I'm a late 80's child so when X-Men: The Animated Series came out? I still had chubby cheeks and bangs covering my forehead. But despite how young I was, I really fell in love with it. A team of mutants fighting to protect humanity from the forces of evil while at the same time trying to get society to accept them? It was like candy coated ice cream for breakfast.
Now I have my qualms with the early X-Men films including the origin film for Wolverine and I could go through each one right now but I'd just end up sounding like a whiny brat that cannot get over life's disappointments. And I don't want to be one of those people who is all about fidelity when it comes to adaptations because I'm quite loose in my terms for what makes a good adaptation.
So I'm just going to say that the first X-Men film I really liked. The ones that followed? I did not for various reasons (i.e. no Jubilation Lee, no Gambit, Rogue never developed as a character, ruined the whole Pheonix storyline with Jean Gray, and killed Scott Summers for no good reason, and eventually the Gambit that shows up sounds Texan and not Cajun). The most glaring problem is that they really weren't good films. They entertained for about five minutes before you started questioning what exactly you were watching and where the plot was.
But moving on to X-Men: First Class because this baby right here is a breath of fresh air. It's so well done. The film is entertaining, well thought out and it engages you every step of the way. The characters are amazing and the acting is so good (except for January Jones as Emma Frost, that girl has like one face that expresses all her emotion).
I'm not going to give a huge summary about the film because I don't think I can properly write one without a) giving everything away and b) making it really boring. I'll just say that the film takes place in 1962 during the Cold War and deals directly with the Cuban Missile Crisis involving Cuba, Russia and the United States of America. That tidbit is actually quite important for the overall story.
X-Men purists will rise up and scream, "BUT THE TIME LINES, KIMMIE. THE TIME LINES ARE ALL WRONG! HOW COULD THIS BE A GOOD FILM?"
Indeed the time lines are wrong if you actually know anything about the characters and their origins. Like Havok for instance is Alex Summmers who is the younger brother of Scott Summers (Cyclops). It doesn't make much sense for him to be in this film when you do some research and find out that in the other set of films Scott is in his 30's when Professor X (Xavier) is in his 60s. How could the little brother come before the older brother? That's a bit of a problem but it doesn't make the film bad because X-Men: First Class is anything but a bad film.
All of the mutants in this film are from all over the spectrum in terms of time. They're all pre-existing and none are new but they have never interacted together at this point in time in the original comics or the animated series. But despite that detail, the film is solid and after having watched it, I don't actually care that the only mutants I knew were Professor X, Magneto, Mystique and Beast. I'm actually glad that they introduced several mutants that weren't as well known and gave them center stage.
The film works as an adaptation for me because it took those mutants out of their times, out of their history and adapted them to this new story.
I'm pretty sure this is supposed to be a prequel for the other set of X-Men films but I'm going to ignore that. I think it should exist independently of them in order to create a new series. A much better one. Hopefully, a new coherent series that won't fall into a pit of despair and self-loathing after the first film. Just saying.
And if you don't know a thing about X-Men? It doesn't matter because this film makes it accessible to those who haven't been following the comic series since 1963. Want a superhero film without having to do any actual research in order to understand the film? This is it.
NOTE: This film is not based on the comic series titled X-Men:First Class. They share a name and some characters but the stories are completely different.