24 minutes ago
Sunday, June 5, 2011
X-Men: First Class
I saw X-Men: First Class this weekend, and I think it may be the best of the x-films (it’s been awhile since I’ve seen the first and second though, so I can’t say for certain). It’s certainly the best since the second. Still, my primary reaction to the film is to wish it had done a bit more
(Which I suppose was similar to reaction to Thor, admittedly, though for different reasons. Neither rank as my favorite film of this spring--which was Hanna, for the record).
So for those unaware, First Class is a prequel to the earlier X-Men movies, mainly telling of the story of the rise and fall of the friendship betwixt Charles “Professor X” Xavier and Erik “Magneto” Lensherr. Much of the film is character set-up: Xavier living it up in college and being super-enthused about mutation, and Lensherr playing super-powered badass Nazi hunter as he goes after the sadistic doctor who first noticed his mutant power.
The main action of the film takes place in the sixties--specifically around the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Xavier and Lensherr must train a team of young mutants to take on Sebastian Shaw and his gang who’ve got a wonderfully mad science plan to touch off a nuclear war, spreading radiation to create more mutants, so then Shaw can rule in a post-apocalyptic mutant world.
Strangely for a film with a group of young mutants, it doesn’t attempt to tap any of the Twilight teen energy--which would have seemed a good way to go in a marketing sense (if not any other!). Instead it focuses on Xavier and Lensherr, yet all the doings don’t give us as much on the philosophical/personality differences (other than a facile "don't kill!" from Xavier) as I would have liked. Also, it largely kind of short-hands the development of their friendship. One can only do so much in one film with a lot of characters to introduce and a lot of set-up to do, but it would have been nice if the script had focused more on some drama stuff rather than exotic locales that don’t really feel particularly exotic.
Mister Kiss Kiss Bang Bang?”
Those complaints aside, the film did make me think about how the superhero genre could be combined with other genres in the rpg context. World War II is an easy one, but this film suggests how supers could be done with a splash of swinging spy-fi--or swinging spy-fi with a supers chaser like Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD. A grittier supers game could probably be done around super-powered Nazi hunters. Kim Newman’s alternate history short-story “Ubermensch!” might be instructive here , as well.