Fox boosts “X-Men: First Class” with these new photos

We’ve seen trailers from “Green Lantern” and “Thor” this upcoming summer as well as some scattered images from “Captain America: The First Avenger,” but “X-Men: First Class,” the summer’s second superhero movie, has remained relatively quiet. Well, now that shooting is almost finished, we finally have an onslaught of photos and great quotes from director Matthew Vaughn (“Kick-Ass”), including his thoughts on the ability of “First Class” to compete in the saturated summer market.

For those not familiar, “X-Men: First Class” comes from its own comic series in the X-Men universe and the film follows Erik Lehnsherr and Charles Xavier (Magneto and Professor X) and how they began as close friends back in the ’60s. Playing the leads made famous by Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan in the original trilogy are James McAvoy (“Wanted”) and Michael Fassbender (“Inglourious Basterds”), who could not be more perfectly cast — in my opinion. Here’s a photo of them playing chess (a metaphor of the original films I should add) below.

Fans of the original films will be glad to know that former director/producer Bryan Singer has stayed on in producer capacity, so there will be some continuity with the original X-Men universe. Fans should also know that Vaughn is a million times more capable than “X-Men: The Last Stand” director Brett Ratner.

But here’s something to note: “We’re filming at the moment, we’ve a lot to get done,” Vaughn told the L.A. Times Hero Complex“I’ve never worked under such time pressure.” He also said, “I’m at that stage where I feel like a boxer against the ropes. I’m just throwing punches and taking them as they come and making sure I don’t hit the canvas.”

Vaughn goes on to explain that he’s made a lot of independently produced films such as “Layer Cake” and the aforementioned “Kick-Ass” and so the experience of having to meet a major deadline for mass distribution is completely different for him. If this makes you start to wonder whether “First Class” might be too rushed to be any good, your concerns are warranted, but as Vaughn, Singer and the cast describe the film, I can’t help but get more excited for a return to the X-Men universe.

Below are some excellent quotes that Vaughn gave to SlashFilm (that were accompanied by a couple more photos of Magneto and Professor X), mostly to try and reverse the damage of this poorly done and naturally unapproved promotional still that leaked online earlier this week.

“Imagine the Cuban Missile crisis and discovering that mutants exist, both at the same time.” … “The actors are so great. Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart are very very hard to replace. When I’m watching Fassbender and McAvoy you just think, it sort of reminds me of Daniel Craig doing Bond, you kind of forget there were other people playing him. And that’s what I feel about these two.”

And that’s not the last time Vaughn references “Casino Royale” and the turn-around of the Bond franchise as his inspiration for the type of “re-cast prequel” (this is not a reboot) he was going for. Here is what Vaughn had to say when the seriousness of the film was questioned:

“It’s definitely more serious and more realistic, and I think that’s something that had to happen. That’s my feeling about the world we live in right now. I think the glossy colorful superhero film sorta had its day. I think Batman Begins started it, Dark Knight, dare I say Kick-Ass was fun and it had some real pop to it, but at the same time we grounded it in reality as much as possible. I think that’s what the audience wants. And that why that image is more Fantastic Four than it is X-Men. And I say that with all due respect to the Fantastic Four team. That was then and this is now. It’s a different time. I mean, look at me — I’m not exactly mister light.”

So what did Vaughn have to say about “X-Men” competing in this over-booked superhero summer 2011?

“I will say the following: X-Men as a brand is bigger than Captain America, Thor and the Green Lantern, all put together.”

He’s damn right. While superhero movie geeks are quick to gush over just about any hero adaptation no matter how obscure, the bottom line is that the “X-Men” franchise and characters are well-established and favorites among more casual comic fans. The only caveat here, and Vaughn mentions it later in the article, is that there’s no Wolverine, Cyclops, Storm, etc. That, and it “appears” to be a reboot considering all the re-casting that had to happen. I’m curious to see how the marketing draws the connection to the original films. My guess is Bryan Singer’s name will feature prominently in the trailer — at the very least.

A release date of June 3 — so about a month after “Thor” and two weeks before “Green Lantern” — looks to be a good spot. However, that’s if everything goes according to schedule. “First Class” only began casting last summer and filming in the fall, which is insanely close for this scale of a project. For some perspective, casting on the next “Spider-Man” film also took place last summer and part of this fall, started filming in December and comes out 13 months after “First Class.”

The actual plot of the film is under wraps, but the photos provide some interesting clues. First of all, I love the ’60s vibe and I think it will add a dimension to superhero films that has never been experienced before. Anyway, Scroll back up for a second to the first photo, which features McAvoy, Fassbender, Rose Byrne as Dr. Moira MacTaggert, and a few other mutant teens. The two in the back are Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Hoult, who play Mystique and Beast respectively. Both are known for being covered in blue, so what’s with the normal epidermis? You can also tell that James McAvoy is neither bald nor wheelchair-bound yet, so there’s the possibility we get to see exactly what happens to him — if it’s not being saved for a possible sequel.

I’ll sign off with this last photo featuring Kevin Bacon (yes, Kevin Bacon) as Sebastian Shaw and  January Jones as geek sex icon Emma Frost. Bacon had some interesting insights into his character as well as the film that you can read here at Moviefone. Other characters in the film include Havok (Lucas Till), Azazel (Jason Flemyng), Angel Salavadore (Zoë Kravitz), Darwin (Ed Gathegi) and Oliver Platt as “the Man in Black.”

Movie gods willing, “First Class” will open June 3.

1 Comment

  1. Fox boosts “X-Men: First Class” with these new photos | Movie Muse I enjoyed your article.Btwgood topic.

Leave a Comment