X-Men: First Class Character Guide - Everything You Need to Know About the New (and Old) Mutants

X-Men: First Class Character Guide - Everything You Need to Know About the New (and Old) Mutants

Jun 03, 2011

I started these goofy "character guides" as sort of a whim, and we've had some fun with the introductions and re-introductions to the guys from Pirates and the animals from Panda. But now comes a big-time superhero epic that actually demands a character guide: X-Men: First Class. In 11 years we've seen 5 films from this franchse, four directors, a large league of screenwriters and more mutated weirdos than you can shake a Cerebro at. (You'd have to be pretty strong.)

So with fond memories of X-Men (2000) and X2 (2003) and X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) and X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), I'll try to break down who's new, who's old, who's younger than they were before, and who's a good guy destined to become a bad guy. Those who haven't read the source material or are leery of minor spoilers should turn back now, and please do remember this: I was just kidding about having fond memories of Wolverine. That movie sucked really bad on a wide array of disparate levels.


The Key Players

Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) -- Young adult. Handsome. Brilliant. He is to telepathy what Michael Jordan is to basketball. At a very young age he befriends...

 

Raven / Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) -- A beautiful blonde teenager who is actually a shape-shifting blue mutant. She grows up to become Rebecca Romijn, but not before experiencing some serious puppy love with...

Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult) -- Super-genius and allegedly very nerdy, but the kid still looks like a J. Crew model beneath his horn-rimmed glasses. Hank builds a lot of the young team's coolest toys, but gets more and more beastly as the film goes on. He also seems to have a legitimate problem with...

 

Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) -- A survivor of the WWII concentration camps, Erik can control metals with his mind. He's also a rather fascinating character in that he's a merciless Nazi hunter, which is awesome, but he's also, well, the guy destined to become Magneto. But not before he gets his infuriated fingers on...

 

Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) -- We all know that Erik / Magneto is destined to become a villain, albeit a villain with some sort of moral code. Shaw has no such tendencies. He's a super-powerful "mutant power sponge" sort of bad guy, and he does have a whole lot of fun plotting and sneering and mocking our heroes' problems. To make Shaw even cooler, his right-hand gal is...

Emma Frost (January Jones) -- She's a telepath, although not as strong as Xavier, but she also has a rather weird power: she can turn into diamond. I suppose that could come in handy pretty often, but mostly it's just an awesome excuse to leer at some multi-faceted silver boobies for a few minutes. As Shaw's second-in-command, she gets to crack the whip at guys like...

 

Azazel (Jason Flemyng) & Riptide (Janos Quested) -- Both snarly henchmen, the former can teleport all over the place (yes, just like our old friend Nightcrawler, last seen in X2) and the latter can throw tornadoes from his fingertips. Like virtually all of the entry-level villains in the X-Men franchise, Azazel and Riptide look a lot like they just got tossed out of Hot Topic for wearing too much make-up. These nasty youths find new foes in the likes of...

 

Banshee (Caleb Jones), Havok (Lucas Till), Darwin (Edi Gathegi), & Angel (Zoe Kravitz) -- Including Mystique and McCoy, this is pretty much the "first class" you've been hearing so much about. Banshee can scream so loud that the sound waves make him fly (neato!); Havok spits these crazy power discs out of his chest; Darwin has the ability to adapt to his immediate surroundings; and the sexy Angel can not only fly, but she can also spit little fireballs from her mouth. Needless to say, all the kids are gorgeous. OK, maybe not Banshee. The youthful squad is under the leadership of Xavier, Lehnsherr, and...

 

Moira McTaggert (Rose Byrne) -- A super-sexy CIA agent who goes from half-naked in a sting operation to knee-deep in mutant lunacy. She gets her funding from...

Unnamed Guy Played by Oliver Platt -- Hey, why not? Who doesn't love Oliver Platt?!?

 

Bonus: X-Men: First Class offers some cool surprises, and they come in the form of both well-known characters AND well-admired character actors. When a third act Naval Commander lowers his binoculars to show the camera his face, just listen for the quiet applause from your fellow audience members.
 

Check out Weinberg's review of X-Men: First Class right here.

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