I have never been a big fan of superhero movies, but I generally watch them with my husband and sons. (Except for the Batman movies – I watched Batman with him when it came out in 1989, and found it much too dark for me.) And I generally like them, even if I miss all sorts of allusions to the comic books and other movies.
I don’t remember much about the previous X-Men movies, but I’m pretty sure X-Men: First Class is now my favorite among them. It has plenty of superhero special effects and action, but mostly it’s about young men and women trying to come to terms with the strange abilities that make them powerful, dangerous (including to themselves, at least until they learn to control the powers), as well as feared and hated by the rest of the world.
I also enjoyed the historical fiction aspects. It was interesting to see how the movie was able to intersperse real scenes from history with the film’s version of how someone manipulated the U.S. and the USSR to bring about the nuclear missile crisis. It’s a period of history that they never covered in our history classes in school, it having taken place too recently, during our own lifetime (just barely).
Not surprisingly, considering that the events are from nearly fifty years ago, the movie makers allowed quite a number of anachronisms to creep in. Not that I noticed a single one – I wonder whether the people who do catch them are history buffs who just notice such things, or people who delight in examining a movie frame by frame to find mistakes. Somehow I don’t think of fans of superhero movies as being the sort who are likely to have a particularly thorough knowledge of history or concern about careful adherence to historical fact.
Mostly, though, I was interested in the interactions between the various mutants. Most of us know what it’s like to be an outsider in some context or other, but it’s hard to imagine being such an outsider that there are only a handful of people in the whole world who understand and accept you. And even among the mutants, there are sharp disagreements on how to deal with the rejection by the rest of the world.