X-Men: First Class – The prequel I’m actually excited about!

In a world where there seems to be no cure for Hollywood’s sequelitis and remakitis, there is one prequel I’m hugely excited about! It’s definitely the one to beat in the box office come next Summer 2011 (June 3rd, 2011 to be exact, according to SuperHeroHype). I know perhaps it’s too soon to predict such a thing, but judging from the never-ending popularity of comic-book adaptation and the kind of buzz this one’s been getting, it’s not that far off.

I love the first and second installment of the movie (until Brett Ratner screwed it up), so I’m naturally drawn to this project and the idea of making a young version of the franchise is definitely appealing. But what gets me leaping out of my seat yesterday was learning about Michael Fassbender joining the cast as Magneto, the former BFF-turned-powerful-foe of Professor X and the X-Men. Earlier this month, it was widely reported that he was to choose between the powerful mutant and a yet-to-be-named villain role in the Spider-man reboot. Glad to see he has chosen wisely.

The casting of James McAvoy as Professor X instantly adds some considerable cred to this project. The 31-year-old Scot has proven his acting chops time and time again in The Last King of Scotland, Atonement, and The Last Station. But he’s also got his feet wet in full-throttle actioner like Wanted alongside Angelina Jolie, so this isn’t his first foray in comic-book adaptations. Patrick Stewart is a tough act to follow as the wise and cultured founder of the Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters (Xavier Institute) and leader of the pack, but I have faith that McAvoy will do well in that role. The SuperheroHype site offered a clue into the plot of this prequel on the auction info page that offers an exclusive tour of the set:

Before Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr took the names Professor X and Magneto, they were two young men discovering their powers for the first time. Before they were archenemies, they were closest of friends, working together, with other Mutants (some familiar, some new), to stop the greatest threat the world has ever known. In the process, a rift between them opened, which began the eternal war between Magneto’s Brotherhood and Professor X’s X-MEN.

I can’t think of a more talented and winsome actors facing off each other, exploring their initial friendship and the unfortunate incidents that lead to them choosing opposite paths. So far, the other cast members that have been announced include Rosamund Pike (Pride & Prejudice), Amber Heard (Pineapple Express), Benjamin Walker (who’s currently starring in the play Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson in his debut film role), and Kick Ass‘ Aaron Johnson rumored to play Cyclops.

I just re-watched the trailer of the first X-Men movie with my hubby and he recalled how excited we were to see it. Remember, this was back in 2000, before a throng of superhero movies popping up faster than you actually have time to watch them. The only comic-book movies were the circus-y and farcical Batman movies, topped by the abominable that was Batman & Robin [shakes head]. So to see a comic adaptation with real actors with gravitas such as Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen and treat it like a serious action drama was a welcome change.

Bryan Singer isn’t returning to direct but will act as producer to X-Men: First Class. The directorial duty will fall on London-born producer/director Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, Stardust), fresh out of his pretty decent success with Kick-Ass. According to IMDb, he was set to direct X-Men: The Last Stand but dropped out due to family conflicts. Pity, that might’ve turned out to be a much better movie.