X-Men: First Class (2011)

Director: Matthew Vaughn
Writer: Ashley Miller, Bryan Singer (story), Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn, Sheldon Turner (story), Zack Stentz

Cast: James McAvoy (Professor Charles Xavier), Michael Fassbender (Erik Lensherr / Magneto), Kevin Bacon (Sebastian Shaw), Rose Byrne (Moira MacTaggert), Jennifer Lawrence (Raven Darkholme / Mystique), January Jones (Emma Frost / White Queen), Nicholas Hoult (Dr. Henry “Hank” McCoy / Beast), Zoë Kravitz (Angel Salvadore), Caleb Landry Jones (Sean Cassidy / Banshee), Lucas Till (Alex Summers / Havok), Edi Gathegi (Armando Muñoz), Jason Flemyng (Azazel), Álex González (Janos Quested / Riptide), Hugh Jackman (Logan / Wolverine [UNCREDITED])

Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Released: June 3, 2011 (USA)
Running time: 132 minutes
MPAA: PG-13 — intense sequences of action and violence, some sexual content including brief partial nudity, language

Before Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr took the names Professor X and Magneto, they were two young men discovering their powers for the first time. Before they were archenemies, they were closest of friends, working together, with other Mutants (some familiar, some new), to stop the greatest threat the world has ever known. In the process, a rift between them opened, which began the eternal war between Magneto’s Brotherhood and Professor X’s X-Men.

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» Trivia

• Josh Schwartz wrote an early version of the screenplay, but once Bryan Singer became attached, Schwartz’s script was ditched as Singer wanted to take the story in a different direction. Jamie Moss was subsequently hired to write a new draft.

• Bryan Singer, who directed X-Men and X2, was approached to direct this film in October 2009, but in March 2010 declined due to his commitment to Jack the Giant Killer; he was replaced with Matthew Vaughn in May 2010. Singer, however, stayed on as producer.

• Amber Heard was rumored to play Mystique before Jennifer Lawrence was cast.

• Taylor Lautner was considered to play Hank McCoy (aka Beast) but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. Nicholas Hoult was later cast.

• Rosamund Pike was considered to play Moira McTaggert and later for Emma Frost.

• Broadway actor Benjamin Walker was previously cast as Beast, but dropped out of the role to star in the Broadway musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.

• The uniforms the X-Men wear are colored blue and yellow, in homage to the original blue/yellow suits the X-Men wore in the comics from 1963 (their debut) until (original artist and co-creator) Jack Kirby’s departure from the book. After several costume changes throughout the years, the costumes used in X-Men inspired new black leather uniforms seen in the Grant Morrison written 2001 New X-Men comic).

• Director Matthew Vaughn cited the first two X-Films, “Star Trek,” and the 1960s Bond films as major influences on this film.

• In April 2006 Zak Penn was hired to write and direct this film; he was going to make a prequel about Magneto, in a vein similar to X-Men Origins: Wolverine. However, the filmmakers decided to shift the focus from the early years of one mutant to those of the X-Men. Penn found this approach more interesting than what he’d come up with and so stepped down with his blessing.

• Filming was originally to take place on Tybee Island, but a producer browsing on the online map program Google Earth found Jekyll Island to be a more suitable location.

• A telepathic battle between Professor X and Emma Frost was going to be in the film, but upon the release of Inception the concept was scrapped.

• Matthew Vaughn instructed the cast to do away with all accents in their performances. James McAvoy had planned to copy Patrick Stewart’s voice (since McAvoy was going to play a younger version of Stewart’s Xavier), but Vaughn quashed it; Vaughn also told Rose Byrne that Moira MacTaggart would not have her trademark Scottish accent in the film (to the Scottish McAvoy’s mild disappointment).

• The film was originally to be a prequel about Magneto. Screenwriter Sheldon Turner wrote a treatment which he described as “X-Men meets The Pianist“: the story focused on Magneto’s early years as a prisoner of war in a Nazi concentration camp, until liberation by a squad of Allied Forces led by Charles Xavier. They later meet after the war and become friends, and later become rivals. The studio decided to change the film’s direction to the early years of the X-Men, but incorporated aspects of Turner’s script into the film.

• To prepare for his role as Erik Lensherr, Michael Fassbender studied Sir Ian McKellen’s performance as Lensherr in the previous X-Films, but also looked through the comics as he decided to make his own version of Magneto: “You want to respect what someone else has done, especially because the fan base really liked what Ian has done with it. But while I could have gone and studied him as a young man and brought that to the performance, I don’t think Matthew is very interested in that. So I’m just going my own way and working with whatever is in the comic books and the script.”

• To prepare for his role as Beast, Nicholas Hoult studied Kelsey Grammer’s performance as Beast in X-Men: The Last Stand and Grammar’s early series “Frasier”; he also underwent training in athletics, weightlifting and boxing.

• The filmmakers hired an “X-Men” specialist to help the cast understand their roles.

• The filmmakers had only two choices for the role of Sebastian Shaw: Colin Firth and Kevin Bacon. They decided to go with Bacon as he was American and seemed more menacing than Firth.

• During the Cerebro sequence, one of the mutants to be seen is Cyclops as a young boy playing with a glove and baseball, noticeable by his sunglasses, and the other being Storm, most noticeable by her haircut.

• When Charles and Erik try to talk to Logan in the bar, a neon sign for “Marv’s Beer” is visible on the wall behind them. This is a reference to director Matthew Vaughn’s production company, Marv Films.

• The early version of the X-jet is visually almost identical to the Lockheed SR-71 including the shock diamond effect from the engines. However, the X-jet adds additional engines on the underside for VTOL capability and substantially changes the internal layout from a two person cockpit to a much larger cargo area

• To prepare for his role as Charles Xavier, James McAvoy shaved his head… and learnt that the filmmakers wanted Xavier to have a full head of hair in the prequel. Throughout the first month of filming McAvoy had to wear hair extensions.

• One line was changed in the famous Kennedy speech of Oct 22, 1962. The changed line was voiced by Jim Meskimen. The original line was “It shall be the policy of this nation, to regard any nuclear missile, launched from Cuba against any nation in the western hemisphere, as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States.” In the film the line goes: “..to regard any nuclear missile crossing the embargo line that now surrounds Cuba, as an attack by the Soviet Union…”

• Rebecca Romijn makes an uncredited cameo appearance as Mystique’s older version in Eric’s bed. Romijn played Mystique in the earlier X-Men films.

• The ending fight between Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr was going to have them use their powers, but Matthew Vaughn reasoned that since it was an origin story about the early X-Men the fight had to be a more conventional brawl: “Fox were saying, people want to see super heroes use their powers… but not in this film. Sometimes they just want to punch each other. That, to me, is what’s different.”

• With Hugh Jackman’s brief cameo as Logan/Wolverine in this film, he is now the first actor to ever play the same comic book superhero in five different movies. And it also makes him the only actor to appear in every single “X-Men” movie.

• Though ostensibly a prequel to the entire X-Men film franchise, this movie deliberately ignores continuity points of X2, X-Men: The Last Stand, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, focusing on the story mostly as it is established in the first two films directed by producer Bryan Singer. Matthew Vaughn has cited this as a cue from Star Trek, for which the movie is both a prequel to the original films and a reboot, providing its own continuity.

• Hugh Jackman accepted the opportunity to cameo as Logan/Wolverine when he learned he would be the only character in the film to use the f-word. He improvised the line, “Go f-ck yourself,” after using 7 other takes to say, “F-ck off.”

» Quotes

Professor Charles Xavier: Listen to me very carefully, my friend: Killing will not bring you peace.

Professor Charles Xavier: [to Eric] There’s so much more to you than you know, not just pain and anger. There’s good in you too, and you can harness all that. You have a power that no one can match, not even me.

Dr. Moira MacTaggert: I’m going to use an asset the CIA didn’t issue me.

Young Raven: You’re not scared of me?
Charles Xavier: I always believed I couldn’t be the only one in the world. The only person in the world who was different. And here you are. Charlies Xaxier.
Young Raven: Raven.
Charles Xavier: You’re hungry and alone. Take whatever you want. We’ve got lots of food. You don’t have to steal. In fact, you never have to steal again.

Erik Lehnsherr: Excuse me, I’m Erik Lehnsherr.
Professor Charles Xavier: Charles Xavier.
Logan: Go fuck yourself.

Professor Charles Xavier: We have it in us to be the better men.
Erik Lehnsherr: We already are.

[Magneto halts the missile barrage and directs it upon the fleet]
Professor Charles Xavier: Erik, you said yourself we’re the better men. This is the time to prove it. There are thousands of men on those ships. Good, honest, innocent men! They’re just following orders.
Erik Lehnsherr: I’ve been at the mercy of men just following orders. Never again.

Dr. Moira MacTaggert: You know, one day the government is going to realize that how lucky they were to have Professor X on their side.
Professor Charles Xavier: I suppose I am a real professor, aren’t I? Next thing you know, I’ll be going bald. We’re still on the government side, Moira. We’re still G-Men. Just without the “G”.
Dr. Moira MacTaggert: No. You’re your own team now. It’s better. You’re X-Men.
Professor Charles Xavier: Yes, I like the sound of that.

Hank McCoy: Are you sure we can’t shave your head?
Professor Charles Xavier: Don’t touch my hair.

1st German: Who… What are you?
Erik Lehnsherr: Let’s just say I’m Frankenstein’s monster. And I’m looking for my creator.

Hank McCoy: Am I still a bozo?
Alex Summers: Yes, Hank, you’re still a bozo. But nice job.

Erik Lehnsherr: My parents didn’t have a name. It was taken from them… by pig farmers… and tailors.

Erik Lehnsherr: [before Charles uses Cerebro for the first time] What an adorable lab rat you make, Charles.
Professor Charles Xavier: Don’t spoil this for me, Erik.
Erik Lehnsherr: I’ve been a lab rat. I know when I see one.

Sean Cassidy: You truly believe I’ll fly this time?
Professor Charles Xavier: Unreservedly.
Sean Cassidy: I trust you.
Professor Charles Xavier: I’m touched.
Sean Cassidy: [pointing at Hank] I don’t trust him.
Professor Charles Xavier: [to Hank] Say nothing.
Sean Cassidy: I’m gonna die!
Professor Charles Xavier: Alright. Look, we’re not gonna make you do anything without…
Erik Lehnsherr: Here, let me help you.
[pushes Sean off the antenna]
Professor Charles Xavier: Erik!
Erik Lehnsherr: What? You know you were thinking the same.

Professor Charles Xavier: I can’t feel my legs.

Professor Charles Xavier: A new species is being born. Help me guide it, shape it, lead it.

Professor Charles Xavier: I can’t stop thinking about the others out there, all those mind that I touched. I could feel them, their isolation, their hopes, their ambitions. I tell you we can start something incredible, Erik. We can help them.
Erik Lehnsherr: Can we? Identification, that’s how it starts. And ends with being rounded up, experimented on and eliminated.
Professor Charles Xavier: Not this time. We have common enemies, Shaw, the Russians. They need us.
Erik Lehnsherr: For now.

Raven Darkholme: [in mutant form] Could you pass me my robe?
Erik Lehnsherr: You don’t have to hide.
[Erik moves and sits besides Raven on the bed]
Erik Lehnsherr: Have you ever looked at a tiger and thought you ought to cover it up?
Raven Darkholme: No, but…
Erik Lehnsherr: You are an exquisite creature, Raven. All your life the world has tried to tame you. It’s time for you to be free.
[Erik leans forward and kisses Raven]

Erik Lehnsherr: [Erik speaks apologetically towards Charles] Us turning on each other, it’s what they want. I tired to warn you, Charles. I want you by my side. We’re brothers, you and I. All of together, protecting each other. We want the same thing.
Professor Charles Xavier: My friend. I’m sorry, but we do not.

Professor Charles Xavier: You have a chance to become a part of something much bigger than yourself.
Erik Lehnsherr: What do you know about me?
Professor Charles Xavier: Everything.

CIA Director McCone: The law says we’ve got to turn her over.
William Stryker Sr.: The law applies to human beings. The same laws don’t apply to mutants. They’re too dangerous. In times like this, security is important than liberty. There is a war coming, John.
William Stryker Sr.: Yes, but a war with who?
Emma Frost: [gets up, walks towards them, cuts a circle in the glass and looks at them through the hole] Excellent question. Though I wouldn’t call it a war, exactly. That suggests both sides stand an equal chance of winning.

Dr. Moira MacTaggert: Who destroyed the statue?
Hank McCoy: It was Alex.

Professor Charles Xavier: [to Erik] You’re not alone.

Professor Charles Xavier: Heterochromia was in reference to your eyes which I have to say are stunning. One green, one blue. It’s a mutation. It’s a very groovy mutation. I’ve got news for you, Amy. You are a mutant.
Co-Ed: First you proposition a girl, then you call her deformed. How is that seduction technique working for you?
Professor Charles Xavier: I’ll tell you in the morning. No, seriously, you mustn’t knock it. Mutation took us from single-celled organisms to being the dominant form of reproductive life on this planet. Infinite forms of variation with each generation, all through mutation.
Co-Ed: Then let’s reclaim that word. Mutant and proud.

Alex Summers: [to Hank] Even I got to admit you look pretty bad-ass. I think I got a new name for you: Beast.
[Hank growls]

Sebastian Shaw: I don’t want to hurt you, Erik. I never did. I want to help you. This is our time. Our age. We are the future of the human race. You and me, son. This world could be ours.
Erik Lehnsherr: Everything you did make me stronger. It made me the weapon I am today. It’s the truth. I’ve known it all along. You are my creator.

Emma Frost: You can stop trying to read my mind, sugar. You’re never going to get anything from me while I’m like this.

Sebastian Shaw: We the children of the atom. Radiation gave birth to mutants. What will kill the humans will only make us stronger.

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