X-Men: First Class is the fifth of the X-Men movies, but it’s set before the first X-Men movie. The movie’s action happens in the 1960s and focuses on the relationship between Charles Xavier/Professor X (James McAvoy) and Eric/Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and the origin of their groups, the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Mutants. The movie shows scenes from the childhood years of both men in flashback.
Because of his experiences as a Jewish child during World War II, Eric becomes a Nazi hunter. He meets up with Charles Xavier when they’re both after an evil mutant called Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon). Shaw is the Nazi who killed Eric’s mother.
Together with CIA agent Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne), Charles and Eric set out to recruit teenage mutants to their cause and hunt the group of mutants led by Shaw.
Nazi extermination of Jewish people; genetic mutation; nuclear war; superpowers
This movie contains intense, stylised action violence. It doesn’t show much blood and gore, but it does have occasional scenes of brutal violence. For example:
- Scrawny, starving Jewish adults and children with numbers tattooed on their forearms are herded into Polish prison camps by armed German soldiers. When the young Eric is separated from his parents, both Eric and his parents are very upset. They shout and reach out to each other while German soldiers hold them apart. One soldier uses the butt of his rifle to club Eric over the head. Eric falls unconscious to the ground.
- A German doctor takes out a pistol and points it at Eric’s mother, who is standing next to Eric. The doctor threatens to shoot her if Eric doesn’t show his supernatural powers. The doctor does a slow count, then pulls the trigger. Witnessing his mother’s murder causes Eric to go into an uncontrollable rage, unleashing his powers. The metal helmets on two soldiers implode as if being crushed by an unseen hand. The soldiers scream in agony and collapse dead on the floor.
- In a knife fight between Eric and three other men, Eric stabs a man’s hand with a large hunting knife, which fixes the hand to a table top (there’s a clear image of the knife sticking out of the hand). Eric then uses his powers to force one man to shoot another, pull the knife out of the man’s hand and hurl it across the room to stab another man in the chest. The knife flies out of the man’s chest to re-embed itself in the first man’s hand and table top. Eric then points a gun at the man and shoots him.
- Eric uses his superpowers to make barbed wire come alive and attack a soldier. The wire wraps itself around the soldier and drags him away.
- Eric uses his superpowers to hold a female mutant. The rails of a brass bed see to come alive and wrap themselves around the woman’s arms and neck. The woman turns her body into a diamond. While Eric questions the woman, the brass rails tighten around her diamond neck. Cracks start forming in her diamond throat.
- In battles between groups of opposing mutants, each group unleashes its powers against the other. Mutants spit fireballs at each other, hurl bolts of energy and sound waves, stab with swords, punch and kick. Mutants with long tails use these to attack others.
- Characters fire machineguns and rockets. Buildings explode and firestorms sweep through buildings.
- US and Russian battleships fire their weapons at a group of mutants standing on a beach. Eric uses his powers to suspend the missiles in mid-air before they reach the beach. Then he reverses the missiles and sends them back towards the ships.
- In a fight between Eric and Xavier, Eric punches Xavier in the face. A gunshot meant for Eric is deflected and hits Xavier. Eric uses his powers to extract the bullet from Xavier’s back.
- Eric tries to strangle a woman, but releases her after Xavier reasons with him.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie has several scenes that could scare or disturb children under eight. For example:
- A woman turns into a young girl with yellow reptilian eyes and blue scales.
- In a concentration camp, there’s a room with a wall covered in all sorts of surgical saws, knives, meat cleavers and machetes. The room is a cross between an operating theatre and a torture chamber.
- In several scenes, a man turns into a swirling sandstorm.
- A young man sticks his head into a tank of water, and gills appear in the sides of his neck. Later we see the same man’s skin transform into a rock-like substance.
- The mutants look scary. One has red skin and a barbed tail, another has feet that look like hands, and another looks like a large, blue werewolf with sharp fangs.
- A man’s foot and hand changes shape. They grow hair and turn blue. They end up looking like an ape’s or beast’s hand and foot.
Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above.
Younger children in this age group might also be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above.
This movie has some sexual references. For example:
- Xavier talks about a woman being a bit more sexy than a sea creature.
- A woman wears sexy clothes and dances in a sexy manner on a tabletop. Two men go up to the woman and ask, ‘How would you like a job where you get to keep your clothes on?’ One of the men then says, ‘We’ll show you ours if you show us yours’. He’s actually talking about their superpowers.
- A young man and woman flirt with each other as the man is taking a sample of the woman’s blood. She tells him, ‘When guys ask me out, they’re usually not after my blood’.
- A young woman says, ‘You know what they say about the size of a man’s feet’. Then she looks at a young man and says, ‘Yours are kind of small’.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
This movie has some use of substances. For example:
- In a couple of scenes, a man smokes a cigar.
- A man asks a woman if she’s been smoking those ‘funny cigarettes’.
- People drink beer and champagne at bars and parties.
- A man drinks beer from a yard glass. People cheer him on as he drinks the whole glassful.
- One scene shows a hypodermic syringe injecting an experimental drug into a man’s foot. In another scene, a needle is used to extract blood.
Nudity and sexual activity
This movie has some nudity and sexual activity. For example:
- Women wear tight and revealing clothing in several scenes.
- Male patrons at a casino sit in cubicles. Women wearing lingerie enter the cubicles and close the curtains.
- A woman wearing sexy clothing goes up to a man in uniform and undoes his belt and zipper. In the next scene, the soldier's sitting on a bed with the woman straddling his lap. They have their arms wrapped around each other and are kissing.
- A young woman with blonde hair lies in bed with her naked shoulders and back showing. Eric goes up to the woman, and she turns into a blue-skinned, yellow-eyed mutant. Eric calls her ‘an exquisite creature’. He reaches over the bed and kisses her on the lips.
- A naked woman (in mutant form) walks into a room and stands in front of a man, who looks embarrassed. The woman’s skin has a bumpy, scaly appearance that partially covers her nakedness.
None of concern
This movie has some coarse language and name-calling.
Ideas to discuss with your children
X-Men: First Class is an action adventure movie targeting an older adolescent and adult audience. You should be aware that the movie contains adult themes, scenes and images that might disturb younger viewers.
The main message from this movie is that it’s OK to be different – difference should be celebrated and is something to be proud of.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with older children include the following:
- Altruism – for example, Charles’ main purpose in life is to protect mutants and promote their best interests.
- Self-sacrifice – for example, several teenage mutants sacrifice their own safety to protect others.
- Compassion and selflessness – for example, as a young boy, Charles shows these qualities when he tries to help other people.
You might also want to talk about the parallels between the persecution of mutants in the movie and the persecution of various minority groups in the real world.