Let me begin by saying, X-Men: First Class will not be true to the comics. We know this. It's been made perfectly clear in all the trailers and TV spots. There is no reason to dwell on that. This is a meant to be a piece of entertainment based on or inspired by the comics. I can easily say that now but even I had to keep reminding myself during the movie.
With that in mind, I did enjoy it. One question that was heavily on my mind was would this movie have any ties or connections to the other X-films? Maybe it was watching it so late at night but I'm not sure I can fully answer that. Discounting the whole Emma Frost/Wolverine Origins debacle, I think it's safe to say this movie could, in fact, be in the same continuity of the other movies. But then, I haven't watched/tried to avoid the others.
Even though there was that glorious Marvel logo at the beginning, this almost didn't feel like a Marvel or comic book movie. We do see Magneto's childhood story told once again and I wish I had re-watched the first X-Men movie to remind myself how the scenes played out. But we do get more of his childhood along with Xavier's (some of which we got a glimpse of in the trailers).== TEASER ==
The fact that the movie is set mainly in 1963 was an intriguing idea. When I first heard about it, I wondered why this decision was made. It does make sense so that we can have Magneto's unfortunate childhood take place in the 1940s and not have to worry about de-aging him as he was in the comics. You can almost say that this movie is as much about Magneto as it is about Xavier and the formation of the X-Men. Whether this is to make up for the canceled X-Men Origins: Magneto movie, it provided an interesting hook. Magneto can often be seen as a simple two-dimensional villain but his story here reminds us of the layers his character is comprised of.
That being said, Michael Fassbender does a great job as Magneto. We get to see a more vulnerable Magneto that is rarely portrayed. James McAvoy does well as Charles Xavier as well but I couldn't help but wonder why the decision was made for Xavier to still have hair. It's just a matter of reminding ourselves that the movie is different from the comics. There were some scenes where Charles was not acting like the Charles we know. Great to see though.
I know I said it's a matter of accepting that things will be different but it was still difficult to accept some of the changes. Moira MacTaggert as a CIA Agent without a Scottish accent felt very weird. Sebastian Shaw had an interesting backstory but I'm still not quite sure how I felt about it. As the main villain, I never really bought into his motives. Emma Frost felt a little out of place. It could be that I'm used to seeing the headstrong Emma that won't take crap from anyone. There were some little touches that reminded us this was the 60s and women had a slightly different role back then. Shaw's henchmen never really had a motive either. I can see Riptide being a hired thug but depending on what Azazel's actual origin is, it felt weird seeing him obediently follow Shaw's orders.
Can we talk about the Hellfire Club for a bit? Yes, it is part of Sebastian and Emma's story but I don't really see the need for it in the movie. The unfortunate result of the almost pointless Hellfire scenes is I will not be taking my seven year old daughter to see this movie, despite the strong desire she has to see it. I don't think the idea of the Club providing entertainment for men with women dressed in 60s style lingerie really added anything. That may have been how Emma got her start in the Hellfire Club but throughout the rest of the movie, it didn't seem like an important factor.
As for the time period. There were a few moments I simply marveled at the set designs. The movie is supposed to take place in the early 60s and the set designers did a great job. Sure, a couple times things might have looked a little modern but it was the little things that really sold it for me.
What about the rest of the cast? It's a mixed bag of some characters having a strong resemblance to their comic book counterparts while others did not. Beast was well portrayed. Havok felt a little weird. His personality was great but didn't feel quite like Alex Summers (and I still have no idea if he's supposed to be Scott's brother). Darwin and Angel were interesting choices to include. They were well done but completely unnecessary. Banshee was a complete redesign. He was pretty much nothing like his comic book counterpart but nevertheless, a nice addition.
What about Mystique? Again, we have some changes in her story. I have no problem accepting the tweaks made. I thought it was an odd choice in the direction they chose and I will definitely need to watch the other X-movies to see if it feels like the same character.
It was a good movie. Not a great one but Fox handled it nicely. Even though it has nothing to do with the other Marvel movies, there's bound to be comparisons to Thor. In some ways, Thor felt like it had a higher production but First Class definitely felt like a bigger movie. By bigger, I mean that there were more locations (even though a good chunk of Thor took place all the way in Asgard). With Thor, it was just Asgard and Mexico we mainly saw. In First Class, we're pretty much all over the world.
X-Men fans should be happy with the results here. Just remind yourself this will not be true to the comics. New fans should be able to jump right in and not worry why we're getting random mutants from different points in continuity thrown in. It is a form of entertainment. The story might have had a couple plotholes but overall tells the story of Magneto and the X-Men. Will we get a sequel? There has been talk of one. Would I like to see a sequel? Heck yeah. I liked what they did in creating this 1960s X-Men universe and would not mind seeing more of it, along with more mutants. Giving it a rating, it's a very very solid 4 out of 5.