Is Magneto right? All of his predictions that humans will turn on the mutants end up being correct; the only people he kills or attempts to kill are Nazis and people who are directly attacking him; he saved the life of everyone on that beach when the military attacked them; and he's the only one to stand up for the right of mutants to be themselves rather than hiding/assimilating. Is Magneto wrong? He abandons those that don't agree with him, his ideals of racial superiority make him sound like the Nazi, and he makes mutants as a whole look bad with his antagonism.
When Erik shot the coin through Shaw's head, was he aware that it was causing Charles incredible pain as he was telepathically connected to Shaw at the time, or was Erik so consumed by his need for revenge that he forgot that detail? Or did he just have absolutely no way to know it, not understanding psychic powers as such? Erik may have caused Charles such pain on purpose. After all, Erik lived through the Holocaust, and Raven can't go out as herself without revealing what she is. Charles, on the other hand, is A) a mutant who looks normal and can hide in plain sight, B) never suffered or faced persecution the way Erik and Raven have, and C) keeps lecturing other, less fortunate mutants on morality and the "proper" way to do things. Erik may have decided to teach Charles a lesson in pain.
The HISHEparody of ''First Class'' has an interpretation of Erik as a complete dick; Not even a heroic dick, like in the film, but just a dick full stop. Their reasoning is pretty convincing by pointing out how Erik is wearing the helmet of the man who killed his mother, who he spent his entire life trying to avenge, and even adopting his life philosophy and motivations. He also decided to make a speech about his plans for mutants immediately after accidentally paralyzing Charles without even considering getting him to a hospital, something that their version of Azazelcalled him out on. In this interview, James McAvoy does his best to recite the HISHE spoof from memory to point out that Raven was a total bitch for abandoning Charles with a bullet in his spine. The audio version is even better because the actor performs the voices for both Raven and Beast.
James McAvoy: There's a really good cartoon on YouTube, it was How 'X-Men: First Class' Should Have Ended. At the end of it, there's a great bit where she's like, "Sure, even though Charles is my brother and I spent my entire life with him, yeah, I'll go with you, Erik, no problem!" Yeah, that's exactly what the fuck I was thinking. There's another great bit where she goes, "Hey Beast! Mutant and proud!" And Beast goes, "I am covered in blue hair from head to toe. Nothing you say means anything to me. Nothing!"
Is Charles the righteous hero or a hopeless idealist? Did he really accept Raven for how she looked, or did he prefer it when she was in her human disguise? Maybe he didn't mind her natural form (with cultural preference for clothing), but found the human disguise more attractive?
Hank himself is subject to this in his scene where he rejects Raven's true mutant appearance. Simply an Out-of-Character Moment where his own insecurity manifests? Or is he a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who is so concerned about appearance, that he took a serum (without properly testing it) because his feet were too big? Or was he just caught off guard and not sure how to react?
Angst? What Angst?: Xavier is crippled and loses the two people he cares most in the world in a single day. Any normal person would suffer from depression, if not an outright nervous breakdown, but the writers completely gloss over the trauma Charles must have experienced. There would have been hours of surgery and a very difficult recovery period where he would have to adjust to life as a paraplegic. It's hard to believe that he would be fine in his last scene. X-Men: Days of Future Past rectifies this by revealing that Xavier had bottled up his emotions as a coping mechanism, but the dam he had placed over his pain finally bursts when he's forced to close his school after a single semester.
Anvilicious: Sebastian Shaw at one point shows up to make his pitch to the younger X-Men, and gives a speech about the future role of mutants in the world. In the original theatrical edit of the movie, when Shaw says the word "enslaved", the camera cuts to Darwin, the only black member of the group.
Base Breaker: January Jones's interpretation of Emma Frost. Those who dislike her feel she isn't bitchy enough or just simply don't like the performance. Others liked her and wished she'd been used in X-Men: Days of Future Past - even trying to rationalise that she's not actually dead, as we don't see a picture of her body like the others.
Complete Monster: Klaus Schmidt, a.k.a. Sebastian Shaw, is a diabolical mutant supremacist who believes humans to be inferior to mutants. As a NaziMad Scientist, he used his position to try to find "gifted" mutants, and upon finding a younger Erik Lensherr, he killed his mother after Erik failed to impress him with his powers, solely to motivate him, before subjecting Erik to horrible experiments. After the war, he adopts the Shaw identity and ingratiates himself to high ranking members of the government with his Hellfire Club, manipulating Russia and America alike. Shaw assaults a CIA facility, murdering every agent within, and when one of the young mutants stands up to him, Shaw, despite his creed of "not harming his own kind," murders him without hesitation and barely concealed enjoyment. Shaw's ultimate goal was to push Russia and America into nuclear war, allowing mutant-kind to thrive in the aftermath and creating a kingdom of mutants that he himself would rule. Even when thwarted, Shaw planned to absorb all the nuclear radiation in his atomic sub and unleash it upon Cuba to destroy it personally and trigger atomic war.
Angel is actually an aversion of this trope. She has some of the attributes down, such as good looks, sympathetic motives and leathery attire (seriously, it's like the film-makers were trying to deliberately evoke this trope). However, she's not well liked by the fandom, and the fact that she joined Shaw and stayed with him even after he killed Darwin could account for that.
Played completely straight with Magneto himself. He's more charismatic than Xavier in the eyes of those who prefer "bad boys."
Ensemble Darkhorse: Azazel is one of the Big Bad's minions, has few lines and yet's a rather popular character. It's basically due to being Nightcrawler with red skin. Sure beats his really lame comic version.
Fan-Preferred Couple: Erik/Charles is the official pairing, even according to certain screenwriters and actors. It's incorporated even in fics that involve the younger X-Men (by having them act as parents), and those who do ship Erik/Raven or Charles/Moira are a small minority. Charles/Erik even managed to supplant Logan/Rogue (which is the #1 couple of the original trilogy) as the most popular pairing of the film series—just look at the difference in the sheer number of stories on Archive of Our Own for proof. James McAvoy wasn't kidding when he called it the "Brangelina of X-Men"; Cherik has become such a phenomenon that British TV host Graham Norton took notice of it and showed McAvoy and Fassbender some of the fanart and fanfiction. On the other side of the pond, Conan O'Brien's interview with the two actors was almost exclusively about their onscreen/offscreen Ho Yay, and a Cherik fanvid was screened at the end.
Fanon: Almost nothing is known about Azazel and he shares only very few moments with Mystique, but the whole fandom seems to agree that he's Nightcrawler's biological dad as his comics homonymous.
Fashion-Victim Villain: The helmet that Shaw wears and Erik takes to block telepathy looks ridiculous. It's lampshaded by Shaw when he invades the CIA building where Xavier's team is staying, and on learning Xavier isn't present quips, "Well, at least I can take this silly thing off." As silly as it looks with Shaw, it's even worse when Erik has it repainted into the same color scheme as the comic book and adds the horns to the front.
In First Class, Xavier brings up Agent Stryker's "son William, whom you were thinking about, which is very nice." Considering how William Stryker treats his own son...
When Charles and Erik attempt to recruit the man who would become Wolverine he turns them down. Had he not done this, he may have found haven and thus avoided his memory wipe at the hands of William Stryker. What's even more tragic is that the only people who could remember that incident at all would be Professor X or Magneto, but who can remember some guy they met 40 years ago briefly in a bar?
The scenes with Charles happily running with Hank and training with Erik. Those would be the last chances he'd ever have to use his legs without specialized drug treatments.
Hank McCoy finally finishes work on his appearance-changing serum, calling it "the cure", which makes his mutation even worse and turns him into the Amazing Technicolor Population version we know more famously.
After the revelation in this film that the young Xavier taught Lehnsherr how to achieve greater control over his power by finding the point between rage and serenity—the latter requires a happy memory—Magneto's line of "Charles always wanted to build bridges" in The Last Stand as he's moving a large section of the Golden Gate Bridge seems to indicate that he's thinking about his old friend instead of his mother in order to attain serenity. Like his mother, Xavier—whom he loved as a brother—is now dead, so happy memories from their brief friendship in 1962 is all Magneto has left of him.
Now that we know how Erik's mother died and how Charles became a paraplegic, Magneto's contempt towards guns in X-Men makes perfect sense.
It initially seems odd that Charles wouldn't encourage Raven to pursue a formal education (she sardonically responds to Amy's "What do you study?" with "Waitressing"), but when you recall what Mystique had said to Senator Kelly in the first movie ("People like you were the reason I was afraid to go to school as a child"), then it becomes very clear that she and Charles were extremely fearful about the possibility that she might lose control of her power while in class.
According to X-Men: Days of Future Past, Xavier harboured a Dark Secret from his childhood (i.e. mistaking the onset of his telepathy at age nine for a severe mental illness). While it's hinted that his mother is a naturally cold person, at least some of her aloofness can be attributed to the very strong stigma which existed around psychiatric disorders in the 1940s. No wonder Raven was Charles' oldest and only true friend—she was the sole individual in his social circle who didn't consider to him to be a "lunatic" because he heard voices in his head.
It's rather cruel of Mystique not to warn Professor X in X2: X-Men United that Stryker was planning on attacking the school. Although she and Xavier are estranged beyond repair by this point, you'd think that Mystique would still be concerned about the safety of fellow mutants (especially those who are children) even if she had stopped caring about Charles like a brother.
Heartwarming in Hindsight: In X2: X-Men United, an imprisoned Magneto warmly greets Professor X with, "Charles Xavier, have you come to rescue me?" As it turns out, Charles did indeed rescue Erik from drowning in this movie, and this is how their friendship began. Despite the danger Erik was in 1962, both men still look back on the memory with some fondness.
In the first movie, Jean Grey tells Professor X that Logan's healing ability "makes his age impossible to determine. He could very well be older than you, Professor." She doesn't realize what an understatement this is because both X-Men Origins: Wolverine and this film have established that Wolverine is about a century older than Xavier! (James Howlett was born in the early 1830s while Charles' birth year is the early 1930s.)
Considering that Xavier can easily use Magneto as a marionette as long as the latter doesn't wear the telepathy-blocking helmet in X-Men: Days of Future Past, his words of encouragement in this movie ("When you can access all of that, you will possess a power no one can match. Not even me") now sounds rather hollow. It comes off as a little white lie that he made up on the spot in order to try to help Erik achieve the correct point between rage and serenity. In their natural state, Charles' ability is stronger than Erik's, no ifs, ands or buts about it.
Jennifer Lawrence plays a younger version of Rebecca Romijn. Lawrence later admitted to "stalking" Romijn's ex-husband John Stamos at a party.
Kevin Bacon plays mutant supremacist Sebastion Shaw in this movie. A few years later, Guardians of the Galaxy has him being considered an all-inspiring hero by Star-Lord.
Erik's line, "Let's just say I'm Frankenstein's Monster, and I'm looking for my creator" becomes funny and very appropriate when you take into account the fact that James McAvoy stars as Victor Frankenstein in the 2015 film adaptation. Just like Shaw, Xavier did play a role (however inadvertently) in transforming Lehnsherr into Magneto.
The Reveal of Erik in full costume as Magneto after his Face–Heel Turn. What should be an Awesome Moment of Crowning is made fairly silly by Magneto wearing the same color scheme as the comics—bright red and purple—with the helmet especially looking rather daft in those colors & with the horns Erik has added to the front. The way he's standing, stiff as a board with his arms straight down, hurts too. A more dramatic pose could have made all the difference. Not to mention the helmet was on crooked.
The name "Magneto" sounds pretty silly when said aloud, which is probably why he has mostly gone by Erik in all of the movies.
Jennifer Lawrence may be a good actress, but the way she delivered her "Mutant and Proud" lines oftentimes came off like she was about to burst out laughing at the end of the take.
The Instant Death Bullet used on Erik's mother. She literally flings up her hands. It just doesn't work. Immediately following, Young Erik's delivering a Big Nein as he unleashes his powers and destroys the lab. It's very difficult for a child actor to portray unstoppable rage and immeasurable loss.
Michael Fassbender puts in the best performance of the whole film. Unfortunately, about two-thirds of the way in, he starts lapsing into an Irish accent. By the final scene on the beach, he sounds like Ian Paisley asking where the terrorists operate from.
"I can't feel my legs. I can't feel my legs. I can't feel my legs."
The scene where Banshee learns to fly by screeching in the air while uplifting music plays.
Hank McCoy's secondary mutation when he tries to cure himself. The initial stages of the transformation are effective enough, but then there's the big reveal to his team-mates: looking like a skinny, bright blue kid-Grinch, with fake fur poofing out of every opening in his tight-fitting yellow and black costume. Much more hilarious than Michael J. Fox's dad's similar reveal in Teen Wolf, but, as the trope says, for the wrong reasons.
Obvious Judas: Magneto. Conflicting views with Charles and his traumatic experiences at the hands of the Nazis makes it obvious even to those who don't know the entire X-Men story that he has a major chip on his shoulder towards humanity and will eventually betray Xavier. Although a good reason for this is more that the movie is a prequel, thus making the split between himself and Charles a Foregone Conclusion.
Portmanteau Couple Name: After the release of this movie, there was a deluge—or tsunami, if you prefer—of "Cherik" (Charles/Erik) fanfics, to the point where it would be impossible to read every one of them in a single lifetime.
Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Azazel in the comics was the main villain of one of the most universally loathed arcs in the franchise's history. The film jettisons his dumb "demon overlord" backstory in favor of making him Nightcrawler's cool evil dad, which works a lot in his favor.
Ron the Death Eater: As a side effect of Magneto being a Draco in Leather Pants, there was a large backlash from his fangirls against Moira McTaggart, blaming her for Charles being crippled and the bromance breaking up. The irony is that Charles explicitly holds Magneto accountable for both offenses.
Strawman Has a Point: Magneto is right, in that his prediction that the US government will eventually turn on the mutants comes true, and his intention to wipe out the US and Soviet fleets that launched a full barrage at them—overcoming decades of tension in just a few minutes to do so—comes off as surprisingly understandable despite its extremism. Xavier, mistakenly, tries to stop him using the "just following orders" defense. Ironically, Magneto's interrupted counter "proved" that mutants in general are a threat. He could've just dumped the barrage he "caught" into the ocean.
Darwin, who was shown to have useful powers and a fair amount of character potential, falls victim to Black Dude Dies First during All Your Base Are Belong to Us. You can see his body trying to adapt to the energy, fail, and then explode. This becomes even more of a waste given the events of the sequel; Darwin's powers would have made a much better basis for the technology of the adaptive Sentinels than Mystique's.
Fans who are fond of Banshee were disappointed when his character was mentioned to have died by Trask's hands before the events of X-Men: Days of Future Past.
Ditto for Riptide and Azazel, two of Shaw's minions who join Magneto after he kills Shaw, are quite popular among the fans, some of whom even ship them. Even their actors were interested in their return in X-Men: Days of Future Past; Alex Gonzalez stated in an interview that he'd "really like to be in the sequel" and explore more of Riptide's powers, and had signed on to play him in one or two more films, while Jason Flemyng said he was interested in exploring the origins of Azazel's son, Nightcrawler. Yet plans for the Hellfire Club's return were dropped when the writers chose the Days of Future Past storyline, so Riptide and Azazel get killed in-between movies.
Some feel that Angel's Face–Heel Turn was underdeveloped and were a little annoyed that she wasn't shown in too many scenes beforehand. The fact that she is killed offscreen in between films doesn't help matters.
After successfully preventing the Cuban Missile Crisis from escalating into a full-out nuclear war due to the meddling of a psychotic mutant, mutants are now known to both the Russian and U.S. governments as a powerful force capable of causing hurricanes, flying, blasting people, and lifting an entire submarine out of the ocean. You'd Think: Both sides would see the potential for using these people in combat, especially given that they prevented a full-on nuclear war since the CIA was well-aware of the role that the mutants played in the incident. Or at the very least, acknowledging that these are the last people you'd want to provoke and make angry! Instead: Both sides just see the potential threat presented by these powerful individuals and try to blow them up with missiles. After just seeing one of the mutants lift a submarine with his power!
Moira is fighting against Erik, a guy who she knows can control metal with his mind. You'd Expect: That she wouldn't fire a gun at him, given that guns shoot metal bullets. Hell, with the power Erik possesses, he could probably shoot them back at her! Instead: He deflects the bullets easily, and one of them hits a bystander. Even Worse: Even after Moira sees him deflect the first bullet, she keeps shooting, accomplishing fuck-all.
Charles Xavier knows everything about Erik Lehnsherr, having read his mind and spoken to him numerous times about the future of mutants and mankind. Erik, being a Holocaust survivor, constantly voiced the view that humans and mutants could not coexist, and that the U.S. government would eventually treat the mutants like the Nazis treated Jews. Then the U.S. and Russian battleships attempt to indiscriminately destroy the mutants with missiles, which Erik catches with his powers and sends back. You'd Think: Charles would remember Erik's views on mutant and mankind, especially his past as a persecuted minority, and try to phrase his arguments for not declaring war on humanity to the effect of a.) they were outnumbered and vulnerable and b.) Erik was becoming just like his former enemies in his extremism. Instead: He says, "They were Just Following Orders." To a Holocaust survivor. Who is now a member of yet another persecuted and threatened minority.
Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw? This crisis was averted with Bacon becoming the physical incarnation of Evil Is Cool.
January Jones as Emma Frost has also been a polarizing casting choice.
WTH, Costuming Department?: Played straight with the costume Erik wears in the last scene of the film. He has a bright purple cape and modified the helmet so that it's magenta and has little horns, which are straight out of the comics, as seen here◊. The rationale for the costume in-universe is that humans think mutants are spawn of the Devil, so Magneto plays up to it with a red horned costume. In real life, the color scheme was probably chosen because the artists had an extremely limited palette to work with and needed something that contrasted with the X-Men's blue and yellow outfits.
Erik as a child being forced to witness his mother's murder simply because he couldn't move a coin with his powers in time, and then being tortured and experimented on by Dr. Klaus Schmidt.
Charles undergoes an excruciating Break the Cutie event during the climax. He loses the use of his legs, Erik and Raven in one fell swoop.
Raven's insecurity about her natural blue form and her misery at having to constantly put on a disguise when she's in public. Some transgendered people consider her to be a fairly good metaphor for the difficulties they face when they're forced to pretend to be someone they're not in order to avoid mockery and/or persecution.
Hank McCoy; he gets "outed" as a mutant in the most awkward way possible in front of his boss, is teased and disrespected by his fellow mutants even when his inventions help them improve their powers, loses his potential love interest when he can't accept her for her true appearance, and then accidentally enhances his mutation to the point where it becomes impossible for him to hide it!