'X-Men: First Class' scoop: Director Matthew Vaughn says 'imagine Bond'...and 'Twilight'

X-men-3-Fassbender-VaughnImage Credit: Murray Close; Inset: PR PhotosThe X-Men are heading back to the ’60s, which, considering that the first X-Men comic hit stands in 1963, is maybe where they truly belong. X-Men: First Class (out June 3) explores the initial friendship and eventual schism between Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr (Inglourious Basterds‘ Michael Fassbender, pictured right), two young mutants who later became known as the feuding Professor X and Magneto. But first they’ll have to thwart a bent-on-world-domination secret society, the Hellfire Club.

EW recently checked in with Kick-Ass director Matthew Vaughn (pictured above, inset), who talked about how his version of Magneto will resemble a certain silver-screen icon from the movie’s time period, why he’s not worried about die-hard X-Men fans, and how he returned to the X-Men universe after famously stepping away from X-Men: The Last Stand.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How would you describe First Class to the uninitiated?
MATTHEW VAUGHN: The best way of describing it is X-Men meets Bond, with a little bit of Thirteen Days thrown in for good measure. It’s set in the ’60s, and I basically molded a young Magneto on a young Sean Connery. He’s the ultimate spy — imagine Bond, but with superpowers.

If Magneto is Bond, then what about Charles Xavier?
You’re seeing Xavier become a professor. For me, Magneto is the good guy in the film, but he’s a sort of a good bad guy. He literally kicks off the movie, and Xavier goes along on the ride trying to figure out what the hell is going on, and trying to persuade Erik that you don’t have to kill everyone.

X-men-3-McAvoyImage Credit: Murray CloseI know you’re under tight restrictions about what you can reveal regarding the plot, but, well, what else can you say?
In the beginning of the film, no one knows that mutants exist, and all the mutants don’t know that each other exist. They’re all in hiding. Kevin Bacon plays a very megalomaniac mutant [Sebastian Shaw] who decides that he can take over the world and that mutants are the future. Erik and Charles then meet each other and hook up with the CIA to try and prevent World War III. You find out everything about what went on between Erik and Charles.

And there are flashbacks with Erik and Charles as young children?
They’re not flashbacks — we start there. It starts in 1942, and then works its way up to 1962.

Did you have any concerns about how, no matter what you do, you may anger some of the die-hard fans?
Yeah, but I could tell those fans that they’re wrong. One thing about the X-Men world is that, if you know your X-Men universe, every writer reinvented the storyline. I did my research, and none of the histories of the characters make any sense. Each writer just totally changed the history to make their plot work. So I can quite safely say that X-Men has a history of reinventing its history for the sake of the plot.

Is the movie related at all to the First Class comics?
Not really. There are a lot of nods to the X-Men world and the X-Men movies, but it’s definitely its own beast.

You were going to direct X-Men: The Last Stand and then dropped out two months before filming started. The story is that you thought you weren’t going to have enough time to see your vision through…
That’s true. It was as simple as that. In retrospect, I probably would have had more time then than I do now, which is highly ironic. But I also have more experience now than I did then. And I had no idea how big-budget filmmaking worked, so I was just applying small-budget independent-style logic to the wrong equation. And when I saw the film, I realized that Fox would have given me all the tools I needed. I was just stupid enough not to take them. But we both decided to cross the bridge together again. I definitely had burned a bridge. But they asked, so we met and we both kissed and made up and went off to make the film.

X-men-3-castImage Credit: Murray CloseHow did you settle on James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender as Professor X and Magneto, respectively?
Professor X is a very hard character to cast. Out of all the characters, he’s the dullest if you really think about it. He’ll be in a wheelchair eventually, and he’s sort of a sanctimonious preacher half of the time. Patrick Stewart brought so much to that role, and I needed to get an actor who could do the same — who could give him a fourth dimension that’d make him sparkle. James was literally at the top of the list, and he said yes, so I got my first actor very quickly.

Magneto was a juicier role. I’ve been watching Fassbender for a long time, and I knew the guy was going to pop as a movie star. He read it and knocked it out of the park, and the rest of the cast just fell in around them. What makes me laugh is, by this time next year, half of my cast is going to be extremely popular and famous. Jennifer Lawrence [i.e. Raven Darkholme/Mystique] is going to pop. Nicholas Hoult [i.e. Hank McCoy/Beast] definitely is. People are going to find Kevin Bacon a revelation, and January Jones [i.e. Emma Frost] has got huge star potential.

And, please, one more story tease?
It’s got a lot of teenage angst. The Twilight girls will like it.

Comments (105 total) Add your comment
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  • KC

    Sounds pretty bad to me.
    Fingers crossed.

    • MJ

      Yeah…BAD ASS!!!!!!!

      • Kendall Knight

        “Twilight girls” is where he lost me, no respect for that – just a bunch of brainless preteen/teen chicks

      • jk

        I sincerely hope so.

      • Jimmynog

        mmmmmm brainless teen chicks.

      • harry


  • Rancor

    I wish they could get a X-men movie right.I really hope this comes out better than it sounds.

    • Rocnar

      Ever heard of X-Men 2?

      • Bluto

        Please—none of the movies have been great on the level of, say—”Iron Man” or “The Dark Knight.” They’ve been okay/good at best.

      • Peter C.

        Amen! X-Men 2 was awesome… the original was really necessary to allow FOX to see, “hey, we’ve got something huge here” but unfortunately if they continue to kick out nonsense like the Last Stand and that awful Wolverine movie I would rather they just kill the series. I have a good feeling about this one… but I was really excited to see the Phoenix in part three… that was such a waste of film… Please be good… please be good…

      • thin

        Yeah, that third movie was such a disappointment. They had it set up so well from the second one, and it was such a big dumb letdown.

      • Will

        X men 2 was my least fav of the trilogy. Its all about Wolverine, may as well have been the wolverine movie. Having said that, I still love it but X3 was mindblowing the first time i saw it.

      • Mr. Cool

        X-2 and X-men were at least as good as Iron Man, if not better.
        (X-2 was a better wolverine movie than Wolverine was)

      • XK

        X-Men was really just a setup piece… while not great, it should get credit for helping to bring back mainstream comic movies. X-2 was really good, in my opinion. X-3 was a giant steaming turd, as was Wolverine, (and as I expect First Class to be).

  • RJ

    I’m sorry Mr. Vaughn seems hostile to the fans. This is the first time I’ve seen it in his comments. For the record, he’s all right with Magneto being a spy. Magneto was a spy in the comics before he put on the Magneto costume. But Mr. Vaughn is also wrong about the character histories. Magneto’s history has been consistent since his backstory was supplied in 1982. Before then, there was no backstory. Xavier’s history has been tweaked here and there, but it too has been remarkably consistent over the years. On the contrary, Marvel has gone to great lengths to preserve their character histories. Writers do NOT get to make it up as they go. Mr. Vaughn must not have read the comics in order, or paid much attention to them. But why is he being so defensive anyway? This is the movie-verse, not the comics. I think he and Bryan Singer have gone out of their ways to make this movie fit their own continuity. That’s called consistency, and I for one am not complaining.

    • L.T.

      He MADE Kick-Ass ‘NUFF said! I so look forward to this film!

    • JBD

      Yeah, I agree with what you said. He did come across hostile to the fans. X-Men is my favorite comic, and X2, my favorite movie, so I’m looking forward to this one even if it diverges from the comics.

      • Mathieu

        Vaughn just has very blunt manner about him anyway, a no-nonsense way of speaking. He sounds more hostile in print than if it had been a video interview, I suspect. I think it’s right that the film universe should be its own entity and have its own continuity. You can’t possibly expect a two-hour film to follow fifty years of comics to the letter. I’m still optimistic that this will be the first decent X-Men movie since X2.

      • antonio

        i agree but also disagree. yes each writer must make the story his or her on. but their our thibgs that you don’t mess with. and charles to me is also one of the most powerful x-men their is. not at all is he dull or someone you take lightly. hopefully this will be a chance to fix the last three and they can finally break away form everything being about wolverine. and i for one would love for them to do a story on storm or some of the other x-men

    • RM

      Wanna know why you have to ignore the movie continuity? This is the 48th year of X-Men stories, and much of the writing in that time has been utterly terrible.

      Let’s say you’re telling the story of Cyclops and Jean Gray. She’s Marvel Girl, dies, comes back as the Phoenix. She turns bad, goes Supernova, destroys a planet, and Wolverine has to kill her.

      Cyclops married her clone. They have a son who is infected with a virus, so they send him to the future to save his life. He comes back calling himself Cable to fight his clone Stryfe.

      In the meantime, his Mom Jean Grey comes back. And dies again. And comes back and dies more often than Kenny on South Park.

      Imagine making a movie when you are weighed down with all that CRAP. A filmmaker would have to be insane.

      • dusen

        Agree totally RM. Anybody trying to adhere to 40+ years of convoluted continuity is bound to fail.

        I wasn’t excited about this movie initially, but as more time goes on it is starting to interest me more. Seems well-cast, decent director – the only unknown is the script. Fingers crossed.

    • thin

      Sorry, but he’s right, and if you don’t think he is, you haven’t really been paying attention to the comics. There are now several entirely different X-Men continuities flying around the Marvel universe. It’s not that the writers kept changing it (he’s wrong on that point), but that Marvel keeps starting new books using the same characters doing different things and coming from different places.

  • Felix

    Sigh…he was doing fine until that last, interview-ruining comment. Why the HELL do we live in a world where Twilight has to be the standard for everything and its insufferable fanbase has to be the #1 target demographic?

    • chris

      @felix: Totally agree, Felix. He dropped the ball on the last question.

      • x -men fan

        He’s British. it’s British humor, he’s joking.

      • Brett

        There’s British humor, and there’s what he said. Don’t confuse the two. I’m willing to forgive his pomposity in assuming that the fanbase that made this franchise possible is “wrong” if they disagree with his approach, but when he decides that Magneto should be Sean Connery and that there’s a lot of “Twilight” angst, I suspect that this film is going to miserably fail. This will make fans think Ratner’s movie was “Citizen Kane” by comparison.

      • Mac

        Relax. He just said it has a healthy amount of teen angst, something the X-Men have always had. Comics are nothing more than soap operas in which the characters have superpowers. Guys don’t like to admit it, but it’s true.

      • Toggle

        Not only do I think he was joking, but I think he deliberately did it because the interviewer kept poking him for story tidbits.

    • Liz Lemon

      Because they’re crazy and easily pleased, which means the studios don’t have to worry about spending a lot of money and the fans will go see it anyways. However, luckily the vast majority of the world’s population are not twilight fans…so studios who try to target that audience are doing nothing but hurting themselves.

    • Mole

      It was a flippant comment. Chill out.

    • Mike

      You’re really far too uptight and/or close minded. He was joking…

  • ashley

    *slaps forehead*
    yeah not seeing this.

  • rebecca

    Okay so if it was like James Bond, then I would be really excited, but since it is also like Twilight then that makes me completely unexcited. Lets see the best film series ever combined with one of the worst film series ever!! Not a great match!

  • Henry

    I know this is gonna sound inane, but the dude’s helmet is crooked…

    • thin

      I thought the same thing. Great publicity shot!

  • Kris

    Alice Eve would have been a MUCH better Emma Frost. Sucks she got canned for January.

    • RandallA

      You people are retards. Matthew Vaughan is a top notch film maker. He’s yet to make a bad movie. I fully expect this is be incredible as well. There’s nothing worse than uneducated fanboys who dont know what they’re talking about.

    • Mike

      Mathew Vaughan is fantastic, and January Jones is one of the most gorgeous women on the planet, who I think can act. I can’t know for sure, though, since I’m always staring at her cans…but either or works for me.

      • Brett

        I suppose I’m glad he was tapped for this and that he dropped out of making “Thor.” “Thor” wound up getting a much better director as a result.

    • anna

      how do you know she would be better?

  • James

    Pretty sure the last bit is a joke/jab. Like, dry humor/wit. I don’t think he’s being serious or genuinely reaching out to Twihards. It’s hard to find humorous context in a transcript like this, but that’s how I took it — a smartass underhanded compliment.

  • tracy bluth

    I’m going to pass on this. First of all, January Jones as Emma Frost? Are you kidding me? Second of all, he digged his own grave with the Twilight comment.

    • tracy bluth

      * dug his own grave

    • James

      It. Was. A. Joke.

      • Brian

        How do you know?

      • James

        Because I have a brain and can tell when someone is using dry humor?

      • Mike

        To anyone who couldn’t tell it was a joke: you are truly, truly stupid. Watch behind the scenes videos with him, or interviews, and you can clearly see those jokes ARE his sense of humor. Even without knowing anything about him, though, common sense and any form of deduction would dictate that that comment be a joke.

    • siobhan

      If the only reason you won’t see this movie is that someone you don’t even know who happens to enjoy the Twilight books or films as well as the X-Men franchise, then you are a snob and an idiot.

  • A-K87

    I wonder if Fassbender will make a good future Bond…

    I bet Hardy will be a candidate in about 10 years time too.

  • Jay

    kevin bacon as sebastian shaw?
    i dont think so

  • mephysto

    The first x men movie was decent. Second one was amazing though, but everything after that sucked harder then a prostitute from tijuana. I am not a fan of Matthew Vaughn, and after learning more about this movie, I have decided not to waste money on it… go to hell fox!

  • Dusty

    The CIA? Really? And he is wrong about the character history consistency. I understand slight tweaks on teh universe for purposes of realism, but this sounds like he’s just saying screw the fans and the storylines that have been created previously. And what’s with the disdain for Professor Xavier? He’s an extremely powerful mutant that founds the X-Men. There’s alot you could do with him besides reducing him to a “sanctimonious preacher”. I was excited for this movie until now; now I’m worried this one will be messed up too.

    • Dean

      Someone’s a bit touchy. Take a deep breath, it’ll all be OK.

    • XK

      Yeah, I really got the impression that he has no idea what makes the X-men the X-men, research or no research. So, if he’s going to basically write off one of his characters entirely (sanctimonious preacher) and then happily ignore continuity (because it serves his plot to do so), why would a fan of the comics want to see this?

    • antonio

      i will have to agree with you on the charles part. he can take down alot of his counter parts

  • Josh

    Yikes, I mean as most X-fans believe, I think this movie looks horrible.

    But seriously guys, he has one throw away to Twilight and you put that in the title? Not only is that a pretty negative thing to put concerning the movie(no X-fan wants Twilight in their movie) but it’s false.

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