By Edward Davis | The Playlist June 3, 2011 at 6:47AM
"X" marks the spot! (Sorry, had to go there.) After a long wait, at least quality-wise, the mutants are back and "X-Men: First Class" has arrived and opens in theaters nationwide today. This super hero film also lands with a rather huge sigh of relief to three distinctly different groups of people. 1) The fans: after having to endure two mediocre to abysmal installments of the 'X-Men' series ("X-Men: The Last Stand" and "X-Men Origins: Wolverine"), the Matthew Vaughn-directed "X-Men: First Class," is a nice return to form and almost on-par with Bryan Singer's much beloved "X2" (read our positive review) 2) The non-disastrous quality of the film is also a huge sigh of relief to the cast who were expecting something else. 'First Class' was shot, edited and finished in a lightning-fast 10-month period and actors have already publicly admitted that the uber-rushed-production of the film made them worry they were putting their efforts into polishing a turd. So a remarkably steady picture -- also considering the myriad story threads -- is not only a major comfort, it's a major surprise. 3) The studio: Trying to get their blockbuster brand back to health, 20th Century Fox gambled big time with the rushed schedule of "X-Men: First Class," but thanks to Vaughn they rolled snake eyes. This should be precipitating whoops and cheers from the execs, frankly.The film wasn't cheap to make, the actual production was one huge question mark, but now their franchise is back in good standing with critics (and soon to be fans) and sequels will surely be on their way (and yes, everyone in the cast is signed up for a trilogy, as is de rigueur these days). The film's arrival is good news to everyone.
But it wasn't at all easy. In fact, maybe one day a "X-Men: First Class" tell-all will come out with all the dirty details. Though one could say half those nasty deets have already hit. “He’s not gentle in the way he directs, to say the least,” Kevin Bacon told the L.A. Times describing of Vaughn's abrasive style on set. “Matthew would sit by the monitor and shout something that’s borderline insulting. But every time he said something — or screamed something — it was right on the mark.”
Vaughn has admitted that on certain days of shooting, he didn't even know who his crew was (he apparently had to work with five different directors of photography during the shoot which is highly unusual, and borderline chaos). From everything the candid filmmaker has said so far, it seems like he had to take control by any means necessary and make the film by hook or by crook -- in fact he may have borrowed a page from Magneto's Machiavellian the-end justifies-the-means aphorisms to get the job done. It was the only option available.
Suffice to say there's lots of good stories about the making of this film. So without further ado, almost 20 nuggets we learned from the cast, crew and writers of "X-Men: First Class."
Jennifer Lawrence who plays Mystique in the film was initially reluctant to sign up because she didn't want to be stuck in sequels that would eat up her acting life.
"When you don’t have a script, there’s nothing to really go by," she said of her initial hesitation. "Then there’s the fact that the 'X-Men' movies are so huge and there are sequels, and it’s hard to talk about doing a movie when there are sequels and you haven’t even read the script for the first one. What if I hated it? And then I have to make it three times! So I think the sequels were the biggest issues for me, because I was thinking I have no idea where I’m going to be in my life when these new movies come out; don’t know what kind of things I’m going to be doing. Am I going to regret this decision I made impulsively when I was 20? So I wanted to really think it through. And then, reading the script and — and really picturing James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender and the fact that they were really different — I loved it. I loved where it was coming from, I loved the idea of it, I love the idea of an origin story. So became an easy decision to make.”