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Face-Off: X-Men vs. X-Men: First Class

11.29.2012by: Paul Huffman
In last weeks Face Off, we explored the minds of two iconic film serial killers in Hannibal Lecter and Patrick Bateman. While Bateman took the verdict and had some supporters, the cannibal took the cake via our readers thus maintaining his status as the psycho of all psychos. A true testament to what Hopkins brought to the character.

For this week, the news that Sir's Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen have signed on to reprise their roles as Professor X and Magneto in X-Men: Days of Future Past has inspired me. When the original X-Men hit the scene in 2000, it was worthy enough to be among the films that sparked this comic book film craze we've had the past decade. It brought together a great ensemble cast, and said cast brought these characters to life. Fast forward to 2011, after X-Men Last Stand disappointed fans all over, First Class came alone and gave us the resurrection the property needed. It re-invented numerous characters we came to know, and promised us glimpses of new characters. Which are you more fond of? The introduction? Or the re-introduction? Let's discuss.
Story
A young woman with unfortunate mutant powers named Marie comes into contact with someone she can relate to in a hard ass named Logan. After an attempted kidnapping, Logan and Marie are taken to the X-Mansion where they meet a slew of mutants led by Professor Xavier. Soon they find themselves locked in trying to maintain peace between mutants and the rest of humanity, while trying to thwart Professor X's former ally Magneto's desire for war. It was a great introduction to all these characters, and while I wish some would have gotten more love, it did its job.
Years after seeing his mother murdered at the hands of evil scientist Dr. Klaus Schmidt, Erik Lensherr grows up to seek revenge on the bastard, doing away with those who stand in his way. Along the way he meets and befriends a telepath named Charles Xavier, who is fighting a battle of his own. Lensherr and Xavier team with CIA agent Moira McTaggert and a group of fellow mutants to bring down there common enemy. I absolutely loved the historical backdrop this film had in the Cuban Missile Crisis, it also had the the formation of the friendship between Magneto and Professor X and its destined failure. I'm a sucker for those kinds of character dynamics.
Cast
Hugh Jackman. Patrick Stewart. Ian McKellen. Anna Paquin. Halle Berry. Famke Janssen. James Marsden. Rebecca Romijn-Stamos.

If any actor can claim a character their own exclusively, Jackman comes the closest with his portrayal of Wolverine. For obvious reasons. Stewart and McKellen brought their years of experience and owned their iconic roles. The other cast member who really shined was Stamos as Mystique, so sexy and menacing. She owned it. The rest of the cast did wonderfully and seemed close to perfect, but I wish a few of them would have more meat to their roles. James Marsden in particular as Cyclops. But overall this ensemble pulled it off and entertained me throughout.
James McAvoy. Michael Fassbender. Kevin Bacon. Jennifer Lawrence. Rose Byrne. Nicholas Hoult. January Jones. Oliver Platt.

I loved seeing a new dimension to Professor X and Magneto via the early lives and adventures of those characters. McAvoy and Fassbender really brought their A game, I was introduced to Fassbender by this film and he is now one of my favorite actors. Bacon portrayed a wonderful villain and improves any film just by being there, Lawrence was seductive and held her own against the more seasons actors. Hoult brought a lot of depth to Beast, and Oliver Platt was Oliver Platt. The famous cameo needs to be mentioned, whose five second appearance alone made up for the atrocity said character had recently been put through.
Design/Effects
Here we got our first glimpse of Mystique's breathtaking and drool inducing prosthetic makeup. I wasn't really present in 2000 to be aware of what fans thought of the costume design for this film, but from what I understand many were upset about the absence of the blue and yellow color scheme. What we got worked in my opinion, it translated well to screen. Loved the design of Sabretooth, and a sequence that stuck out in my mind is the effects that forced mutation had on Senator Kelly (poor schmuck)! Of course they did a wonderful job in bringing Wolverine's claws to life, to do so the team constructed a full silicone replica of Jackman's arm. Good stuff. Also, who could forgot the wonderfully envisioned and executed Cerebro?
Special effects teams have a lot more to play with in the year 2011. The amount of care they put into everything, like getting Emma Frost's transition into what she is perfectly, to studying the movement of of dragonfly wings to make Angel look as realistic as possible, this has always been real admirable to me. Jennifer Lawrence donned Mystique's pain in the ass makeup, Beast was beautifully designed, and we did not shy away from the costumes that the original 2000 film thought wouldn't translate well to screen. In 2011, the sky is the limit in portraying any and every mutant power someone can possess. First Class takes advantage of this fact.
Overall
Bryan Singer hit the film that introduced the world to the X-Men out of the park. He pulled together a brilliant cast who worked well together. Seeing the way Wolverine interacted with every character around him was a real treat, to his fatherly treatment of rogue, to his tension with Cyclops, to his almost grudging respect for Professor X. The theme of intolerance that X-Men carries was more present here than in First Class, and I dug the fight to be accepted by society. This first film will always be known as being partly responsible for bringing comic book heroes to the forefront of the movie going public's interest. An honor it earned thanks to everyone involved.
Matthew Vaughn used the time period First Class was set in to blend a comic book film with a type of style that echoed a James Bond film. This could be seen in so many areas of the film to the costumes, to the musical score, to the way the film was shot, to the characterization (Magneto in particular I read). After Last Stand and Wolverine: Origins, fans needed First Class. McAvoy and Fassbender put their own spin on characters brought to life by Stewart and McKellen, and the film pulled off the tragic story of their former friendship. As previously stated, I love how the film built a compelling story around a real life world event from history that shook the world at the time. If the 2000 film built the faith in the X-Men, after a few disappointments, First Class reinvigorated faith in the X-Men.
X-Men
I had a hard time picking a verdict for this Face Off. I had to go with the original X-Men for a couple of reasons, Hugh Jackman being the perfect choice and stealing the show as Wolverine, Ian McKellen doing justice to the formidable yet third dimensional villain in Magneto, and the overall wonderful job the film did in introducing to the characters we are most familiar with. That's not to say I didn't love First Class and the breath of life the film gave to the franchise. So what about you lot? Did First Class surpass what the original film gave us? If you have an idea that you'd like to see in a future FACE OFF column, feel free to shoot an email to me at paulhuffman@joblo.com with your ideas and some ideas for the critique to base your ideas off. Thank you and in the meantime...

Which X-Men film is your favourite?
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9:44PM on 11/29/2012

X-MEN: FIRST CLASS

X-MEN: FIRST CLASS kicks the shit outta X-MEN in my opinion.
X-MEN: FIRST CLASS kicks the shit outta X-MEN in my opinion.
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9:10PM on 11/29/2012
Yeah, ultimately I would say x-men was a better film, although really Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy did an excellent job and i really liked the whole "showing Magneto in a concentration camp and them going on a killing spree of nazi's" storyline, but it was really more backstory on the original. x-2, ultimately for me anyway is the best of all, then they just destroyed the franchise with x3 and wolverine.
sadness......
Yeah, ultimately I would say x-men was a better film, although really Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy did an excellent job and i really liked the whole "showing Magneto in a concentration camp and them going on a killing spree of nazi's" storyline, but it was really more backstory on the original. x-2, ultimately for me anyway is the best of all, then they just destroyed the franchise with x3 and wolverine.
sadness......
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7:49PM on 11/29/2012
Love both films to death and as a die hard X Men fan I am glad that we have so many great X Men films and that they are connecting all the films in one universal realm.

My pick is for X-Men. The first one that started everything off. Also the film had better characters (i.e. Wolverine, Cyclops, Jean Grey, etc.)
Love both films to death and as a die hard X Men fan I am glad that we have so many great X Men films and that they are connecting all the films in one universal realm.

My pick is for X-Men. The first one that started everything off. Also the film had better characters (i.e. Wolverine, Cyclops, Jean Grey, etc.)
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7:09PM on 11/29/2012

Tough call

Both are good movies. I think the dynamic between Fassbender and McAvoy is what really makes First Class work and is better than what we see in X-Men. But none of the other characters were developed that much. I think as a whole, the main players in X-Men were better developed, so I give X-Men the win.
Both are good movies. I think the dynamic between Fassbender and McAvoy is what really makes First Class work and is better than what we see in X-Men. But none of the other characters were developed that much. I think as a whole, the main players in X-Men were better developed, so I give X-Men the win.
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7:08PM on 11/29/2012

Not even close

I enjoyed First Class way more than I had any right to but it kind of loses its charm on repeat viewings. Really the only GREAT things about First Class were Fassbender, Mcavoy, and Bacon. I did like the use of historical events though. However the group of mutants were pretty lame and forgettable. There is such a rich supple of characters and we get Dragon fly girl, Evolution man and Twisty Tornado Guy??? Come on!

Bryan Singers first Xmen film still blows First Class out of the water in my
I enjoyed First Class way more than I had any right to but it kind of loses its charm on repeat viewings. Really the only GREAT things about First Class were Fassbender, Mcavoy, and Bacon. I did like the use of historical events though. However the group of mutants were pretty lame and forgettable. There is such a rich supple of characters and we get Dragon fly girl, Evolution man and Twisty Tornado Guy??? Come on!

Bryan Singers first Xmen film still blows First Class out of the water in my opinion. They gave us characters we ACTUALLY wanted to see. The casting was dead on, the effects were great (at the time), the score was great as well. Not to mention it started the whole wave of recent comic book films. I still love this movie over 10 years after its release where as First class is already losing its charm after a few. And can i just say how much I love that end scene with Prof X and Magneto talking in the prison. If any one scene could show the relationship between these two men its that one. I still get chills tone my spine during that scene especially when the music kicks in (which I'm pretty sure has a slight nod to the 90's cartoon theme)
So yeah i can't wait to see what Singer brings!
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4:02PM on 11/29/2012
X-Men was a game changer for comics. Although it got overshadowed as starting the comic book trend because Spiderman blew it out of the book office. But I did and still do love the original X-men. That being said First Class was my second favorite movie last year.

BTW, Paul Huffman you made the insane choice of picking Patrick Bateman over Hannibal Lecter last week and now you say you picked Hannibal? Are you off your meds?
X-Men was a game changer for comics. Although it got overshadowed as starting the comic book trend because Spiderman blew it out of the book office. But I did and still do love the original X-men. That being said First Class was my second favorite movie last year.

BTW, Paul Huffman you made the insane choice of picking Patrick Bateman over Hannibal Lecter last week and now you say you picked Hannibal? Are you off your meds?
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10:33AM on 11/29/2012
Both are great, and my favorites of the X saga, so I cant choose between one of them. X2 is also great, but I prefer these two. And Im the guy who really likes X3, but not as much as X1 X2 and XFC. Wolverine is bad, im with you guys in that one.
Both are great, and my favorites of the X saga, so I cant choose between one of them. X2 is also great, but I prefer these two. And Im the guy who really likes X3, but not as much as X1 X2 and XFC. Wolverine is bad, im with you guys in that one.
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9:53AM on 11/29/2012
The first X-men film did it's job and was a decent film for it's time, but it was not a great film by any means. They treated the source material horribly, Sabertooth was a fucking joke, the costumes were ridiculous, and the effects were lame. The only thing they got right, which saved the film, was the casting, which for the most part, was spot on. I like Bryan Singer because you can tell that he learned alot about filmmaking in the process and improved a great deal on X2. Which brings me to
The first X-men film did it's job and was a decent film for it's time, but it was not a great film by any means. They treated the source material horribly, Sabertooth was a fucking joke, the costumes were ridiculous, and the effects were lame. The only thing they got right, which saved the film, was the casting, which for the most part, was spot on. I like Bryan Singer because you can tell that he learned alot about filmmaking in the process and improved a great deal on X2. Which brings me to my point. This FACE-OFF shouldn't even exist. Sorry Mr. Paul Huffman, but the fact that you even compared these two films as opposed to FIRST CLASS and X2 shows that you should in no way be involved with the FACE-OFF column, like at all. Sorry, somebody had to say it. You are prpbably best suited for THE UNPOPULAR OPINION, in my opinion.
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11:56AM on 11/29/2012
Dude....He chose X-Men and First Class because they were both the first X-Men films in a way. Also, who are you to judge his opinion , telling what films he can and can't use?

Grow up, boy.
Dude....He chose X-Men and First Class because they were both the first X-Men films in a way. Also, who are you to judge his opinion , telling what films he can and can't use?

Grow up, boy.
9:03AM on 11/29/2012
There are aspects of the original X-Men film that were nicely handled. The cast was half-decent (half not so good though), and despite a wishy-washy finale a lot of the narrative choices were cool - Wolverine's story arc was fairly well handled, though I never felt he should have had so prominent a role in things. X-Men First Class was the first X-Men film that I walked away from the cinema genuinely happy with, though. A few niggles aside, like 'how can Emma Frost be strangled in her diamond
There are aspects of the original X-Men film that were nicely handled. The cast was half-decent (half not so good though), and despite a wishy-washy finale a lot of the narrative choices were cool - Wolverine's story arc was fairly well handled, though I never felt he should have had so prominent a role in things. X-Men First Class was the first X-Men film that I walked away from the cinema genuinely happy with, though. A few niggles aside, like 'how can Emma Frost be strangled in her diamond form?', I really think this film nailed the point of X-Men, but handled it all in a clever way. I always thought the original X-Men films were too heavy-handed with the 'Mutants as a metaphor for racism/persecution' subtext. First Class struck a better balance in that respect. X-Men First Class is definitely the better film overall (though X-Men 2 beats X-Men 1 anyday).
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8:36AM on 11/29/2012

The next Face-Off should be......

Dumb and Dumber: Harry vs. Lloyd
Dumb and Dumber: Harry vs. Lloyd
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9:09AM on 11/29/2012
I emailed Joblo, the people doing these things, a few times saying this, but I never got a reply. :-(
I emailed Joblo, the people doing these things, a few times saying this, but I never got a reply. :-(
8:56AM on 11/29/2012
Love it!
Love it!
8:56AM on 11/29/2012
Love it!
Love it!
8:34AM on 11/29/2012

X-Men is my winner.

At first I liked First Class a lot, but the more I thought about it, I didn't.
At first I liked First Class a lot, but the more I thought about it, I didn't.
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8:27AM on 11/29/2012
First Class for me. It felt more like the comics to me.
First Class for me. It felt more like the comics to me.
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7:16AM on 11/29/2012

FC was a good movie, but the first Xmen was way better.

The first one had a better director (thank god he is coming back!!) and it felt like a real xmen movie. FC felt like Magneto the Movie and turned into a teen movie for the middle of it.
The first one had a better director (thank god he is coming back!!) and it felt like a real xmen movie. FC felt like Magneto the Movie and turned into a teen movie for the middle of it.
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6:42AM on 11/29/2012

X-MEN was plain Awesome, but FC still wins

X-Men was one of my favorite comicbook movie, I mean if nothing else, it established an unknown actor named Hugh Jackman as the newest (and coolest) Badass in town & made his name synonymous with Wolverine! But still, purely comperatively speaking, First Class was allaround better paced, better structured and better scripted.....Not to mention made the new batch of actors fit (most of) the previously established characters with perfect ease. Now, comparing with X2 will be a whole different
X-Men was one of my favorite comicbook movie, I mean if nothing else, it established an unknown actor named Hugh Jackman as the newest (and coolest) Badass in town & made his name synonymous with Wolverine! But still, purely comperatively speaking, First Class was allaround better paced, better structured and better scripted.....Not to mention made the new batch of actors fit (most of) the previously established characters with perfect ease. Now, comparing with X2 will be a whole different story, because X2 will ALWAYS be The Definitive X-Men Movie to me and one of my most favorite comicbook movie ever!
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+7
6:19AM on 11/29/2012

I like the originl X-Men film quite a bit...

...but I think that objectively X-Men: First Class is just a much better movie. When you compare it to X2 then it is a very close call (with X2 coming out on top in my book). But betweeen First Class and the original? No competition.
...but I think that objectively X-Men: First Class is just a much better movie. When you compare it to X2 then it is a very close call (with X2 coming out on top in my book). But betweeen First Class and the original? No competition.
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6:07AM on 11/29/2012

What?

Xmen 1 wins over First Class? Ummm...ok. The first Xmen movie was a game changer since it treated the source material with the class and respect it deserved but as a movie its only so-so, Singer was finding his footing on the first and hit his stride on the second (which wouldve been a more valid face-off against First Class).
Xmen 1 wins over First Class? Ummm...ok. The first Xmen movie was a game changer since it treated the source material with the class and respect it deserved but as a movie its only so-so, Singer was finding his footing on the first and hit his stride on the second (which wouldve been a more valid face-off against First Class).
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+7
4:30AM on 11/29/2012
First Class, definitely. I think it is easily the best X-Men film and the only truly great film in the series (that being said, I generally liked all the films, even The Last Stand and Wolverine). It's got the most compelling story, the best acting (nothing in this series beats the duo of James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender), and some of the most memorable setpieces (Magneto's revenge in the bar, the climactic beachfront battle with the raising of the submarine and the missile launch).
First Class, definitely. I think it is easily the best X-Men film and the only truly great film in the series (that being said, I generally liked all the films, even The Last Stand and Wolverine). It's got the most compelling story, the best acting (nothing in this series beats the duo of James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender), and some of the most memorable setpieces (Magneto's revenge in the bar, the climactic beachfront battle with the raising of the submarine and the missile launch).
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1:54AM on 11/29/2012
I feel like X-Men is the game changer in terms of comic book movies. After X-Men, people start to take comic book movies quite seriously and rightly so. For me, it's X-Men.
I feel like X-Men is the game changer in terms of comic book movies. After X-Men, people start to take comic book movies quite seriously and rightly so. For me, it's X-Men.
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+7
1:18AM on 11/29/2012
This is a hard one, but I think I'll take First Class. I really do not like Rogue without Ms. Marvel's powers.
This is a hard one, but I think I'll take First Class. I really do not like Rogue without Ms. Marvel's powers.
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