I grew up loving the X-Men animated series from the 1990s. It’s one of the reasons why I became a professional writer of both fiction and non-fiction. And throughout that series, you got to see the backstories from several of the main characters such as Wolverine, Storm, Rogue, even Cyclops (which is pretty rare when you really think about it).
However, one of the characters you never get a backstory from is Professor Charles Xavier, the founder and leader of the super hero team. This always led to me asking myself several questions. What was he like before the X-Men were formed? Who were his friends? What was the mutant community like when he was growing up? Or was there even a mutant community to begin with?
Many of these questions and more were answered in the story brought to us by X-Men: First Class. I think the writers did a really good job of mapping out a realistic, yet entirely different Professor Xavier. Instead of the quiet, humble, unassuming man that we know, the audience is introduced to a fun-loving, easy-going, dashing college student. This version of Xavier uses his powers not to save the world, but to charm ladies at pubs and bars.
Something else the movie does a great job of is expanding on the relationship between Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr, better known as “Magento.” And while it’s generally known that the two were close friends in a past life, there has visual been a visual interpretation of how that friendship came to be until the release of First Class. In addition to a great backstory for Erik, we get to see how the two first met. We get to see how and why Xavier holds back on using his powers to damage Erik, a recurring theme in the X-Men comics, animated series, and movie franchise. Through both of their individual backstories, we come to have a better understanding of why they both come to such a disagreeable impasse that fractures their relationship, but without entirely shattering it.
Most of all, we learn once and for all why Xavier is in a wheelchair. Ok, that last one isn’t that important. But that little detail still goes a long way in terms of what this movie is all about. X-Men: First Class is about the details that we rare get to see from the series, which is why it’s my favorite movie of 2011.