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With the debut yesterday afternoon of the initial trailer for X-Men: First Class, fans finally got a good look at at director Matthew Vaughn’s vision for the birth of Marvel’s mutant universe set against the backdrop of the Cold War.
It’s certainly an interesting teaser, one that goes to great lengths to establish the tension of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the friendship of young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender). Beyond that, though, it probably raises more questions than it answers: Is Kevin Bacon’s Sebastian Shaw behind the standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union? Who is Oliver Platt’s mysterious character? Is Lucas Till’s Alex Summers Cyclops’ brother … or father? But, hey, it’s a teaser — it’s supposed to tease.
But what exactly did we see in the trailer, and what can it tell us about the plot of X-Men: First Class? Let’s break it down:
The vacant wheelchair of Prof. Charles Xavier in the study we saw in the previous three X-Men films. Xavier’s fate in The Last Stand gives the shot a little extra emotional punch. Note: Commenters with a better scene-for-scene memory of the original X-Men trilogy assure me these “modern-day” photos aren’t recreations, or specially staged shots, but actual images from those movies. I’ll bow to their recall.
And here we have Patrick Stewart (or a convincing stand-in) as Charles Xavier using Cerebro, the familiar device designed to amplify the brainwaves of telepaths, enabling them to locate other mutants across the globe.
James McAvoy (Wanted, The Last King of Scotland) as young Charles Xavier.
It’s difficult to place the setting, but here of course is Magneto’s trademark red helmet, which enables him to resist all but the strongest telepathic attacks.
Magneto, presumably with his Brotherhood of (Evil) Mutants, in a standoff with police.
Michael Fassbender (Hex, Inglourious Basterds) as the young Erik Lensherr, before he became the feared Magneto, Master of Magnetism.
Friends Xavier and Lensherr being escorted through a prison, possibly on their way to recruiting a mutant. The dangerous Raven Darkholme, maybe?
Their base of operations, possibly the original School for Gifted Youngters? It’s definitely not the mansion we saw in the previous three films.
Our first in-trailer look at the assembled First Class: From left, Fassbender as Lensherr, Lucas Till as Alex Summers/Havok, Jennifer Lawrence as Raven Darkholme/Mystique, Nicholas Hoult as Henry McCoy/Beast, McAvoy As Xavier, Caleb Landry Jones as Sean Cassidy/Banshee, and Rose Byrne as Moira MacTaggert.
At first glance, Lensherr, Summers and Cassidy look like they’ve just returned from a run. But if you look closer, you’ll see a gun in Lensherr’s right hand, which makes me wonder whether they were participating in a training exercise. But why would the future Master of Magnetism need a gun?
They’re watching, and we’re hearing, President John F. Kennedy’s televised address to the nation announcing the discovery that Soviet nuclear-missile bases were being constructed in Cuba. This establishes the tension-filled Cold War/Cuban Missile Crisis backdrop and, in a rather unusual move for comic books and comics-based movies, pins the story to a very specific time: Kennedy’s address was delivered at 7 p.m. ET on Oct. 22, 1962.
A better shot of the collected First Class. Take a good look, because that’s the last time in the trailer you’ll see Caleb Landry Jones as Sean Cassidy. Although the other young mutants receive their own spotlights — Nicholas Hoult’s Hank McCoy and Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique get a lot of screen time — Jones disappears, leading me to wonder whether Banshee’s role is more minor than I’d thought. Or maybe the character meets a quick death?
McAvoy’s Charles Xavier leads the group through double doors into … what? The room that houses Cerebro (we’ll see that later)? The Blackbird hangar?
Our first in-trailer look at January Jones as Emma Frost, sitting in the curious-looking room we glimpsed on Wednesday in the most recent movie still (we’ll see that shot again later). She’s obviously being observed through a one-way mirror — by whom, we don’t know — which leads me to suspect the room is some kind of power-dampening cell.
I’m a little disappointed to see that Zoë Kravitz’s Angel Salvadore, the insectoid mutant introduced during Grant Morrison’s New X-Men run, is depicted as a stripper in a freaky gentleman’s club.
How freaky, you ask? Xavier and Lensherr are watching Angel’s performance from the comfort of a bed in what looks to be a set from Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.
Nicholas Hoult (Skins, A Single Man) in the first of many spotlights on young Henry McCoy. Here he holds a syringe containing the serum that will transform him into the blue fur-covered Beast.
Lucas Till (Hannah Montana: The Movie, Battle: Los Angeles) as Alex Summers/Havok, who can absorb ambient cosmic energy and release it as destructive waves (we’ll catch a glimpse of him in action shortly). In Marvel comics, Alex is the younger brother of Scott Summers, creating a bit of a continuity issue for the 20th Century Fox movies, which had previously shown Cyclops as an adult (played by James Marsden).
X-Men: First Class producer Bryan Singer tells Hero Complex that in this movie, the timeline is a little different: “It wouldn’t physically fit for him to be the brother of Cyclops. We take some liberties on that. There are notions, but, um, I don’t want to give away certain interrelations, but let’s just say there are some things that do adhere to the comic books and do so in a way the fans will get a kick out of. And those things can, perhaps, move forward into the future.”
Edi Gathegi (Twilight, Gone Baby Gone) as Armando Muñoz/Darwin who, as introduced in Marvel’s X-Men: Deadly Genesis, is an alien-looking mutant with the power of “reactive evolution.” Here, he’s a taxi driver.
Rose Byrne (Sunshine, 28 Weeks Later) as Dr. Moira McTaggert, a leading authority in genetic mutation, co-founder of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters and co-creator of Cerebro. Oh, and Charles Xavier’s love interest.
Academy Award nominees Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone) as Raven Darkholme/Mystique, the deadly shapeshifter. Here she’s changing into her natural blue-skinned appearance in what, if I were a betting man, I’d guess is an attempt to seduce or reassure a post-transformation Hank McCoy. We see signs of their romance later in the trailer.
The X-Men’s famous Blackbird breaks through what’s probably the U.S. Naval blockade of Cuba. The Cuba Missile Crisis occurred in October 1962, four years before the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird was introduced, which means we’ll probably learn the X-Men’s aircraft is a CIA-supplied prototype or something Xavier has access to through his connections.
Our first in-trailer look at the X-Men’s blue-and-yellow costumes — a nod to their comic history — as Xavier and Lensherr prepare for a low-altitude jump from the Blackbird into (again, presumably) the waters off Cuba.
A warship — American, probably? — fires on the X-Men’s Blackbird.
Our first in-trailer look at the Beast in his mutated fur-covered form. I may be in the minority, but I like it. I’m betting McCoy’s transformation, and this Cuba showdown, takes place toward the end of the film, largely because I can’t imagine Fox would hire an attractive rising star like Nicholas Hoult, only to obscure him with CGI. Sure, the studio covered Rebecca Romijn in blue body makeup in the previous X-Men movies, but that was little more than an excuse for her to slink around “naked.” Hoult as a yelllow-eyed Cookie Monster isn’t quite as titillating.
More missiles directed at the X-Men’s Blackbird, or at the island itself.
It’s difficult to be sure, but I think that’s Fassbender as Erik Lensherr, following his jump from the Blackbird.
Here’s our first glimpse — outside of that still released last month — of young Erik Lehnsherr using his magnetic powers, this time to stop what looks to be a Soviet soldier.
The transformation of Hoult’s Henry McCoy begins with, ahem, beast-like blue feet. Good luck finding shoes.
Introducing the Hellfire Club: Álex González (left) as Janos Quested/Riptide, Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw, and January Jones as Emma Frost as she shifts into her diamond form.
That’s Oliver Platt (Frost/Nixon, The Big C) on the far left as the mysterious Man in Black watching alongside Moira MacTaggert, Mystique, Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr as Henry McCoy … shows off his new feet? Little has been revealed about Platt’s character, but it’s possible that he’s a government operative.
Are Raven Darkholme and Henry McCoy the Jean Grey and Scott Summers of X-Men: First Class? It kind of looks that way.
This isn’t a very good screencap, but it shows Lucas Till’s Alex Summers using his mutant powers. “What’s great, too, about all of these characters is that they haven’t honed their abilities yet” Singer tells Hero Complex. “Havok is a danger to himself and everyone around him. That’s where this movie is at — the recruiting of these mutants and bringing them together.”
After seeing the sleek present-day Cerebro in the trailer’s opening sequence, we’re now introduced to the 1960s version, complete with retro-style mainframes. It’s kind of spectacular.
Our first in-trailer look at Jason Flemyng as the demonic mutant Azazel, father of Nightcrawler, as well as January Jones’ Emma Frost in her full diamond form.
A teleporting Azazel takes out gunmen. “I’m also excited about Jason Flemyng as Azazel, which is a really cool character” Singer says. “It’s like this sinister alter ego of Nightcrawler in a way, which again brings some of the things that we like about that character but at the same time has a different quality.
Here’s the dark helmet we saw Fassbender’s Lensherr wear in that earlier still. However, that’s Jones’ Emma Frost in the background, which leads me to believe Bacon’s Sebastian Shaw is carrying it in this shot. Does that mean Shaw created the helmet for himself … or for Lensherr?
We saw this image Wednesday, but now we have a little context for it. Is this a fully costumed Magneto being held, at a different time, in the same room as Emma Frost? Or is she in the room with him, but blocked from our view?
In the trailer’s closing seconds we get Fassbender’s Lensherr unleashing his powers by lifting the submarine that’s almost certainly the one mentioned last month by Kevin Bacon. “I have one set that’s kind of like an inner sanctum and then I also have a submarine; the inside of the sub has elements of my other set,” he told Moviefone. “I have my own set of style and wanted to translate it over to my board room and stuff. It’s great. I love the way it looks.” So, yeah, Sebastian Shaw’s sub.
X-Men: First Class stars stars James McAvoy as Charles Xavier, Michael Fassbender as Erik Lensherr, January Jones as Emma Frost, Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, Nicholas Hoult as Henry McCoy/Beast, Caleb Landry Jones as Sean Cassidy/Banshee, Lucas Till as Alex Summers, Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw, Edi Gathegi as Darwin, Oliver Platt as the Man in Black, Jason Flemyng as Azazel, Rose Byrne as Moira MacTaggert and Zoe Kravitz as Angel Salvadore. It opens on June 3.