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My Biggest, Nerdiest Nitpicks with X-Men: First Class

[UPDATE: Thanks for the great, thoughtful comments on this post. At this point, many of the nitpicks in this post have been addressed already, but I’m leaving it up for posterity’s sake. Be sure to read the comments if you’re seeing this post for the first time.]

WARNING: the following post will be extremely nitpicky without discussing anything of actual importance, and contain SPOILERS for X-Men: First Class (listen to our review with director Vincenzo Natali for an actual, in-depth discussion of the film). You’ve been warned:

  • In the opening scene, how does Mystique know what Charles’ mother’s voice sounds like? Also, what is the power dynamic in that household? Does Xavier just get to do whatever the hell he wants (including taking in stragglers), regardless of what his parents think? If this is true, does Xavier control his parents using telepathy? If so, what a disturbing thought.
  • If Xavier lived in New York as a child (and his family has clearly been there for generations), why does he have a British accent, both as a child as an adult?
  • If Emma Frost is really able to convert herself into diamond form, how did Magneto almost crush her throat using the gold bed bannister? Diamonds are harder than gold on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. Also, how can Magneto control non-ferrous metals in the first place? (And if it was just some random metal that was colored gold, my first point is doubly true, since it probably wouldn’t have been as hard as gold). 
  • In the first war room scene, after Colonel Hendry’s encounter with Shaw, wouldn’t Pentagon officials have known that Hendry wasn’t supposed to be there, and found it odd that he showed up suddenly and unannounced? 
  • How did the Russians develop a helmet that could resist telepaths? This was before a time when people even had a widespread awareness that mutants existed.
  • Why doesn’t Emma Frost use her telepathic or diamond powers to escape the CIA?

Have any answers, or more questions? Feel free to chime in in the comments and I’ll try to update this list. I’m sure that some of these have simple explanations that escape me. Note: I chose not to include any of the retcon stuff in this list because I’m sure the list would be huge.

  • Diamond is able to be crushed, quite easily actually. It's SCRATCHING that it can resist.

  • Matt: Good point!

  • Bon

    I'm going to nitpick your nitpicks.

    Gold is an incredibly soft metal. That bedframe was probably not solid gold, but iron with gold plating. Iron is much harder than gold (still not as hard as diamond, but diamond is just about the hardest thing there is).

    You're still right about the cracking of Emma Frost being unlikely.

  • Here's a broader point though: If diamond can be crushed so easily, what is the point of transforming into it? I guess…to be sharper? Literally?

  • I think it's so we don't have to see January Jones' sourpuss look all the time.

  • Pat

    Good point a/b Frost not leaving the C.I.A. I also agree that it's weird that the Russians built Shaws/Magneto's helmet. I think it would have been easier for Shaw just to say that ithe helmet is something he's been working on, due to himself wanting to protect his mind in case Frost ever turned on him.

    On the whole Xavier british accent thing, I think it's entirely possible that his parent(s) spoke with accents and that would lead him to have a British accent. Hey, Christopher Nolan grew up in Chicago.

  • Regarding why the helmet was made. We see how much influence Shaw has over the Russian government to the point to insight nuclear war. So i imagine he told some scientists to make a 'special' helmet for him out of Adamantium or something from that universe. Or in saying it was a 'gift' he may have just stolen it or killed the people who made it after he made them make it for him. he is powerful and evil so he can get shit done.

  • In the comics, Emma Frost's "diamond form" just gives her a bit of added protection, and disables her psychic abilities. This also means, however, that telepaths can't read her mind either.

    As for the helmet, I always thought it was a product of Cold War psy-ops experiments. Crazy projects like, supposedly, MKULTRA and Majestic. Didn't mean that anyone knew about mutants, it just means that the Russians have looked into the idea of telepathy being real.

  • Dan

    Here's a somewhat rhetorical question for ya Dave: Would you have asked these questions whilst reading a comic book depicting the same events?
    As for Emma not escaping from the CIA, it looked obvious to me that the room she was locked in looked "special", and therefore couldn't escape easily.
    The accent point is really small: I have known more than a few people throughout my life who grew up in the states who still retain the accents of their origin.

  • Wow, really good theories about the helmet, guys. I'm impressed!

  • Pat

    I also think it's implied that when Frost goes into Diamond form she can block other telepaths, and repel bullets. She just not crush-proof.

  • @Dan: Are you serious about the room she was in? There's a scene where she literally walks up to the glass and carves out a hole using her finger.

  • i think its implied that Xavier's parents are not active in his upbringing hence why he knew that mystique was not his mum. Mystique would have pretended to be a young girl without a home which his parents (being too rich to care) would have accepted. She would also act as a friend for Xavier which they would have liked as they dont have time to spend time with him.

  • I think Emma Frost was just waiting to be rescued by Sebastian Shaw. For all we know, she can actually be her friend or his long time ally, so she may not have other place to go. She's just waiting confident there because she thinks she won't be left behind. After all, her abillities were very useful for Shaw.

  • In regards to the Helmet I believe it is supposed to be a nod to Russian psy-ops research, so it makes sense that they would have built that type of helmet. Having it work on the other hand, meh. Also concerning Emmas escape, i agree 100%, she should have broken out of there in a snap. She broke the glass to say a lame line and then go back and sit down? Clearly the only explanation is she is a lame character (in this movie not in the comics) who doesn't do anything without being told to.

  • I agree with James. I think Xavier's able to take in Raven because his parents are never around and he's basically looked after by nannies. At least that's the feeling that I got from the film. Less to do with the power dynamic between him and his parents and more to do with the fact they're absentee parents.

    Getting to your other point about his accent: How do we know that that house in New York isn't a summer home?

  • @Justine I agree with everything you said except the bit about this multi-quadrillion dollar estate being a "summer home" 😛

  • Emma Frost turns into Diamond to block other telepaths. That was clearly explained in the film.

  • @David It could have been passed down the generations, no? 😛

  • @RokmanFilms I get that, but without other utilities, that would have been a pretty limited power before she knew about Xavier or other telepaths.

  • Well, she sure didn't have a problem owning the fuck out of Xavier the first time they met. She also recognized another telepath close by before either of them engaged in a mental tug-of-war. Xavier only knew she was there after she was in HIS head and blocking Xavier from the boat. I wouldn't be surprised if she HAD in fact met a telepath previously.

    A quick skim of Emma Frost's wiki:

    "She also meets a fellow telepath named Astrid Bloom" (This is before she goes to the Hellfire Club and meets Shaw)

  • EDC

    perhaps she met other telepaths and found out she could block them when she turned to diamond form.

  • EDC

    theconundrumm: she turns her hand to diamond. and possibly listens in on the 2 agents' conversations.

  • Frost couldn't escape the CIA as her cell was lined with dampeners that rendered her powers inert…

  • amend "rendered her powers inert" to "rendered her TELEPATHY inert" then…

  • and you don't need telepathy to hear a conversation through a pane of glass

  • EDC

    I mean she possibly mentally listens in on the agents' conversation.
    it's kinda iffy in the directing.
    it depends on the glass whether she can hear through it from the middle of the room.

  • Here's what I was wondering, and it's entirely possible I just missed the answer. But what was Xavier's plan for what to do with Sebastian Shaw? He was opposed to Erik killing him and, given the WHY in Erik killing him, I certainly understand that. Ultimately it would be the turning point for him. But what was his plan?? I mean, he could BARELY hold this guy. How did he plan to capture him without killing him and keep him anywhere? Or did he plan to have him killed, if so, how? While Magneto is clearly wrong in many of his viewpoints, I feel that Xavier's pacifism (if that's what you would call it) is also somewhat naive and misguided. Sometimes someone has to die to protect a larger interest. Surely that's never MORE black and white then in a situation like this. I would love to hear people's takes on this! Loved the movie. 🙂


  • Isn't it implied that he (Shaw) had a relationship with the Russians? Aren't you assuming that he withheld this information from them?

  • "In the opening scene, how does Mystique know what Charles' mother's voice sounds like?"
    I think Mystique just needs to see a person to inhibit all their qualities, even their voices. At least, it's seemed that way in the other movies too.

  • "If Emma Frost is really able to convert herself into diamond form, how did Magneto almost crush her throat using the gold bed bannister?"

    Now I'm not sure about this science, but I don't think the hardness has anything to do with why the diamond was able to be cracked. I think it was the immense pressure that was being put on it when Erik was squeezing her neck. He wasn't smashing the two metals together, so I don't think the metal he was using had to be harder than the diamond.

  • @BethanyK Yeah I think that was simply bad writing on the movies part(atleast when it came to the last 20 mins or so). The Xavier/Magneto contrast worked perfectly but since neither one of them had any give, the only solution seemed to be to kill Shaw. Since as far as we know Xavier had no way to nullify or dampen Shaw's powers(seemingly). I guess he figured they somehow beat Shaw, turn him over the the government where he would be tried and hanged as a war criminal. How they would do this, who knows?

    I also thought it was weird that everyone just stood their as Xavier/Magneto fought, I know Magento told them to stay back. But I figure atleast Banshee could have knocked Magneto out(unless the Helmet also nullifies sound waves, which I don't think it does). That whole scene just seemed like a forced division/way to make Xavier paralyzed.

    Sorry for the long comment and this was still a really enjoyable flick

  • "In the first war room scene, after Colonel Hendry's encounter with Shaw, wouldn't Pentagon officials have known that Hendry wasn't supposed to be there, and found it odd that he showed up suddenly and unannounced?"

    It's odd, but I doubt they would see it as so odd that they would trust Rose Byrn saying that he fucking teleported there.

  • "Why doesn't Emma Frost use her telepathic or diamond powers to escape the CIA?"

    "Are you serious about the room she was in? There's a scene where she literally walks up to the glass and carves out a hole using her finger."

    It's not like all she had to do was get past that glass to escape. She's inside a military base, and her powers aren't particularly designed for escape. If she had any hope of surviving the onslaught of soldiers that would be there to stop her, she would need to be in diamond form. However, I don't see a diamond woman being too much of a hassle to stop (erik and xavior apprehend her without using their powers at first). Her other power, telepathy, would help, but she wouldn't be able to use it in diamond form. If she went out of diamond form, she could get shot pretty easily (it doesn't appear that she can freeze people in time like Xavior can, or she would have used that in Shaw's earlier plans quite a bit). Also, Shaw's plan essentially ends in killing all humans in the area, so she'd be good if she waited it out. It's clear she can get past the glass, but there's just no way she would risk her life to get some comfort for a few days before the near invincible Shaw completes his supposed foolproof plan.

  • Ok here's my question.
    Why didn't Erik just crush the helmet like he did with the nazi's? It looked metallic and if magneto can control adamantium he should have at least tried it?

    Also when Xavier was battling Emmma Frost, did anyone think of that South Park episode where Cartman has Psychic powers? 🙂

  • My main nitpick is in regards to the Angel character. In less than a week, she goes from being a stripper, to making friends and bonding with this new extraordinary group of people. And then when they're attacked by this guy who's just killing innocent soldiers left and right, she sides with him without a second thought? Now, I listened to the /Filmcast and agree that they did slightly try to address that issue with that one-liner she drops. However it gets worse when you consider that one of her new "friends" comes and tries to rescue her, only to be killed nonchalantly by the bad guy(whose whole philosophy says that he doesn't like to harm other mutants btw), YET she still decides this is the best thing for her? Really?

    Also, the next time we see her, she's manning the controls of a nuclear sub. Uhh…WHAT?

    Overall, I still loved the movie, and I plan on seeing it in theaters again. Maybe when I'm in Boston next week.

  • @pdpowell Yeah, that's kind of what I thought. I was really hoping I didn't somehow miss some major point where they explained their plan. I mean, I don't know how that would have happened but you never can tell!

  • @Christopher But it seems like some of her powers could have been used for escape. I mean, if she was able to mentally project an image of herself that the military guy thought he was having sex with, wouldn't something like that be useful? Just a thought. I mean, she could make the people there think they saw her sitting there and slip out. Her powers are only useful to a certain physical distance but probably by the time they faded out, she could be more or less out?
    I'm not sure it would work but it does seem like there's a possibility. However, I tend to agree with MrCristal. I don't think that there was anything particular she necessarily needed to be doing and she was very confident that Shaw would come back for her so she was just hanging out. 😛

    Also, Dave, thanks so much to you guys for your /Film review of it! I really enjoyed it. 🙂 Can't wait for Super 8.

  • "How did the Russians develop a helmet that could resist telepaths? This was before a time when people even had a widespread awareness that mutants existed."

    I think the answer lies on your own question. Even though there was no "widespread awareness" of mutants, it is not a stretch to assume that the Russians knew about mutants and had been taking actions against/in defense of them in secret.

  • Consider how the agents at the CIA base treated her. Angel said that she'd rather be stared at with her clothes off than the way the agents do with their clothes on. She joined to have a better life, and after being treated like that by the agents… As for her going even after what she saw Shaw do, consider that Magneto agreed with everything Shaw believed in… and in a world where Shaw hadn't killed his mother, he would have joined him. How could Angel resist?

    As for her manning a sub station, Emma Frost could have telepathically shown her how to run that post. She wouldn't be an old ship's hand, but good enough to get the job done.

  • Mystique could have been hiding in the house for days, posing as servants, allowing plenty of opportunity to know what everyone in the house looks like. Xavier doesn't check her mind until he gets suspicious, so the nightly fridge raid could have been a regular occurrence, up until he happened to catch her in the act.