X-Men: First Class (20th Century Fox, 2011)
All right, I'll admit it. I winced when I first saw the production stills for this movie. My God, could they do any more damage to my beloved X-Men? Then I saw the trailer, and my fears began to subside. Finally, the day of release was upon us...and I didn't go. I missed an opening day for a comic book movie, which for me is unheard of. I did go and see it on day 2, and here is my verdict:
This is the best film of the X-Men film franchise, hands down. While it's crimes against continuity are too numerous to list, it was an insanely enjoyable popcorn flick. In all honesty, much of their movie continuity makes more sense than what occurred in the comic books. Kevin Bacon is splendid as Sebastian Shaw*, even if they didn't get the character quite right in comparison to his four-color counterpart. All of the actors played their respective parts well, and the film has a warmth and sense of fun missing from the first four films.
There are some mild, mostly non-spoilers below, so if you haven't seen the film and don't want anything revealed, please leave this page and return after you've seen it. The choice of characters used in this movie was curious. First, the villains: Magneto. Sebastian Shaw (the Black King in comics). Emma Frost (the White Queen in comics). The "Azazel" character...was this supposed to be Nightcrawler's father from The Draco arc in Uncanny X-Men many years ago? I am guessing that the dude with the vortexes was supposed to be Riptide. If so, he was never named. The "Angel" character looked like Pixie but had some other power. Now for the X-Men: Professor X. Moira MacTaggert, who was portrayed as an American? Ach! The Beast (with a nice nod to his solo stint in Amazing Adventures in the early '70s). Darwin, who was only introduced in the last few years and whose inclusion was pointless. Havok. Mystique (I'll leave my negativity about her on the team out...let's just say I disapprove). Banshee.
I love the Hellfire Club angle in the movie, as their introduction in the pages of The Uncanny X-Men by Chris Claremont and John Byrne are among the high points in the history of the medium. Again, I prefer the comic book version, but the idea of a cabal of wealthy mutants using their money and power to try and rule the world really hits a sweet spot with me. The sheer decadence of their club was portrayed well here, too. All in all, this was an exceptionally well done film with plenty of humor, heart, and oomph for your buck. I'd say that it was nearly as good as Thor and Iron Man. So why are you still hear reading this when you should be in line waiting to buy a ticket? Go!
*Sebastian Shaw was one of the names that I tried selling my wife on for my son, and again for my second child until I find out that it was a girl. If my second child were to be a boy, I did get her to agree on Charles Xavier Shaw. Believe it or not.