Often created as a result of trauma (see Batman watching his parents murdered; Superman suffering an abrupt separation from his parents and planet; Spiderman being bitten by a radioactive insect) super heroes do not have easy beginnings. To their fans, however, their "origin stories" are of the greatest import. These early years add depth to their myth like personas. Unfortunately the films about their early lives, usually prequels, are poorly done and not entertaining. This is not the case with X-Men: First Class. This is a prequel that satisfies on all levels. What can be more interesting than the combination of actual footage of JFK, amazing special effects, and a cameo by Hugh Jackman? The director Mathew Vaughn is a great story teller and keeps the action and locales moving. He adds a sense of lightness to the whole film , much as he did with the ridiculous Kick Ass, but still is able to inject a post Stone Wall Pride and tolerance into the screen play. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are great as the leads as is Jennifer Lawrence as the insecure Raven/Mystique. Set against the background of the Holocaust and the Cuban Missile Crisis, these X-Men in waiting are forced to deal with nuclear annihilation as well as adolescent developmental tasks: Body image problems of being Blue or having large feet; learning to channel their anger and impulses. The psychology of the two main characters Erik/Magneto and Charles Xavier/Professor X is quite interesting, causing best friends to become arch enemies. Though both are mutants, as a result of genetics (nature), they had very different childhoods (nurture). Magneto seeks revenge for his horror of life in a concentration camp, at the hands of a murderous Nazi played by a campy Kevin Bacon. He is has lost all trust in the world, while Professor X, raised in safety and security wants peace and acceptance.

With a rating of PG-13 , this is not a movie for young children because of the violence (parents being killed), and sex (several scenes of the main stars dressed in apparel from Victoria Secret).

Michael Brody M.D.
mbrody@umd.edu