2. X-MEN: FIRST CLASS
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Stars: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Rose Byrne, Jennifer Lawrence, January Jones, Kevin Bacon, Nicholas Hoult, Lucas Till, Zoe Kravitz, Oliver Platt
After the ineptitude of Brett Ratner’s 2006 fanboy devastator X-Men: The Last Stand, all director Matthew Vaughn needed to do in order for X-Men: First Class to revive Marvel Comics’ mutant property was tell a coherent story. Fortunately, he and his fellow Kick-Ass screenwriter Jane Goldman matched coherence with revisionist history, framing the origin story of Professor X (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) within the Cuban Missile Crisis. As much of a James Bond action flick as it is a CGI-laden superhero blockbuster, X-Men: First Class succeeds on all accounts, granting Vaughn the bragging rights associated with resurrecting one of the comic book world’s most iconic titles.
A great deal of the credit here goes to McAvoy and Fassbender, who dominate—in a great way—a film that’s not lacking in solid performances (Kevin Bacon’s villainous Sebastian Shaw is particularly memorable). McAvoy gives Charles Xavier a nice balance of smooth-talking charm and cerebral smarts, yet, when all’s said and done, X-Men: First Class is Fassbender’s show; already an in-demand actor on the verge of A-list acceptance, he’s, for lack of a better word, magnetic, covering the spectrum of emotions as his character evolves from vengeful ass-kicker to maniacal antagonist. Much like X-Men: First Class as a whole, Fassbender commands attention and supplies excellence.