X-Men: First Class

I have never before wished so hard that I could move metal with my mind. Forget about reading minds, walking through walls, shooting red lasers from my eyes (definitely forget that one) and even forget about having an adamantium skeleton fitted with blades that protrude from the flesh between my knuckles. With a starring role in the new X-Men film, Magneto takes full advantage of the exposure to cement himself as one of the most awesome Marvel, if not comic book in general, characters of all time. A film without Wolverine, I must admit, seemed a little dangerous due to his popularity and position as the fans favourite. However with a small yet hilarious cameo his absence from the film is by no means lamentable.

Although, not quite as familiar as his co-stars James McAvoy or Kevin Bacon, Michael Fassbender (who has starred in 300 and Inglourious Basterds) produces a remarkable performance as the troubled Erik, a.k.a Magneto, who cannot bring himself to trust the species that subjected him to a childhood in a concentration camp.

Magneto’s relentless and ruthless search for Shaw (Kevin Bacon) is an awe-inspiring demonstration of his powers with a strength to match his characterisation. Magneto manipulates no less than barbed wire, the metal frame of a bed, an anchor and a submarine to inflict damage on his enemies in his bid to find Shaw and prevent nuclear annihilation. Unfortunately for his enemies most guns are made of metal too.

Perhaps its the Cold War setting that gets me all excited over this film; it’s great to imagine the mutant world helping to diffuse the nuclear crisis with their supernatural methods. War Studies as a course focuses on the Cold War as a turning point in International Relations, so a great deal of emphasis is placed on the nuclear rivalry; the introduction of mutants would certainly make it more interesting at times. The fantasy element of X-Men: First Class is a somewhat refreshing method of understanding the most basic elements of the Cold War. In fact, the mutual paranoia and distrust between the Cold War sides, Russia and America is perfectly and quite brilliantly mirrored by the fictional struggle between humans and mutants; neither side able to trust the other (although some willing to try).

More excitingly for fans of the Comic-book genre, Marvel have at last made a film to rival DC’s The Dark Knight. Although the original X-Men series got progressively better, and was miles better than the Spiderman series, The Dark Knight made them look somewhat infantile. X-Men: First Class provides all the special effects, showcases all the super-powers, involves complex and brilliantly portrayed characters, all with an intelligent story-line. In case you haven’t worked out my opinion quite yet, it is quite simply a triumph for the genre and the franchise. Bravo.