We enter this reboot of the X-Men franchise with a group of people being herded into a concentration camp.
As they enter the gate, a mother and father are separated from their teenage son. The parents turn around and try to reach back for the boy as he stands screaming for their reunion, held back by Nazi soldiers.
As he screams, he reaches out his hands. When he does, the metal of the gate begins to buckle and move. Soldiers run to him, attempting to stop whatever is going on, but he continues to bend the metal. Then a soldier comes behind him and knocks him out, breaking the link.
So it begins.
There have been four other movies made based on the X-Men comic book series from Marvel, but this is the reboot and prequel to the others.
That opening scene shows us the budding power of the mutant that will become the villain Magneto (Michael Fassbender). Here he is as young Erik Lensherr, a person with the power to draw metal to himself.
The movie shifts over to America and the estate of the Xavier family, where young Charles (James McAvoy) must employ his mutant power to read minds. He crosses paths with a mutant shape-shifter called Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), who eventually becomes his adopted sister.
“X Men: First Class” follows Erik and Charles and their strikingly different views of humanity. Erik knows the human race is capable of terrible things. He has experienced genocide firsthand and believes that humans need to be eliminated.
Charles, on the other hand, believes in the goodness of humanity. He thinks mutants should use their powers to protect and help humankind.
This movie deals with whether humanity is fully depraved. Erik thinks yes, that humans are nothing more than less-thans. Evolution passed them over and mutants are the new ruling species. Humans will do anything, in his mind, to top the evolutionary ladder.
Charles disagrees, and that’s the conflict of vision that stands at the core of the X-Men storyline.
“X-Men: First Class” is a fine reboot of a franchise. Director Matthew Vaughn crafts a movie that is well paced and easy to follow. Even those who haven’t read the comics or seen the other movies can enter this universe and enjoy the ride.
Mike Parnell is pastor of Beth Car Baptist Church in Halifax, Va.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, some sexual content including brief partial nudity and language.
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Writers: Ashley Miller & Zack Stentz and Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn
Cast: James McAvoy: Charles Xavier; Michael Fassbender: Erik Lensherr/Magneto; Jennifer Lawrence: Raven/Mystique; Kevin Bacon: Sebastian Shaw; Rose Byrne: Moira MacTaggert; January Jones: Emma Frost.
The movie’s website is here.
Michael Parnell is pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is married and has two boys. His love is for movies, and he can be found in a theater most Fridays.