The heart of the X-Men films has always been the relationship between Xavier and Magneto. It seemed impossibly that anyone could top the Stewart/McKellan dynamic of two friends turned enemies at the end of their long battle, but Matthew Vaughan’s brilliant X-Men: First Class made sure that the heart of series would still beat strong. First Class is my second favorite of the series and that they got actors of Oscar caliber again in James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender to portray Xavier and Magneto cemented the series and gave it new life (new life I’m afraid DOFP muddled and Apocalypse will destroy).
From that very first scene after the concentration camp in the first film, you get a wonderful scene with Stewart and McKellan that so elegantly sets up their dynamic. You can tell they’re adversaries, but in that, and in all their interactions to come, their was a hint of sadness; of friendship and brotherhood lost. X-Men: First Class gave us the foundation on which that bond was built and the tragic events that set them on different paths forever.
I had a really hard time choosing one scene from this film. I could have watched an entire film of Magneto: Nazi Hunter. His two displays of power in Cuba in lifting the sub and manipulating the missiles and the events leading to Charles’ paralysis all could have made it. But I chose this quiet scene. I think it shows you why there’s always a grain of love between Charles and Erik no matter how heated the exchanges. It’s a beautifully written and acted scene and one of the tiny gems in a film that make every other film in the series more profound. I wish Matthew Vaughan were directing the next X-film. Singer seems tangled up between the casts and the convoluted continuity and Vaughn cut through all that to the heart of what makes the X-Men work. It’s a shame we only got one film from him in the series.