[Editor's note: This story originally ran on Monday, but with the movie opening today, we thought it was worth revisiting.]
OK. You've seen the trailers, read the fawning reviews and are totally and completely psyched to "witness the beginning" when X-Men: First Class hits theaters on Friday. (Of course, if you're not, well, no need to read any further.)
Great. Then let's all take a moment to acquaint ourselves with some of the marvelous mutants that we'll be spending a little time with this weekend, shall we?
Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto: This badass can pretty much do it all. With the ability to manipulate electricity, gravity, and other parts of the electromagnetic spectrum (i.e. heat, radio waves, x-rays, etc.) as well as the ability to protect himself from most telepathic attacks, his powers are seemingly limitless. Yet, before he went over to the "dark side," Erik really was actually an OK dude. Michael Fassbender takes on the role previously played by Ian McKellan, and the film explores just what made this character change from Erik to Magneto.
Charles Xavier/Professor X: Reading people's minds is one thing, but for this guy, his telepathy allows him to control their minds. In X-Men: First Class, James McAvoy plays the do-gooder, portrayed by Patrick Stewart in the earlier flicks, and we'll get to see how before Charles and Erik became archenemies, the two were actually best friends.
Raven Darkholme/Mystique: This young lady is not only a skilled fighter and strategist, but she's also a shape shifter who can turn into anyone. Previously played by Rebecca Romijn, it's Jennifer Lawrence who gets the blue bodypaint treatment in the prequel, which takes us back to Mystique's childhood and teenage years, and reveals a very different side to her.
Janos Quested/Riptide: If you have the need, the need for speed, then Riptide is your man. Assuming, of course, you don't mind a few shuriken hurled your way on occasion. See, this mutant, portrayed by Alex Gonzalez, not only has the ability to spin at a very fast rate, but in the process, he's also known for using those quick-moving opportunities to send out sharp calcified masses generated from within his body at such a velocity that they can actually cut through solid steel. Ouch!
Sean Cassidy/Banshee: Not to be confused with the Hardy Boys fella (that's Shaun Cassidy), this mutant played by Caleb Landry Jones is a real scream. Literally. Thanks to a powerful set of pipes, Banshee is able to generate sonic screams and vibrations strong enough to help him remain airborne as well as keep little things at bay like, say, an oncoming submarine.
Hank McCoy/Beast: Talk about finding yourself in a hairy situation. As if being born with animal-like features wasn't bad enough, the poor guy eventually winds up completely covered in blue fur. Well, at least he can take some comfort in knowing that not only does he possess superhuman strength, speed and agility, but he has the mind of a genius as well. Kelsey Grammer played an older version of the character in X-Men: The Last Stand. This time around, Nicholas Hoult, best remembered as the young kid that Hugh Grant befriends in About a Boy, sinks his teeth into the role.
Alex Summers/Havoc: Being able to absorb excess energy and convert it into blasts of plasma might be a good thing—that is, as long as you can keep it under control. While that's initially a problem for our friend here, played by Lucas Till, he's soon given a chest-piece that helps contain his powers and prevents him from blowing up everything in sight. And, that, is a very good thing.
Emma Frost: January Jones hopes to give us chills as this villain who has the power of telepathy and the ability to transform into a diamond state—both of which she definitely uses to her full advantage. But is she really just a good girl gone bad or have past experiences led her down the road of evil? Guess we'll just have to wait and see.
(Originally published May 31, 2011, at 4:30 a.m. PT)
WATCH: X-Men: First Class Cast Powers Up