By Edward Davis | The Playlist January 23, 2011 at 4:57AM
Director Reveals Plot Details: CIA Joins Forces With X-Men, Magneto Like Sean Connery Bond, Professor X A Womanizer
If you're anything like us you generally only like (and sometimes can only tolerate) realistic super-hero films. Granted, men and (sometimes) women running around in tights battling crime or fighting super villains is never "realistic," but the films that can manage to suspend our disbelief the most -- "The Dark Knight," "X2" -- tend to be our favorites.
So when (again, relatively) more realistic images -- characters in street clothes -- of Matthew Vaughn's "X-Men: First Class" surfaced recently, we were a a bit relieved considering the early images that had leaked, which Vaughn hated, looked like something out of the cornball "Fantastic Four" films. "Those costumes are hardly in the movie," Vaughn said. "The main costumes are like these cool '60s James Bond [costumes].”
While we love the idea of an early '60s prequel set in the middle of the Cuban missile crisis -- which is the backdrop of "X-Men: First Class"; the first comics hit in 1963 -- we never really got the Bond thing exactly. Bond? '60s? What does Bond have to do with the "X-Men" series? None of the comics have ever had much of a correlation to that spy franchise, right? Well, in a recent interview with EW, Vaughn detailed a plot point that made the Bond comparison make complete sense (mild spoilers ahead, though the basic synopsis says as much).
"Erik [Magneto] and Charles [Xavier] ... meet each other and hook up with the CIA to try and prevent World War III," Vaughn told the magazine about the film's basic story. "You find out everything about what went on between Erik and Charles."
Ahh, the CIA. So presumably this is where the "X-Men" first get their technology, their outfits, their Blackbird jet and gadgets. Alright, this we can hang with and though that element of the story is not in the comics (or at least not the early comics we're familiar with), it seems like a very fitting story arc. Though because the "X-Men" and the government are on the same side during "First Class," presumably somewhere later down the road (by the end of the film? the next one if there is one?), there's some kind of fissure and this allegiance breaks.
"In the beginning of the film, no one knows that mutants exist, and all the mutants don’t know that each other exist. They’re all in hiding," Vaughn told EW. "Kevin Bacon plays a very megalomaniac mutant [Sebastian Shaw] who decides that he can take over the world and that mutants are the future." Well, that pretty much rules out -- as we assumed -- any appearance of the villain Apocalypse (the potential of WWIII is the apocalypse, obviously).
So the Bond stuff makes sense. To hear it from Vaughn, it's Micheal Fassbender as Magneto who is really the star of the film -- or at least the leader of the group -- and less so James McAvoy as Professor X. "I basically molded a young Magneto on a young Sean Connery. He’s the ultimate spy — imagine Bond, but with superpowers," he said. "For me, Magneto is the good guy in the film, but he’s a sort of a good bad guy. He literally kicks off the movie, and Xavier goes along on the ride trying to figure out what the hell is going on, and trying to persuade Erik that you don’t have to kill everyone."
As for Professor Xavier, he's nowhere nears as saintly early on as he is in the series led by director Bryan Singer (now an exec-producer on this new prequel). And Vaughn and the actors really wanted to distance themselves from the films that arrived in the aughts -- or at least provide their own stamp -- so characters begin in unfamiliar places. "We have to show a journey – so he clearly has to start in a different place," McAvoy told Screenrant recently. "So the main things that we looked into are the fact that he is ego-less, selfless, a very good person, he’s sexless – he’s sort of like a monk [in the comics and the first "X-Men" films]. We thought of what the opposite of all of those things would be – so now he drinks a lot, chases women quite a lot, and doesn’t mind sort of abusing his power to get ahead. He’s definitely got an ego, and he’s definitely a little bit selfish. So that’s where we start with him, and so he’s now got to grow towards [the character played by] Patrick Stewart."
And also, finally someone addresses the fact that Vaughn was supposed to direct "X-Men: The Last Stand," but bailed two months before cameras were supposed to roll, essentially because he thought at the time he wasn't going to have enough time to see his vision through -- that and the fact that he still felt a little green.
"That’s true. It was as simple as that. In retrospect, I probably would have had more time then than I do now, which is highly ironic. But I also have more experience now than I did then. And I had no idea how big-budget filmmaking worked, so I was just applying small-budget independent-style logic to the wrong equation. And when I saw the film, I realized that Fox would have given me all the tools I needed. I was just stupid enough not to take them. But we both decided to cross the bridge together again. I definitely had burned a bridge. But they asked, so we met and we both kissed and made up and went off to make the film."
Oh yeah, and Vaughn says tweens will cotton to the picture too. "It’s got a lot of teenage angst. The 'Twilight' girls will like it."