X-Men: First Class Actors Studied X-Men Comic Books

Posted by sora_thekey (8637 posts) - - Show Bio

One of the most common questions asked during interviewes with comic book movie actors is how much research they did have to do in order to play their characters. After the usual vauge "yes" response to the "Did you read comics?" query the actors do not always come off as "studied". With no specific details about their backstory in comic book research I never believe the actors to have truly studied their comic book counterpart. Sometimes it even sounds as if they have a rehearsed answer ready for that question.

I have not officially given my opinion on X-Men: First Class but in a nutshell I can say that the movie was not bad. Even with the obvious non-true to the comics concept the movie flowed well as an enjoyeble experience. It was definetly better than X3 and X-Men Origns: Wolverine but not as good as Thor or The Dark Knight as most reviewers claim.

Today I spent some time watching interviews of the XM:FC actors and I was extremly suprised by the specific references to comic books the actors gave. Marvel.com's Assistant Editor Marc Storm interviewed James McAvoy (Charles Xavier), Michael Fassbender (Magneto), Lucas Till (Havok), Zoe Kravitz (Angel Salvadore) and Rose Byrne (Moira MacTaggert) where the common question came up:

1:40 - 2:40Storm: Michael, you mentioned that you went back to the comics for some sort of inspiration. Were there any particular one that helped you?
Fassbender: Yeah, there was one story that I basically drew every thing from. It's not mentioned, or sort of, it's not at all apparent in the history of the character in any of the films, including this one. For me, I could really draw all of the personallity traits I was looking for. It's the story between Erick and Magda, who was a gypsy girl that he freed from the concetration camps when he managed to break out himself. They got married and they he tried to live a, sort of normal life, and they had a child and that child got killed in a fire by some sort of an angry mod. So, in retribution, he killed the entire village and his wife Magda got freaked out about that and left him. From that story I could draw a lot of his sorrow and his mistrust of the human race and just that sort of single minded-ness.
5:01 - 5:54Storm: How much did each of you go back to the original comics to sort of draw elementts of your characters from those interpretations.
Till: I think we all did.
Kravitz: It'd be dumb not to and then, we were very lucky though. When we got to London we were handed like these giant folders that they had put together for us with pretty much every episode that your character's ever been in. Which, I think we would have all done ourselves but it was handed to us which was nice.
Byrne: It's an actor's dream really because we might be like "What's my backstory?"
Till: [Gestures as if handed a folder] Boom!
Byrne: "Here´s your backstory". [Gesturing as if reading a comic] "So I went to another planet and then I died but then I came back?" and then "He's not my son? Oh we got married!"
Kravitz: I know I'm like "I'm sleeping with someone named Beak that has a..."
Byrne: Exactly!
Kravitz: "Oh didn't know that was my type."

I have seen interviews of actors who never laid eyes on a comic book and played elaborate, fictional characters based on direction alone. Not that there's anything wrong with that, the actors are only doing their jobs but in this case the direction allowed the actors to be informed of how they should or should not take from the comics. Strangely enough, for me personally, this inducessome bode of confidence in the studio to not ignore the original couterparts.

Would you say you agree?

-- Geo (sora_thekey) 24/7 geek! -- Follow me on Twitter:@sora_thekey

#1 Edited by FoxxFireArt (3612 posts) - - Show Bio

What's the point of any of them studying the comic version of the character if the personality, relationships, and motivations were different than the parts they are playing?

" Byrne: It's an actor's dream really because we might be like "What's my backstory?" "

"What's my back story?" They changed the back story of a lot of people. What's the point of studying a back story that doesn't apply to the role you're playing?
#2 Posted by Shadow_Thief (2511 posts) - - Show Bio

Whilst the longtime fan in me cringes every time a studio feels the need to change a character's backstory, there's a lot that I'm willing to forgive if they manage to preserve the essence of the character. In other words, I want to be able to look at every line and every action that a character takes on-screen and say "yeah, that's what that character would say/do." Some change is necessary in the transition from page to screen. There are elements that work in the comics that just wouldn't translate well into film (yellow spandex), and even though a part of me wants to see the familiar stories that I've grown to love be transplanted wholesale onto the silver screen, an equally large part of me wants to see something new, something where I don't already know what's going to happen.

#3 Posted by FadeToBlackBolt (23390 posts) - - Show Bio
@Shadow_Thief said:
Whilst the longtime fan in me cringes every time a studio feels the need to change a character's backstory, there's a lot that I'm willing to forgive if they manage to preserve the essence of the character. In other words, I want to be able to look at every line and every action that a character takes on-screen and say "yeah, that's what that character would say/do." Some change is necessary in the transition from page to screen. There are elements that work in the comics that just wouldn't translate well into film (yellow spandex), and even though a part of me wants to see the familiar stories that I've grown to love be transplanted wholesale onto the silver screen, an equally large part of me wants to see something new, something where I don't already know what's going to happen.
Well said. The biggest problem with the original X-Films wasn't that they changed a lot of things, it's that aside from Professor X, Logan and Magneto, none of the characters felt like they were supposed to; they were just caricatures of their comic selves. 
 
The Nolan films are the perfect example of getting a character and their universe, but still having the films stand on their own.
#4 Posted by FoxxFireArt (3612 posts) - - Show Bio
@FadeToBlackBolt
My only complaint about the Nolan films are that this Batman isn't much of a detective.
#5 Posted by FadeToBlackBolt (23390 posts) - - Show Bio
@FoxxFireArt: That's true, Lucius does most of the brainy work in the Nolanverse. He was more of a detective in the Dark Knight though.
#6 Posted by FoxxFireArt (3612 posts) - - Show Bio
@FadeToBlackBolt
I liked Dark Knight, but a lot of that detective work was utter crap. The idea you could lift a print off a shattered bullet is beyond impossible. Not only does the heated gases of a fired round destroy the oils of your skin that make up a finger print. The friction of it shattering in the wall would of also ruined a print. Eve when you are getting prints off unfired rounds from a clip. The best you can hope for are partials, which are almost never very accurate in making a positive identification.
#7 Posted by Omega Ray Jay (8310 posts) - - Show Bio
@Shadow_Thief said:
Whilst the longtime fan in me cringes every time a studio feels the need to change a character's backstory, there's a lot that I'm willing to forgive if they manage to preserve the essence of the character. In other words, I want to be able to look at every line and every action that a character takes on-screen and say "yeah, that's what that character would say/do." Some change is necessary in the transition from page to screen. There are elements that work in the comics that just wouldn't translate well into film (yellow spandex), and even though a part of me wants to see the familiar stories that I've grown to love be transplanted wholesale onto the silver screen, an equally large part of me wants to see something new, something where I don't already know what's going to happen.
I agree, very good stuff.
#8 Posted by SC (14630 posts) - - Show Bio

Comics already do an awesome job of contradicting continuity and characterization, and breaking and reinterpreting such aspects. Like Fassbender points out, there is abundant source material, for most of the characters, (barring say Angel, who essentially just needed to convey a grounded, pragmatic character who sort of feels different despite finding others like herself) Also continuity and characterization are different things that overlap. With movies, my preference is for characterization, and you don't need continuity to get that right. In comics though, usually if a writer doesn't know continuity, his characterization sucks... Fassbender chose great source material. I am guessing that it was recommended to him, but I to me, thats something that actors should be aided with, even comic writers. I remember ellis talking about how he wrote Forge based on what material an editor gave him, since he wasn't fully on the know with the character. As a result he expressed some regret with how he wrote the character out. 

Moderator
#9 Posted by War Killer (20821 posts) - - Show Bio
@FoxxFireArt said:
@FadeToBlackBolt
I liked Dark Knight, but a lot of that detective work was utter crap. The idea you could lift a print off a shattered bullet is beyond impossible. Not only does the heated gases of a fired round destroy the oils of your skin that make up a finger print. The friction of it shattering in the wall would of also ruined a print. Eve when you are getting prints off unfired rounds from a clip. The best you can hope for are partials, which are almost never very accurate in making a positive identification.
-___- Dude, it's a movie (not to mention a comic book movie xD) and that scene was cool; don't let real world logic ruin it for you. xP
 
But I do agree he wasn't really much of a detective in the movies, maybe we'll see more of his detective side in TDKR?
#10 Posted by sora_thekey (8637 posts) - - Show Bio

@SC: I totally agree, the movies are never going to be like the comics we have to deal with that. The things that can be taken from the original material is their charactarization. Like @Shadow_Thief: said, us comic book fans have to be content that whatever the character did or did not do in the film was in character.

I was actually very surprised that Kravitz and Byrne were so comfortable with their comic book knowledge they refernced it in their interview. In an interview with Kelly Hu (Lady Deathstrike) she said: "In the comics my character is actually a robot or a cyborg... I think". That "I think" made me loose faith in her ability to play the part. Here I now understand why they would have Angel or Mystique do.

#11 Posted by SC (14630 posts) - - Show Bio
@sora_thekey:  Oh... that sounds sort of worrying about what Kelly Hu said lol I suppose the emphasis with her character in that movie was just to be as "cool" as possible to provide a cool fight scene with Wolverine. Which I think it did, the the only problem is that her character is otherwise forgettable and lacking depth. That would have made me lose faith as well. In contrast, Magneto got to be badass in First Class, and so did Shaw, but they had some nice depth and motivation behind them, backing them up, particularly Magneto. Of course Deathstrike had a smaller role, so there's that, but similar sentiment can be expressed for how actors approach roles and how roles are written for them. Protagonists vs antagonists as opposed to good guys vs bad guys. 
Moderator
#13 Posted by ryu_talkative_batman (150 posts) - - Show Bio

They did a terrific job as the X-men. I'll probably go see the movie again in theaters some time.

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