life, but some of the key events in the sort of equal rights or civil rights struggle that helped shape them."
- Laurence Belcher as a young Charles Xavier
- Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto : The leader and founder of the Brotherhood of Mutants and one of Professor X's best friends until conflicts of opinion create a rivalry between them and their teams.Fassbender said that Matthew Vaughn saw him in an audition for one of his other films and just thought that he would be right for this film. After Fassbender read the script he said he liked it and then he tried to convince the producers that he was right for the part. When reading Magneto's history (he admitted that he did not know that much about the X-Men) he said to himself that he thought the story was going to be really interesting work. When asked if he was a good guy or bad guy at this point he said that he doesn't really think in those terms. He saw Erik as a Machiavellian character. Fassbender also admitted to watching Ian McKellen 's performances to get a flavor of what Magneto was like (while also stating that he liked it) but decided to "paint a new canvas" of the character, stating "So I did my homework and preparation and you want to respect what someone else has done, especially because the fan base really liked what Ian McKellen has done with it. But while I could have gone and studied him as a young man and brought that to the performance, I don't think Matthew is very interested in that. So I'm just going my own way and working with whatever is in the comic books and the script."
- Bill Milner as a young Erik Lehnsherr
- Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw : A scientist and the leader of the Hellfire Club , a secret society bent on taking over the world.Shaw is a mutant who can absorb kinetic energy used against him and use it as super strength and speed.
- Jennifer Lawrence as Raven / Mystique : A shape-shifting mutant.
- Morgan Lily as a young Raven
- January Jones as Emma Frost / White Queen : A telepath who can also change her body into diamond form; also a member of the Hellfire Club. Alice Eve was originally announced to play Emma Frost.
- Rose Byrne as Dr. Moira MacTaggert : A CIA agent and love interest of Charles Xavier.
- Nicholas Hoult as Dr. Henry "Hank" McCoy / Beast : A former scientist and political activist who transformed into a frightening looking mutant in an attempt to cure himself, but is kind at heart.Broadway actor Benjamin Walker was previously cast as Beast. He turned down the role to star in the Broadway musicalBloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.
- Oliver Platt as The Man in Black: A CIA agent and head of Division X, a government agency working with the X-Men.
- Ray Wise as the United States Secretary of State
- Zoë Kravitz as Angel Salvadore : A mutant with housefly wings and acidic saliva.
- Caleb Landry Jones as Sean Cassidy / Banshee : A mutant with the ability of supersonic screaming and flight.
- Lucas Till as Alex Summers / Havok : A mutant who has the ability to absorb energy and discharge it as blasts.
- Edi Gathegi as Armando Muñoz / Darwin : A mutant with the power of " reactive evolution ."
- Jason Flemyng as Azazel : A Hellfire Club member who teleports.
- Álex González as Janos Quested / Riptide : A mutant with the ability to create powerful whirlwinds from his hands.
- Glenn Morshower as Col. Hendry
- Matt Craven as CIA Director McCone
- Rade Sherbediga as Russian General
- Michael Ironside as a U.S. Navy Captain
- James Remar as a U.S. General
- Don Creech as William Stryker
In uncredited cameo appearances , Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Romijn reprise their roles as Logan / Wolverine and Mystique, respectively.
One source reported that Andy Callaghan would play a member of the Hellfire Club, but he does not appear in the film's credits.
In April 2006, one month before the release ofX-Men: The Last Stand, writer Zak Penn revealed he was contracted to write and direct a spin-off.He explained in 2007 that "the original idea was to have me do a young X-Men spin-off, a spin-off of the young X-Men characters. But someone came up with a pretty interesting idea [...] it was this guy who worked with me named Mike Chamoy, he worked a lot with me onX3. He came up with how to do a young X-Men movie which is not what you'd expect."Penn compared the idea to the comic book seriesX-Men: First Class,and Josh Schwartz was writing the screenplay in May 2008.Schwartz's writing assignment also included the possibility of directing ofX-Men: First Class,but Fox approached Bryan Singer , director ofX-MenandX2, in October 2009.The original idea was to green-light the film depending on the success ofX-Men Origins: Magneto,but Singer added elements of theMagnetospin-off, merged into a new script by Jamie Moss .In addition to Moss, Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz were hired to rewrite the script. Miller compared it tonally to Singer's work on the first twoX-Menfilms.Singer dropped out of the director's position in March 2010 due to his commitment to aJack the Giant Killeradaptation. He formalized his duties from director to producer. Matthew Vaughn signed on as Singer's replacement in May 2010. With his hiring, Fox announced a June 3, 2011 release date,and Jane Goldman was hired for another rewrite.Vaughn wanted to modelX-Men: First Classafter the 2009Star Trekfilm, taking the franchise in a new direction with a fresh, young cast.An action scene that was to have been set in a dream sequence with revolving rooms was scrapped after the release ofInception.The 1960s setting ofX-Men: First Classwas technologically inspired by theJames Bondfilms of that era, also adding to the international feel of the characters. The X-Men costumes looked much more as they did in the original comics compared with the first three films.
The movie cost approximately $160 million to produce before tax breaks.
Principal photography began on August 31, 2010, in Oxford , England, which included St Aldate 's street and some of the University of Oxford 's buildings, lasting for two days.Production then moved to Pinewood Studios in Iver ,and to Georgia in October, including Jekyll Island , Thunderbolt and Savannah ,after sites in Louisiana , North Carolina and West Michigan were considered.Jekyll Island was chosen over Tybee Island after a producer reviewed the locations on Google Earth and thought the water near Jekyll looked more blue.Additional location shooting took place in Russia.
The British group Take That provided the film's official song, " Love Love ", played during the end credits. It was released May 11, 2011.
X-Men: First Class, which opened on approximately 6,900 screens at 3,641 locations, earned nearly $56 million on its opening weekend,including $3.37 million at its Friday midnight launch.
The film also brought in $64 million at foreign box offices for its opening weekend.
The film has received positive reviews, with the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes showing 87% freshness and a rating of 7.4/10 from 169 reviews counted as of June 4, 2011.On Metacritic , the film received 65 out 100 based on 37 reviews.
Before May 24, the movie was screened for Internet film critics. Brendan Connelly of BleedingCool.com said it "contains some of the briskest and most efficient storytelling I've seen in any recent blockbuster. An awful lot happens, and awfully quickly at times, but it's all clear and while some nice moments might be over in the blink of an eye, this can only reward repeat viewers."Den of Geek's Michael Leader said that "despite all the ropey posters and off-putting promo material,X-Men: First Classmanages to be a summer movie with something to say. Let's just hope they don’t run this one into the ground, too, because I dread seeing an X-Men: Economy Class down the line."However, Simon Miraudo of Quickflix.com was less favorable, stating that "just when [Vaughn] starts to have a little fun, you can practically feel him pull back, lest he get too campy or weird.".
Among the major trade publications, Tod McCarthy of theThe Hollywood Reporterdescribed the film as "audacious, confident and fueled by youthful energy", and said that "director Vaughn impressively maintains a strong focus dedicated to clarity and dramatic power ... and orchestrates the mayhem with a laudable coherence, a task made easier by a charging, churning score by Henry Jackman...."Justin Chang ofVarietysaid the film "feels swift, sleek and remarkably coherent", and that "the visual effects designed by John Dykstra are smoothly and imaginatively integrated...." Frank Lovece ofFilm Journal Internationallauded "a wickedly smart script with a multilayered theme that ... never loses sight of its ultimate story, and makes each emotional motivation interlock, often shockingly playing for keeps with its characters. This is not a kids' movie, unless your kid is comfortable with an opening ten-minute sequence set in a harrowing World War II concentration camp and told entirely in subtitled German."
In consumer publications, Lisa Schwarzbaum ofEntertainment Weeklylauded "the kind of youthful, Brit-knockabout pop energy director Matthew Vaughn absorbed from his previous collaborations as producer of director Guy Ritchie 's bloke-y larks", and found McAvoy and Fassbender "a casting triumph. These two have, yes, real star magnetism, both individually and together: They're both cool and intense, suave and unaffected, playful and dead serious about their grand comic-book work."Peter Howell of theToronto Starcalled it "a blockbuster with brains" and said Vaughn "brings similar freshness to this comic creation as he did toKick-Ass, and manages to do so while hewing to the saga's serious dramatic intent."However, Betsy Sharkey of theLos Angeles Timesbemoaned its "misplaced and misplayed ambition", and felt that its "moments of greatness ... are fleeting, ultimately undone by a frustrating mire of multiple plots, overreaching special effects, leaden ancillary players and world-ending military standoffs that have all the tension of a water balloon fight." Roger Ebert , straddling, called it "high-tech and well-acted" but merely "competent weekend entertainment. It is not a great comic book movie."