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June 2, 2011 / Prof Cupcake.

X-MEN IS SO FIRST CLASS

Every time I get really mad, or am incredibly afraid or super emotional, this though creeps up the back of my spine and whispers softly to me, ‘maybe this experience will unleash your mutant powers.’  It’s seductive and all consuming and before I have really noticed it, by fear or anguish or rage has melted away into a wonderful day dream where I suddenly find myself able to teleport, fly, control things with my mind, turn into animals, ect. Ect. Ect. Now my mutant power is never the same day dream to day dream, but one of the things that never happens is I end up a mutant with really, really lame powers. Like the super fast model, or the guy with the spiky face in x-3.  The realm of lame mutants with silly powers is gloriously avoided in the latest installment of the x-men franchise, X-MEN FIRST CLASS, which is a huge relief.

Helmed by Matthew Vaugh, with an exceptional script from Jane Goldman (and others) X-Men First Class is a return to the humor and delight that populated both X-Men and X2. With some fun characters and some great powers it begins with a punch and ends with a bang.

The Plot follows Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) on a campaign of revenge against Sebastian Shaw a truly insidious man who warped the mind of young Erik when he discovered what he was capable of. This pursuit eventually leads to his meeting with Charles Xavier, (played stunningly by James McAvoy who bring an element of depth to the character and his relationship with Erik that rivals that of Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian.) and ultimately the gathering of numerous powerful mutants in a bid to destroy the ever powerful Sebastian Shaw.

This particular installment I think particularly great for it allows the characters to grow. Each character manages to have a mini story arch within the larger frame work of the film and thus the climax is made ever so much more powerful by all of their inclusions. Jane Goldman also does a wonderful job at keeping all of the characters well balanced and surprisingly believable considering they all spend have their time shooting lasers from their bodies or ingesting energy blasts like their breakfast.

At it’s heart all of the X-MEN films are allegorical representation of visible and invisible personal differences between members of a society and the social construction of what is ‘normal’.  They are stories that any one who has ever felt different can relate to and it is this universally understood feeling that allows us to develop such personal relationship with such outlandish and campy characters. Yet what is interesting about this film is that the open ended nature of its ending allows for the view to decide which side they come down on. Do they see themselves as cultural ambassadors from the nation of other determined to prove their right to be accepted by main stream society through open dialogue, or do they choose to ignore society and establish their own with like minded individuals.

For me, as was the case with the arrival of X-MEN onto the cultural scene in the 60’s I think it is impossible to see this film and not view it as a coded exploration into the world of sexual identity. It’s not just the camp outfit and the nicknames that lead this film, like other x-men films to queer readings; it is the discussion of performative identity and the hardships one faces between their public and private self. With this in mind I think any watching of this film (or other x-men movie) is deepened as one allows themselves  to see beyond the lyrca and the cold war politics and to the heart of the film, which is all about people just wanting to fit in and get along.

So long story short. I LOVE IT.

 

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