Top 40 Reasons I Love X-Men: First Class

Happy Sunday, folks, hope you’ve had a pleasant weekend!

I’ve been wanting to do this post for quite a while as I haven’t got a chance to actually review this movie for myself (but Paula G did here). But as I said in my weekend roundup last week, it’s my top favorite movie of the Summer. After seeing it again for a second time last night, I wholeheartedly stand by that decision, in fact, it renews my appreciation of the X-Men franchise.

Yes, so I’m still not crazy about January Jones’ acting, or lack thereof, but I guess she’s supposed to be this icy queen, so in that sense she did what she was hired to do. Btw, instead of a straight on review, I’m inspired to do a similar post like what Stevee of Cinematic Paradox, listing 52 reasons why she loved Inception, but I’m doing a Top 40 instead (y’know, like Rick Dees’ Weekly Top 40 for those of you growing up in that era, but in reverse order).

Btw, there are SPOILERS ABOUND in this post, so consider yourself warned:

1. Michael Fassbender Ian McKellen left a huge shoes to fill as Erik Lehnsherr but Fassbender manages to make the role his own.

2. James McAvoy – Who says the good guy has to be boring? McAvoy not only makes Charles Xavier a compelling character, but someone worth rooting for.

3. Matthew Vaughn’s stylish direction – even with so many characters, Vaughn keeps the movie moving at the right pace and keep the focus on the two most compelling characters.

4. Smart script and sharp dialog from Vaughn’s longtime collaborator Jane Goldman (Kick-Ass) and the guys who penned Thor, Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz

5. The splendid dynamic between Xavier and Lehnsherr, the best ‘frienemies’ of the superhero universe I’ve ever seen …

6. The retro 60s vibe – the cars, the clothes, down to the JFK news footage during Cuban Missile Crisis era

7. Living up to Vaughn’s promise of Cold War setting + a Bond flick + Frankenheimer political thriller… all in one movie!

8. The awesome soundtrack – done by Henry Jackman (who also worked on The Dark Knight’s soundtrack). The music has an epic feel to it as well as a 60s vibe that perfectly captures the mood of the film. I LOVE the score used in the trailer, I even play it over and over again just to hear it. But this one used when Magneto lifts the submarine is downright epic:

9. The Wolverine cameo… short and bad-ass. I had no idea he was going to show up the first time around so it was an awesome surprise, but it’s still clap-worthy even on second viewing.

10. Kevin Bacon as a larger-than-life Bondian baddie… an explosive one at that…

11. That whole scene at the beach…especially the part when a bullet hits Xavier’s lower back… I teared up both times.

I can’t feel my legs.

12. Magneto’s heartbreaking back story… right from the tragic opening scene at the Polish Nazi camp and at the hand of German-speaking Kevin Bacon as a Nazi officer

13. Oliver Platt as one of the first ‘Man in Black’ is one of the most fun roles I’ve seen him do in a long while

14. The cool looking black and yellow x-men uniform

15. The name Sebastian Shaw… seems destined for a powerful bad dude

16. Jennifer Lawrence’s affecting portrayal as Mystique …

17. The contrasting ideology of Xavier and Magneto … and how each came to such a viewpoint…

Erik Lehnsherr: After tomorrow, they are gonna turn on us but you are blinded because you believe they are all like Moira.
Professor Charles Xavier: And you believe they are all like Shaw.

18. The global feel – with the various filming locations and language spoken (German, Russia, France, etc.)

19. Michael Fassbender’s Bond-like moves, especially the scene in the Argentinian Alps

20. The often funny X-Men training at Xavier’s mansion… especially Banshee learning how to fly with his sonic-producing ability

21. The scene where Charles accesses Erik’s childhood memory with his mother, and both men cry

22. The complicated relationship between Xavier and Raven – who somehow grow up together like siblings

23. Seeing Xavier’s playful and flirty side in college – using his mutant thesis as a pick up line even!

24. The dazzling scene when Magneto lifts the submarine high above water …

25. Darwin’s awesome adaptability powers – it’d have been nice if he stayed around longer though

26. A wonderful metaphor for all the outsiders and outcasts amongst us.

27. Rose Byrne’s outfit as Moira… especially the classic trench she wore to attend Xavier’s presentation …

28. Magneto’s fascinating relationship with Raven/Mystique

29. All the close-ups of Fassbender, whether he’s in rage, sorrow or both

30. The moment Erik kills Shaw with the same coin he once gave him… most memorable villain’s death ever

31. Hank McCoy’s humorous introduction at the lab – I love Nicholas Hoult’s heartfelt yet cerebral portrayal …

32. The devastating moment when Charles and Erik realize they have to finally part ways and each mutant must then choose a side

33. The name Raven… which carries the same mystique as the character who possesses it

34. The whimsical tones throughout the movie, adding mutant-related humor that enhances the plot instead of simply being used as filler …

35. Magneto’s stopping dozens of missiles mid air…whilst look dashingly cool doing it

36. The mutant recruiting sequence, especially when Angel showed Erik and Charles what she’s capable of…

37. Eye-popping special effects throughout, especially in the third act of the film in the final sea battle scene

38. The scene when Charles first meets Erik under water

Erik: I thought I was alone.

Charles: You’re not alone, Erik. You’re not alone.

39. Xavier’s heart-wrenching wail when he realized Erik is defying orders not to kill Shaw

40. It’s the kind of superhero movie I like… the one with thrilling action coupled with tough moral dilemmas. In other words, it’s what a fun comic-book movie should be… bombastic, but with heart.

Beneath the spectacle, there are themes of ‘prejudice, fear of the unknown, being outcast, trying to find a place in the world’ – universal themes we can all identify with. I posted a countdown to this movie back in May, hoping it would be a return to form for the X-Men franchise, well suffice to say, Vaughn (and Bryan Singer as its producer) did not disappoint!

4.5 out of 5 reels

Well, do you love this movie/franchise as much as I do? Feel free to share what you think of it and add your own favorite part/scene from the movie.

55 thoughts on “Top 40 Reasons I Love X-Men: First Class

  1. Ted S.

    This is cool list Ruth, I don’t think I can come up with more than 5 reasons why I love a certain film.

    I enjoyed First Class but not as much as you did. I was hoping they would focus the story more on Erik and Charles and not bring in the young mutants so early on into the plot. I didn’t really care for Kevin Bacon’s character either, he’s pretty much playing Magneto just like from the previous films but more cheesier. Also I thought the first half hour of the film was badly edited, I thought I was going to hate the film but thankfully the rest of the movie was pretty good.

    I do like the scene where Erik lifts up the submarine from under the ocean. I’ll watch the movie again when it hits Blu-ray next month, I might enjoy it more the second time around.

    1. Ahah, really Ted? I’m sure you can list top 20 why you love a Peckinpah/Tarantino film… don’t sell yourself short 😀

      Y’know, I certainly wouldn’t mind if they just focus on Xavier and Magneto the entire time, but then it wouldn’t be X-Men: First Class right, they’d have to change the title to Xavier/Magneto, he…he… in fact I think at one point they were gonna focus solely on Magneto, which wouldn’t be a bad idea either, I find him just as compelling as Wolverine.

      I’ll definitely be buying the BD for this, and for me, I actually do enjoy it more the 2nd time around!

      1. Ted S.

        Yeah I think I could, especially if I have to come up with reasons why I love QT and Peckinpah’s films.

        I think that’s why I wanted to see more of Erik’s past because they brought over the script of the Magneto into this movie. Remember when Fox were going to make a movie about Magneto’s past? But they went with Wolverine instead. Like you said, if they didn’t bring in the young mutants then it wouldn’t have been an X-Men film. Who knows I might like it more when I see it again, happened before. I didn’t care for either Gladiator or I Am Legend the first time I saw them in theater but after seeing both again, I really them now.

    2. Same boat Ted. It was pretty good but a bit bland at the same time for me. The dynamics between Erik and Charles was by far the most compelling part of the movie but they had spent time on all those side characters that weren’t developed much at all.

      1. To each their own, Cas, I know you’re just ok w/ this movie as you don’t love the franchise. But to me, there’s nothing bland about this movie other than January Jones’ performance and maybe that kid who played Havoc. With so many characters, it’s impossible to develop all of them properly when you only have 2 hrs to work with, but I think Vaughn did great given the limitations.

  2. Wow, that’s some high praise you give the movie. I saw it two weeks ago and thought it was very enjoyable. Loved the setting and the way they used real world events. This movie is really the definition of a summer blockbuster with an interesting story, great special effects and set pieces and some great acting as well. I gave it a 8/10

  3. I love this idea for a post and was set to read away but I still havent seen this film yet and I have decided to leave the post until after I get a chance!!

    Hope you are well and had a great weekend. Personally I am cream crackered and in need of writing up lots of stuff for big screen.

    Off to work I go!

    1. Hi Custard, thanks for stopping by… I’m sure you’re still exhausted from your hectic but fun weekend at Big Screen! Welcome back, matey.

      Hey, this post is intended for those who’ve seen it, hope I didn’t spoil anything for you.

    1. Thanks T, it was fun to do. I could easily list 50 reasons but I decided to make it a Top 40 instead. I just love this movie, can’t wait to get the BD.

      1. Me and my brother had this conversation. There was a throwaway line when Charles and Erik return to the facility after the attack and the teen mutants were like there was absolutely nothing left of him to bury. The delivery and pause made me think that it is within the realm of possibility. Again it is just a theory.

        And actually the above should have read – I am not absolutely convinced. The strength of words.

        1. I didn’t pick up on that, but honestly, it doesn’t sound like enough to go on, especially given the fact that he’s completely forgotten about afterwards. But I’ve already made my feelings on this matter clear.

          1. Hi Rich, I think I read your article about it. As a person of color, I honestly don’t think it’s a racial issue though. I mean, I like the character regardless of color, I just think the actor Edi Gathegi played him well (can’t believe he was in Twilight!) I do agree he shouldn’t have been forgotten, especially since he gave up his life to save another mutant.

    1. I hope that is the case Luv, you’d think that he’d have survived the blast given his power. I like his character so I was bummed when he’s gone, I’d rather they kill off Havoc in his place, that kid can’t act.

  4. Cool list!! I couldn’t comment much coz I haven’t seen it yet. But what a great effort to make 40 reasons like that. I am tempted to do the same on my fav movie 😉

    1. I got the idea from Cinematic Paradox, it really is fun to do when you absolutely love the movie. You should do it for one of Cillian’s 🙂

  5. Knowing you as I do Ruth, I’m wondering how you stopped at just 40! 🙂

    I do agree that Fassbender and McAvoy are terrific actors and deserve to be the 1 and 2 reasons why this film should be seen.

    1. Ahah, well I just told Scarlet there that I could easily have gone w/ 50 or more 😀 I kept mentioning both McAvoy and Fassbender over and over again on my list, can’t help myself!

  6. I loved the film, too, though probably not as much as you. For me (and this is slightly related to your #18), it felt just a bit too scattered for me and usually most origins stories ARE packed with a lot of stuff, so this isn’t any different.

    But I still really like it and I’m sure I will LOVE the sequel whenever it comes since it should be more focused than this one.

    Also, I have to agree wholeheartedly on your top two picks. They really were cast perfectly and the movie really required for their chemistry to work and THANK GOD they did. Also I don’t think a lot of people are giving McAvoy a lot of credit with what he did with Xavier. Like you said, playing the good guy can usually be boring and uninteresting, but he made it exciting and fun. Fassbender is a bit luckier since Magneto’s arc is just inherently more interesting/complicated.

    1. Hi Ryan, yeah I suppose it could feel that way when the story jumps from place to place and different languages are spoken. But because Vaughn manages to keep going back to Magneto & Xavier as the main focus of the story, I actually don’t feel the ‘scatter’ factor. I really hope there is a sequel to this, it’d be great to see McAvoy and Fassbender reprise their roles again. Totally agree what you said about Magneto as a character, it’s a juicy role indeed.

  7. WOW! 40 reasons! I’m struggling because this was truly one of my favorite films of the summer, but the blu-ray release is coinciding with the release of “Hanna” as well…..hmmmmm….decisions….decisions…

    1. You’re torn between this and Hanna? I think First Class wins in every level for me. I appreciated what Joe Wright did but I don’t think I want to see Hanna again, awesome cast notwithstanding.

  8. Love your list Ruth. I enjoyed the film especially the bromance between Charles & Erik brought to life by McAvoy & Fassbender and the budding relationship between Raven & Erik.

    1. Thanks Sherry, ahah I didn’t want to go so far as calling it a bromance but I’ve heard that term is used before in reviews. Somehow when I hear that term I always think of a more whimsical relationship and I can’t exactly describe Magneto & Xavier in that sense.

  9. This a great idea for a post Ruth! & these are all great reasons.

    i’m still hoping to see this one on the big screen again before it’s completely gone. i’d really like a sequel with this cast as well, fingers crossed for that.

    1. Hi Paula, I hope you get to see it on the big screen before its run. Better hurry though, as the BD is out in less than a month so it’s probably gonna be gone from cinemas soon.

  10. Wow, great post! You’ve clearly put a lot of time and thought in to it 🙂

    I really liked the relationship between Erik and Charles, too. James McAvoy’s portrayal of Charles was great – I’d like to hang out with Charles in real life!

    1. Thanks Claire, it took me a while to get all the clips/images but y’know, I could list even more as I love this movie so much. Yeah, Charles is certainly much more fun to hang out with in real life, Magneto is hot but man, w/ that temperament, no thanks, ahah.

  11. Nice idea for a post. I’m really glad you enjoyed the movie, I’ve read a bit too much trash talk and it makes me sad. I wasn’t blown away by the portrayal of Raven (one of my favourite characters) but I did like the idea that she’d grown up with Charles. And McAvoy was brilliant in giving him a less holier-than-thou side with the college scenes.
    There were a lot of great moments in this film, a lot of which you’ve pointed out, but for me the absolute jaw drop was that cameo. Properly screamed in the cinema. My friends thought I was nuts 😛

    Here’s my review if anyone is interested:

    1. Hi Katie, I just think that people who trash talk it probably don’t like the franchise to begin with. I actually like Raven/Mystique better here because she has more dialog and I like her spunk, in the other X-Men movies she barely talks! I think the more I think about it, I’m more impressed by McAvoy as Charles is not as ‘juicy’ a role as Magneto but yet he makes me care about his character and actually roots for him.

      Yes that cameo is awesome, but the moment that [nearly] made me scream was when Charles got shot, I cried both times when I watched it.

      Thanks for the link, I’ll check that out.

      1. I like that she barely talks, that’s why she’s called Mystique!

        For me, McAvoy was the stand out in this movie mroe than Fassbender. Don’t get me wrong I loved Fassbender but as you said he had the mroe subtle job and he played it so well.

        I spent the whole film waiting for them to take away Charles legs, so for me it was more of a “so that’s how it happens” than a tear-jerk moment. I love that scene, but it’s the one continuity bug that gets me, because at the end of Wolverine (which takes place after) Charles is standing.

  12. I remember being so hesitant of seeing this in theatres, but when I did Fassbender and McAvoy floored me. If not the best summer flick it should be at #2 easily.

  13. Good stuff, Ruth! I agree that Fassbender and McAvoy were excellent, and Wolverine’s cameo was pretty great as well. But I gotta ask… why isn’t January Jones in your top 40?? 😉

    1. Thanks Eric! I think you missed my intro there where I mentioned about Jones. Sorry but she will not even be in my top 100. I just don’t think she was acting, more like posing.

  14. This is great! It must have taken you ages! 🙂

    I thought it was very good, too, but as I said in a reply to you on my blog, I found Fassbender’s mutable accent a bit jarring. He kept slipping back into Irish from time to time. He was still the best thing in it, though. There’s no replacement for McKellen and Stewart but this is as good as you’re going to get.

    Great post, Ruth.

    1. Thanks Rich, it was fun to do.

      Ahah, mutable accent, good one. I didn’t really notice the Irish accent but I suppose since you’re a Brit it must be more apparent to you. Yep, McKellen and Stewart still can’t be beat, but the younger actors did an amazing job nonetheless.

  15. Ruth, this is one of the best posts ever. Hell, I nominate this as a contender for 2011 Blog Posts You Must Read.

    I loved, loved, loved, LOVED this movie, same as you. I got chills when I read #21 just remembering that scene. Blimey, Vaughn was Fassbender were brilliant. And #30 – god, so friggin’ brilliant. This great, great, awesome post nearly makes me wanna do one for SCOTT PILGRIM. I think I’d do anything to write about that flick again, hehehe.

    Again, GREAT post. I can’t wait to see something like this again from you for another flick you love dearly.

    (and personally, also a fan of #27)

    1. Whoa Andy, this is like the BEST comment ever. You made my day man, no my week even. THANK YOU for reading and enjoying this post, it really was fun to do. I’ve been meaning to do this after seeing it the first time but seeing it a second time just confirmed my love for it, y’know. Yeah, you should do one for Scott Pilgrim, why not… there are lots of interesting stuff in that movie to make even a top 100 list. I don’t love it as much as you but I have to admit it was quite enjoyable. I might try to do this once a month and choose a movie I dearly love, thanks for the idea, man!

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    1. Hi Brenda, thank you so much for sharing this post on your social media sites, I really love this movie so it was fun doing the list. I think this is one that’ll get a ton of repeat viewing over the years. Hope you get to see this soon, pls let me know what you think once you do.

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