“X-Men: First Class” (2011) Prequel Gets it Right

Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class (A-) is a magnificent thriller mashed up with a prequel that manages to showcase how superheroes helped avert the Cuban Missile Crisis. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender play young versions of Professor Xavier and Magneto (Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan in the original X-Men trilogy) as they establsih the early days of a school for mutants. There are wondrous flights of fancy and great coming of age motifs that all lead up to an amazing showdown. After Layer Cake and Stardust, Vaughn is proving a rogue storyteller with a tremendous vision for ensemble excitement.