This comic book film definitely has the X Factor

X Men: First Class (12A) 4/5

�The art of the prequel is fundamentally attempting to fill a gap that nobody needed filling. At the start of the century Bryan Singer made two X-Men features that are among the best comic book movies yet made and if it all went a bit awry with the third one, I still can’t see why Fox became obsessed with the idea that the way forward was backwards and a clutch of origins films. Or at least I couldn’t but then I saw Matthew (Kick-Ass) Vaughan’s film on how it all started back in 1963 and now I’m a believer.

This is not intended as a begin-again reboot. If this film is successful a prequel trilogy is intended with the new cast (because a prequel trilogy turned out so well last time it was tried). It even begins in exactly the same place that Singer opened the original X-Men film – in a Nazi concentration camp with a young boy discovering his magnetic mutant ability.

The secret of the film is that it restores all the virtues of the original two films: a good ensemble cast, in a character driven piece where story was as important as action. It’s not just an adventure but a sweeping mutant family saga.


The film’s chief glory is a great cast. Not a cast full of big names but a cast packed with performers that are at that perfect point between breakthrough and establishment, performers still bursting to show what they can do. McAvoy gives a perfect swotty righteousness to the young, mobile and hirsute Professor Xavier, while Fassbender is tremendous as Magneto.

Even the older hands are on top form: Kevin Bacon makes for a fantastic villain.

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The story centres on the Cuban missiles crisis and director Vaughan makes the most of the sixties setting – at times it resembles a serious Austin Powers movie. It more than the just the trappings though, the film seems imbued with that sixties spirit of optimism, the hope that reason and brightly coloured uniforms were the way forward.

First Class shows that great comic book films don’t need to be dark and brooding – fun, sexy and heartfelt can work just as well.