Friday, 27 May 2011
Written for Screenjabber Magazine.
Attending the X-Men First Class press conference was a great chance for Screenjabber to see the main draws of Marvel’s latest blockbuster, where James McAvoy, Kevin Bacon, Michael Fassbender, Jason Flemyng, Zoe Kravitz, Alex Gonzalez and writer Jane Goldman patiently answered the questions most on the mind of the press. The conference allowed the actors to let their jovial banter really shine through, and it’s clear to hear the friendships forged whilst making the movie. The topic of discussion lends towards the possibility of making a trilogy out of Matthew Vaughn’s first major foray into Hollywood territory, and the lengths of research each actor went through to truly understand their character. Kevin Bacon noted that he “didn’t grow up so much with comics”, but “knew the films” and like the rest of the cast, was given a bible of research to wade through. James McAvoy however was a “big fan” and “really aware of the cartoon growing up” having seen many of the episodes via the BBC’s Saturday morning children’s show Live and Kicking. He even patiently waited for each half of the cartoon to air throughout the rest of the show. Clearly comfortable to joke with friends, comically Zoe Kravitz was apparently not aware of the comic prior to the shoot.
With a grasp of who was and was not aware of the movie’s origins, the latest X-Men is based predominantly on the Marvel comics, but with a conscious approach to how this prequel will fit into the pre-existing X Men movie franchise. The latest movie develops heavier themes to the forefront of blockbuster cinema, including race, war, discrimination and prejudice. Whilst many of these themes have been touched on before, X-Men First Class has a weight of quality to it, establishing and really developing the human unity between the two lead characters, Professor X and Magneto, which we already know to be a fractured relationship from the previous instalments, played by Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen respectfully.
Jason Flemyng, considered by many to be Matthew Vaughn’s lucky charm, having appeared in the majority of his movies, became the go to man for the comic relief both on set and at the conference, having originally thought to audition for the beast when Vaughn “flirted with doing one of the other X-Men films” prior to First Class, but as Michael Fassbender added, he “didn’t look so good in blue” as he does in red, so rather then being blue and hairy, Flemyng is “bright red and slightly out of focus”.
A strong cast and an equally strong movie to match, X-Men: First Class is definitely one to check out for a number of reasons. The great character development takes you deeper into the realms of mutants not yet explored by the previous movies, along with the visuals completely capturing a time of war and social change not long forgotten. There’s also an emotional pull that is neither contrived nor forced. It’s an undeniable fact that although Matthew Vaughn has dabbled in a number of genres, his latest is definitely one of his, and Jane Goldman’s, greatest assault at the box office yet.