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Alternate Takes: X-Men: First Class

May 14, 2016 | Posted by Shawn S. Lealos

Welcome to Week 341 of Alternate Takes. My name is Shawn S. Lealos and you have entered my world.

Let’s look at some comments from last week:

newsball: glad to see alternate takes back, as i always liked the column no matter what format it had

Thanks so much. I am enjoying writing this column again. I needed a break from the weekly grind for a while to get my book written, but it is nice to be back.

JusticeBringer: There’s some good recommendations here, but if Lealos was going to pick a single issue of Amazing Spider-Man from Civil War, he picked the wrong one. The one to read is 537. In that issue, Captain America went from not even Top 30 to permanently number one for me.

Ironically, the magical moment isn’t an action sequence or some big heroic gesture. It’s a speech, a really amazing speech.
As much as I’ve been anticipating Civil War, I’ve also been dreading it because I just knew Marvel would never give us that moment and risk killing off the pro-Stark crowd.

If you don’t feel like digging into your wallet, just google Captain America Mark Twain and click the Renegade Cinema link.

To which the response was

armchair theologian: I think its hard to watch CA:CW and come out of it pro-Stark.
MCU Stark is a great character, but is too invested in his own pain to be a hero.

-His parents die: becomes a partying weapons developer to run away from his pain.
-The pain he is causing the world is thrown in his face, and he becomes Iron Man to help himself feel better about it.
-Recklessly creates Ultron due to feelings of inadequacy/fear of mortality (he died the last time aliens showed up)
-Ultron leads to destruction of Sokovia, so he goes along with the Sokovia Accords so he no longer has to feel responsible for what he does in the world.

-Stops being in honest disagreement with Captain and actively tries to kill
Bucky when he finds out brainwashed Bucky killed his parents, because,
again, his pain is more important than anything else.

And they do manage to find a way to work in part of the Twain speech you like so much, so hopefully you like that part.

Good call on the Captain America speech from Amazing Spider-Man and it was awesome to see part of that speech given in the movie, albeit by another character (and it still worked). That was the next issue, so if people want to check them out, read both issues (Amazing Spider-Man 536-537) to get Spider-Man’s response and then Cap’s response to the entire Civil War. Watching the movie, I still feel like they were more anti-Stark in the way the story was told, although they tried to make him a little more understanding than he was in the comics. Those were all great points by the armchair theologian.

DerrickCannon: Great work Sean, it is a true to pleasure to read your work on 411. I like the new direction that Alternate Takes, is well taking as it will open us to a lot of material to either check out for the first time or revisit. You should do a write up similar to this for items related to X-Men Apocalypse, I’ll be writing a review of it myself for possible inclusion in the journal of film and religion. The story is based on what is by far my favorite comic event so hopefully I can witness the film with an open mind. Your column on Captain America, Civil War was truly entertaining, I look forward to reading more from you in the future.

Thank you for that. And, as you see, I have started a three-week X-Men series, which kicked off this week and will see the Apocalypse edition being written – unfortunately – before I actually get to see the movie, but I know a lot about Apocalypse and have some great reads for that week’s edition.

Frances223: Had fun watching this movie with the family. Black panther is cool, Scarlet Witch is a bad ass, Ant Man is ingenious, no one disappoints but….Spidey. So when did they hire a 12 yr old to play Spider-Man. Seriously? I always thought Spider-Man had the coolest special effects but in this movie I just wanted him to go away. Let the big boys/girls play. Go get your puberty on.

I agree completely about Black Panther being all kinds of awesome, but I completely disagree with your assessment of Spider-Man. The last few Spider-Man movies have allowed Spider-Man to become a man, so it is a little shocking to see him as a high school student again, but I think Tom Holland nailed it. He was hilarious and had the one-liners like Spider-Man from the comics. I think having him in high school really gives us a fresh look at Peter Parker and I can’t wait to see his movie when it comes.

Krunchy: “Buy My Book!” “Buy My Book!” It would probably work better with a Jay Sherman clip from The Critic, especially since the episode was based on Misery.

With that in mind…

And, with that, on to this week’s Alternate Takes…

X-Men: First Class

X-Men: First Class took the stories of the X-Men back to the beginning. There was some major problems with the way that this was set up and that was due to continuity problems, which Fox tried to fix in their next movie in the series X-Men: Days of Future Past. Of course, it wasn’t quite as pronounced here since the X-Men used in this movie were not the ones used in the original trilogy, outside of Professor X, Magneto, Mystique, and Beast. Those three are explained though, since Magneto and Professor X are both old in the original trilogy, Mystique doesn’t age like normal people, and Beast is just a blue monster, so who knows how old he was in X2.

In the end, it was a great movie, tying the X-Men in with the Cuban Missile Crisis between the U.S. and Russia and introducing the Hellfire Club as well, one of the X-Men’s most iconic villains. With that said, here is a look at this week’s 5 Alternate Takes to delve deeper into the story that this movie presented.

1. X-Men #131-136 (1980)

Let’s start off with the villains in this movie, The Hellfire Club. The comics and the movie both had the same two main villains in the Hellfire Club in Sebastian Shaw and Emma Frost. The group was very old, with its origins started in the 1760s. It was when the X-Men villain Mr. Sinister brought his influence into the club that mutants began to infiltrate it. The Hellfire Club helped to fund the research into creating Sentinels, and this caused Sebastian Shaw to undertake a hostile takeover of the club and he became the new Black King, with Emma Frost as the White Queen.

For reading material, I would suggest the issues where the Hellfire Club began to really mess with the mind of Jean Grey because it was the Hellfire Club that brought out the Dark Phoenix and created the greatest tragedy in X-Men history … at that time. This series starts out with the Hellfire Club manipulating Jean Grey, moves on to her losing control due to their mechanisms, and ending with the Dark Phoenix Saga and her death. While everyone remembers the power of the Phoenix, many forget that it was the Hellfire Club that caused it.

2. X2

Up next, let’s move back to movies for a bit and look at the movie that I believe is the best of the original trilogy, X2. This is an interesting movie to watch because it really shows what the X-Men turned into, and really pairs up well with X-Men: First Class. In X-Men: First Class, William Stryker made it clear that he hated the mutants and believed they had no rights. That would really pay off in X2 when it turned out his own son was a mutant and that he still hated them all, becoming the villain of that movie.

It is also interesting how in the third X-Men movie, they teased a cure, which was hinted at here with Beast, although I would not subject anyone to that movie. If you want to see the Dark Phoenix, just read the comics I listed in number one.

3. X-Men #161 (1982)

X-Men: First Class changes a lot when it comes to the origins of the X-Men. The only real original team member in this movie is Beast (and it does a nice job of showing how he turns blue, keeping that similar to the comics). However, the other members were not original X-Men from the comics, and all were future members (including Havoc, who is Cyclops’ brother in the comics but never mentioned in this movie). The other difference is the introduction of Charles and Magneto. In the movie, they are thrown together thanks to Sebastian Shaw. Their true meeting was shown in X-Men #161, where Xavier was volunteering in Israel and met Erik, who was also helping out there. Interesting trivia that connects this to the new Avengers movie world is that they battled HYDRA in this issue.

4. New Mutants #15-17 (1984)

One thing that X-Men: First Class did was pit mutant against mutant. This is very similar to early X-Men issues where the X-Men fought Magneto’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. The difference here is that all of Xavier’s mutants were just kids with little to no training while Sebastian Shaw brought in his trained mutants to help him try to end the world. A more similar comparison comes in the pages of The New Mutants, where the young mutants in training ended up having to fight the Hellfire Club, and more specifically, Emma Frost’s Hellions, which were the Hellfire Club’s mutant students. Interestingly, later it was Magneto who would take over the teaching of the New Mutants.

5. Thirteen Days (2000)

I sometimes want to make mention of a movie that is not a comic book movie, but one that can work as a companion to the comic book movie we are looking at each week. This week, let’s look at Thirteen Days. This is a movie that looks at the Cuban Missile Crisis itself, one that does not realize that mutants had a lot to do with saving the day during that dark time in America. Bruce Greenwood plays John F. Kennedy during the Crisis while Kevin Costner stars as Kenneth O’Donnell, the Special Assistant to the President. The film is highly underrated and is a great look at a very tense part of American history.

And there are my five Alternate Takes for the Fox movie X-Men: First Class. If you have any other required reading or viewing, let me know in the comment section below. Next week, we will move on to X-Men: Days of Future Past in anticipation of the sure to be awesome X-Men: Apocalypse.

And remember,