X-Men: First Class is tedious in all the wrong places. It opens with a Nazi Doctor Kevin Bacon giving trouble to a young Erik Magnus Lehnsherr. Kevin pops Magneto’s mom and terrible CGI ensues. This scene captures all of Magneto’s motivation in a nut-shell: mutant persecution and the death of his mother. Unfortunately, it is virtually meaningless in terms of Kevin Bacon’s character. What purpose did his being a Nazi Doctor ultimately serve? It doesn’t fit with his portrayal thereafter.
Then we learn that Kevin is hell-bent on human destruction, through nukes and WWIII. All out nuclear war (see tired movie plots) would make the world uninhabitable and kill millions of mutants in major cities where bombs are dropped. What is his goal again? He’s not out to destroy the world but that’s exactly what would happen.
The CIA and the mutants makes much less sense. Here are some examples:
- Gosh we have this cerebro thing and what’s that you’re telepathic? What luck!
- You found other teenage mutants, wowzers, let’s bring them to our cool CIA facility for no other reason than to have a battle scene here
- The USA knows about mutants and actively employs them, sure Hank McCoy is a CIA scientist but that doesn’t matter, we’ll bomb the island anyway
The worse bit about the movie is the lack of treatment given to Magneto and Professor X’s relationship. In this film, they meet in the water during intense action scenes. They are in constant motion and their final words together are after Magneto lifts a submarine into the air and a bullet makes its way into Xavier’s spine. Traditionally, the two meet when they are much younger (late teens), developing a deep affinity for each other. This is lost. They know each other for what may be no more than a few months.
What made the first X-Men movie effective were the brilliant exchanges between Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart. Literally, in the opening scenes they are standing in a hallway having a conversation. Two old dudes that’s it. And it worked. X-Men: First Class covers the poor dialogue, plots, and characters by constantly moving the characters in and out of places around the world and blinding the audience with over-the-top CGI/action scenes.