Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Is The Hellfire Club in "X-Men: First Class?"

At this point, I'm not even sure what Matthew Vaughn's "X-Men: First Class" (aka "X-Men 4: Sorry About X-Men 3") is supposed to be - everyone knows it's a "young Xavier & Magneto" story with mostly new characters and younger versions of the familiar ones, but no one yet seems willing to say whether this is a prequel like "Origins: Wolverine" (though casting new actors for Xavier and Cyclops when "O:W" had different ones would seem to negate that) or a reboot.

What everyone has been more-concretely wondering has been just what the "bad guy" is, since this is supposedly the pre-villain Magneto. The government? Other mutants? Mr. Sinister? Well, a dig through the various bits of casting-news turns up a fairly intriguing possibility.

Firstly, today we learn via io9/XMF that January Jones is apparently playing Emma Frost, aka "The White Queen," (another role someone else already had in "Origins") generally-speaking a role most fans begin and end caring about to the degree that she might wear "the costume." But then again, remember that blip awhile back that Kevin Bacon was playing "a bad guy" in this, too? Well, did anyone bother to go look and see if his "bad guy" had a name? Well, he does...

Sebastian Shaw.

If you're an X-Men fan, that name alone ought to send something up your spine - especially coupled with the constant refrain of Frost being a "major" character in the film. In the comics, they were two parts of a bad-guy collective called "The Hellfire Club" - a bunch of Euro-flavored mutant aristocrats who's organization had more than a hint of S&M/instutionalized-decadence hovering about it (re: corsets, whips and lots of anachronistic Victorian fashion) and who's actions more or less kicked-off the infamous "Dark Phoenix" storyline (the Club and the story are both generously-"borrowed" references from an old "Avengers" storyline - the British spy show, not the comic.)

So is some version of THIS the "big threat" for "First Class?" On the one hand, it fits nicely into Vaughn's ever-expanding wheelhouse. On the other hand, an even remotely-faithful version would be pretty far outside "typical" for the series or Fox superhero movies in general: In their original incarnation, the Club seduces Jean Grey into joining their ranks by using illusions to let her live out her "darkest fantasies." Among those fantasies? Morphing into a female plantation mistress in the antebellum American South and taking fetishistic pleasure in personally whipping a disobedient slave girl - "played" in the fantasy by lone black X-Person Storm.

14 comments:

Nick said...

Although I doubt Matthew Vaughan actually has much creative control over this movie (this is FOX, a notorious butcher even by Hollywood studio standards), keep in mind that this is the director who made Kick-Ass, a deconstruction-slash-reconstruction that placed all the creepy fetishistic elements of superhero mythology under the microscope.

FOX will probably force him to water (and dumb) it down, but if he was given free reign, I would just plain LOVE to see his interpretation of the Hellfire Club if he was given free reign.

Joe said...

You mean Claremont didn't get the Hellfire Club from the 18th century original?

To give Matthew Vaughan some credit, his version of Kick-Ass wasn't nearly as cynical or depraved as Mark Millar's. Or as racially-charged.

As for Ms. Jones, I approve.

rob said...

(First: I'm a comicbookfan, no bias against the medium. In fact: Make Mine Marvel goes for half my collection.)

Personally, X-men never really got me commited, the comics were too All-Star and you could never get a sense of which was -the title- because they basicly have several completely different realities going for years now. Which proves my belief that ensamble comics and movies are always doomed to fail.
I'm pretty sure that this is also why Avengers is doomed to fail.

The movies focused waay too much on Wolverine, whom I can't stand partly because of his gross overpowerment, lack of any characterflaws that would make him human and relatable, overzealous marketing and lastly the fact that everyone loves him.

The Animated Series was the most accessible and inviting to return.
Also, Ultimate X-men was a nice in-between, it didn't pull any punches but wasn't too serious either, Marvel never denied what it is, a big modern Teen-attracting vehicle. Fun though, got me through some boring nightshifts at work.

The movies were doomed to fail from the start.
They took something that mainstream audiences couldn't possibly understand in it's original form and dumbed it down so much that it did resemble the source material, had some name-actors. But basicly Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen could have been given completely different dialog, they and the CGI action carried the entire film.
Note: This is also the biggest difference between these movies and Transformers.
The biggest resemblance is that they both got giant and financially succesfull because of their marketing.
This is also the problem with The Last Airbender. It's not all M. Night's fault, the source material is just too far out of the scope of mainstream audiences.

To return to Bob's post today, I must refer to your own post somewhere else recently.
The only good reason to put Emma Frost in a movie, is to get the guys to stare at her in her trademark outfits.

Sorry for ranting, feel free to destroy my arguments.

mirage said...

Am I the only guy who actually likes Emma Frost for her character? Ever since Grant Morrison did his New X-men run, Emma has become an entertaining staple in X-Men continuity. The way she flaunts her "superiority" works well against Cyclops, who is just your average guy with a chip on his shoulder. They trade barbs better than any other couple in Marvel.

Danny said...

Surely I can't have been the only person who saw the name and immediately thought of Return of the Jedi?

Neue said...

This is sooo going to be an Epic Fail... But at least with this Director on board I can endure the wait with a glimmer of false hope leading me on down the tunnel.

tyra menendez said...

Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men was the best version to use as a basis for a film. He pared down the team to essentials, while still keeping an eye on the decades of continuity.
It was basically "X-Men: the TV series", but it worked. Of course, if you don't like Whedon...

Nick said...

Oh, haven't you heard, tyra? Hating Joss Whedon is trendy right now.

rob said...

@Joe, the movie-team and the comic-team wrote the story together, they just both wrote their own endings.

Andrew said...

I'll strip to the waist and fight the Whedon-haters.

Browncoat till I die.

Neue said...

I got your back Andrew! Down with the Alliance!!!

tyra menendez said...

Though Doll House was a big disappointment. I'm sure a lot of it had to do with Fox fucking with it. But every week you had a new main character. I couldn't get attached to anyone.

Ever read the fan-fiction, "Notes on a Fridge (on a Ship)"? It's actually in-character and funny. Each character gets a font and color, but you almost don't need it, because you can "hear" the voice of the characters. Only fan-fiction I've read that doesn't make your ability to feel joy, ache.

Neue said...

I'm not sure is was meant to have a main character. Granted the first 5 episodes DID lack any real focus(Wouldn't doubt fox had something to do with that. They love crisis of week set ups). Joss loves his ensemble casts, and I don't really feel like the characters were the problem with the show. Thought they were really great. It's no Firefly of course...

Danny said...

Hellfire Club confirmed http://www.aintitcool.com/node/46217

@Andrew just wait for the avengers. That will shut them up.