This’ll be another week where you see two Fan Service columns, because scheduling kept me from writing this one last week. Part of the fun of a prequel film like X-Men: First Class is the in-jokes that reward viewers for having seen the movies that were released years ago but, chronologically, take place after the prequel. It’s almost like we can see into the future: We know the fates of a lot of the characters profiled, which allows us to better connect with them in the prequel. I won’t be able to get into any more detail without mentioning spoilers, so beware.
First Class does a pretty great job of inserting subtle nods to canon that longtime fans already know. There are two bald jokes made at James McAvoy‘s expense, and it wasn’t until the second that I realized, Oh, right! Professor X (played by Patrick Stewart in the later movies) is bald. Speaking of headwear, the moment that villain Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) puts on his iron telepathy-blocking helmet, you know that it’s the one that Magneto dons. (Though the little horns he fashions for his final appearance are just laughable.)
And of course, the Rebecca Romijn and Hugh Jackman cameos are fantastic. I hadn’t heard about either one before I saw the movie last week, and for that I was really grateful. In the age of getting accidentally spoiled on your Facebook or Twitter feed, it’s exciting to still have unexpected moments in a movie. (That’s why I’m trying to keep purposely vague in case someone stumbled across this and got half the surprise ruined.)
That said, a lot of serious groundwork gets laid in this move. After all, we know from seeing the three modern X-Men films that several things have to happen, or at least be put into action, in this movie:
1) Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and Xavier have to turn against each other.
2) Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) has to also abandon the X-Men.
3) Xavier becomes a paraplegic.
4) The mutants have to find one another without the world knowing about their existence.
5) Beast (Nicholas Hoult) gets all blue and hairy.