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Summer Preview: X-Men: First Class Boasts Stellar Cast; Photo Gallery [UPDATED]

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood April 18, 2011 at 1:35AM

Twentieth Century Fox's Marvel prequel X-Men: First Class, with five credited writers so far, has been embroiled in a long, problematic, over-schedule shoot on locations in England, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina and Russia, with a curtailed post-production hurtling toward a June 3 finish line. Nonetheless its strong cast makes me want to see it.
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Thompson on Hollywood

Twentieth Century Fox's Marvel prequel X-Men: First Class, with five credited writers so far, has been embroiled in a long, problematic, over-schedule shoot on locations in England, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina and Russia, with a curtailed post-production hurtling toward a June 3 finish line. Nonetheless its strong cast makes me want to see it.

Led by two sexy, dangerous UK actors, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, as young professor Charles Xavier (Professor X) and Erik Lensherr (Magneto)--originally played by Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan, respectively--with Jennifer Lawrence filling in, as it were, for Rebecca Romijn as blue-scaled Mystique, Rose Byrne as Professor X love interest Dr. Moira MacTaggert and Kevin Bacon as the film's villain Sebastian Shaw, leader of the secret Hellfire Club, aided by January Jones (Mad Men) as Emma Frost/ White Queen, this new photo (posted by Slashfilm) grabbed my attention. (Hugh Jackman has been diverted to his own standalone X-Men Wolverine projects.)

A photo gallery and trailer from the movie, which is the fifth in the franchise that has earned $1.53 billion worldwide to date, are below.

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Also attractive is director Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, Stardust, Kick-Ass), who while not a reliably commercial director, is never dull. With original X-Men director Bryan Singer producing with the franchise's uber-boss Lauren Shuler Donner, the origin story is set in 1963 at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, when Xavier founds an X-Men school for kids with superhuman abilities. Lensherr starts out as his close friend before becoming his nemesis as the leader of the Brotherhood of Mutants. And while Xavier boasts a head of hair and two strong legs during this movie, he may wind up in a wheelchair by the end.

[Photo: SuperheroHype]

This article is related to: Box Office, Genres, Headliners, Studios, Video, Summer Movies, Summer, Sequel, Comics, Action, Twentieth Century Fox, Trailers


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.