X-Men: First Class

Preceded by:

Followed by:

Our Review

The mood throughout the entire movie was charged. Being part of a popular franchise, the audience was excited, the film was action packed, though still containing a sufficient amount of character development and emotional climaxes. The overall color scheme for the film was interesting. The good guys utilized multiple colors, and the sequences focusing on those characters, appeared pleasant and colorful. The villains, however, used far less color in their design, making them appear dull and monotoned. This leads me to a conclusion that I will get back to later.

X-Men: First Class represents the time period of the early 1960s. It is interesting to note that the setting of the movie, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the march on Washington (Where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his historic speech, “I Had a Dream”), and the beginning of the original X-Men comics all coincide within a year of each other. There is therefore, a lot that we can see influencing the film from the time period it is set in. The Cuban Missile Crisis generated a peak in the tension of the Cold War. This tension is mirrored in the film between mutants and non-mutants. Mutants held special abilities which made non-mutants fear them. Because of that fear they prepared to exterminate them if necessary which in turn increased hostilities for mutants. The tension continued to rise, much like the tensions of the Cuban Missile Crisis. The march on Washington, though not directly referenced in the film, also contributes ideas about racism and discrimination that are obviously present in the film. The initial publication of X-Men comics would have reflected these ideas in their own time and since the film goes back to the beginning storyline, it also reflects the time.

Obviously there is also a lot of influence from the year the film was made, being the present 2011. The film is full of explosions, special effects, and a plethora of visual elements that are common to modern action/superhero films. Much of the technology that was presented in the film would never have existed in the time period. However, because we, in the 21st century, have perhaps a larger suspension of belief we are able to accept the possibility of such technology, even though the very concept would probably have seemed foreign to the people of the early 1960s. This is complimented by the increase in modern filmmaking technology which is able to present pseudoscience and the unreal in a very realistic way. Also, since the film is a prequel, it was filled with several references to future times and future movies in the X-Men timeline. If the film had actually been made in the 1960s it would never have had these modern cultural references. They are put there purely for our benefit.

Racism is the identity that is most prominent in X-Men: First Class. This can be seen in multiple forms of storytelling and symbolism. The idea of racism is not particularly covered up. In many instances it is clear that because mutants are different they are considered inferior to “normal” humans. Many of the mutants believe the same thing, that they are superior because they are different. This represents much of the real world bias in racism. We are better than they are because they are different. But in reality everyone is different from everyone. Only some like Professor Xavier is able to see past these differences and tries to convince others that they are all actually equal, and should work together. In this way, Xavier is a brilliant parallel of Martin Luther King Jr., who also tried to fight peacefully for the same principles. Another historical parallel is that of Xavier’s friend Magneto who believes in more segregated solutions to racism, much as Malcolm X believed. Many other parallels exist. For example, there is a moment when one of the mutants gives his life for his fellow mutants. Coincidentally, this mutant was African American, which in truth could not have been a coincidence. Also, the color scheme for the good guys is full of many colors, suggesting people of different skin colors, races, etc. should work together. This color scheme is notably absent for the bad guys.

Overall, I’d say that X-Men: First Class is my favorite film in the X-Men franchise, and that it best demonstrates the themes of discrimination and racism that show up in almost all X-Men related media.