%photo1% The 1960s: it was a time of change, a time of upheaval, and a time of mutants.
For a film that hasn't even begun filming yet, "X-Men: First Class" has received a lot of attention. The movie will be a prequel to the highly successful "X-Men" film franchise based on Marvel Comics' long-running superhero series. Casting news has slipped out over the past few months, and it was announced last week that Emmy-nominated "Mad Men" star January Jones is joining the cast. But we didn't know much about what we'd see in the movie until now.
Producer Bryan Singer recently spoke to Ain't It Cool News head honcho Harry Knowles about "X-Men: First Class," and he revealed some notable details about the movie, including the fact that it is set in the 1960s. Singer, who also directed the first two "X-Men" films, states that the movie will show Charles Xavier, aka Professor X (played by James McAvoy) meeting Erik Lensherrr, better known as Magneto (played by Michael Fassbender) as young men in their late 20s.
The story will show Professor X and Magneto when they were still friends and how they assembled the first team of X-Men. McAvoy's Professor X will apparently look different than Patrick Stewart's older version from the first three films. He will have his hair, and he will still have the ability to walk. Singer did indicate that the movie will show what causes Xavier to be confined to a wheelchair. However, that could potentially conflict with the earlier movies, since there were flashbacks in "X-Men: The Last Stand" and "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" that showed Stewart's Professor X walking.
Singer also confirmed that Kevin Bacon will play the main villain of the movie: Sebastian Shaw, leader of the elite secret society, the Hellfire Club. Shaw is a mutant with the ability to absorb kinetic energy and adapt it into superhuman strength. The Hellfire Club, which covertly influences world events, also includes January Jones' character, the telepathic Emma Frost. Jones, of course, should feel right at home in the 1960s, since that's also the setting of her hit show, "Mad Men," though in the comics Emma Frost dresses a bit more provocatively than Betty Draper does.
With this film being a prequel, we won't see Cyclops, Storm, Jean Grey, and the other X-Men from the previous movies. One exception is the mutant Beast, played in "First Class" by Nicholas Hoult. It's not known yet if Beast will look human, like he was depicted in the early comics, or if he will be covered in blue fur like his later incarnations (and as he was played by Kelsey Grammer in "X-Men: The Last Stand"). Singer does state in the interview that the costumes in the film will look more like the original comic book versions than the leathery armor of the films.
Ultimately, it makes sense to place the "X-Men" prequel in the 1960s. The comic book was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1963, and the subtext of mutants being out of place in society was rooted in the civil rights issues of the time. Bryan Singer also states that the film's director, Matthew Vaughn ("Kick-Ass"), hopes to give the movie an international tone inspired by the original James Bond adventures of the era.
"X-Men: First Class" isn't the only superhero movie that's looking to the past, though. "Captain America: The First Avenger" will be set during World War II, which is also when that character first appeared in Marvel Comics.
"X-Men: First Class" is scheduled to open on June 3, 2011.
Watch clips from "X-Men Origins: Wolverine":