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.
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.
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.