Magneto

As we all sit here at Reject HQ, gathered around an absurdly long, but incredibly imposing, table discussing what to do with the nuclear missiles we just “creatively appropriated” from a breakaway Russian republic, it occurs to us that 2011 was a great year to be bad. For every boring, dopey, goody-good hero that popped up on the silver screen, there was a brilliant, super cool, woefully misunderstood villain doing everything he/she/it could to thwart the zero hero at every turn. So when Supreme Commander #1, better known to the world (and those pesky Avengers so they’ll stop blasting our lair) as Neil Miller, issued an official order (delivered by a specially-trained, fire-breathing, gun-toting alligator who lives in the moat) to construct a supersonic death ray…that assignment went to Kate “Femme Fatale” Erbland. But then I got asked to do this list of the 20 Best Villains of 2011, a decided promotion from my usual position as sinister cocktail-fetcher and cleaner of the diabolical gutters.

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Culture Warrior

Themes of identity, difference, stigma, and othering are explicitly or implicitly present in much of the X-Men mythology, whether expressed through comics, television shows, or films. While I was never a devotee to the comics, as a fan of the 90s animated television series and (some of) the recent slate of Hollywood films (that have, as of this past weekend, effectively framed the continually dominant superhero blockbuster genre), I’ve always been fascinated by the series’ ability to take part in the language of social identity issues. Fantastic genres like horror and sci-fi have often provided an allegorical means of addressing social crises (vampire films as AIDS metaphor, zombie movie as conformist critique, or Dystopian sci-fi as technocratic critique, for example). The superhero genre has possessed a similar history in this capacity, even though it has thus far been mostly unrealized in the medium of film. As big entertainment, superhero films ranging from the first Spider-Man to the Iron Man films have bestowed narratives of exceptionalism and wish-fulfillment rather than shown any aspiration towards critique or insight. Perhaps The Dark Knight is most involved example of social critique thus far – a film that explores themes surrounding the personal toll on fighting terror and the overreaches of power that can result in the name of pursuing safety. What X-Men: First Class (almost) accomplishes is mining fully the allegorical territory made available by its fantastic premise in a way that few previous comic book films have.

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Erik Lensherr/Magneto mustn’t be the easiest of characters to jump into. Can you imagine being on set trying to look serious while throwing your hands around to make it seem as if you’re controlling metal? And, at the same time, while sporting a big cape and a purple helmet? Playing drama seriously – especially when wearing a potentially goofy outfit and doing unworldly things – can’t be easy. But, as Michael Fassbender says below, you just have to jump in and take chances. While many keep citing Fassbender’s take on Magneto in X-Men: First Class as being very Bond-esque, that doesn’t totally fit with how he describes the role. Yes, there’s a coolness factor to him, something that apparently sticks out even more when he’s hunting down Nazis in the film, but it was important for Fassbender to subtlety find a tragic anger to the future villain. Recently, I had the chance to speak briefly with Fassbender (whose résumé would already make some veteran actors jealous) about working on a control freak’s set, trying not to look goofy, and finding humanity in potential bastards.

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Official images have all been released, the trailers have been scrutinized, screenings of the completed film have been shown, and it’s getting to be about the end of the pre-release publicity party for Mathew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class. So what’s a 24-hour a day media cycle to do when looking for something else to talk about? Look ahead to the sequel of course! Luckily for all of us Vaughn recently sat down for a chat with Hitfix’s Drew McWeeny and let a couple of juicy nuggets slip about possible plans for a First Class sequel. Firstly, on the possibility of him doing such a thing, Vaughn said, “Yeah, definitely. I really loved working with them, and with Michael [Fassbender] and James [McAvoy], the chemistry was really lovely.” Of course, that’s pretty much what any director is going to say about a possible sequel to his upcoming, hopefully huge super hero movie. But Vaughn doesn’t just stop at saying everyone is wonderful and everyone got along great. He’s got some concrete plans about what he wants to do in a sequel. He continues, “I’ve got some ideas for the opening for the next film. I thought it would be fun to open with the Kennedy Assassination, and we reveal that the magic bullet was controlled by Magneto. That would explain the physics of it, and we see that he’s pissed off because Kennedy took all the credit for saving the world and mutants weren’t even mentioned. And we could go from there, and I’ve […]

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Combing through movie news and trivium all day is enough to make someone jaded. Thus, it’s important to remember when a piece of fluff marketing like this comes out, to keep a level head about what it really means. Does it say anything about the movie itself? Not really. Does it say something about the photoshop skills of whoever made it. Certainly. With that in mind, here’s the first official cast picture from X-Men: First Class, showing off a little midriff on January Jones, a little stone cold stare from everyone else, and a whole lot of cheese.

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While writer/director David S. Goyer is currently out there doing press for his upcoming film The Unborn, the talk of the town is still all about what he will do next.

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X-Men: First Class

The folks at Variety are reporting that 20th Century Fox has signed Gossip Girl and Chuck creator Josh Schwartz to pen the much ballyhooed X-Men: First Class.

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We got some plot details for the forthcoming origin story for one of the most famous Marvel villains.

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