At one time, the X-Men was hands down the most popular title published by Marvel Comics, the home of Spider-Man, the Hulk and Captain America who all were forced to admit second fiddle status to the merry mutants. So popular were the X-Men that rumors of a feature film in the 1990′s brought about talk of big name stars and stellar action sci/fi director James Cameron (then famous for the Terminator). The film took much longer to finally reach the cinema, but when it did Bryan Singer’s film was both a shocking deviation from the source material and a clear indicator that he understood the comic book’s meaning and its attraction.
The 2000 X-Men movie arrived after Blade but before Spider-Man and Batman Begins took the movie-going world by storm. It is an unusual film in that the cast is a mixed bag of celebrities and unknown actors in addition to the noticeably small budget. I like Bryan Singer’s film a lot and still think the nailed the premise and appeal of the comic in ways that brought new fans into the fold but I must admit that liberties were taken to make the X-Men universe fit into a feature-length package and fit the story that Singer wanted to tell. Most of these changes don’t really bother me, but given the current vogue of superhero flicks as the Avengers take form and DC Comics’ Justice League of America cannot be far behind, 20th Century Fox has decided a do-over is needed. This has become a popular notion after the success of Batman Begins and has led to similar reboots of Superman, Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and possibly Daredevil as well.
Singer has been brought back to produce with Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, Kick Ass) assigned as director. Titled X-Men: First Class, the movie is a prequel, but it is becoming apparent that it not just set before the first X-Men movie, it is an entirely different take on the concept, hoping to develop a brand new franchise.
The heart of the classic X-Men comic book is the relationship between Professor Charles Xavier and Magneto. Both men recognize that change is coming and that the growing number of mutations provokes a major shift in the social make-up of the world, but each has a different idea of how to deal with the problem. Xavier preaches the gospel of co-existence while Magneto feels that homo superior are the inheritors of the world. X-Men First Class will tell the story of their friendship and the construction of both the Xavier Institute of Higher Education that seeks to train mutants to control their abilities as well as the mutant terrorist organization known as the Brotherhood led by Magneto.
James McAvoy (Professor X)
In the previous X-Men films, Professor X and Magneto were played by stars of stage and screen Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen. Replacing Patrick Stewart is 31 year-old James McAvoy, known in the UK for his role in Shameless and (somewhat) in the U.S. for the comic book movie Wanted. Magneto will be played by Michael Fassbender of Inglourious Basterds fame.
Michael Fassbender (Magneto)
(Please click here for my previous articles The details behind the new film, X-Men : First Class and X-Men: First Class is in session and detailing what has been revealed this far)
Details of the 1960′s period film have been flowing for months now but do in part to the lackluster reception of the third X-Men film and X-Men Origins: Wolverine spin-off, many fans are looking toward Green Lantern, Iron Man and Captain America for their comic book fix. My hope is that X-Men: First Class will take everyone by surprise and prove to be the X-Men movie that devotees and the general public have been waiting for. No leather costumes and heavily influenced by the Lee/Kirby comics, the film is shaping up to be a closer adaptation than the loose interpretation that we got back in 2000 with a promise to see the X-Men in costume rather than stylish leather and rubber motorcycle gear.
Filming has started just this past month (September 2010) and the news hounds were on site to capture a few glimpses.
Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique) and James McAvoy filming in Oxford
Lots more images at LaineyGossip.
X-Men: First Class is still in its earliest stages, with most fans of the franchise still unaware that it even exists. After blogging about comics and film and what-not for the past few years, I have seen other movies start out small like this one and balloon up into a big deal. My instincts say that this film has the potential to be a surprise hit, but I’ve never had an instinctual feeling about any comic book movie to date, so what do I know?
Maybe I’m a late bloomer and this is my mutant ability?
Watch this space for more details as they come.