"Their powers would make them different. But destiny would make them allies."X-Men: First Class
is the second prequel
in the X-Men
series set in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis
Before the mind-reading Charles Xavier (James McAvoy
) was known as Professor X, he lived a privileged existence as a young brilliant Oxford graduate specialising in genetics, living with his shapeshifting foster sister Raven (Jennifer Lawrence
). Before he took the name Magneto
, the metal-controlling Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender
) was a vengeful young Holocaust survivor bent on hunting down the depraved Nazi doctor who experimented on him and murdered his mother in the concentration camp in 1944, Dr Klaus Schmidt.
The year is now 1962, and CIA agent Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) finds that Schmidt, now going by the name Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon
), is working alongside mutants in a conspiracy involving the highest levels of the American and Russian governments; when she enlists Charles to help her in hunting down Shaw, Charles and Erik are unexpectedly drawn together. As they become close friends, the two of them work together to build a team of mutants (some familiar, some new) to stop Shaw and avert the greatest threat to humanity the world has ever known. In the process, a rift between them opens, which begins the eternal war between Magneto's Brotherhood and Professor X's X-Men.
Inspired to some degree by the "X-Men: First Class"
comic book series (though by no means a faithful adaptation
), this film also incorporates elements of the originally planned
but now scrapped film X-Men Origins: Magneto note
Interestingly, this is also the first film in the series to not feature Wolverine
(aside from a very amusing 20-second cameo
) even though FOX would soon follow up with 2013's The Wolverine
Followed by X-Men: Days of Future Past
This film provides examples of:
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- Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: The many quiet talks between Charles and Erik about the latter's past and potentials as well as their differing views on human-mutant relations clinch how tragic their fall-out and eventual parting is.
- Adaptational Attractiveness:
- Adaptational Villainy: Angel Salvadore is a member of the X-Men and New Warriors in the comics, but is depicted as a traitor and member of the Hellfire Club.
- Adaptation Dye-Job:
- In the comics, Magneto has been shown to have had white hair for the vast majority of his adult life, presumably as a side-effect of his mutation. He has dark brown hair as a younger man in this movie.
- Professor X in the comics was blond before he lost his hair, but his movie counterpart is a brunet.
- Adaptation Origin Connection: Professor X and Mystique never had a Like Brother and Sister connection in the comics. In the movie-verse, Raven has essentially replaced Cain Marko as Xavier's non-blood-related sibling who later becomes his enemy, although Charles' relationship with Raven is a lot more positive during the 18 years that they lived together.
- Adapted Out:
- In the comic books, Magneto had an infant daughter named Anya, whose death was a major contributing factor to his fall from grace. Both Anya and her mother, Magda, are omitted from this movie, which instead presents a missile attack from the U.S. government as the final reason Magneto turns to villainy.
- In the comics, Professor Xavier was crippled by an alien named Lucifer. In this movie, he's accidentally crippled by Magneto.
- Adaptive Ability: Darwin's ability involves his body making whatever changes necessary to keep him from dying in whatever environment he's in, such as growing gills while underwater.
- Charles Xavier was a cute geek in his childhood, as demonstrated by the framed pictures of his favourite scientists next to his bed. As an adult, he uses his nerdy knowledge to woo girls at bars.
- Hank McCoy. Soft spoken, stutters, asks Raven out on the pretext of getting a blood sample and then apologizes for being forward.
- The Man in Black. His face lights up when he sees proof of mutant-kind.
- Adult Fear: The movie runs on it.
- The Holocaust. The death of a parent, and the medicalized torture of an innocent child. All within the first 20 minutes. Then, for Erik, knowing that the people that killed your family and millions of others will go free unless you personally devote your life to hunting them down.
- A bit of a foregone conclusion, but Charles and Erik's "beach divorce," even though it's only a metaphorical divorce, (figurative) children having to decide which parent they're siding with in said metaphorical divorce, having a loved one be permanently disabled because of something you did.
- The fear that no one will love you as you really are... or even that your entire race/ethnic group will be systematically hunted to extinction again.
- For both Charles and Erik, seeing the friend that you loved like a brother become your enemy.
- The Ageless:
- Sebastian Shaw's energy-absorbing powers keep him young, like recharging a battery.
- Raven Darkholme ages at a very slow rate due to the ability of her cells to alter their function.
- Logan is roughly 130 years old in 1962, and only appearing around thirty-five, when a young Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr attempt to recruit him in a bar. This is forty years before he joins the X-Men.
- Agent Mulder: The Man in Black always believed in the existence of mutants and feels vindicated when Xavier reveals himself.
- All of the Other Reindeer:
- All Your Base Are Belong to Us: The group move into Xavier's mansion when their previous HQ, a CIA compound, is attacked and destroyed by the Hellfire Club.
- Almost Kiss: Between Hank and Raven. Erik walks in and kills the mood.
- Alternate Character Interpretation. In-Universe. Charles tries to raise Hank's spirits by talking about The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. As Charles sees it, the serum didn't divide Jekyll into "good" and "evil," but more "civilized" and "animal," with the "animal" Hyde being Jekyll with confidence and free of inhibitions. Thus Hank shouldn't worry about being a bad guy, but should instead just embrace his newfound self-assurance and freedom. In the novel, Hyde revolts everyone who sees him (not because he's physically ugly—he isn't—but because people can sense something terribly wrong with him), and amongst other things, tramples a child and later beats an old man to death in a rage. Moreover, neither Jekyll nor Hyde display any remorse, and are only worried about being caught... yeah, stick to the hard sciences, Chuck.
- Alternate History: What the ending seems to imply. The Americans and Soviets drop the Cold War to wage war against mutants.
- X-Men: Days of Future Past Retcons this by implying that the government covered up what happened to avoid alarming the public. The Cold War still proceeds as it did in real life.
- Amnesia Missed a Spot: At the end, Xavier wipes Moira's memory to keep the mutants safe from the CIA. All Moira remembers is a few glimpses of leaves and Xavier kissing her.
- Anachronism Stew:
- The film is set during the Cuban Missile Crisis, but characters walk around in modern haircuts while warships (some of which weren't active in 1962) fire Tomahawk cruise missiles at them.
- Shaw/Schmidt plays La Vie en rose by Édith Piaf in the concentration camp in 1944, despite the song not being written until 1945 or released as a single until 1947.
- Despite taking place in the early '60s, nobody ever comments on Angel's or Darwin's race, although them being a double minority is subtly alluded to by Shaw.
- Anchors Away: Erik uses a telekinetically-controlled anchor to wreck Shaw's yacht.
- And I Must Scream: The death of Sebastian Shaw. He's held immobile while a coin is pushed slowly through his skull. Xavier, who's psychically linked to Shaw in order to hold him immobile, does the screaming instead.
- And Starring: "And Kevin Bacon."
- Erik is an Unscrupulous Hero. He shows no mercy to his enemies and uses any means at his disposal, but his enemies are Nazi and his means are The Power of Friendship. Finally, he's doing all of this in the first place to avenge his murdered mother. Then he goes Jumping Off the Slippery Slope and becomes a full-fledged Villain.
- Mystique is a Classical Anti-Hero. She's a Nice Girl with personal insecurity due to her appearance and background, that develops self-confidence and stands up for herself and her friends.
- Anti-Villain: Magneto and Mystique become this at the end. They seek to end the threats posed to mutantkind by waging war on mankind.
- Ape Shall Never Kill Ape: Sebastian Shaw lightly scolds Emma, after she punts Erik off their yacht, that, "We don't hurt our own kind." Later he kills Darwin, and his team later go all-out to hurt/kill the X-Men; and of course, he beats up Erik on the sub, while trying to convince him to change sides..
- Apocalypse How: Class 3a. Sebastian Shaw plans a species extinction (humans die in a nuclear holocaust, mutants inherit the Earth).
- Argentina Is Naziland: Erik chases a Nazi to Villa Gesell, a city in Argentina. In the movie, it's an area of mountains and lakes, but the real Villa Gesell is a beach city and former hippie paradise. The barman used Mexican slang.
- Artistic License – Biology: As with all X-Men stories, you have to give the movie plenty of this. If "genetic mutations grant teleportation and shapeshifting" bothers you, then recite the MST3K Mantra.
- Artistic License – Geography: There's a scene where Erik kills some bad guys that supposedly takes place in the Argentinian city of Villa Gesell. The establishing shot shows snowy mountains and a beautiful lake surrounded by hills. The problem is that, although you can find a lot of cities that look like that in the southern part of the country, the real Villa Gesell is a beach city located nowhere near that area. The shot resembles the Argentinian city of Villa La Angostura where, according to legend, some Nazis hid away after World War II with the help of President Perón. So the mistake wasn't THAT big, but it was extremely hilarious for the Argentinian public.
- Artistic License – Physics: Before Banshee's first flight attempt, you have Dr. McCoy, allegedly a scientist, telling Banshee, "We need the sound waves to be supersonic!" He probably meant "ultrasonic" (i.e. above the range audible to humans).
- Asshole Victim:
- Who felt sorry for those two SS escapees in Argentina?
- Sebastian Shaw when he's killed by Magneto near the end. Considering in his first scene he had murdered Erik's mother right in front of the boy's eyes, it's highly doubtful anybody in the audience really feels any sympathy for him. Charles on the other hand, who was telepathically with Shaw and felt all the pain of his death, is someone to feel sorry for.
- Also, most of the CIA Agents. A couple of them walk by the mutant's room, saying "I didn't know the circus was in town!" Then, seconds later, they all get dropped from the sky. One of them is even begging to live, telling Shaw where they are, only to then get killed.
- Charles Xavier is quite the Badass in his youth. He essentially prevents the Third World War on his own with some quick thinking and telepathy, blowing up the ship carrying the Russian nukes through one of the other warship's political officer. Then, once the real battle begins, he holds a telepathic link in order to immobilise Shaw while Magneto pushes a coin through Shaw's skull. Charles feels everything.
- The rest of the team gets their own moments of badassery as well. Erik spends the whole first act hunting down and wiping out former Nazis, Beast is just plain cool, Darwin shows no hesitation in taking a proactive role and even trying to take on Shaw. Banshee goes from scaring fish to helping avert nuclear disaster.
- Moira MacTaggert fearlessly heads into the Hellfire Club and suits up with the rest of Division X to fight Shaw.
- Even the bad guy and his goons are badass in this film. Azazel takes out virtually every guard in a secret CIA complex on his own in various awesome ways. Riptide acts as Shaw's primary muscle and intimidation tactic. Considering he can make tornadoes, he's like a Storm Lite. Sebastian Shaw is virtually immortal and likes to show this off, Guy takes a missile to the face and doesn't even blink. Needless to say, this makes him badass in the extreme.
- Badass Bookworm:
- Dr. Charles Xavier is an Oxford graduate with a doctorate in genetics.
- Dr. Hank McCoy earned his PhD (presumably in engineering and a biology-related field) from Harvard at the age of 15.
- Badass in a Nice Suit: Sebastian Shaw, as well as his goons Azazel and Riptide.
- Been There, Shaped History: Mutants both caused and averted the Cuban Missile Crisis.
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: The film reveals that Professor X and Magneto brought a peaceful end to the Cuban Missile Crisis, which was actually a plot by the megalomaniacal Sebastian Shaw to start World War III.
- Being Tortured Makes You Evil: This sums up Erik Lehnsherr's (who later becomes Magneto) backstory. The torture he endured involved a lot of "anger and pain," a room full of creepy sharp instruments, and there was a flash of something akin to sadistic dentistry, but it's the emotional torment that seems to have broken him.
- Berserk Button:
- For Hank McCoy, it's taunting his looks when he's in his Beast form.
- Telling Magneto that men were "Just following orders" sends him into a murderous rage.
- Betty and Veronica:
- While Raven may or may not have feelings for Charles, her attention soon turns to sensible Hank (who prefers her human form) and enigmatic Erik (who prefers her mutant form).
- And on the Charles' part, he seems to have a choice between Raven (in human form) and Moira. Note that Raven, who is the Veronica, is his childhood friend, which is normally a Betty characteristic.
- Beware the Superman: The film appears to end in a manner which puts the world into such a setting. Up until the Cuban Missile Crisis, mutantkind was an unnoticed breed, but then the whole thing is blown wide open due to Magneto's actions against the fleets of ships at the climax. However, X-Men: Days of Future Past reveals that the US government had kept the mutants' involvement a secret from the public.
- Big Brother Instinct:
- Charles had this for Raven, being very concerned for hiding her mutant form in public and telling her directly that he didn't want anything to happen to her. However, his relationship with his foster sister deconstructs this phenomenon because it caused him to become overprotective to the point where he denied her the chance to embrace her true appearance and be proud of what she was, as well as caused him to ignore her very obvious crush on him. This in turn made Raven turn to Erik as a mentor/love interest and eventually join him in his cause against humanity.
- Darwin develops this for the younger mutant recruits, especially when Shaw attacked the CIA base. Unfortunately, this only gets him killed by Shaw when he tries to protect Angel from him.
- By the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Erik had already begun to view Charles as a brother figure. When the Blackbird spiraled out of control, Magneto used his body to shield Xavier from injury, and he immediately halted his attack on the American and Soviet naval forces when Charles was shot.
- Big Damn Heroes: A Moment Of Awesome occurs when the Soviet vessel Aral Sea has just a few meters left to go before it crosses into American waters (which would mean all-out war between the USA and the USSR), and then the X-Men jet appears.
- Big Fancy House: When the team first arrives at Charles' residence, Erik, Sean, Alex, Moira and Hank have to tilt their head back a little to stare at the impressively large Xavier mansion, which practically looks like a small palace. It's even sarcastically lampshaded by Erik: "Honestly Charles, I don't know how you survived, living in such hardship."
- Big Good: Charles Xavier is the leader of the heroic team that eventually defeats the Big Bad. He brought them together, trained them and inspired them to heroic action.
- Big "NO!":
- When young Erik wrecks Schmidt's lab in the beginning of the film in anger and grief over the murder of his mother, he lets out an extremely long "Nein."
- Xavier shouts this when Magneto pushes the coin through Sebastian Shaw's forehead and just before he tackles Magneto to the ground to try to stop him from committing mass murder against the American and Soviet fleets.
- Bilingual Bonus: The Soviet Captain refers to an officer on the bridge as "zampolit," which is translated as comrade. The enthusiasm at which the crew later drag him off to the brig becomes understandable if one knows that zampolit is how Soviet political officers were addressed.
- Birds of a Feather:
- Mutants in general are thrilled to meet another mutants since each one believes they were the only one. The adolescents are then "adopted" by Charles and Erik.
- It's especially intense between Hank and Raven because they possess visible mutations, but they drift apart after the latter begins to accept her real appearance.
- Among the young recruits, Xavier connects more strongly with McCoy than with the others because both men are scientists with a similar temperament who believe it's important to Hide Your Otherness from human society. X-Men: Days of Future Past even goes a step further by showing us that they become Heterosexual Life-Partners.
- Bittersweet Ending: The missile crisis and WWIII are averted, and Sebastian is killed. However, Charles is wounded and left paraplegic, Erik takes command of Shaw's mutants to start his own revolution of mutant supremacy, and Raven turns to The Dark Side. Despite reciprocating Moira's romantic feelings, Xavier has to mind-wipe some of her memories to keep her out of danger with the CIA while also keeping his upcoming school for mutants safe.
- Black Dude Dies First: Darwin, the only Black male mutant/character, is killed after only a few minutes onscreen, before the major battle, and other than the head villain of the film, he is the only mutant protagonist or antagonist to die. His power to adapt to anything to survive really helped him.
- Blatant Lies: Raven claims that her eye colour change at the pub was an accident, but Charles knows that she did it on purpose, and the audience understands that Raven's motivation for the "slip-up" was jealousy towards Amy.
- Bloodless Carnage: There was no blood when Shaw shot Erik's mother. Azazel's massacre of the CIA agents, Shaw's death and Charles getting shot also had either minimal blood or none at all.
- Body Horror:
- Hank McCoy's transformation sequence, the process was depicted as rather painful and horrific, bones, muscles and skin shifting and stretching while fur aggressively sprouted along his body.
- The death of Darwin shows his body warping into several different materials in its attempt to adapt to the energy shoved into his mouth. Then he's petrified.
- Inverted with Mystique as a major part of her character arc involves her coming to accept her natural appearance.
- Bonus Material: Not many fans are aware that there are two rare featurettes which were only included on a very limited number of Blu-Rays: "Extraordinary Abilities" and "Magneto the Survivor". (The password to view both videos is xmfc.)
- Brainy Brunette: Brainy Brunet, in this case. Exactly as it says on the tin for Dr. Charles Xavier and Dr. Hank McCoy; these two are doctorate-level scientists as young men.
- Break the Cutie:
- Charles Xavier. When the movie starts, he's a friendly, happy-go-lucky, idealistic Oxford grad whose only interests are protecting his foster sister, studying genetics, drinking yards of beer and picking up coeds. His initial reaction to meeting other mutants is a puppyish eagerness to find others like him, as well as a gung-ho enthusiasm to work with a superhuman team to fight evil. During the climax, he gets smacked around in a variety of ways, including telepathically experiencing Shaw's gruesome death at Magneto's hands, getting shot in the spine, and having the US government, his best friend, and his sister all turn against him. By the finale, his government is trying to hunt him down, his best friend is preparing for a war against humans, and he's crippled for life in a wheelchair. We know from future installments that he never quite abandons his ideals, but he's frighteningly subdued and obviously much more cautious about who knows his secrets.
- Hank McCoy starts off as the Adorkable love interest for Raven. He then undergoes a Karmic Transformation after telling Raven that society would never accept them for the way they really looked.
- Raven Darkholme starts off as an innocent Woman Child who turns into a villain by the end, after being harshly rejected by her love interest Hank, and being repulsed by both humanity's intolerance and by Charles' ideals.
- Erik Lehnsherr as a child in the early scenes, where he is subjected to the harsh treatment of the concentration camps and is forced to watch his mother die simply because he couldn't move a coin in time.
- Broad Strokes: The filmmakers have outright said that they're giving story a much higher priority than continuity.
- Byronic Hero: Erik Lehnsherr. Morally troubled, emotionally damaged, attractive, and very charismatic about his pro-mutant beliefs. This is particularly true to some of the impressionable younger characters like Raven.
- California Doubling: Englefield House in Reading, UK serves as the exterior for the Xavier mansion. The small island near Cuba is actually Georgia's Jekyll Island with some palm trees.
- Call Forward: See this page for more information.
- The Cameo:
- Wolverine, and given that PG-13 movies have only one "fuck" to use, the writers definitely chose the perfect scene to take advantage of it.
- Also Rebecca Romijn, the original Mystique, who briefly appears when Raven takes on a more mature appearance in order to try and seduce Magneto.
- A blink-and-you'll-miss-it case: One of the mutants shown during the first test run of Cerebro appears to be a very young Storm, and another looks like Cyclops.
- Care Bear Stare: Xavier uses his telepathy to help Erik recall a happy memory from long ago in order to unlock the full potential of his friend's powers.
- Catch and Return:
- Magneto catches and then reverses a barrage of missiles.
- Sebastian Shaw's ability to absorb and release energy is also a form of this.
- Chained to a Bed: Emma Frost is chained by the bed's metal railings. No points for guessing who did it and how.
- Changing of the Guard: The previous movies featured Wolverine as the main protagonist, but First Class has Magneto and Professor X as the two lead characters.
- The Charmer: Charles Xavier uses his bubbly exuberance and his powers to pick up women in bars on campus.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- The coin that Schmidt/Shaw gives to Erik, which Magneto later forces through Shaw's head. It's also foreshadowed when Erik impales a drawing of Shaw's head with it earlier in the film.
- Shaw calling Azazel by his name is used later on when Mystique impersonates him and stops Azazel from killing Beast. Shaw calling Azazel by his name during the attack on the base is the only reason Mystique knows his name.
- Chekhov's Lecture: Xavier reading from the thesis on the Cro-Magnons wiping out the Neanderthals. Erik cites it when the US and Soviet fleets turn on them.
- Chekhov's Skill: When the gun fires at the climax, it's not as funny as the exchange below.
[Erik asks Charles to help him train by shooting him point-blank]
Erik: You know I can deflect it!
- Chess Motifs: Charles and Erik are seen playing chess a few times. The one move that is actually shown is Erik taking Charles' Queen with his King. The chess game is almost directly followed by scenes showing that Erik is able to understand Raven and consider her natural blue state beautiful while Charles is not. At the end of the movie Raven, Charles' foster sister and closest ally, leaves Charles side and joins Erik in his anti-human agenda. Oddly enough, the villains of this movie are the Hellfire Club, which used chess pieces as rank names, but this isn't addressed in the movie.
- Chest Blaster: Havok’s suit is designed to focus his energy and discharge it from a device in his chest.
- Chick Magnet: Charles has the attention of Amy (the blond woman with heterochromia—see the Funny Background Event entry), Raven (who has a crush on him) and Moira (there is a deleted scene where she and Charles are making out after drinking too much champagne).
- Chivalrous Pervert:
- Charles Xavier boldly hits on co-eds, but when his latest target for conquest sincerely needs help, he's all business.
- Sean Cassidy is introduced flirting with a girl, who seems to find him comical more than anything else. He's also very appreciative of Angel.
- Chummy Commies: The film depicts USSR and USA as Not So Different, since both are being fooled by Big Bad Sebastian Shaw and both believe they're being threatened by the other. Also, even if Azazel, the only (supposedly) Communist mutant is an evil henchman, he's more on Pragmatic Villainy and is definitively better than Shaw.
- CIA Evil, FBI Good: The CIA isn't exactly evil, although most of its members certainly acted like Jerkasses.
- Code Name: The ridiculous codenames given to the characters which have nothing to do with anonymity (as demonstrated by them using them for each other in the most mundane of situations) are explained as a result of precedent established by teenagers in over their heads in the CIA.
- Cold War: The film is set during the Cuban Missile Crisis and the plot revolves around the Crisis being caused and then defused by mutants.
- Comic Book Movies Don't Use Codenames: Double-subverted, justified, enforced, and invoked all at once. Codenames are something of a plot point; it's shown that the concept of a "true name" began with Xavier's eponymous "first class." However, it's originally used in playful jest (the teenagers even come up with codenames "Professor X" and "Magneto"—Xavier and Lehnsherr both respond unenthusiastically to the idea) and doesn't become serious until Magneto insists upon being called by that name at the very end of the film.
- The name "Professor X" is only used twice in both this movie and the series, and Xavier brushes it off.
- Hank eventually uses the name "Beast" towards the end of the movie.
- Darwin is actually a nickname which happens to fit his powers, and his real name (Armando) is never referenced.
- It gets a bit tricky with Angel; in the comics, her code name is Tempest, and Angel is her real name, but in this movie she explicitly states that Angel is a stage name.
- Comic-Book Time:
- The film is definitely marketed as a prequel to the original X-Men trilogy, but the timeline used in the film is very wonky. First Class takes place in 1962, which would put Xavier and Magneto in their 70s in the first movie (Patrick Stewart was only 60 when the first film was released, and Ian Mckellen was around the same age). It's best not to think about Beast's age.
- In the first film Xavier states that he was seventeen when he first met Magneto, but here he's clearly shown to have been alive in 1944, eighteen years before the two first meet.
- Coming-Out Story: Charles accidentally outs Hank as a mutant.
- Compliment Backfire: Erik tries to compliment Hank's Beast form, but Hank takes it as sarcasm. Erik is remarkably understanding about the mistake.
- Composite Character: Sebastian Shaw mixes character traits associated with the comics version of that character (a wealthy Diabolical Mastermind with Energy Absorption powers) with those associated with fellow X-villain Mr. Sinister (a seemingly-immortal Evilutionary Biologist who experimented on Magneto in a Nazi concentration camp and believes that mutants are the key to world conquest).
- Conservation of Detail: Darwin's death. The rest of the characters are shown having to learn to use their powers. Just instinctively adapting to survive is nothing you can learn. The lesson is that you can't live without hard work.
- Continuity Cameo: Mystique tries to seduce Magneto. He tells her, "Maybe in a few years." She then shapeshifts to Rebecca Romijn, who plays her in the original trilogy.
- Continuity Drift:
- Dr. Hank McCoy makes his first appearance in a background cameo in X2: X-Men United, where he's a human-looking scientist being interviewed on a news program. When he appears in X-Men: The Last Stand, he's a politician with a spot in the United States Presidential Cabinet, and he appears in his classic blue-furred simian mutant form. Then this movie reveals that he was one of Professor Xavier's original X-Men and that he's had blue fur since his early 20's, when one of his experiments went awry and accelerated his mutation. In an Author's Saving Throw, X-Men: Days of Future Past reveals that Hank developed a serum that let him pass for human for short periods. It also clarifies the true nature of his close relationship with Charles Xavier, establishing that he was the only one of Xavier's original students that stayed behind when Xavier shut the school down during the Vietnam War.
- A flashback at the beginning of X-Men: The Last Stand (which likely takes place in the late 1970's or early 1980's) shows Professor Xavier walking upright, and clearly still allies with Erik Lehnsherr. This movie reveals that Lehnsherr was responsible for paralyzing Xavier in 1962, and that their friendship ended immediately after.
- Dr. Moira MacTaggert is first introduced in a brief cameo in X-Men: The Last Stand, where she's a British scientist who has apparently been friendly with Charles Xavier for years. In this film, which takes place about 40 years before the rest of the series, she's an American CIA agent who has her memories of Xavier erased at the end of the movie.
- X-Men states that Magneto built his psychic-proof helmet around the time that Senator Kelly's Mutant Registration Act led him to ramp up the Brotherhood's terrorist campaign, since he knew that Xavier was tracking him. This movie establishes that he's had his helmet since the 1960s, and that he originally stole it from Sebastian Shaw. Perhaps he meant an upgraded version to keep up with Cerebro.
- X-Men Origins: Wolverine features a brief appearance by Kayla Silver Fox's sister: a blonde-haired woman who's clearly intended to be Emma Frost (she has Emma's ability to turn her body into organic diamond, and is listed as "Emma" in the final credits). This film explicitly introduces Emma Frost as a major character—who's around the same age as the character in Origins (even though the two films take place 15 years apart), has psychic powers that were never mentioned in Origins, and never gives any indication that she's related to Kayla Silver Fox.
- Despite both being major characters with top billing, Professor Xavier and Mystique never seem to directly interact with each other in the original trilogy, and they never give any indication that they have a history. Since this movie reveals that Mystique is Xavier's foster sister and they grew up together which means that Xavier has known her even longer than he's known Erik Lehnsherr.
- Continuity Nod: The first scene with Erik in the camp is mostly identical to the first scene of X-Men, even down to some of the shots.
- Continuity Snarl: The movie steps on the toes of almost all the previous movies (Matthew Vaughn admitted that it's an Ultimate Universe).
- Xavier has his spinal injury much younger than he apparently did in either X-Men Origins: Wolverine or X-Men: The Last Stand, and Magneto has his break with Xavier in the 60s before most of the characters from the other movies are even born, despite the scene in The Last Stand of him visiting young Jean Grey along with an noticeably elderly and mobile Xavier (not to mention Xavier getting his injury still with hair, while all his previous younger appearances had him bald and mobile).
- Xavier also initially gets Cerebro from the CIA and Beast rather than building it himself with Magneto, though that Cerebro is destroyed in Shaw's attack on the CIA, and a new one located at the mansion would have been needed anyway. note
- Magneto obtains the helmet from Shaw and Xavier is fully aware of how it blocks telepathy; in X-Men, Xavier is shocked at Magneto's helmet being able to block his telepathy.
- And regarding the Cerebro montage, Cyclops is a teenager in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and in his late 30s/early 40s in the original trilogy, which, if one does the math, would put him at infancy or at most, toddler age in the early 1960s, not the pre-teen (with an approximately 20 years old brother) we see playing ball. Ditto for the girl made to resemble Storm, who looks like she's a teenager in this film.
- Charles and Erik briefly have a run-in with Wolverine, despite the original movie seeming to depict them meeting him for the very first time in the 2000's. Wolverine not remembering them is explained away by his memory loss at the end of X-Men Origins: Wolverine but it still creates the question of why neither Charles nor Magneto remember him or explain that they've met before. However, they only met for about five seconds, and they didn't even look him directly in the eye, so after twenty years it makes sense they would have trouble remembering him.
- There is one thing that inexplicably matches up, however; if Banshee was a teenager in the mid-sixties, it makes sense that Siryn, who is canonically his daughter, appears in the original trilogy.
- Emma Frost has a fairly significant role in X-Men Origins: Wolverine as a teenager, is now an adult a good thirty years earlier, in a completely different role, with additional powers, and playing for the opposite side. Xavier makes no comment about the resemblance when he sees her in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. note
- In X-Men, Professor X claims he and Magneto first met when the former was 17. This film has their first meeting in 1962, but prior to this shows a younger Charles Xavier aged around eleven alive and well in 1944.
- Hank McCoy becomes Beast in this film, but is shown on a television screen (in human form) in X2: X-Men United, talking to Sebastian Shaw, who should be dead.
- The discovery of the mutant gene is new (and eventually leads to America and Russia uniting to kill mutants) in 1962 in this film, but Congress is surprised and shocked by the existence of mutants in the "present day" of X-Men, which happens 40 years later.
- In this movie, it is established that Mystique and Prof. X grew up together. Seems odd that she would be so casual about attempting to kill him in X-Men and at no point did Charles express any real knowledge of her outside of being Magneto's lackey.
- Matthew Vaughn, director of the movie, stated he tried to fit with only the trilogy instead of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Too bad Fox and the makers of said movie's Blu-Ray didn't listen, and the Cerebro bonus feature profiling most mutants try to put all 5 films in the same timeline (as mentioned above, Emma Frost◊ is the most senseless).
- In order to make the ages work, Beast would have had to be 60 or so years old during the events of X-Men: The Last Stand (Kelsey Grammer was 51 during filming); meanwhile, X2: X-Men United Hank looks much younger.
- Days of Future Past eventually solves the problem by providing a Cosmic Retcon that explicitly removes The Last Stand from continuity along with every other movie that occurs after First Class. Word of God is that Origins: Wolverine is also officially Canon Discontinuity since there is simply no way to fit it into the continuity of the prequels.
- Contrived Coincidence:
- Raven must have reasoned "big house=lots of food" because that's the only way to explain how she met Charles.
- Schmidt/Shaw working with the Nazis to perform genetic experiments upon prisoners makes sense, but what are the odds he'd be in the very same prison camp as a young Erik?
- Cool Boat: Sebastian Shaw's submarine is pretty normal on the outside, but on the inside it's very cool looking. And we're not even going into the nuclear device he's hiding in the room full of mirrors. Also it gets lifted out of the water by Magneto, so that's cool.
- Cooldown Hug: Charles does this to Erik to save his life when the latter almost drowns himself trying to lift Shaw's submarine for the first time. Also comes with liberal applications of telepathic persuasion since they are both under water at the time.
- Cool Gun:
- Moira MacTaggert uses a Walther PPK as her sidearm.
- An M1911A1 is featured prominently in a scene in which Magneto asks Xavier to shoot him in the head, as he can stop the bullet before it hits him.
- Cool Plane: The Blackbird, of course. It's the most advanced plane in the world!
- Counting to Three: Having witnessed his metal-bending powers in moments of stress, Dr Klaus Schmidt calmly informs Erik Lehnsherr that he's going to shoot his mother at the count of three unless he moves a coin. Only a child at the time, Erik fails to do so and his mother gets shot. As an adult Erik hunts down Dr. Schmidt, now the Big Bad of the movie, Sebastian Shaw. Erik announces that he's going to move the coin (which he's kept all these years) on the count of three. He then uses his powers to slowly push it through Shaw's head and out the other side.
- Cradling Your Kill: An interesting variation of this, which is more like "Cradling Your Cripple," happens when Charles Xavier receives his spinal injury. Moira MacTaggert tried to shoot Magneto after his Face-Heel Turn and he ends up deflecting one of the bullets into Charles, hitting him in the lower back. Erik Lehnsherr runs over and cradles him in his lap until he realises that Charles isn't likely to die. Magneto and his new minions are long gone before Charles voices that he can't feel his legs.
- Create Your Own Villain: Played with. It's the Big Bad who creates the villain, not The Hero. It's Lampshaded in Shaw's final monologue, and in Erik's references to himself as Frankenstein's Monster. It was Charles, however, who teaches Erik how to use his powers to their full potential.
- Crucified Hero Shot: Inverted. This happens twice (once to Emma Frost and again with Sebastian Shaw) and neither of them are heroes.
- Cunning Linguist: Erik is fluent in German, English, French and Spanish. This is consistent with the comics, where he has been shown speaking French, and knowing Spanish isn't much of a stretch for someone like him.
- Curb-Stomp Battle:
- Shaw and his cronies' first attack on the CIA facility—the entire staff of the base is killed, almost entirely by Azazel repeating the same brutal tactic, one by one, on each human at the base, with no way to stop him until all are dead.
- Riptide is immediately taken down by Havok when the two teams fight, and is subsequently buried under a wall of metal by Magneto.
- Sebastian Shaw casually sends Erik Lehnsherr flying across the room several times by merely tapping him. In desperation, Erik tries to use metal to restrain Shaw, but Shaw casually tears through it and pins him against a wall. Erik only wins because Shaw stops to give him a We Can Rule Together speech. Erik then takes the opportunity to knock away Shaw's helmet, allowing Charles Xavier to paralyze Shaw with his mental abilities.
- Cute Monster Girl: Mystique is an endearing little blue girl when Charles first meets her.
- Dare to Be Badass: Charles Xavier, one by one takes his motley crew of mutants and gets them to reach their true potential, none more memorable than Erik Lehnsherr. He literally dares him to use his powers to turn a giant satellite dish located at least a mile away. Especially poignant because Erik up to that point was impressed with his own ability to deflect bullets and control smaller metal objects. He never considered doing anything greater than that until Charles suggested it.
- Darker and Edgier: The movie beats X2: X-Men United to the title of the most dramatic, heart-wrenching, and pessimistic in the series.
- Dartboard of Hate: Erik Lehnsherr, as an adult, is looking at a map containing pictures, he then toys with the concentration-camp coin from his childhood, and then magnetically tosses it right at a picture of Dr. Klaus Schmidt, hitting it cleanly through. This also serves as foreshadowing, since in the end of the movie Erik kills Sebastian Shaw in the exact same way.
- Deadpan Snarker:
- Banshee does have some nifty lines.
Raven: We should come up with secret codenames, we're secret agents now! I'll start, I'm gonna be Mystique.
Sean: Damn! I wanted to be called Mystique!
- Erik upon seeing the mansion Charles grew up in.
Erik: Honestly Charles, I don't know how you survived living in such hardship.
- Freakiness Shame:
- Magneto wins over Mystique and several of the other mutants by accepting and reveling in their mutations rather than preferring them to be mainline. Internal categorization at its finest as he even prefers Beast with a more extreme mutation while Beast is self-loathing.
- This is also how Xavier ends up adopting Mystique as a sister. She's the first mutant he meets and he is amazed that there are other mutants in the world. However, when they're adults he prefers her to stay looking human and, when asked flat-out, clearly shows he doesn't regard her true form as attractive. This is also seemingly what Beast and Mystique bond over when they form a relationship (rather than mock his large feet, she is impressed by his reflexes and stands up for him), but ultimately subverted on Beast's part when he says that he finds Mystique's human form attractive, but not her true form.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: When Xavier connects to Cerebro, some familiar mutants from the comics can be seen if you pause, with a young Storm being the most notable.
- Friendless Background/Lonely Rich Kid: Since Raven is explicitly stated to be Charles' oldest and only friend, that means prior to their meeting, he had difficulty connecting with other children despite growing up in the lap of luxury. X-Men: Days of Future Past elaborates on this a little further by revealing that Xavier was considered to be "crazy" in between the ages of 9 and 12 due to the voices in his head, and was therefore a social pariah among his peers.
- Funny Background Event: Combined with a Brick Joke, Amy (the first woman that Charles tries to pick up at the beginning of the movie) shows up at his graduation party and smiles at him—then Moira MacTaggert cuts in front to talk with Charles. Behind them, Amy leaves in a huff because she's annoyed that Xavier would rather chat with Moira than with her.
- Futile Hand Reach: Erik first manifests his power when he was doing this as a gate closes between him and his parents.
- Future Shadowing: Charles Xavier is hilariously fond of the hair he loses by the time of the other films.
- Genius Bruiser: Hank goes from being a Badass Bookworm at the beginning to being a Genius Bruiser toward the end. This is because he injected himself with something that utterly transformed his appearance.
- Genre Shift: The film incorporates many elements of the Spy Fiction genre. For instance, the proto X-Men work for the CIA for Cold War business. This sort of thing is absent in previous installments.
- Gentleman and a Scholar: Xavier is well-educated and carries some characteristics of a Quintessential British Gentleman.
- Give Geeks a Chance: Raven is incredibly forward with Hank, the Adorkable engineer. Unfortunately, he's too caught up in angsting over being a mutant.
- Gone Horribly Right: Sebastian Shaw wanted to awaken Erik's powers and turn him into a Person of Mass Destruction. Serves him right.
- Gone Horribly Wrong: Hank's serum doesn't make his feet look like a standard human's. It transforms him into Beast.
- Good Flaws, Bad Flaws:
- Although the writers wanted to present Xavier as a very different person when he was young man, they can't give him too many negative traits because the character is still the Big Good of the franchise, so one of his "good" flaws includes being a womanizer.
- McCoy, who we learn in The Last Stand is one of Charles' closest friends (and therefore his personality can't be changed too drastically), gets lack of self-confidence as one of his primary faults.
- Good Samaritan: As a kid, Charles generously offers food and a place to stay to a hungry and homeless young Raven.
- Grew a Spine: This is a big part of Raven's character development. The downside is she joins the wrong side in doing so, foresaking the only family she's ever known.
- Hall of Mirrors: A variation occurs during the climax. Shaw uses a specially designed room that blocks him from Charles' telepathy. It just so happens to be a room of mirrors, implying the telepathic version of this trope. When Erik enters the room to confront him, he has no trouble spotting Shaw, nor does Shaw try to use the reflections to hide. Interestingly enough, once the room is damaged, Charles is able to use his telepathy and help Erik defeat him.
- Have You Tried Not Being a Monster?: The film has been confirmed by Word of God to include gay-rights themes. Charles and Erik look like average humans and have passing privilege, but have still strongly affected their lives. Raven, on the other hand, can pass for "normal" at the cost of it being very exhausting and undermines her self-confidence, making her somewhat of a metaphor for a transgender person. Raven's comparison is even explained through a conversation with Erik — she doesn't have to perfectly "pass" as a non-mutant woman to be beautiful and have worth.
- Heroic Bystander: When Charles realizes that no one on the US Coast Guard vessel is willing to help Erik, he dives into the dark, frigid ocean without hesitation to save the life of a drowning stranger.
- Heroic Heelization Speech: Magneto has one of these when Sebastian Shaw tells him that all of the torture and abuse he put him through in a concentration camp only made him stronger, and that it's mutantkind's destiny to rule over humans.
"I'd like you to know that I agree with every word you said. [...] Unfortunately, you killed my
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Considering that Charles Xavier's and Erik Lehnsherr's friendship only lasted a few months, it was unusually intimate on an emotional level.
- He Who Fights Monsters: Magneto hates Shaw and wants to kill him, but he eventually embraces Shaw's beliefs about mutant supremacy. It's even spelled out through the villain wearing the same helmet that Magneto is associated with. It's justified at the crucial moment because he separates revenge from his ideals, which is why he's able to compliment Shaw's vision while still hating the man to his core. Shaw the man wronged him terribly, but Shaw the visionary is inspirational.
- Hide Your Otherness: Fearful of humanity's negative reaction to mutants, Charles and Hank firmly live by this philosophy. Raven was initially influenced by her foster brother, but she has already grown frustrated with concealing her blue form in public when we first see her as an adult.
- High Heel-Face Turn: Inverted; both female mutants working with Xavier have turned to the dark side by the time the movie is over, and, aside from Magneto, are the only ones to do so.
- Hollywood Nerd:
- Averted by Charles Xavier, who is stunningly attractive... and is aware of it. In fact, in his first scene as a grown man, he is seen using nerd-talk to pick up coeds in a bar.
- Played straight with Hank McCoy, who is like an introverted version of Charles. All the brilliance, all the attractiveness, but none of his telepathic gift with people.
- Homoerotic Subtext:
- According to co-screenwriters Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz in the "Second Genesis" featurette (which was included on the DVD/Blu-Ray release), this movie is essentially a love story between Charles and Erik, with Raven and Hank being the Beta Couple:
Miller: The story between Charles and Erik is on some level this tragic romance. You gotta arrange the other elements in that way, too.
Stentz: Yeah, in this case you have Hank and you have Raven who end up being kind of the B-story version of the same thing you're seeing playing out with Charles and Erik. It's the making and breaking of a relationship.
- In the rare "Magneto the Survivor" featurette (see the Bonus Material entry), First Class producer Simon Kinberg refers to Professor X's and Magneto's separation as a divorce when he discusses their older counterparts.
"What I love between Ian [McKellen] and Patrick [Stewart] in X1, 2, 3 is the sense that they're disappointed in each other. They actually wish that the other one would just come back to them, come back to their side, you know, 'we could be so great together.' It really is a post-divorce story. Understanding the origin of their conflict was the thing that was most interesting to me in this film. Understanding the beginning of their political fissure and their emotional fissure."
- James McAvoy called the movie a "love story" between Xavier and Magneto, even though, when pressed for clarification, he admitted they were not gay. The film certainly concentrated heavily on the two's relationship, and the final scene, in which the two split and their surrogate children chose sides, played out like a couple's divorce.
McAvoy: It is a little bit of a mini-tragedy that [Xavier] and Magneto don't, you know, have sex and become married and become best friends.
- Honey Trap: Emma Frost does this with the Russian general.
- Hope Spot: For a second, you're led to believe that Darwin might just survive. It's so effective we have a WMG saying that he did.
- Hot Scientist/Hot Teacher: Professor Charles Xavier shamelessly uses his charm, looks and technobabble to pick up women at Oxford.
- Hotter and Sexier: Who knew that Charles Xavier was a charming, Pretty Boy cad or that Erik Lenhnsherr was a brooding, Tall, Dark and Handsome "bad boy" during their youth? This film also provides the most scantily-clad females in the entire franchise.
- Humans Are Bastards: Mutants are not well-treated in this film, to the point where Xavier's attempts to justify keeping the peace with normals basically boil down to "okay, they suck, but as the Superior Species, can't we set a good example?" Of course, it was the 60s, which was just plain bigoted in general. The film's Big Bad (Sebastian Shaw) is a mutant, as are his followers, so humans don't hold a monopoly on being bastards.
- Shaw says "We don't hurt our own kind." A few scenes later, he kills Darwin and later on presumably orders his team to kill Xavier's X-Men during the Cuba battle; he also isn't averse to beating up Erik.
- Charles uses "mutant and proud" as part of his pick-up lines, which are basically a very erudite variation on "you have pretty (insert trait here)", in the presence of his foster sister, who has been actively discouraged by Charles from taking any pride in her mutation.
- Also when criticizing the first team for making a party and using their powers for playing, something he was doing in the beginning of the film. They were teenagers who just entered a group where none of them would be considered freaks, what did he expect?!note
- A more assertive Raven expects Charles to fully accept her mutant form, yet she still insists that he can't read her mind, which clearly indicates that she's not completely comfortable with her foster brother's gift.
- I Am a Monster: Erik calls himself Frankenstein's Monster, believing that it was Shaw's (whom he views as his "creator") experiments which turned him into a freak of nature.
- I Am Very British: This movie attempts to explain why Xavier (who is American in the comics) has a Received Pronunciation accent. He is half-British, half-American (or alternately, he's fully British, but his family moved to the United States before World War II broke out in 1939), and his speech pattern was influenced by his posh English mother. It was later reinforced when he studied at the University of Oxford.
- I Can Rule Alone: Magneto agreed with everything Sebastian Shaw said, but unfortunately, Shaw killed his mother.
- I Can't Feel My Legs: In a state of shock, Xavier says this multiple times after being shot in the back. Given the character is usually best known for A. his psychic powers, B. being bald, and C. being confined to a wheelchair, this is more or less a Foregone Conclusion. However, that does not make the moment any less of a Tear Jerker.
- If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him/You Kill It, You Bought It: Magneto kills Shaw and becomes the new face of the mutant revolution. They even share a helmet.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: Hank's and initially Mystique's reaction to their mutant forms.
"I'd give anything to just be normal."
- I Kiss Your Hand: A non-romantic version with foster siblings Charles Xavier and Raven/Mystique when Mystique has decided to leave with Magneto and the injured Charles kisses her hand in farewell.
- I Love Nuclear Power: Sebastian Shaw believes that mutants are the "Children of the Atom," and are therfore immune to radiation. This is why he plans to turn the Cold War nuclear, convinced that the radiation will wipe out humanity, but spare mutants.
- I'm Having Soul Pains: When Erik kills Shaw by slowly pushing a coin through his head Charles is in Shaw's head, keeping him from moving or using his powers. He shares all the physical pain of the entry wound as well as FEELING a mind die.
- Impaled Palm: Erik Perp Sweating the ex-Nazi in Argentina.
Erik: (reading what's engraved on the knife) Blood and Honor. Which would you care to shed first?
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: When Havok starts to practice controlling his powers, he first ends up shooting everything EXCEPT his intended target. While he really was trying to aim, he couldn't control the sheer force of his powers yet. After some training, he becomes much better at targeting and controlling his blasts.
- Implied Love Interest:
- The relationship between Magneto and Mystique is a little vague.
- Sebastian Shaw and Emma Frost; his term of endearment for her is "love," and he calls her "the most exquisite thing I've ever seen in my life." There's also this line:
Emma Frost: If that telepath gets inside your head, he won't be as much fun as I am.
- Improvised Training: Xavier uses whatever he can find on or near his estate to train the young mutants. This includes using the family's bomb shelter as a shooting range, the path around the mansion as a track field, and the huge satelite nearby to push Erick's limits.
- In Love with Your Carnage:
- Sebastian Shaw bursts into laughter and shouts stuff like "Wonderful!" and "Excellent!" when Erik Lehnsherr as a boy slaughters all of Shaw's men and trashes his office. Later, they meet when Erik is an adult, and Shaw honestly compliments him on how powerful he has become, even calling him his son.
- It's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment, but Charles' face glows with delight◊ when he witnesses Erik using the anchor of Shaw's boat as a destructive tool.
- In Name Only:
- The film has nothing to do with the comic book of the same name and features entirely different origins for many of the characters. Despite this, the movie was very well-received by critics and was a hit at the box office.
- A notable aspect is the complete reinvention of one character in particular, Azazel. Azazel in the comics is an immortal mutant/demon warlord who was banished to another dimension because he looked and acted like the devil and got many women pregnant to have an army of children to free him...somehow. In the film, he's a Russian Knife Nut who looks like the devil but other than killing a few people, doesn't act like it. He instead appears more like his Son, Nightcrawler, only red and evil. This is not a bad thing, and as he original was so despised, the film gave the character a well welcomed overhaul.
- Innocent Blue Eyes: Charles Xavier's bright blue irises represent his goodness and naïvety. After the events of the film, he is still as idealistic, but has been rather blind-sided by reality and is much more cautious and reserved.
- Insane Troll Logic: Shaw's plan is built on this: mutants are "the children of the atom" (even though he and at least three other mutants manifested their mutations before the Trinity test, let alone Hiroshima), so starting a nuclear war would increase their power and allow them to rule the world (even though most mutants don't have powers that would allow them to survive either a nuclear strike or the resulting fallout).
- Instant Death Bullet: Erik Lehnsherr's mother is shot dead with a handgun right in front of him to try and force the young Magneto to manifest and draw on his mutant powers.
- Ironic Echo:
- "First, I'm going to count to three. Then, you're/I'm going to move the coin."
- "Mutant and proud."
- "Just following orders."
- It Has Been an Honor: The commanders of the American and Soviet fleets both say this to their crews when Magneto redirects their missiles back at them, although they eventually survived.
Soviet commander: Comrades, thank you for your service.
- It's Personal: Erik wants revenge on Shaw/Schmidt for killing his mother. One of the reasons it feels like Erik is the hero of the film.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Platonic version—Charles sends Mystique off with Erik at the end, knowing it's what she really wants.
- I Was Quite a Looker:
- Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Erik interrogates a bank President by using his magnetic powers to pull out the older man's dental fillings. Later, he cracks Emma Frost's diamond body in such a way that a gentle tap would shatter her if she turned back before having time to heal.
- Jerkass: Although the CIA staff in general acts like jerks most of the time, the worst is William Stryker Sr. What makes him most deserving of this trope is that John McCone, himself sexist and a hot headed jerk, actually calls out against Stryker twice, first in regards to his decision to keep Emma Frost detained (since the law requires that they hand her over), and the second when Stryker decides to have the American and Soviet navies bombard the Cuban shore to eliminate the mutants specifically because one of their human agents was present as well. Both times, he dismissed him, stating that he's not handing her over because the law doesn't apply to mutants, and in the latter case insensitively stated that the agent was "collateral damage."
- Jerk Jock: Havok feels like this to Hank; the athlete picking on the science guy.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
- John McCone, like most of the CIA members (barring Moira MacTaggert and the Man in Black) behaving like a jerk, as well as being somewhat sexist. However, despite this, he calls out against more Jerk Ass members of the CIA whenever they are doing completely Jerk Ass things (specifically the top brass member William Stryker Sr., when he was keeping Emma Frost incarcerated in what was implied to be an unlawful incarceration practice, and when Stryker decided to have both the US and Soviet forces bombard the shores of Cuba with missiles to eliminate the mutants despite the fact that a human CIA agent [even if she's female] is present on the island with them.)
- Havok bullies Hank and is generally pretty abrasive. Later, he sticks by his friends when Shaw comes, and grows to like and respect Hank.
- Just a Kid: When Magneto, of all people, suggests that he and Xavier train the young mutants to fight Sebastian Shaw and the Hellfire Club.
Xavier: They're just kids.
: No. They were
- Just Following Orders: The Nazis that Erik confronts trot out this line as an excuse for their actions. Charles later makes the mistake of echoing it while trying to calm Magneto down. Definitely an Oh, Crap moment for the audience when he says it.
- Just The Way You Are: Erik is able to persuade Raven to his side with this trope, and finds her mutant appearance to be "perfection," in contrast to Charles and Hank, who feel she should look more "normal" to gain acceptance within society.
- Karma Houdini: About half of the Hellfire Club get off scot-free in the end. William Stryker Sr. also faces no consequences for unlawful actions (keeping Emma Frost in a secret prison) and the unethical and horribly unwise decision to have both the Soviets and the Americans bombard the Cuban shore to get rid of mutants despite one of their own human agents being located there (both actions are things that even John McCone, who was a certified jerk, called him out on).
- In the sequel, Emma, Azazel, Riptide, and Angel all fall victim to a Bus Crash.
- Karmic Death: Magneto kills Shaw by telemagnetically pushing a coin through his brain. It was the very same coin that Erik was commanded to move as a child to prevent Schmidt from killing his mother; Erik failed and Shaw shot his mother. Magneto even gives an Ironic Echo of what Schmidt said to taunt his victim.
- Karmic Transformation: Hank's transformation into Beast is tragic, but he brought it on himself. He makes it a little more karmic by being a complete asshole to Raven just before using it. She tells him he's perfect just the way he is and doesn't need the "cure," and he responds with:
Hank: It behooves me to tell you that even if we save the world tomorrow, and mutants are accepted into society, my feet and your natural blue form will never be deemed beautiful.
(Raven shifts back to her human-looking morph.)
Hank: You look beautiful now.
- Bonus points for his mutation being relatively minor, before it becomes much more pronounced after taking the serum and also that he uses it on himself as the first test subject, without even considering that it might turn out wrong. It's not like there's a big potential pool of test subjects for something like this, but given his state of mind, would he care?
- Kick the Morality Pet: The film includes a dramatic confrontation where Magneto is deflecting bullets from Moira MacTaggert trying to stop him from destroying the US and Soviet fleets. One of the bullets flies off and hits Charles in the spine. For a moment, there's a look of pure horror and guilt on Erik's face, then he decides it was Moira's fault. Xavier vocally disagrees and talks him down by playing on the other man's guilt.
- The Lancer: Erik serves this role to Charles for much of the film. They specifically fulfill the Anti-Hero and All-Loving Hero dynamic.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Charles uses a kiss goodbye to wipe out Moira's memories the last few weeks, and of where he and the newly formed X-Men are. This is notably against his current philosophy in the comics, but very much in keeping with his modus operandi in the comics produced in the early 1960s.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Erik kills Shaw with the very same coin that "Dr. Schmidt" killed his mother over.
- Lean and Mean: Erik doesn't have an ounce of fat on his body. It's justified in that he's a Holocaust survivor who lived on the road for years and efficiently kills nazis.
- Erik's guitar theme forms the core of "Not That Sort of Bank" and "Frankenstein's Monster," before finally blasting into the bombastic "Magneto" at the end of the film.
- The X-Men: First Class theme (besides the two eponymous tracks "First Class" and "X-Men") plays heavily in "Cerebro" and "X-Training," and heartwarmingly shows up for Erik in "Sub Lift."
- When listening to the complete score on the Blu-Ray release, Charles is associated with a simple orchestral violin melody which gradually evolves into the X-Men: First Class theme. This makes perfect sense because he's the leader of the group. "Rage and Serenity" is actually a combination of Charles' and Erik's themes.
- Raven's piano theme shows up in "Would You Date Me?" and "To Beast or Not to Beast."
- Edith Piaf's "La Vie en Rose" for Sebastian Shaw.
- Let's Get Dangerous: The newly recruited mutants panic when Shaw's experienced killers rip through their CIA guards. Then Shaw makes the mistake of killing Darwin so the survivors elect to stay and fight.
- Light Is Not Good: Emma Frost, (scantily) clad in white and able to turn her body into a mass of shining diamonds, but she has no discernible morals.
- Like Brother and Sister: Charles cites this when Raven, feeling insecure about her looks, asks if he would date her... although it falls a little flat coming right after he's answered the question with "of course" in reference to her human form, before she clarifies that she means in her real form. (Charles is being a bit obvious in invoking the trope as the film establishes that she is indeed his foster sister.)
- Lingerie Scene: Moira's Hellfire Club infiltration technique.
- Little "No": To avert World War III, Charles forces the Russians to fire on their own transport ship; neither side knows that the crew is already dead. Azazel is at the helm and lets out a short "nyet" before teleporting away just before the missile hits.
- London England Syndrome:
- "Geneva, Switzerland," "Villa Gesell, Argentina" and "Moscow, Russia." (In 1962, it should have been called "Moscow, USSR," as Russia was only a Republic within the Soviet Union.)
- A variation which features a specific location and country is "Oxford University, England" (the correct term is the formal "University of Oxford").
- Love Triangle: Raven and Hank hit it off almost instantly, but the moment he refuses to accept his mutant form (and her mutant form) drives her to attempt to seduce Magneto, who prefers her natural appearance just the way it is.
- Macross Missile Massacre: During the climactic scene at the Cuban waters, the American and Soviet Navy decide to bombard the shore with the mutants with their rockets and missiles AND complimentary shelling thrown in. Of course, at that point Magneto has just recently developed his control over his own power, so one can imagine what a spiteful Magneto was going to do right after.
- Mad Doctor: The film starts in a Nazi camp where a certain doctor is interested in mutants...
- Make Me Wanna Shout: Banshee's mutation involves making very powerful sound waves that can break glass (among other things). They're also very effective at locating things underwater, in similar variant of echolocation. In an unusual variation, this includes the power of flight, by bouncing sound waves off the ground back into a wingsuit.
- Manipulative Bastard: Sebastian Shaw. In addition to being an extremely powerful, he is very adept at seducing other mutants to his cause with promises of liberation and the opportunity to tap into powers beyond their wildest dreams. Likewise, he successfully manipulates the leaders of the U.S. and Soviet Union into undertaking increasingly aggressive actions (missiles in Turkey and Cuba) until both are at the threshold of nuclear annihilation.
- Manly Tears:
- Both Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr do this in a rather touching scene where the latter is learning to control his powers through something other than rage. By telepathically finding one of Erik's happiest childhood memories, Charles helps him to see that true focus lies between "rage and serenity." Cue the tears as they both experience a bittersweet memory of Erik's long-dead mother on welcoming in their Sabbath.
- After Charles gets shot, there is a particularly heartbreaking moment when he has to tell Erik that no, they do not want the same things when it comes to mutants and humans. Cue the Manly Tears on his part. It's an indicator of how the two men have grown apart that Erik's face just blanks of emotion in response.
- Marquee Alter Ego: Both Mystique (now played by Jennifer Lawrence) and Beast (Nicholas Hoult) spend more time in human guise than in their blue skinned/furred forms.
- Master Race: How Sebastian Shaw and Magneto see mutants as a whole.
- Meaningful Echo:
- Raven/Mystique encountering Charles in a kitchen in her true form when they first meet. However, the second time shows how they have both changed and starting to grow apart in ideals. Bonus for them switching positions. The first time, it was Raven by the fridge with Charles walking in. The second time was Charles by the fridge with Raven walking in.
- Also, shortly after they first meet, when Erik's about to go off on his own again, Charles tells him, "Shaw's got friends. You could use some!" Later, after Shaw's attack on the CIA when Charles wants to send the new mutant recruits home, Erik tells him "Shaw's got his army, we need ours."
- One of the Nazis Erik tortures in Argentina says he was only obeying orders (re the Final Solution). When Xavier says this to stop Erik from killing the sailors who just fired on them, it turns out to be the wrong thing to say.
- Meaningful Look:
- Charles and Erik exchange numerous glances throughout the movie, which are indicative of their closeness.
- After Raven insinuates that Alex's manhood may be small in response to the latter's mocking of Hank's feet, Raven and Hank look at each other; the former silently says, "I'm on your side," while the latter quietly expresses his gratitude.
- Men Don't Cry: Averted with both Charles and Erik, who cry visible Manly Tears.
- Mental Affair: Emma Frost uses a Jedi Mind Trick on a Russian General to make him think he's having sex with her while she's actually sitting on his couch watching him make love to empty air on the bed. Charles thought that was a nice trick.
- Mentor Archetype: Sebastian Shaw to Magneto. Professor X to the team. Magneto to Mystique.
- Mind Over Manners: The much younger, less disciplined Xavier had no problem using his powers on anyone whenever it was convenient for him. That being said, he did promise Raven that he wouldn't read her mind, and he did ask for Erik's permission before searching for the brightest corner of his friend's memory system.
- Mind Rape: Emma Frost uses her telepathy to bring out Erik's memories of being tortured by Sebastian Shaw as a child in Auschwitz.
- A Minor Kidroduction: The film starts with Charles Xavier and Raven Darkholme as children, and recaps a young Erik Lehnsherr in the concentration camp.
- Misfit Mobilization Moment: After circumstances force them to leave the CIA facility, the kids realize that they have to get their act together and learn to use and control their powers and work as a team.
- Missing Trailer Scene: The movie doesn't include an inspirational line of dialogue from Charles who tells Erik that "A new species is being born. Help me guide it, shape it, lead it." Moreover, there is no Meaningful Look between the two of them as they walk towards Alex's prison cell.
- Mistaken for Spies: When Charles demonstrates his telepathy to the CIA by revealing what they're thinking at that moment, they accuse him of espionage, since they can't believe he could have found out any other way. Luckily, Raven is present to demonstrate her shapeshifting abilities.
- Mook Carryover: Magneto inherits Sebastian Shaw's henchmen after his Face-Heel Turn.
- Mook Horror Show:
- What the CIA agents and guards experience when their compound is assaulted by the Hellfire Club.
- And the Soviet soldiers suddenly attacked by barbed wire.
- Morally Bankrupt Banker: Erik interrogates a Swiss banker whose bank is responsible for storing Nazi Gold, and who knows the location of a high-ranking former Nazi.
- Moral Myopia: Sebastian Shaw tells Erik the justification for his plan to start a nuclear war that would probably kill hundreds of millions or billions of people. Erik then says, "I agree with everything you say. Unfortunately, you killed my mother." Erik then kills him in a Karmic Death.
- The Mountains of Illinois: Erik seeks the guy who killed his mom at the concentration camp in Argentina. The name given is Villa Gessell, but while the movie shows a Bariloche-like mountain city, it is actually a beach.◊
- Movie Superheroes Wear Black: This an Averted Trope. The film has the X-Men back in yellow suits, inspired in equal part by the team's uniforms during their earliest comic appearances and the New X-Men suits. Though, they're made of more practical material than the spandex/cloth look of the comics, and there are no masks. Magneto also appears at the end with his trademark red costume and helmet.
- Ms. Fanservice: Every female character in the film qualifies.
- January Jones of Mad Men fame as Emma Frost.
- Jennifer Lawrence as Raven/Mystique.
- Very briefly an uncredited Rebecca Romijn as Raven/Mystique.
- Rose Byrne as an FBI agent going undercover in lingerie.
- Zoe Kravitz as Angel. Justified, as she used to work as a stripper prior to joining the X-Men and she needs her back open to use her wings.
- Mugging the Monster: Subverted. When young Erik goes on a crushing spree in Shaw's office after the murder of his mother, his random attacks never reach Shaw, since he has neither the control to aim them nor the immediate metal on Shaw's person to offset that weakness. Even if he had the chance, though, Shaw's powers would have easily stopped Erik from harming him.
- Mundane Utility:
- Shaw makes Emma Frost use her ability to turn into diamond to chip off an ice cube for his drink.
- Teleporters can certainly win fights via acrobatics and short-range 'porting a la X2, but Azazel's method of simply teleporting them half a mile up and letting gravity take over works just as well.
- Mythology Gag:
- The team's original lineup includes an "Angel", but it's Angel Salvadore (a comparatively minor character from the comics) instead of Warren Worthington note .
- A major character on the villains' side is revealed to have grown up with Xavier—though in this version it's Raven Darkholme (who's his foster sister in this version) instead of Cain Marko (who was his step-brother in the comics).
- Shaw referring to mutants as "Children of the Atom".
- Charles is quite protective of his hair.
- The Nazi Gold is a nod to Uncanny X-Men #161, which told the story of how Magneto and Xavier first met and parted ways. The issue was one of several stories in the comics which inspired this movie.
- The Name Is Bond, James Bond: Charles introduces himself to Amy in this manner.
Charles: The name's Xavier, Charles Xavier, how do you do?
- A Nazi by Any Other Name: Sebastian Shaw (who really was a Nazi during the second World War, going under the name "Klaus Schmidt") envisions his mutant-dominated society much as if it were he ruling over 1940s Germany. Ironically, his most scarred victim as a Nazi scientist, Erik "Magneto" Lehnsherr, finds Shaw's mutant supremacy views to be compatible with his own, despite the fact he spends the entire movie chasing the man in an effort to get revenge for killing his mother.
- Nazi Gold: Erik lays his hands on some Nazi gold and even trolls a Swiss bank manager with it.
- Nazi Grandpa: Aside from Sebastian Shaw, we see his two old associates here. Those Two Guys (credited as "The Pig Farmer" and "The Taylor") whom Erik killed while he's in Argentina. And possibly the bartender, too, since Erik killed him, too (Unless Erik killed him because He Knows Too Much).
- Nazi Hunter: Erik spends the first twenty minutes or so of his screentime tracking down and killing Nazis. In fact, his reason for joining the X-Men is so that he can find and kill Sebastian Shaw, the mutant Nazi who killed his mother.
- Nerd Glasses: Hank wears the horn-rimmed variety, which in his case is a visual cue that he's a geeky academic.
- Nerds Are Sexy: Charles Xavier has mastered the art of transforming his knowledge of genetics into successful flirtation methods.
- Never My Fault: Erik blames Moira for Xavier getting shot, even though she was aiming for Erik who deflected the bullet. Xavier then tells Erik that it wasn't her fault, but his. He quickly relents. And in general, it's only perfectly rational that he's dedicated his life to hunting down and brutally killing a series of individuals, to the point that he not only believes that these men are irredeemable, but that ALL humans are essentially just as bad, and hate mutants for what they are, secretly or openly. He's certainly not to blame for both his own descent into madness, nor single-handedly almost causing WWIII after just having prevented it. Given exactly WHO is responsible for his descent is a bit more valid of a Freudian Excuse than usual, even if it ends up with him being Not So Different, up to the point of agreeing with the primary target of his hunt.
- Nice Guy:
- Hank McCoy's very friendly, prefers to avoid conflict, and truly comes out of his shell when in his comfort zones, such as discussing science or assisting with the other students.
- Darwin is polite, friendly, and when things get rough he can be seen immediately moving to make himself a human shield for the other kids.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Charles and Moira do this to each other.
- Moira desperately shoots at Erik to stop/distract him from wiping out a combined Russian/American fleet, thus forcing him to deflect the bullets and one of which paralyzes Charles right next to him.
- Charles erases Moira's memory, clearly discrediting her within the CIA and possibly ruining her career. The fact that one of the few snatches of memory she has left is of their kiss is just the icing on the cake (see Deliberate Values Dissonance).
- Charles trains Erik, helping him improve his power. This backfires when he decides to turn into Magneto.
- Had Charles and Hank shown acceptance for Raven's true form, she might not have teamed up with Erik.
- Alex, when he tries to fight Shaw at the CIA base. He had no way of knowing the energy from his power was enough to destroy Darwin. It's made even worse when you consider that Shaw's power relies on an external source—he literally did not have the ability to kill Darwin until Alex attacked.
- No Body Left Behind: Darwin is vaporized immediately by the blast he took, and one of his teammates even said, "We can't even bury him."
- Nobody Touches the Hair: Charles Xavier uses this trope. This is an in-joke to fans, since anyone who is familiar with the series knows that he goes completely bald. Xavier uses the Cerebro prototype for the first time, and Hank struggles with fitting the electrodes on his head.
Hank: Are you sure we can't shave your head?
Charles: (annoyed) Don't touch my hair.
- No, Except Yes: Emma Frost interrupts the CIA Director and Stryker Sr. when they're discussing the possibility of a war. She prefers not to use that term; it implies that both sides have an equal chance of winning.
- No More for Me: After seeing Riptide demonstrate his power, Henry's reaction is to ask what the hell Shaw put in his drink.
- No Name Given:
- The government agent sent to liase with Xavier's team is only ever known as the Man in Black and is never given a name, not even in the credits.
- Riptide's real name and mutant name are never mentioned in the film.
- Non-Idle Rich: Xavier could live off his inheritance if he wished, but he's passionate about science, and his career goal before he is approached by the CIA is to become a professor of genetics.
- Non-Uniform Uniform: According to the Blu-Ray's "Children of the Atom" behind-the-scenes documentary, this was done purposefully, not only because the comics did so, but also because each member required something slightly different, like Xavier having more body armor (as The Leader), Magneto having less (since he can stop bullets), and Hank's collar being torn off to make room for his larger head and neck after he undergoes his Beast transformation.
- No Range Like Point-Blank Range: As requested by Erik, Charles holds the gun a couple of inches from his friend's forehead, but he can't bring himself to pull the trigger. Erik then grabs the barrel and places it right on the surface of his own skin, but Charles objects to the exercise and moves the firearm away.
- No Sell:
- Charles' mind reading doesn't work on Emma Frost when she's crystalline, so Erik uses his powers to weaken her.
- Shaw's helmet, later Magneto's, enables him to protect himself from Xavier's abilities. In the climax, he enters a psychic-proof chamber in his submarine, and he still wears the helmet. This turns out to be a perfectly sensible precaution.
- Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Michael Fassbender and Kevin Bacon make no attempt to make their characters sound German when they speak English. Possibly Justified in that both are established Cunning Linguists.
- Not Quite Flight: Sean's flight deals with using his supersonic screams to help him glide.
Hank: You need the sound waves to be supersonic. Catch them at the right angle and they should carry you.
Sean: They should carry me... that's reassuring.
- Not So Different:
- When Magneto confronts Sebastian Shaw at the end:
- Later, when Xavier is shot and Magneto is speaking to him, the following conversation takes place:
Magneto: Us turning on each other, it's what they want. I tried to warn you, Charles. I want you by my side. We're brothers, you and I. All of us together, protecting each other. We want the same thing.
Charles Xavier: Oh, my friend, I'm sorry, but we do not.
- In a good way, the American and Soviet sailors. Every scene with the American navy is almost immediately mirrored by the Soviet navy (or vice versa), showing that they had the same reaction or feelings. Both have a strong sense of honour and discipline and both are reluctant to shoot first and provoke World War III. The most obvious may be their It Has Been an Honor moment where Magneto fires their missiles back at them.
- Not Wearing Tights: This film makes the outfits look more superhero-ish than in the previous films. It's not skintight but it is more brightly colored, and ends with Magneto donning something that's somewhere between his classic outfit and his look in the main trilogy.
- Oblivious to Love: Charles doesn't notice that Raven harbours some non-sisterly feelings towards him.
- Obviously Evil: Azazel is designed like mainstream depictions of Satan.
- Oh, Crap:
- The faces of those Nazi Grandpas in Argentina when Erik reveals his numbered tattoo.
- Charles' expression when he accidentally outs Hank as a mutant.
- Frequently by humans when they witness mutant powers in action.
- Everyone on the American and Soviet vessels has this reaction when Magneto raises it out of the ocean.
- The look on Shaw's face when he realizes that Magneto isn't going to join him right after letting his guard down.
- For any audience member who knows what made it famous, the moment when the last line in Charles's 'please don't kill those people' speech to Erik is "they were just following orders."
- Magneto is horrified when he sees that Xavier has been shot in the back because he fears that his friend will die before his eyes just like Erik's own mother.
- Old Money: Charles Xavier was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He lives in a very Big Fancy House, there are servants (a maid is mentioned), and his mother is a snobby British Socialite who thinks so highly of herself that she never enters the kitchen of her own home. Charles' taste in material goods is often expressed in classic, Simple Yet Opulent ways, in contrast to the gaudy Conspicuous Consumption that we normally associate with the Nouveau Riche.
- Older Than They Look:
- Sebastian Shaw looks to be in his late forties or early fifties when Erik first meets him in 1944. He looks more or less the same when they meet again in 1962, a fact that he credits to his Energy Absorption powers.
- Raven appears to be around 20 years old (even in her blue form) even though her age should be closer to 30. Hank mentions that her mutation causes her to age at a slower rate.
- Only a Flesh Wound: Charles Xavier is shot in the back and remains conscious throughout the entire scene, albeit in great pain. Evidentally it wasn't just a flesh wound. The end result is premanent loss of the use of his legs.
- Only Friend:
- Near the beginning of the film, Raven points out to Charles that she is his only friend. Presumably an affable fellow like Xavier would have numerous acquaintances, but his sister figure is only person he fully trusts.
- Charles becomes this to Erik because the latter has spent his life on the hunt. Lehnsherr hasn't met anyone who could empathize with him since his mother died.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping:
- Origins Episode: Specifically for Magneto, Professor X, Mystique and Beast. This adventure is before the X-Men, before the Brotherhood, before the world at large knew about mutants. This is where it all started.
- Out-of-Character Alert: How kid Xavier pierces kid Mystique's disguise at the beginning of the film. She looks like his mother, but acts nothing like her. He confirms it with telepathy.
- Oxbridge: The University of Oxford is the alma mater of Charles Xavier, and there are several Oxford scenes shot on location. It is clear, however, that the writers did not do their research properly, as his claim that you don't get to be called a professor unless you have a teaching position is utterly untrue. A professor at a UK university is not the same thing as a professor at a US university, and at Oxford in particular, professors frequently do little to no teaching. Someone in his position would either be a Junior Research Fellow or, if so elected by his college, a Don.
- Parental Neglect: Charles' mother is hinted to be emotionally distant towards her son, which is why Raven's maternal act backfires spectacularly.
Charles: (telepathically communicates to Raven disguised as Mrs. Xavier) My mother has never set foot in this kitchen in her life, and she certainly never made me hot chocolate, unless you count ordering the maid to do it.
- Patrick Stewart Speech: During their chess game, Charles attempts to convince Erik that human beings are capable of great understanding, and that mutants should be patient, as "we have it in us to be the better men." Erik sceptically replies, "We already are."
- Pay Evil unto Evil: Much of the film is composed of Erik (later Magneto) doing this. He's Jewish, as a child he and his family are sent to Auschwitz, and a Nazi there (who we later find out is the mutant Sebastian Shaw) murders Erik's mother when Erik is unable to use his (latent) powers. As an adult, the first part of the film has Erik hunting down, torturing and murdering Nazis and their supporters. At the end of the movie he gives Shaw a very Karmic Death - the film clearly intends it to be a Jumping Off the Slippery Slope moment, but Shaw's such a dangerous madman that he deserves such a kick, especially as there's little reason to believe Shaw could be safely captured. Then the US and Soviet militaries try to murder the mutants who just saved them from nuclear war, and Erik turns their missiles back on them. Paying evil to evil is basically his personal philosophy, contrasting with Charles' pay-good-unto-evil-and-maybe-they'll-have-a-change-of-heart ethos (and influenced by the fact that Erik's seen a lot more of evil than Charles has at this point), and it's a substantial part of what ultimately separates them.
- Period Piece: 1962. Groovy.
- Person of Mass Destruction:
- Pet the Dog: John McCone, the Jerkass CIA director, calling Stryker out on having the beach bombed even though Moira is on it, saying "We have an agent there! A good one!" It makes one wonder if his "The CIA is no place for a woman!" remark toward her later is just to cover that he really cares.
- Pietà Plagiarism: Erik cradling a wounded Charles on the beach.
- Piggybacking on Hitler: Played with. Sebastian Shaw, alias Klaus Schmidt, jumped on the Nazi bandwagon mainly because it would further his research of mutation; however, he holds one of Nazism's tenets (Master Race and all that stuff) in very high esteem, and later adapts the ideology for mutant use.
- Playing Both Sides: Sebastian Shaw cunningly manipulates both the USA and the USSR, exploiting the vices and vanity of their military elite to provoke World War III.
- Please Put Some Clothes On: Spoken verbatim by Charles when a newly self-confident Mystique walks in on him while she's entirely naked. Amusingly, this is the first time the character's constant nudity has been alluded to in the series. (The irony being that Mystique is almost always nude, as it's shown that any "clothing" she might be seen wearing is simply part of her shape-shifting disguise, including possibly the X-Men uniform seen in the final act as it disappears when she briefly impersonates Shaw.)
- Plot Tailored to the Party: A relatively well-done version. Xavier or Magneto probably could have found the Hellfire Club's submarine on their own, but Banshee can do it more easily by using his Make Me Wanna Shout power as sonar. Beast's power isn't an obvious counter to Azazel's, but he's agile and strong enough to hold off Azazel, who is beaten when Mystique tricks him by turning into Shaw. Banshee and Havok team up to fight Angel.
- Politically Correct History: It's present to some extent. Sexism is still around (Hellfire Club banks on that with strippers), but the racism of the era is glossed over. The proto X-men includes many different ethnics that are bound together by the fact that they are all mutants.
- Power Creep, Power Seep: In the comics, Sebastian Shaw's power is absorbing kinetic energy and turning it into physical strength and stamina, but he's still at least somewhat vulnerable to physical attacks, and his power has limits. He generally relies on Mooks and other mutants to do his dirty work. In this movie he can absorb all kinds of energy, including Havok's blasts and nuclear radiation, and if he has limits they're set high enough to make him a credible threat to Magneto.
- Power Limiter: Erik observes that Mystique's physical strength is effectively halved because she is concentrating on maintaining a human appearance. This explains her tendency to "decloak" for her fight scenes in the original movies.
- The Power of Hate: What initially awakens Erik's superpowers, and turns him into what he is, is his hatred of those who mistreated him at the concentration camp and killed his mother.
- The Power of Love: When Charles is helping all of the mutants train, the most effective memory to focus Erik's powers is Channukah with his mother, before The Holocaust. Without this trope, his power and range are limited.
- Power Perversion Potential:
- Mystique tries the same trick on Magneto, turning from her teenaged form into a more mature woman (Rebecca Romijn in a cameo) in the belief that he'd prefer her that way. Magneto is not impressed, because he wanted "the real Raven." It took her two tries to realize that he wanted her natural blue form.
- Xavier uses his telepathy to "guess" the drink orders of the women he flirts with. Executive producer Tarquin Pack lampshades this specific example in the rare "Extraordinary Abilities" featurette. (See the Bonus Material entry.)
"If I had the ability to read minds, and I was at university, and I could influence people through my mental powers, I would probably also be a bit of a Lothario. (laughs) Who wouldn't be?"
- Emma Frost seduces a Russian general by projecting a mental image of herself so he thinks she's having sex with him, when she's in fact sitting a distance away looking bored.
- Precision F-Strike: During a montage of Charles and Erik finding and recruiting other mutants, their search brings them into a small, dingy bar where Wolverine has no interest in their offer. It doubles as a Crowning Moment of Funny. Not only did the actor himself say he mostly accepted because of his line, but Rebecca Romijn said she wanted it in her cameo too.
- Prequel: This movie serves as a prequel to the original X-Men trilogy. With the release of Days of Future Past, it becomes the start of a new trilogy.
- Present Day Past:
- For a movie nominally set in the early sixties, people sure don't seem to pay much attention to race (although you don't see any black CIA agents, and the black characters of Darwin and Angel are shown in rather menial jobs).
- When frustrated, Havok is heard to mutter, "Whatever..."
- The Macross Missile Massacre fired at the end of the movie includes Harpoon and Tomahawk missiles, which entered service in 1977 and 1983 respectively.
- Moira and Raven are often seen in miniskirts, which weren't designed until 1965, i.e. three years in film's future.
- Some of the US sailors are wielding M16's, which were not officially adopted until the following year.
- At the strip club, Angel takes Erik and Charles into a separate room for a "bed dance" (as evidenced by the fact the two men are shown reclining on a bed). Bed dances (a somewhat rare variant of lap dancing) weren't introduced until at least the 1990s.
- Pinball geeks will note that Havok and Darwin are playing Gottlieb's Fun Land, which came out six years after the movie's events.
- Pretty Boy:
- Appearance-wise, Dr. Charles Xavier is strongly defined by his boyishness: he has a soft, round face, baby blue eyes, reddish lips (the colour is so deep at times that it almost looks like he's wearing lipstick), and is of shorter-than-average height. It's symbolic of his sensitive, nice guy qualities. Erik Lehnsherr even calls him "adorable" when Charles tries the Cerebro machine for the first time.
- Dr. Hank McCoy is quite similar to Xavier (just younger and a lot more insecure). While this may be a coincidence, it's nevertheless convenient that he shares some facial features with his mentor, like pale skin, blue eyes and thick reddish lips. The one big physical difference between them is that Hank is a lot taller.
- Pretty Little Headshots: That coin made a pretty smooth journey through Shaw's head.
- Prevent The War: Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr must stop Sebastian Shaw, who is playing both the United States and the Soviet Union into starting World War III.
- Product Placement: When training at Xavier's mansion, most of the team wear PF Flyers.
- The Promise: Charles managed to uphold his promise not to use his telepathy on Raven for 18 years until the shock and pain of a bullet in his spine became too much for him to bear, compromising his concentration.
Raven: You promised me you would never read my mind.
Charles: I know. I promised you a great many things, I'm afraid. I'm sorry.
- Protagonist Journey to Villain: The film revolves around Magneto seeking revenge for the murder of his mother and his increasing acceptance of mutant supremacy.
- Protectorate: Raven is this to Charles, although she finds his concern for her safety utterly suffocating.
- Pstandard Psychic Pstance: Seems to be a personal favorite for Charles.
- Psychic Block Defense:
- Shaw's helmet makes him imprevious to telepaths.
- Emma has the ability to block Xavier's mind-reading powers, and cover herself in diamond-like skin to shield her mind.
- Psychic Strangle: A variation. When Moira attacks Erik, he deflects the bullets she fires, one of which hits Charles in the back. In a rage, Erik magnetically uses a metal necklace chain to strangle her, but Charles manages to talk him down.
- Psychoactive Powers: Erik's control of his abilities is directly linked to his emotions. See Tranquil Fury below.
- A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil: The mutants all train together as part a CIA team to fight Sebastian Shaw, but Angel Salvadore decides to join the Hellfire Club shortly after she is recruited by the program. At the end of the film, Magneto and Mystique, after defeating Shaw, form the Brotherhood of Mutants and become the new Big Bad, turning against Charles Xavier, whose ideas about mutant-human relations differ from the ones they have.
- Radiation Immune Mutants: Sebastian claims that mutants would not be harmed by (and may even benefit from) a nuclear war that would destroy humanity.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: How the CIA (and, for that matter, Charles and Moira) view the first generation of young X-Men: young, reckless, untrained, and given to foolishness.
- Ransacked Room: After Beast transforms into his blue furry form he makes a mess.
- Ready for Lovemaking: Erik walks into his room and finds a naked Raven lying in his bed. When he says, "Maybe in a few years," she responds by shifting her appearance to that of an adult woman.
- Reality Retcon:
- Did you know the Cuban Missile Crisis was caused by and solved by mutants?
- Beast not only designed the SR-71 Blackbird, but it was originally a transport!
- Red and Black and Evil All Over:
- Azazel, a member of the Hellfire Club (which in the comic version goes for black and white costumes), wears black. His naturally red skin compliments his suit.
- At the end of the movie, Erik Lehnsherr has adopted a red vest and helmet with black pants and cape, as his Evil Costume Switch to become Magneto.
- Red Herring: There are two incidents which fooled some audience members into believing that this would be the moment where Xavier would become crippled: the first was when the Blackbird crashed, and the other was when Charles experienced the trauma of Shaw's death telepathically. Then he is accidentally wounded by Magneto.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Erik is rather hot-headed while Charles is more level-headed. ''Empire'' magazine even colour-coded the front covers of their May 2011 issue accordingly.◊
- Related in the Adaptation: Professor Xavier and Mystique are foster siblings, meanwhile there's an inversion with Havok who in the comics is Cyclops' younger brother but in the film there is no mention of any relationship.
- Resist The Beast: Inverted, when Professor X tells Hank McCoy to "set the beast free." Here, the "Beast" is portrayed as natural instinct, rather than evil.
- Retraux: Everything has very '60s/'70s sensibilities, from Emma Frost's Bond Girl costumes to the BBC science documentary-like credits sequence. The film itself has a grainy texture, evoking the look of '60s-era cinema.
- Revenge Before Reason: Only Charles Xavier's timely intervention prevented Erik Lehnsherr from drowning while the latter tried to stop Sebastian Shaw's submarine.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Erik's initial mission was to hunt down and kill Shaw and his Nazi underlings.
- Rule of Sexy:
- Most (if not all) fans expected the young Professor X to be bald in this movie, but the studio wanted James McAvoy to keep his hair in order to retain the actor's sex appeal.
James McAvoy: I had showed up on the first day of X-Men: First Class, and I had shaved my head because I wanted to check what it looked like about a month before we started shooting—and it looked quite good—and they were like, "No, no, no, no, we want you to have long hair."
- After Emma uses her psychic ability to fool the Soviet general into believing that he has engaged in foreplay with her, she decides to remain in her lingerie (instead of putting her dress back on) while she snacks on crackers.
- There is absolutely no practical reason for Mystique to be exposing her cleavage when she's dressed in the combat uniform. Costume designer Sammy Sheldon admits in the "Suiting Up" featurette on the Blu-Ray release that her goal with that outfit was "to make [Mystique] look sexy."
- Scooby Stack: Beast, Angel, Darwin, Banshee and Mystique do one despite Havok's warning for them to keep back because of how unpredictable his powers are.
- Seeing Through Another's Eyes: Charles' telepathy allows him to perceive an event through the eyes of another person.
- Sensible Heroes, Skimpy Villains: Emma Frost reveals a lot more skin than, say, Moira and Raven. Angel, the stripper/prostitute, is the only one to defect to Shaw's side. (Mystique herself, after defecting to Magneto's side, goes into the nude version seen in the other films.)
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Charles Xavier is the Sensitive Guy to Erik Lehnsherr's Manly Man. They display this dynamic in their personalities and physique as well as their philosophies and methods.
- Sequel Hook: The film ends with Erik becoming Magneto for the first time and busting Emma Frost out of prison.
- Sexy Backless Outfit: Angel favors backless dresses for her wings.
- Shapeshifter Swansong: Invoked when Darwin's body goes through one state after another to adapt to Shaw's energy cherry-bomb about to go off inside him. His body ultimately gives out. Or did it...? The comic book version of Darwin survived having his entire body destroyed, and eventually generated a new one.
- Sharp-Dressed Man:
- Sebastian Shaw.
- Azazel is always wearing a black suit.
- Riptide, as with every other male member of the Hellfire Club.
- Sammy Sheldon has stated in the "Suiting Up" documentary on the First Class Blu-Ray that she made Charles Xavier's attire as stylish as she could while keeping him "honest, real, studious."
- Shooting Superman:
- Magneto isn't bulletproof, but he can deflect any metal projectile he knows is coming. At least one character who really should have known better tries to shoot him. Though it did achieve her goal, albeit by way of crippling Xavier, which took Erik's attention away from the missiles - and one shot does noticeably hit him while he isn't paying attention, but his helmet turns out to be bulletproof.
- The lead-up to that counts, too. Stryker convinces the government to join with the Russians to take out the mutants on the beach. He should know for a fact that one of these mutants is a powerful telepath and the other controls metal. Both fleets just saw the latter lift a submarine out of the water. There's no reason for them to believe their metal weapons would be any more effective. They're lucky Moira came in with that distraction.
- Many homages to old Spy Fiction, most obviously early James Bond movies.
- A neon sign at a bar says "Marv's Beer," a reference to writer Marv Wolfman.
- The Oxford pub, The Eagle. Which doubles as a reference to the reference to the Eagle Awards (named after the magazine) which the X-Men won in the 1970s and 1980s.
- The neon sign at the bar where they find Angel is "Atomic"—which is a reference to how mutants were called "Children of the Atom" in the comics. Also an example of Shown Their Work, since Las Vegas in the '60s and '70s was famous for the nearby nuclear tests, and everything was named after the famous atom; drinks, shows, and nightclubs.
- A memory-erasing kiss? Xavier must be taking lessons from another superhero...
- When Hank first demonstrates his power, he ends up hanging upside-down, right at Raven's eye level. Lampshaded, when Raven exclaims: "You're amazing!"
- When the POV shifts to show what Xavier sees when he's looking through another person's eyes, the effects are staggeringly similar to the ones used in Dark City when Rufus takes a level in badass after getting administered with the scientist's ability-enhancing serum. Right down to perspective morphs and a silvery fringe around the frame.
- Erik's magnetism-using gestures run the gamut from Neo to Obi-Wan Kenobi.
- "Beast, open the bomb bay doors!"
- Shaw is made of this, what with his "children of the atom" comments, his Hannibal Lecture to the kids where he tells them they can protect a world that hates and fears them or live like "kings and queens" in classic Hellfire Club style, his whole Bond Villain schtick, and of course the helmet.
- According to the comic book writers who originally named it, the Hellfire Club was inspired by an episode of the 1960s TV series The Avengers. Which, of course, shared its title with the other major Marvel superhero team of the 1960s, The Avengers.
- The war room is almost identical to the one from Dr. Strangelove.
- Shaw wears a swinging 60s era ascot during his meeting with Soviet generals. In the comics, Shaw (and the rest of the Hellfire Club) habitually wore 18th century period attire which included lace ascots or cravats.
- The camera angle when we first see a close-up of Charles holding the gun is reminiscent of the final scene from Wanted (which also stars James McAvoy).
- The way young Erik Lehnsherr unleashes his Unstoppable Rage and Big "NO!" over his mother's death will remind you of Darth Vader's own Unstoppable Rage and Big "NO!" in Revenge of the Sith over his wife's death. They are even provoked by their respective film's Big Bads! Also, Darth Vader in his anger crushed an autodoc by telekinetically squeezing its metal body, while young Erik in his anger killed (or incapacitated?) two Nazi mooks by telemagnetically squeezing their metal helmets into their heads.
- The second chapter of the "Children of the Atom" documentary on the Blu-Ray/DVD release is called "Band of Brothers." Both Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy appeared on the Band of Brothers miniseries.
- Shown Their Work: A minor instance; Xavier's paper on mutation that we hear mentions that neanderthals were probably exterminated by their "mutated" cousins Homo sapiens. While modern research indicates that it was more likely the two interbred, at the time of the film (the 60s) the theory was not yet established at large. Notably in X2, Storm recites the interbreeding theory to the class at the start of the film, making this double as a Call Forward.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: One of the more unique examples of this. Magneto cuts off Sebastian Shaw's attempt at a Break Them by Talking by agreeing with him... but then explaining that his We Can Rule Together offer is never going to happen because "Unfortunately, you killed my mother." He then kills him. Brutally.
- Shut Up, Kirk!: Magneto delivers a very effective one to Xavier at the climax. It probably didn't help that Xavier tried to finish off his speech by invoking the Nuremberg Defence on a Holocaust survivor.
- Single Tear: Occurs thrice:
- Charles wipes a single tear from his cheek after he uncovers a happy memory from Erik's childhood involving the latter's mother with his telepathy. Despite living a much more comfortable and privileged life than his friend, the one beautiful thing that Charles never got to experience is a mother's warm affection.
- In the same scene, a visible tear falls down Erik's face because he didn't know he still carried that cherished memory of his mother.
- After Charles gets shot, he only sheds one noticeable tear which is partly because of his injury, but mostly because he is forced to tell Erik that no, they really do not want the same thing, and knows that this realisation will push his friend away for good.
- Sink-or-Swim Mentor: Charles and Erik attempt to teach Banshee how to fly. At first, they let him jump out of a second-story window, into some bushes, and he forgets to scream. Their next attempt is to have him jump off of an enormous satellite dish. Charles assures him that he doesn't have to do anything he's not comfortable with... Erik disagrees. Justified in that he could, theoretically, control the metal of Banshee's uniform if anything really dangerous came along.
- Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Kevin Bacon is barely in any of the promotional materials despite having a prominent role as the main villain of the film. He's hardly noticeable on the very crowded poster and doesn't seem to be in any trailers or commercials.
- Sixth Ranger Traitor: Angel, Mystique and Magneto.
- The Sixties: Many iconic features of the period including the Cuban Missile Crisis, the slang and the occasional James Bond Shout-Out. Lots of elements are very recognizable to anyone who's studied design or architecture. Mies' Barcelona chair is used appropriately for once!
- Skyward Scream: Xavier does this right after a bullet enters his spine.
- Slasher Smile: Shaw gives one when he thinks he's convinced Erik to join him.
- Slash Fic: After the film got released, the entire internet exploded with Magneto/Professor X fics. It doesn't help that the actors, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, got on board as well and teased about it in interviews.
- Sleeves Are for Wimps: During the training scenes, everyone gets matching grey tracksuits. Alex's inexplicably doesn't have sleeves.
- Slipping a Mickey: Subverted: The NATO general responds to the Hellfire Club's first display of mutant powers with "What the hell did you put in my drink?!", thinking that he must be hallucinating.
- Socialite: According to Charles, his mother cares more about her upper-class lifestyle (e.g. she never goes into the kitchen of her own home, clearly believing that the room is "beneath" someone of her high status) than being a good mother towards him. Parental Neglect is typical of this trope, and it's suggested that the maid spends more time with him than Mrs. Xavier does.
- So Proud of You: Sebastian Shaw towards Erik in the climax, whom he congratulates for finally becoming a superpowerful mutant. It's pretty goddamn creepy, considering Shaw is an ex-Nazi Mad Scientist who destroyed most of Erik's life to motivate him to become what Shaw always dreamed Erik would be.
- Soviet Superscience: The telepathy blocking helmet that stymies Xavier in every movie is apparently of Russian make.
- Spandex, Latex, or Leather: The X-Men wear yellow suits made of fabric, inspired in equal part by the team's uniforms during their earliest comic appearances and the New X-Men suits. The only one in that movie to fit one of the three materials is Magneto in the ending.◊
- Spoiled Sweet: Charles Xavier is filthy rich and he is a gentle, caring person.
Sean Cassidy: (in awe of Xavier's mansion) This is yours.
Charles Xavier: (smiles) No, it's ours.
- Start of Darkness:
- This film shows how Magneto moved from sweet boy captured by Nazi, to a mutant supermacist.
- The film depicts Mystique as an insecure young woman looking for a purpose... And she finds it.
- Strawman Has a Point: In-universe. Sebastian Shaw carries a mutant supremacy message that Magneto ultimately embraces.
- String Theory: Erik has a minor one on the wall before going to the banker.
- Stripperiffic: Angel (who was originally a stripper) and Emma Frost. Not to mention all the lingerie girls (including Moira).
- Superhero Movie Villains Die: Sebastian Shaw is killed by Magneto forcing a coin through his brain. Shaw's minions join Magneto, and thus become anti-villians.
- Superpower Lottery:
- All of Sebastian Shaw's mutants are winners: Azazel has the exploitable teleportation, Emma is both telepathic and capable of becoming sold diamond which both aids fighting and blocks other telepaths, and Riptide quickly makes tornados.
- With the exception of "Phoenix" (a.k.a. Jean Grey), Shaw himself is by far the most powerful mutant ever encountered by the X-Men. His base ability of Energy Absorption is set so high and is so versatile that not even Erik can hold him once he's absorbed the power of a nuclear reactor. He cannot be punched or shot as he nullifies kinetic energy, and he's Genre Savvy enough to have crafted a helmet that completely blocks Charles' telepathy.
- Super Team: Professor X, Magneto, Beast, Mystique, Havok and Banshee form the proto X-Men. Xavier's primary goal is to avert World War III, while the other members are seeking Revenge against Sebastian Shaw for murdering someone they cared about.
- Surprisingly Good Foreign Language: Erik Lehnsherr and the Nazis he encounters (and, a bit later, kills) in the bar speak surprisingly good German. The actor playing Erik (Michael Fassbender) was born in Germany and the actors playing the Nazis are most likely German.
- Swiss Bank Account: Where Sebastian Shaw keeps his ill-gotten gains and which Magneto uses to track him down.
- Take Over the World: Shaw's ultimate goal is to start a nuclear holocaust that will wipe out humanity, leaving mutants to inherit the world. Naturally, he will be the head mutant.
- Taking You with Me:
- What Bob Hendry tries to do with Shaw with a grenade. He doesn't know about Shaw's mutation and what he can do with all of that energy.
- Beast uses this against Azazel when he tries his Tele-Frag trick, grabbing hold of him so they'll die together if Azazel doesn't teleport to safety.
- Team Dad: Erik Lehnsherr has a "tough love" approach with the young mutants (Sean Cassidy learns this the hard way). Charles Xavier might qualify as well, but he tends to act more like the nurturing Team Mom. Insert witty commentary here.
- Tele-Frag: Azazel uses the "100 feet up" variant quite a bit.
- Tempting Fate:
- "Gentlemen, this is why the CIA is no place for a woman." Cue huge crash as Emma Frost is busted out of her cell.
- Before they go to Russia, Erik says that the young mutants are not ready to face Shaw, but Charles insists that they will surprise him and that they are an exceptional bunch of young people. A second later, as they're approaching the young mutants' room, they can see Raven's dancing on a chair while Angel's flying around her, Alex and Sean are breaking chairs on Armando (who keeps yelling "harder!"), and Hank is hanging off a light fixture.
- That Came Out Wrong: The loud-and-clear message of Xavier's Oh, Crap face after "they were just following orders." Played for Drama.
- That Man Is Dead: The film ends with Erik outright proclaiming that he prefers his new moniker: Magneto.
- There Was a Door: Combined with The Door Slams You. Magneto has to get into a submarine guarded by Riptide, so Magneto tears out part of the metal hull on top of him.
- They're Called Personal Issues For A Reason: There's a hint that Charles had an unhappy childhood, but he simply chooses not to speak of it. After Erik makes a snide remark about his friend's wealth, Charles' expression is mixture of annoyance with a little bit of hurt, and Raven steps in between two men as if to "shield" her brother from Erik's not-so-nice comment. Although she says, "It was a hardship softened by me" in a light tone, there is no sarcasm in her voice, and Charles kisses her on the cheek as a quiet "thank you" for her support and understanding in what is a very sensitive matter to him.
- Those Two Bad Guys: Azazel and Riptide are thugs that work for Shaw. They have no lines and little development.
- Those Wacky Nazis: "Klaus Schmidt" is a mixture of cultured and mad doctor; he tells young Erik that he is not like the Nazis, and mocks their obsession with genetics—or at least, blue eyes and blonde hair. Bring mutants into the equation it's a whole different ball game.
- Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Erik Lehnsherr tries to throw a dagger at Sebastian Shaw, but Emma Frost catches it. Given the nature of Shaw's powers, the dagger would not have harmed him even if it had scored a direct hit.
- Timeshifted Actor: This is done in the film, along with a Flashback with the Other Darrin with the new young Erik. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender take over from Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen as the young Charles Xavier and Magneto. The young Mystique is played by Jennifer Lawrence, taking over from Rebecca Romijin. Nicholas Hoult takes over from Kelsey Grammer as the young Beast, and Rose Byrne takes over from Olivia Williams as Moira MacTaggert.
- Token Evil Teammate: Erik is part of Charles' team primarily because he has a personal grudge against Shaw, and views the youngsters' mutant powers as useful tools to topple the Big Bad.
- Token Motivational Nemesis: Magneto did away with his Not So Different nemesis Sebastian Shaw in this movie, but never mentioned him in the Twenty Minutes into the Future trilogy that preceded it. We're talking about the man who killed Magneto's mother and whose role Magneto assumed after killing him. Of course, the writers of the original trilogy couldn't have predicted the future (in fact, Shaw doesn't look very dead, or old enough to have been an adult in The Forties, in his television appearance in X2.) It doesn't matter in any case, as Days of Future Past removes the trilogy from existence.
- Too Dumb to Fool: In a deleted extension of the scene in Soviet Russia where The Team is infiltrating, the search dog that the checkpoint guards have still sensed that something was amiss in the seemingly empty truck. Charles says that the reason is this pertaining to his telepathic power on dogs.
- Took a Level in Badass: The mutant teens are substantially more competent after their training montage. Plus several levels for Hank after he injects himself with his serum.
- The Tooth Hurts: Erik Lehnsherr uses his powers of magnetism to forcibly extract a Nazi sympathist Swiss banker's metal fillings as an interrogation method.
- Totally Radical: Downplayed and justified. Xavier, humorously enough, is the only character who uses '60s slang, and it's only a single word in the lone pick-up line that he uses when hitting on women.
- Tragic Bromance: A variation of this happens; Erik Lehnsherr and Charles Xavier form a close friendship, but ultimately part because of a major difference in ideals. Neither is killed, although Professor X does sustain a permanent injury that leads to Magneto cradling his cripple.
- Tragic Keepsake: Erik's Nazi coin is given to him by Shaw after his mother is murdered in front of him. Erik kept that coin as he grew up and worked on his revenge.
- Trailers Always Lie: The TV spots imply Charles's pointing a gun at Erik as a threat; it's from a scene where they're training together.
- Trailers Always Spoil: Sort of. The trailers showed virtually every single scene from the climax—but edited them so as not to show exactly what was happening.
- Training Montage: Xavier trains the mutant youngsters to properly use their powers at his mansion.
- Tranquil Fury: Erik's powers are manifested through anger, until Charles helps by telling him "true focus lies somewhere between rage and serenity."
- Translation Convention: Averted for the most part: All the scenes with the Nazis/the Swiss bankteller/former German soldiers as well as the scenes with the Russians are spoken in German, French, Spanish, and Russian where approriate, with subtitles in English. A couple scenes use the technique of starting in foreign language, then shifting to English for the last few (and most dramatically important) lines. Unfortunately, the actors have trouble with pronunciation and accents.
- This is a Narm source for Germans, because of the accents. 'Evolution', while written the same in german and english, has the stress just the other way around.
- The scene in Argentina is a notable exception thanks to all actors involved being German, or of German origin in the case of Fassbender.
- Argentina (particularly in the Buenos Aires province, where Villa Gessel is located) has a distinctive local accent, but the few Spanish lines shown there were delivered Spain-style, which is a very different accent.
- Traumatic Superpower Awakening: Erik is originally only able to use his powers when extremely angry. The first two times, it involves maternal separation.
- Two Shots from Behind the Bar: This trope came up, when Erik hunts down former Nazis. As he controls metal, it failed even worse than the example in X-Men.
- The Übermensch: Sebastian Shaw's ideal of a mutant is a superior man who rises above the common trash and will change the world.
- Ungrateful Bastard: Minutes after the mutants single-handedly prevent World War III, the military tries to kill them since they were deemed too dangerous.
- Unishment: A prison guard where Alex Summers was staying at the beginning of the film remarks that he's "the only prisoner I've ever seen who actually prefers solitary confinement." Sure enough, when we first see him, Alex is in solitary. It's a subversion, since Alex doesn't really enjoy solitary. He's trying to stay away from people so he doesn't hurt them with the energy blasts that are his mutant power, and which he has great difficulty in controlling.
- Unlucky Childhood Friend: Raven for Xavier. Xavier does a lot of flirting with other women, and Raven is clearly jealous. It's hard to tell whether she actually had strong romantic feelings for him, or if she just wants to establish that she's worthy of romantic interest, but either way he says that he can't see her as anything but a sister and someone to protect.
- Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Erik until, well, the Holocaust and the death of his mother. And Raven, who is still rather innocent for the majority of the film and is absolutely horrified when she sees Charles get shot, yet that doesn't stop her from going over to the dark side.
- Verb to This: Shaw to Darwin, before killing him. Specifically: "adapt to this."
- Villainous Cheekbones: Both Shaw and Erik have defined and hard facial features compared to Charles' soft baby face.
- Visionary Villain: Sebastian Shaw wants to start World War III so that mutants can take over the planet, although in his case, he's just in it to Take Over the World, with little actual regard for allowing his kind to thrive (he merely uses it as his rhetoric to recruit others). As noted above, Magneto is much more suited to the trope, even going so far as to applaud Shaw's vision of a mutant-dominated world but in exactly those terms, without the desire to rule over them as their supreme leader.
- The Voiceless: Riptide has no dialogue in the film and Azazel has only a few words although it doesn't stop either from being Badass.
- Wall of Weapons/To the Pain (meta version): Young Erik Lehnsherr meets Dr. Klaus Schmidt in his wood-paneled office filled with books and antiques, then a reverse shot reveals the opposite wall is made of glass, leading into a white-painted surgery lined with sinister instruments. Unfortunately, Erik's powers aren't controlled enough to use these as actual weapons; they all get thrown harmlessly against the glass.
- War Is Hell: The adolescent mutants find out the hard way. They're just stoked to discover that other mutants (their own age, at that) exist, and after being approached and brought together by Professor X, Magneto, and the CIA, they decide to act crazy with their powers and party, having been left unsupervised by Xavier, Lehnsherr, and MacTaggert. When the Hellfire Club shows up and slaughters the CIA soldiers who were stationed at the facility to guard them, the kids break down emotionally—some of them are even reduced to fearful tears.
- Weaponized Teleportation: Azazel's deadly attack on the CIA facility, which included teleporting enemies up high and leaving them to fall. Later, the Genre Savvy Hank grabs Azazel as they're falling and tells him that he can either teleport them to safety, or he's going to die with them.
- We Can Rule Together:
- At the climax, Sebastian Shaw offers Magneto a chance to join him so that together they can ensure mutant supremacy, a goal that Magneto actually agrees with. Unfortunately, Shaw was the one who killed Magneto's mother in the concentration camp, so Magneto kills him and takes up his "mutant vs. human" crusade himself. Later, he tells Xavier that he wants him by his side in the cause, but Xavier refuses.
- When Shaw introduces himself to the kids this is his main pitch.
- Also implied between Magneto and Mystique.
- We Used to Be Friends: The whole premise of the movie is to show how Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr became friends and then ended up on opposite sides with different ideals. There's also a subplot about Raven Darkholme's fallout from her relationships with Charles and Hank McCoy.
- What Beautiful Eyes: After Charles is shot in the spine, the glare of the Cuban sunshine shrinks his pupils, which makes his irises appear very large, and they are a stunning shade of vibrant blue, especially in close-up. His Innocent Blue Eyes are shiny and wet with tears due to the intense physical and emotional pain, and it marks the character's Break the Cutie moment.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: The Hellfire Club is never mentioned or seen again after the early sequence where CIA operative Moira MacTaggert (who is investigating it with a colleague) sneaks in and witnesses Emma Frost and Azazel reveal their powers in front of an American general.
- What the Hell Are You?: We have the following conversation:
- What the Hell Is That Accent?: Seriously, Erik's accent is all over the place. Although, considering his background, this could be justified.
- Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: The film attempts to do this for the technology seen in the original X-Men trilogy. The underground training facility beneath the Xavier Institute is stated to be a massive, repurposed WW2 bomb shelter, while the Cerebro computer and the prototype Blackbird/X-Jet are both revealed to be projects Hank McCoy designed for the CIA.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: While Charles isn't exactly naive, his idealism is accentuated by the fact that everyone else seems to have a far more pessimistic approach to mutant-human relations. It's suggested that this is at least partly because he hasn't faced persecution in the same way. It sets up a nice contrast with his portrayal in the previous films, where he remains idealistic, but is a lot more cautious about it now that he's had personal experience.
- William Telling: Charles Xavier and Hank McCoy have to help Alex Summers master his energy-blasting ability, which leads up to both of them standing beside his target during the final practice... but not before backing off a little to the side.
- Wolverine Publicity: Downplayed. One theme of the film is how the "first class" of Xavier's mutants are all fun-loving youngsters who haven't been battle-tested, and instead see their recruitment as a chance to party and hang out with other people like themselves, initially overlooking the war. The problem with this and Logan's character is that he's the complete opposite—an almost perpetually stoic, no-nonsense adult who's fought in every major American conflict from the Civil War to 'Nam. If you thought the writers couldn't find a way to still fit him in (as Xavier and Lehnsherr are searching for mutants who can fight with them), you underestimate the power of this trope.
Magneto: [with Professor X at his side, approaches Wolverine in a bar] Excuse me—I'm Erik Lehnsherr.
Professor X: Charles Xavier.
Wolverine: [without so much as a millisecond of hesitation] Go fuck yourself.
[beat as Wolverine continues smoking his cigar like nothing had happened]
- The Worf Effect: When he confronts the First Class, Shaw kills one of them in the conflict. Who does he kill? The guy whose power is gaining the traits he needs to survive in any situation.
- World of Badass: A grand majority of the characters have flashy superpowers or kick butt in different ways. Almost inevitable for a film based of Marvel comics.
- World War III: Sebastian Shaw intended to provoke both superpowers into causing World War III via the Cuban Missile Crisis, in order to wipe out humanity and allow Mutants to reign supreme over the planet.
- Worst Aid: If someone's been shot in the back near the spine, you don't move them around and you certainly don't rip the bullet out of the wound, which probably explains Xavier's ultimate paralysis.
- Writers Cannot Do Math: There is a scene with Charles Xavier as a child which is set in 1944, while the bulk of the story takes place in 1962. However, the two actors are credited as playing "Charles Xavier: 12 years" and "Charles Xavier: 24 years."
- Wrong Genre Savvy:
- Bob Hendry assumes that Shaw will kill him once he gets what he wants, and prepares for it. But he didn't bet on Shaw being an extremely powerful mutant, not just a man with mutants working for him.
- Charles Xavier seems to think he's in a Silver Age Science Fiction story that will easily be resolved once he and his friends defeat Shaw. Actually, he's part of a larger conflict between humans and mutants, and he and his best friend are destined to become reluctant arch-enemies in the oncoming war.
- You Are Better Than You Think You Are: The film has a repeated line where Charles urges Erik to "be the better man" and work for more than just revenge. Erik interprets this somewhat differently than Charles intended.
Charles: There’s so much more to you than you know, not just pain and anger. There’s good in you too, and you can harness all that. You have a power that no one can match, not even me.
- You Are Not Alone: Expressed in several forms by different characters, most directly when Charles says this verbatim to Erik after he rescues the latter from drowning.
- You Are Number Six: Erik Lehnsherr outs himself as a holocaust survivor to some Nazis he was amicably chatting with (and planning to kill). When they asked for the names of his parents, being from the same town, he answered that they "had no names—they were stolen from them" before showing his own concentration camp number. Violence ensues.
- You Get Me Ice: Emma is annoyed when Shaw sends her up on deck to get ice for his drink from a handy iceberg.
- You Killed My Mother: The film gives us an example of someone avenging the death of their mother, when Erik/Magneto kills Schmitt/Shaw despite agreeing with his Mutant Supremacist ideals because Schmitt killed his mother in front of him as a child.
Magneto: I want you to know I agree with everything you just said. We are the future. But, unfortunately... you killed my mother.
- Younger and Hipper: This movie explores the younger (and more groovy) versions of Professor X, Magneto, Mystique and Beast with new actors playing the familiar roles.
- Younger Than They Look: Erik is around the same age as Charles (late twenties/early thirties), but the former appears considerably older because Michael Fassbender looks older than his actual age (he has a lot of lines on his face) while the baby-faced James McAvoy looks younger despite there being a only two-year age gap between the two actors. This can be Handwaved as Erik ageing prematurely because of the trauma he experienced during World War II.
Charles: Listen to me very carefully, my friend. Killing will not bring you peace.
Erik: Peace was never an option.