Speaking of which, First Class has both a wide array of powers upon which for us to feast our eyes (with the aid of top-notch CGI, of course), but also, and perhaps more importantly, the right combination of power-filled mutants. Each brings something different to the table, sure, but in the context of the story they complement each other well. It doesn’t exactly hurt that the casting is excellent, allowing for fun chemistry between pretty much all of the First Class team. Pretty much all the mutants are great, but notable highlights include Jason Flemyng as Azazel (who is pretty much a red version of Nightcrawler from the second film); Caleb Landry Jones as Banshee (who has the power to scream at high frequency, essentially allowing him to fly); Jennifer Lawrence as a young Mystique (my personal favourite mutant of them all); and an Kevin Bacon as a surprisingly formidable and impressive bad guy, Sebastian Shaw (I won't ruin what exactly his power is). The film does a great job of both showcasing all of these varied powers without being overly showy or campy about it, a crime both the third X-Men and the Wolverine prequel were guilty of on several occasions.
Matthew Vaughn is in the director’s chair this time around (he also almost directed the third movie before Ratner stepped in), and after proving he can send up the superhero film with his absolutely fantastic Kick-Ass last year, he puts on his serious hat and delivers a no-nonsense, no gimmicks X-Men film that has a brilliant sense of both momentum and anticipation about it, the latter of which is because if you’re a fan of the franchise you are waiting on certain things being name-checked or given a tip of the hat to (including a pleasing cameo by a certain well known mutant), or even extremely crucial events occurring that will affect how we end up as we started in the first film.
One such event is the reveal of how exactly Professor X ended up in that famous wheelchair, and without giving anything away, it is both surprising and fitting in that sort of “yeah, that makes sense” sort of way. Vaughn, alongside co-writers Jane Goldman (his regular writing partner who co-wrote both Kick-Ass and Stardust with him), Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz (the latter two of which are writers on such TV shows as Fringe and The Sarah Connor Chronicles) clearly understand that while this is its own film it still needs to feel part of the franchise overall and they succeed admirably in that endeavour.