To give you some perspective, the day that I saw X-Men: First Class I walked home from work with a Hot Toys Iron Man Mark VI bust tucked under my arm. Nothing fancy. It was on sale at SideshowToy.com. I thought for a second about swinging into Alliance Comics, but NAY! It was Tuesday. New comic books come out on Wednesday.

My point here is that I’m a comic book geek. Not like the guy in The Simpsons, a fanboy. I don’t bemoan continuity and accuracy when characters are yank from the pages and put on screen. I have a love of the material, the art and, since the first X-Men in 2000, I am delighted to see these stories make it into the mainstream with such production value and, often, care.

Certainly, there are movies that have done it poorly. I’m looking at you X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Punisher: War Zone, and Superman Returns (I tried, but the whole kid thing was stupid). However, by and large I’ve enjoyed everything over the last decade-ish, starting with Bryan Singer’s first X-Men movie.

Kudos Matt Vaughn. Boy did I loved me some Layer Cake. So, when I saw that you were taking the reigns, it gave me high hopes. Having had those hopes dashed on more than several occasions, I tried my best to temper them. It’s like taking an exam in college. You never want to say, “I aced it,” because anything less and you’re disappointed. When someone asked, “How do you think you did?” I would always reply, “I think I did OK.” So, when I got an A-, I was OK with it.

I was so delighted, energized even, walking out of the theater. X-Men: First Class was better than an A-. Recta ratio factibilium. The right making of the thing to be made. If you were going to make a movie about the origins of the X-Men, this was the movie.

I was a little leery of James McAvoy as Professor X. He seemed a bit… young. I just didn’t see it. Even in those early days, it was hard to imagine. Looking Michael Fassbender’s Magneto, they didn’t appear to be close enough in age to really bond. Though, as the movie rolled on, it made sense.

Professor X wasn’t always buttoned up. He wasn’t always a professor. In those early days, he was a bit of a scamp. He had this power and a swagger. Why not use it to pick up chicks? A little innocent mind reading to know what drink you like, nothing wrong with that.

It took a character that was important, but pretty one dimensional, and gave him so much life. And, as the the gravity of the situation–the struggle, in its infancy, of mutants versus humans–pressed down upon him, you see Charles Xavier become Professor X.

You also see Eric Lehnsherr become Magneto. He’s always been more charismatic, especially when wielded by Ian McKellan, than the Professor and exciting. From the first moments of the first X-Men, you got a sense of his angst. Here, you see him turn his personal vengeance into what made him the leader of a cause.

And, throughout, they build the foundations of the relationships we know in the other movies. Xavier and Magneto. You understand and appreciate why Magneto screams as Jean Grey/Phoenix kills Xavier in Last Stand and later says, “My single greatest regret is that he had to die for our dream to live.” In everything that came before they were just telling us they were good friends. Here, they show us. You believe it.

Similarly, you see the relationship between Magneto and Mystique grow into what we saw in the first three movies. He gave her the confidence to be who she is and be proud of it. For that, she gave him loyalty. And that’s the thing, this movie resonates back through the others. They are enhanced. Improved. When Magneto says, “Such a shame. She was so beautiful,” in Last Stand it has so much more weight to it now.

Beyond that gravity of the relationships and the rights of mutants in society, there’s still a great deal of fun. They recruit, originally for the CIA, a team of mutants. Those scenes and the training add a wonderful lightness to the heart of the movie. Not to mention that my geek heart swooned as they continued to nail each character: Beast, Banshee, Havok. All of them were perfect translations from the page. Maybe not exact, but what’s exact? These characters have been around since 1963. They’ve changed a lot. Continuities and origins have been written and rewritten countless times. The characters and stories are moving targets. There’s an essence, though, and that’s what they capture.

Now, I’ll say something bad about it. January Jones is lame. Hot, but lame. She had zero personality and that’s not Emma Frost. Emma Frost has personality. She’s a bitch. And she flaunts it with her attitude and what she wears. Betty Drapper had no spark. No snap. She looked pretty. She certainly did that well, but it didn’t serve the movie to have her stoned faced the whole time.

There’s something particularly cool with First Class. We’ve had three X-Men movies and the Wolverine movie. I think they’ve reached a saturation level with popular culture. So, the geeks aren’t the only ones finding the Easter Eggs and enjoying the references.

For example, did your jaw drop when they showed a passing glimpse of the Infinity Gauntlet in Thor? That’s true geek. Yet, there are things in First Class that nod, wink and wave at the other movies. Everyone is in on it. It’s nice to watch as a group and know that we’re all, mostly, on the same page and watching it together.

We’re united. Like, one day… hopefully, humankind and mutantkind can also be united.

X-Men: First Class? X-Men: First Class got it right. It got it so right. Nailed it. Now, I don’t want to say it’s up there with Batman Begins/Dark Knight. I can’t. What Christopher Nolan has done with Batman has transcended to another level. I will say that First Class is among the best… ooo… maybe what I’m about to write will be used in a commercial. It’s one of those…. First Class is among the best comic book movies ever made.

Yeah. I said it.

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