X-Men: First Class
X-Men: First Class is an upcoming superhero film based on the comic book superhero team. It is the fifth film of the X-Men film series and a prequel to the first three movies. Matthew Vaughn is directing and Bryan Singer is producing, and the film is scheduled for release on June 3, 2011. It concerns the early years of Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr, and their dealings with The Hellfire Club.
James McAvoy...Professor Charles Xavier
Michael Fassbender ... Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto
Rose Byrne...Dr. Moira MacTaggert
January Jones...Emma Frost
Kevin Bacon...Sebastian Shaw
Jennifer Lawrence...Raven Darkhölme / Mystique
Nicholas Hoult ...Hank McCoy / Beast
Jason Flemyng... Azazel
Oliver Platt...Man in Black
Lucas Till...Alex Summers / Havok
Caleb Landry Jones...Sean Cassidy / Banshee
Álex González...Janos Quested / Riptide
Zoë Kravitz...Angel Salvadore
Ray Wise...Secretary of State
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
X-Men: First Class Set Visit
At the tail-end of November IGN headed to Pinewood Studios on the outskirts of London to meet the brand-new X-Men on the set of 2011's most eagerly anticipated blockbusters.
A reboot of sorts, X-Men: First Class is set in 1962 - against the back-drop of the Cold War - and introduces the world to Charles Xavier before he became Professor X, Erik Lehnsherr before he became Magneto, and a huge cast of mutant characters.
Produced by Bryan Singer and directed by Kick-Ass helmer Matthew Vaughn, First Class is an attempt to kick-start the franchise following the critical and commercial disappointment of X-Men: The Last Stand, and while there will certainly be nods to the recent trilogy, the plan is to launch First Class as very much a standalone film.
"This is going to be very different", explains Vaughn during a break between shots. "What I'm doing no one has done in superhero films. It's James Bond, it's a political thriller and it's an X-Men movie. It's not like the other X-Men movies which I think is important. I think they need to sort of take on a new... you know, what Batman Begins did for all those Batman movies? We bloody well need it. I'm not saying it's going to be as good as Batman Begins, but it's the same sort of attitude."
James McAvoy - best known for his work in Wanted and The Last King of Scotland - plays Charles Xavier, although his will be a very different take on the character to Patrick Stewart's previous incarnation.
"It's set in a completely different time and you are also taking these people to a much earlier point in their personal development as well as their physical and super development", explains McAvoy as he sips on a cup of tea in his trailer.
"What's fun is you get to figure out who they were. For me Charles is a monk. He's like a selfless, egoless, almost sexless force for the betterment of humanity and mortality. And getting to kind of go 'Well, he's got to be different from that' is quite fun because the complete opposite is an ego-fuelled, sexed-up, self-serving dude. And we've not gone too far from that... he's definitely got an ego and he's definitely got a sex drive as well."
Indeed, throughout the day there were hints regarding Xavier's luck on the lady front, both with a young mutant and with Rose Byrne's character - geneticist Dr. Moira MacTaggert.
On the other side of the fence, playing Charles' soon-to-be-nemesis, is 300 and Inglourious Basterds star Michael Fassbender.
Yet while Erik Lehnsherr could be seen as the villain of the piece, the actor says he was attracted by the part's ambiguity. "I don't really think in terms of good and evil. I think about what he wants to get and how motivated he is and what sort of morals he has got in place. It's like I see him very much as a Machiavellian character. The end justifies the means. And you know, he is in a situation where he is really right!"
And what of the relationship between the two characters, the most complex within the X-Men universe and the beating heart of First Class?
"Charles has this sort of empathy for everybody", continues McAvoy. "He has this connection to everybody because he can feel and see their experiences; their memories are his memories. But he wasn't looking for Erik; he didn't know he was there and he suddenly felt Erik and perhaps he has never connected to anybody quite the same way that he connected to Erik, you know? Maybe because of the nature of the horrible things that happened to him and the level of anger that he carries. That makes a big impression on him, not just because he feels empathy for him, but also because it's a big challenge to fix someone and to try to help someone like that."
Neither McAvoy nor Fassbender were shooting the day we visited, but they very kindly stopped by the set for lengthy interviews - to be published at a later date - in which they discussed Nazi-hunting, hair-loss, Murderball, superhero love triangles and Erik's hatred for Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon); Hellfire Club member and the real villain of the piece.
We did however get to witness Vaughn shooting an action-packed set-piece involving an assault on the MIB HQ.
The sequence in question revolved around a group of Shaw's men - led by the devlish Azael (Jason Flemyng) - laying waste to a team of security guards before attacking the compound's recreation room.
Inside, a clearly terrified group of young mutants panic, with their number including Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), Hank (Nicholas Hoult), Angel (Zoe Kravitz), Darwin (Edi Gathegi), Alex (Lucas Till) and Cassidy (Caleb Landry Jones). We grabbed face time with each and every one of them in between shots, which will form our forthcoming 'Mutants of X-Men: First Class' piece.
So with that being saved for a later date, what can we tell you now? Well it looks like X-Men: First Class will be an utterly original take on the superhero genre, setting it apart in a summer chock-full of masked men.
The 1960s setting will ensure that the movie is smothered in cool, from the soundtrack to the costumes to the locations, while a multitude of Bond-like gadgets, vehicles and villainous lairs will doubtless be a welcome addition to the franchise.
In setting the story against the back-drop of real-life historical events - most notably the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Civil Rights movement - First Class is grounded in reality, meaning that the stakes will be higher than in previous movies.
And with a cast that combines the cream of Hollywood's young acting talent with established stars like McAvoy, Fassbender and Bacon, Vaughn may just have assembled the most exciting ensemble of 2011.
Will that be enough to defeat the likes of Thor, Captain America and the Green Lantern at the global box office? Only time will tell, but in the meantime we'll be posting interviews with everyone involved in X-Men: First Class - including an exclusive one-on-one with the film's producer Bryan Singer - right up until the film's release at the end of May.