I've always disliked the Marvel mutants who just had "powers." I think mutants should have a "evolution" themed power-set; weather control isn't thematically appropriate but generating electricity like an eel might be. Regeneration is a great one, wings is okay, prehensile feet is right on, protruding bones, even shapeshifting-- all that sort of biological plasticity makes "sense" with the word "mutant." Psychic powers too; whether or not they are actually plausible is beside the point, I'm not talking about realism here, I'm talking about narrative bundles. Psychic powers match with "next stage in human evolution," you know? You can have the whole gamut; telepathy, telekinesis, cryo- or pyrokinesis, & I suppose you could stretch it to magnokinesis, since you can't hardly have mutants without Magneto. Plus, having psychics lets you deal with the tension between mutants who can "pass" & mutants who can't. The Morlocks should be as essential to understanding mutant social dynamics as the Xavier school & Magneto's brotherhood. & the Sentinels too, I guess.
For me, the weakest part of X-Men: First Class was January Jones. I find her very attractive-- right, I'm pretty sure that is more or less assumed-- but I also find her utterly devoid of charisma. Physically, she is really well cast to play Emma Frost-- gloriously silly Emma Frost who dresses like a Bond Girl all the time. The fact that comics acknowledge Emma Frost's fashion sense goes a long way toward, well, telling a story; like Power Girl's big boobs being part of the story, when you don't take something for granted, when you don't make it the default position ("all female characters dress in revealing outfits") it becomes much more tenable. Emma Frost's revealing get-up is part of her provocative characterization. She's a sultry, aggressive, formidable femme fatale, & that isn't meant to be the generic role of a female villain. It is supposed to be unique to her, even though-- right?-- it would be hard to ignore the fact that lazy writers in every genre tend to make female villains sexually assertive. What is more evil than a woman who wants to have sex, am I right? Gah. Anyhow, that is the great paradox of Emma Frost-- by making her vamp, & acknowledging that that is what she's doing, it drags the emphasis over to her, it makes it part of her character & not part of being "female" or a "villainess." Emma Frost is a shark, & she'll flirt with you & then eat you for breakfast...& January Jones is utterly incapable of selling that. I remember when she was on Saturday Night Live & the whole episode fell flat-- a shame, since I think I wasn't alone in hoping she'd be witty & charming. I think that everyone was sort of hoping she'd turn out to be like John Hamm; self-effacing, good looking, funny & a sport. She wasn't.
Michael Fassbender on the other hand might be? He sure looks like John Hamm, anyhow. His Magneto & James McAvoy's Professor X were pretty fantastic; they were really, really slash-fic, too, especially given how much of a queen Ian McKellen played Magneto as in the original trilogy of X-Men films. Making this movie a sort of early James Bond film was a stroke of genius-- you get Magneto hunting Nazis, you get the Cuban Missile Crisis, Emma Frost as Bond Girl is right on point, it just all fits together. The first two acts of this movie really shine; the third act is all superhero action flick, & it is almost perfunctorily obligatory. I don't need costumes, I'm digging it like it is. Groovy, man. If it were me, I'd keep up with the genre-swapping, the culture-jamming, & make the next movie totally different from any of the others. Maybe make it straight up science-fiction; aliens abduct the X-Men because they survey worlds looking for leaps in evolution. Introduce the Shi'ar & the Starjammers. Don't try to integrate them, just seamlessly switch motifs, adopt the tropes of the genre & blend them with the core of the story.
There are plenty of mistakes; it is hard to deny charges of tokenism when the people of colour are either killed or turn traitor at the first opportunity. A real shame, especially considering the message of the X-Men. & what is with the villains? Azazel, really? Riptide? Really? Really? & with Emma Frost played so flat, the whole movie could have tanked right there...if it wasn't for Kevin Effing Bacon, glorious Kevin Bacon chewing up scenery as Sebastian Shaw. Given how utterly lame the Black King is in the comics, it is a real coup that they were able to anchor the the antagonists on him. He's a credible threat, thanks to the writing, the special effects-- I like that blur a lot-- & most of all to Bacon. The team of heroes isn't any less schizophrenic; I suppose McTaggert & Banshee are good, since there is some weird Clairmont Era backhistory with them, right? Havok? Weird. The Beast & Mystique thing makes sense; Mystique is actually one of the better touchstones in the film, especially given the fact that we know she choses Magneto, making her close relationship with Xavier all the more effective. I'd say it is a real vote of confidence for Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss in The Hunger Games.
So that was my Saturday night, staying up late with my wife watching X-Men: First Class. Actually, Saturday was an excellent example of a restful weekend day. I made breakfast-- just scrambled eggs (with salami & munster cheese) on toast, but they came out pretty well I think-- & then we watched Mythbusters. It was an episode from a few weeks ago-- our DVR has been finicky & I had to re-record it-- about cooking with C4 & the "flying guillotine." I'd been told the C4 story first hand growing up, so I knew how that would go, but it is pretty fun seeing just how stable C4 is. You can shoot it with an incendiary round from a high powered rifle & not set it off! Geez. The "flying guillotine" let the Build Team demonstrate a lot of gruesome ingenuity, but I'm still not sure "Plausible" is the right word for the results. Conceivable, Possible, but definitely Improbable. After that Jenny & I walked along the park to the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, knocked around there, & came home. Video games, some light reading, & then to the gym! Making it three days in a row; four if I go today, knock on wood. I was there for an hour & forty minutes, but the extra chunk of time was all cardio; Starship Troopers was on, & that makes for good elliptical machine watching. Lunch was burritos; we forgot to pick up spice packets so Jenny had to wing it when making the meat, & I think it paid off. Good stuff. Maybe I'll dump some of the ground beef into the scrambled eggs this morning! I'm also planning on homefries, made with two kinds of potatoes, yams & onions. I've got it all figured out.