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.

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

  1. mcarteratthemovies

    In truth I have very little interest in the “X-Men” films even though I’ve seen several (and who doesn’t love Hugh Jackman in that wife beater?), but James McAvoy may get my butt in the seat to see this one. I LOVE that man. His performance in “Last King of Scotland” was wildly underrated, and he was very good in “Penelope” and “Wanted” as well.

    1. Amen about Hugh Jackman… and his chemistry with Famke Janssen’s Jean Grey is scorching!

      LOVE McAvoy, too. I didn’t see LKoS but my hubby did and he was very impressed with his performance and he said it was Oscar-worthy! I want to see ‘Penelope’ soon, sounds like a cute movie. And yeah, he was quite bad ass in Wanted 🙂

  2. Yes, I’m with Meredith. I never had much interest in the franchise although I sort of watched most of them on TV but the casting of this prequel might get me into the theater this time around. We need to keep our expectations in check though as actors only affect a small fraction of the finished product!!!

    1. He..he.. keeping expectations in check is what I often have problems with, but that’s always good to do. I think they’re smart with casting real thespians who are relatively ‘unknown’ (as of now anyway) but who are respected in the industry.

  3. I wasn’t a fan of X-Men 3 either, I liked the first two though. Hope this prequel lives up to the promise of the original. I enjoy comic book movies so I’ll be watching this when it comes out. Thanks for the update Ruth.

    1. I hope so too, Ronan, but the fact that Bryan Singer is still heavily involved is a GOOD sign.

      You’re welcome, Ronan, I couldn’t resist dedicating a post for this because of this awesome casting news!

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  5. Ted S.

    “According to IMDb, he was set to direct X-Men: The Last Stand but dropped out due to family conflicts.”

    Actually Ruth, the reason why Matthew Vaughn dropped out of X-3 was because he wanted to have more time to shoot the movie because he took over Bryan Singer’s script which focused more on the Phoenix saga and would’ve included the Sentinals (giant robots that hunts down mutants). But the studio wanted him to finish it by May of 2006 and before Superman Returns open a month later. So basically they wanted to beat Singer because Fox wasn’t too happy that he left to do Superman Returns. Vaughn told them he couldn’t finish by May so he dropped out, it was sort of an ugly break up too, I’m surprised he’s back doing this reboot/prequel of X-Men.

    The studio got their wish by hiring Brett (the hack) Ratner and finished the film on time and beat Singer’s Superman at the box office.

    I wish he’d directed X-3 too because it would’ve been much better than Ratner’s version. Also I wanted to see Wolverine destroy those giant robots with his claws.

    1. Hey thanks for the tidbit, Ted, wow that only confirms that the studio honchos pretty much botched X-3 with their own egos! I guess we shouldn’t be surprised Vaughn is back because from the start he wanted to stay true to Singer’s vision and since he’s producing it now, it’s natural he’s giving Vaughn his chance. I’m just curious why Singer isn’t tackling this one himself. Well, I have high hopes that this prequel will amend the Ratner’s version and erase that one from our memory! 🙂

  6. You’ll love James’ performance in “The Last King of Scotland”…plus, the film is amazing!

    James is my favorite actor for at least three years now – I don’t see any new actor coming close to him in terms of talent. His acting in “Atonement” was sadly underrated – it was a lesson in subtlety, emotion and technical finesse. He was also amazing in Wanted, Inside I’m Dancing, Macbeth…

    I was so pumped when I found out he was going to play Xavier in “X-Men-First Class”. I love the X-Men too, and X2 is my favorite comic book based film of all time. So I’m pretty excited…can’t wait for this film! 😀

    1. Hi Cris, yes James is indeed an amazing actor. As far as Atonement, I don’t know about underrated, I think pretty much all the critics/moviegoers alike praise his performance. I haven’t seen Inside I’m Dancing or Macbeth, but I’m sure he’s great in there as well.

      Btw, did you meet him in London? I’m assuming this is you: http://i28.tinypic.com/2lnv4f6.jpg from your blog. If so, that is way cool! I’ve always wanted to see my fave actors perform on stage but to get so close to him like you did (while watching the play) must’ve been utterly exhilarating!

  7. dharma09

    i thanks u ,I never had much interest in the franchise although I sort of watched most of them on TV but the casting of this prequel might get me into the theater this time around.it’s better

  8. “Glad to see he has chosen wisely”, i don’t know if this is your intention, but that made me think you didn’t like the Spiderman films. I personally liked the first 2, but the 3rd was disappointing. I actually think both the third X-men movie and the third Spider-man movie suffered from similar problems(mainly trying to shove too much into one movie)

    Anyways, i hope First Class doesn’t suffer from that problem. I wasn’t too worried about the casting for First class, mainly because the reason i didn’t like the 3rd X-men movie wasn’t because of the acting. But i will say that James McAvory has given a good performance in everything i’ve seen him in(Atonement, Last King of Scotland, and Wanted)

    1. I only like the first and second Spidey so I am implying that I much prefer X-men than Spidey franchise. Even though the 3rd X-Men was dismal, but this upcoming one that Matthew Vaughn is going to direct looks like it has so much potential (The only think I’m hopeful about in the Spidey sequel is that they cast the British actor Andrew Garfield). Plus, Magneto is such a powerful and compelling villain that would be a good role for Fassbender to sink his teeth into and he’d have more screen time here than as a Spidey villain.

      And yes, James McAvoy is a terrific choice as Prof. X I do like him a lot, why do you think I cast him in my fantasy movie? 😉

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