After months of picking through every rumor, report, trailer and poster with a fine toothed comb of speculation, we can now behold X-MEN: FIRST CLASS in full. It took a lot of creative liberties with the source material. I really don't have a problem with that: I even prefer some of the changes, because it was a superb flick. It's fun to compare and contrast, though.
Needless to say, MASSIVE SPOILERS lurk below. Consider yourself properly warned. If you learn more than you want to know, then it's your own fault.== TEASER ==
THE HELLFIRE CLUB
Azazel and Riptide have never been members of this club, of course. Emma Frost appears just as she did in her earliest experiences, albeit with the secondary mutation of her diamond form manifesting many years ahead of time. Sebastian Shaw's been been changed the most of anybody, for sure. What’s funny is that when Kevin Bacon’s casting was first announced, his role wasn’t specified and a lot of fans thus assumed he’d be playing Mr. Sinister. The Shaw in FIRST CLASS actually has some elements of the “middle years” Sinister spent as a cruel eugenics scientists in the employ of Nazi Germany. Seeing as how Riptide’s part of this Hellfire Club and how he’s traditionally been one of Sinister’s Marauders in the comics, I’m sure the screenwriters had Nathaniel Essex in mind when they were reconceiving the Black King. Shaw additionaly serves as something of a prototypical Magneto (in appearance and philosophy) at the front of this prototypical Brotherhood whose mutant supremacy agenda differs from the Club's broader “will to conquer” in the comics.
Shaw’s powers have also been given a bit of tweak. He still absorbs energy, but instead of turning that power into muscle and strength, he redirects it in a manner much like Bishop. Vaughn wasn't kidding about trying to avoid the “roided up Ben Franklin” of the comics.
Another character who’s been changed significantly. Even though this Mystique would’ve been in her 50s (at the youngest) by the time of the first X-MEN movie, the Raven Darkholme of the comics is much older with an age stated to be to at least 100 years. That's actually touched upon a little during the "romantic chemistry" session with Beast where he observes that her cells age at half the normal rate. Of course, unless she’s supposed to be around five in the prologue, she’d have to be a few years older than the teen whiz Hank McCoy anyway (which puts their romance in a different perspective, for sure.)
Even though she’s had numerous high-profile affairs over the years in the comics, she’s never been with Beast or Magneto before. Many fans assumed that Azazel’s presence in the movie might lead to her being seduced and getting pregnant with Nightcrawler. Nothing of the sort was even alluded to in this movie but, considering the two’s new affiliation at the end and the fact that they have decades ahead of them in the timeline, I suppose you can assume that business will happen later.
XAVIER & MAGNETO
These guys meet during a botched military operation off the coast of Florida in the movie and work together to recruit and train the first members of the X-Men. In the comics, they met while working at a psychiatric hospital in Israel and their superheroic partnership never extended beyond a skirmish against Hydra. Magneto’s actually a bit younger than he is in the chronology in the comics. He’s a grown man with a family during World War II and he goes on to father three children - - Quicksilver, Polaris and the Scarlet Witch - - in the years before the founding of the X-Men. Interestingly, his acquisition of Nazi gold in FIRST CLASS parallels his usage of it to found and fund the Brotherhood in the comics. Rage is the catalyst of his powers in both iterations, as well.
The C.I.A. field agent of FIRST CLASS is far removed from the Scottish scientist of the comics. Her romantic entanglements with Xavier have carried over but, thankfully, her similar dealings with Banshee weren't even hinted at.
Oddly enough, Darwin’s screentime more-or-less corresponds to the fate he suffers in DEADLY GENESIS as part of MacTaggert’s early “foster” team of X-Men.
The powers and code name are the only similarities. The Angel of the comics was a fifth or sixth generation recruit who notably had an underage pregnancy because of the Beak.
He doesn't get a whole lot of screen time, but his control issues and need for a harness to handle his powers represent the character's early days in the comics quite well. Even though he's identified as "Alex Summers" on screen, the only clear link to Cyclops is his energy, which has now been colored red to better resemble his brother's optic blasts. No other connections are ever addressed or alluded to, so there's a big, open space to try to reconcile him with his older brother's appearances in the series.
In the comics, Banshee was a full-grown man when he encountered the still-teenage X-Men as a mind-controlled villain. He’d been a NYPD cop, an Interpol Agent and an owner of an Irish castle prior to his costume adventuring so, obviously, the movie's Sean Cassidy doesn't have nearly as strong a resume. Dare I say, this awkward American teen is a far cry from the hero of the comics.