Pre-heros: New X-Men offers high tech, alternate history

The best acting in X Men: First Class is by President John F. Kennedy, who in his Thanksgiving 1962 message to the nation expresses gratitude for the successful end of the Cuban Missile Crisis while suppressing what he surely must know, that U.S. and Soviet missiles spent a great deal of time flying back and forth while mentally controlled by the awesome powers of mutants. The movie's use of the missile crisis certainly serves the purpose of establishing this prequel in the early 1960s, and answers a question I've always had: Does the real world overlap with the histories of superheroes?

The movie is high-tech and well-acted, with lots of action and noise as it portrays the origins of the X-Men, a group of about a dozen mutants (so far). It begins in a Nazi prison camp, where young Erik Lehnsherr is forced to witness a tragedy and finds he can control metals with his mind– but only when he's angry. He grows up to become Magneto, and is played by Michael Fassbender, the lean German actor who the buzzmeisters say will become a big star off of this film. Heaven help him. He was so good in Fish Tank, Inglourious Basterds and Jane Eyre; must he play Magneto to become a star? For that matter, Raven/Mystique is played by Jennifer Lawrence, nominated for best actress earlier this year. Now a blue shape-shifter. The price of stardom.

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