Posted January 15, 2012 by Tony Tuason in MORE

The Comic Book Group 2011 Awards – Comic Book Movie of the Year

CBG’s Comic Book Movie of the Year (2011) — X-Men: First Class

(Check the other full list of the CBG Awards Winners here)

A Refreshing Comeback for a Decades-Old Franchise
by Jurmane Lallana

A Refreshing Comeback for a Decades-Old Franchise by Jurmane Lallana

For those familiar with the X-Men movie franchise, X-Men: First Class is like drinking a glass of iced tea on a sunny day — a nice break from all the complicated things that happened in the previous four movies. For first time viewers, it’s a ticket to an alternate world full of beauty and hate, a world full of hope and fear. It is no surprise then that it bags the 2011 Best Comic Book Movie Award.

This is an example of a movie that was actually better than the trailer, an achievement in today’s age of overly-hyped productions. First Class knew where it was headed and what points to hit. At the opening scene, we are sucked into young Magneto suffering at the hands of Nazis. Although this almost identical scene was already shown in the first X-Men movie, this gives us a chance to see where the struggle for mutant survival starts. Throughout the film, this struggle boils up and finally leads to the inevitable confrontation between humans and mutants. Matthew Vaughn did a great job in not making the film a teen whining fest. Instead, we are treated to a nice blend of action and story which makes you anticipate what will happen next. The cast of characters is diverse; some favourites like Mystique are brought back while lesser-known mutants like Banshee are given a chance to shine.

This could hardly be called a breakout role for Michael Fassbender (300), but it sure has elevated his status to lead role material. He portrays Magneto with a deadly charm that actually makes you root for him. James McAvoy also did a solid job as Professor X. However, I cannot help but feel that First Class sympathizes more with Magneto than Professor X. We know of Magneto’s past, and the movie focuses a great deal on his revenge against Shaw, but what about Xavier? We see him as a child, but not much more about his life that would make his character more interesting.

The X-Men have always been a symbol of non-conformity, and that aspect is fleshed out excellently in First Class. In a world where being different is frowned upon, there are just these few who just stick out even they do not want to. Another good point of the film was that it was able to tackle the side of the humanity. Because humans are naturally resistant to change, they attack and try to eliminate something that they don’t understand. In the end, they get to accomplish a sense of warped unity born out of fear, at the cost of alienating another group of species, the “homo superior.” In a sense, First Class also shows humanity’s own struggle for survival.

Close-minded comic book fans may tend to dislike the film, seeing that it has deviated a lot from canon. For one, Beast is the only original X-Man (aside from Charles Xavier) featured in this film. However, this has opened a lot of doors for other people to actually get interested in the history of the group, a history so rich that it is almost impossible for a casual viewer not to be immersed in the lives of these mutants who just want to be who they were destined to be. Some may call this industry move mainstreaming, but being a comic book fan myself, I’d like to think of it as a big shout out to everyone that superhero movies have heart and are not just venues for amazing special effects.

There was great expectation for X-Men: First Class, and for the most part, it has delivered. It proves there are a lot more stories to tell about these accidental heroes and villains, stories which will keep us at the edge of our seats and will make us crave for a whole lot more.

Important Note: I know what you’re thinking. First Class was marketed as a prequel, but when you try to connect characters and plot elements to the other X-Men movies, you get one massive headache. Spare yourself the agony and just appreciate the film as it is. Even if you think James McAvoy will never look like Patrick Stewart when he grows old, it shouldn’t stop you from enjoying this fresh take on our dearest mutants.

Tony Tuason

Tony is just your average guy who loves comics, toys, games, movies, and all those geek goodness.