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 unaware 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 didn't care if he was also hurting his friend in the process?
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 Azazel called him out on. In an 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?
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.
The X-Men have always been compared to various types of social oppression, including homosexuality. So it probably isn't an accident that Hank reacts to his employer discovering he's a mutant with "you didn't ask so I didn't tell."
Base-Breaking Character: 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.
Catharsis Factor: After spending his entire adult life hunting down the mutant Nazi who shot his mother dead in the Holocaust, performed painful experiments on him as a child, and killed Darwin, watching Magneto drill a coin through Sebastian Shaw's forehead is brutal but still very satisfying and well-deserved.
Complete Monster: Klaus Schmidt, aka Sebastian Shaw, is a mutant supremacist who believes humans to be inferior to mutants. As a Nazi 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 with barely-concealed enjoyment. Shaw's ultimate goal was to push Russia and America into nuclear war, allowing mutantkind 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.
Evil Is Cool: The Hellfire Club is this as a whole, especially Shaw.
He arguably has the biggest impact on the entire series. He caused Magneto's Start of Darkness by killing his mother, and his Hellfire Club is salvaged into the very first Brotherhood of Mutants after he's defeated.
He's played by Kevin Bacon, which automatically means his acting is pretty good.
He's Faux Affably Evil in the sense that he generally appears polite and cool, yet there's still a hint of malicious intent underneath and you know it. See his interactions with Colonel Hendry and Xavier's new recruits.
He shows himself to be quite competent in his endeavors in general, evil as they are.
Evil Is Sexy: Scantily clad blonde Hellfire Club member Emma Frost.
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.
Fandom-Specific Plot: Fix Fics that change the ending so that Xavier and Magneto never become estranged and/or Xavier is never paralyzed are ubiquitous in the fandom... Despite the fact that this in turn would cause the rest of the X-Men movies to have a Time Paradox.
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.
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.
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.
Heartwarming in Hindsight: Raven angrily tells her brother, "You know, Charles, I used to think it was gonna be you and me against the world. But no matter how bad the world gets, you don't wanna be against it, do you? You want to be a part of it." By the end of X-Men: Apocalypse, they are both members of the X-Men, and they're facing the world's threats together. Foster siblings for the win!
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.
Moira had stripped down to her undergarments to sneak into the Hellfire Club. In X-Men: Apocalypse, she does a complete 180° and is covered from head to toe in a niqab to infiltrate En Sabah Nur's cult.
Erik may be the Anti-Hero/Anti-Villain, but he really has gone through some terrible events in his life. It helps that his argument against the humans holds some validity.
Hank rejects Raven's true mutant form and decides to take the serum to fix himself. He not only transforms into a much more mutated form, but he also loses Raven to Magneto.
Memetic Mutation: "Perfection."Explanation Mystique attempts to seduce Magneto, but he's not impressed until he sees her true form, responding with the above line. The scene led to two related memes, one of which is a comic used to compare various versions of a character or other characters with the same name, and one of which is a gif of Magneto's line in response to things the poster likes.
"Peace was never an option."Explanation A line from Magneto in the trailer, regarding Sebastian Shaw. It's since been used as a caption for animal pictures to make them seem hostile, and as a declaration of war, usually over petty slights. However, in 2019, it's become more heavily associated with a thieving goose of all things.
Moe: The film managed to make Mystique seem Moe. Here she's introduced as an adorable little girl without a family, who quickly becomes Charles' extremely cute little sister.
The Reveal of Erik in full costume as Magneto after his FaceHeel 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 and with the horns Erik has added to the front, and the shirt part of his costume looking saggy, and the colors combined with the dark cape calls to mind Raúl Juliá's M. Bison. 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.
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.
The Nazi that Erik finds and stabs in the hand sticks his tongue out after said stabbing.
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 Evil Counterpart, which works a lot in his favor.
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, gets killed 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.
Some feel that Angel's FaceHeel 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.
It's the opinion of certain fans that Sebastian Shaw shouldn't have been the main villain. They cite the fact that the film version bares almost no resemblance to his comic counterpart, and has more in common with another major X-Men antagonist: Mr. Sinister. Both Movie Shaw and Sinister are long-lived Evilutionary Biologists, who experimented on Magneto during their time as a Nazi scientists, and believe Mutants are destined to rule the world. Very different from the aristocratic, Manipulative Bastard, Bad Boss, War for Fun and Profit Shaw of the comics. Using Sinister would've also opened up the possibility of utilizing the more genuinely evil Marauders, instead of wasting the more interesting members of the Hellfire Club, like Emma Frost — here re-imagined as a one-note Dark Chick.
Unintentionally Sympathetic: Magneto killing Shaw is treated as a bad thing in-universe, when it was actually 100% justified. Anyone who believes in justice at all would've done the exact same thing if they murdered your mother as well as a fellow mutant, both in cold blood. And what other options were there? If he didn't do it right then and there, Shaw would've succeeded in provoking nuclear war.
What an Idiot!: 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 nothing until one projectile accidentally hits Charles.
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!
Moira trying to help stop Magneto from carrying out a particularly pointless/stupid attempt at "vengeance", only to unintentionally harm Charles, whom she's grown close to. Made worse by Erik trying to shift the blame to her and attempting to strangle her in cold blood, despite having deflected the bullets himself. Charles snaps back at him in unambiguous terms that he's responsible, and clearly implies that Magneto's growing prejudice towards normal humans has finally crossed a line he isn't willing to tolerate. (In what might be a bit of symbolism, Moira's the only muggle of the first X-Men team.) Charles doesn't only lose his ability to walk and then his friendship with Magneto and Mystique only minutes afterward, he almost lost Moira on the same day. Both him and Moira have to eventually part ways anyway, and poor Moira can't even keep her memories of him, for the sake of the team's safety.