There can be no doubt about it that X-Men: First Class looks to be the most promising of the superhero films due out this summer. Directed by Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, Stardust, and Kick-Ass) and with a cast that includes James McAvoy as Charles Xavier and Michael Fassbender as Magneto, this film will take us back to the very beginning of the X-Men, before they actually became the X-Men.
In an unusual marketing move, though, X-Men: First Class has recently seen the release of several character-specific trailers. This is atypical for one very obvious reason: Quick, name all the superhero movies you can think of off the top of your head! Spider-Man, Batman, Iron Man, Daredevil, Green Lantern, Thor… the list goes on, but by and large, these are all singular superheroes. Sure, The Fantastic Four is a group, but it’s a small group and it’s mostly made up of family members, and yes, The Avengers is finally in production, but up til this point, X-Men has been pretty much the only franchise featuring a large group of heroes, rather than a single protagonist, that has been given the cinematic treatment. What these character-specific trailers do is effectively give us a rundown of who’s who in the film, which is actually a pretty smart move. It introduces us to the key players, and perhaps more importantly, it gives us a heads-up about important characters with whom we may be less familiar. Here’s the roster as it stands:
Beast (Nicholas Hoult):
Even casual X-Men followers will recognize this guy: Dr. Henry “Hank” McCoy, the brilliant scientist with the fearsome exterior. In X-Men: First Class, he’s also a political activist, and his mutation wasn’t originally quite as blue as we’re used to. The blue thing happened when he attempted to cure himself (whoops). Beast is played by Nicholas Hoult of About A Boy and the original Skins (the boy done grown up!), though originally Benjamin Walker had been cast; Walker dropped out in order to make the Broadway transfer of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.
Havok (Lucas Till):
Havok actually isn’t a character that I’m that familiar with; the X-Men universe is, after all, pretty massive. Also known as Alex Summers, Havok has the ability to absorb energy and turn it into some pretty impressive blasting that looks kind of like an explosive hula hoop. He’s sort of similar to Cyclops in that his ability is difficult to control, and if he fails to control it, it can result in some very bad things indeed. For that reason, when he’s first found by Charles Xavier, we learn that he’s the first guy this other guy has ever met who prefers solitary confinement. Havok is played by Lucas Till.
Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones):
Banshee, real name Sean Cassidy, is actually Irish in the comics, but he’s been Americanized for the film. His ability has a fun name: “hypersonic screaming.” That is, he can scream at a pitch that can shatter glass, scare fish, and do all sorts of other things. He can also hold himself aloft using sound waves alone, allowing him effectively to fly. His original comic form was also significantly older than most of the other X-Men, but hey, artistic license and all that. Banshee is played by Caleb Landry Jones.
Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence):
Aha! A character and an actress that we’re familiar with! When she’s not busy on the Oscar red carpet or trying to survive the Hunger Games, Jennifer Lawrence has been donning the blue makeup of shapeshifter Raven Darkholme. We’re most familiar with her as a villain, but once upon a time, Mystique was just a girl who wanted to be normal. And she apparently also had a little bit of a thing with Hank McCoy.
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X-Men: First Class will be released on June 3.