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Seven Ridiculously Confusing Superpowers in 'X-Men: First Class' [Rant]

In X-Men: First Class (2011) we're introduced to a whole new set of superheroes and a whole set of questions about how their powers work.

I'll start off by saying X-Men: First Class is dynamite. Loved it. The movie made $352,526,305 and Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 87%. So, this isn't based on my dislike for the film. I just hate inconsistency.

So, I got a lot of flak for my diatribe against the monstrosity that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine. My post broke down all the ways that XOW contradicted the original X-Men films. A few people have asked me to do the same thing for X-Men : First Class. There are a few reasons I didn't.

First, I never saw it in the theaters. Now, it's on DVD. Second, there's no point. The director said the film is a reimagining of X-Men. But, if you really want one let me know and I'll write one up.

What I will do is explain the mind-boggling mistakes the movie makes when portraying the powers of the individual characters. Again, this is not based on the comics or the other movies. Just the movie itself.

Each entry starts with the official description of their powers.

Magneto: As a young man, Lehnsherr discovered, under horrific circumstances, his power to control magnetism. Now, he is determined to exact revenge on the monstrous evil who 'created' him. Erik and Charles form a fast and fateful friendship, which is tested in a battle upon which rests the fate of mankind.

When Magneto is in the Nazi base being forced to use his powers he loses control, but still manages to keep from affecting all the metal in the room. Things like his belt and suspenders stay intact.

Remember, this is before he has control of his powers. Everything magnetic should have flown around uncontrollably. Instead it's only focused on things that are in another room or things he's mad at.

But, then why did he throw around the things in the other room instead of crushing Schmidt with the huge filing cabinets behind him. So the writers could set up his motivation for killing Nazis later on. But, in portraying his powers it made no sense.

Professor X
The young Oxford graduate, a powerful telepath who can read and control minds, had long wondered if there were others out there like him. When Charles finally meets some fellow mutants, he recruits them and harnesses their unique abilities to try and stop the greatest threat the world has ever known.

They were pretty consistent with his powers, but I will add a question: Cerebro, who was it designed for? Hank created it before he even knew about Xavier. Why was it designed to amplify a telepath's powers?

Why would he build something that would only work when plugged into something he didn't know existed? It's like building an armchair for an alien. How would you know how it worked? Discuss.

Banshee's unique sonic blasts carry him into flight. Like other young mutants, Banshee's powers reach their full potential only under Charles Xavier's patient tutelage, and in a battle that will have global consequences.

So, Banshee can scream really loud and create supersonic blasts from his mouth. In one scene he learns how to fly using a cape with wings. He reflects sound off the ground and rides the sound waves into the sky. I can understand if he floats over the ground but then they show him soaring hundreds of feet in the air.

If you're about to write me a blistering comment saying he doesn't use his cape to fly you're wrong. Later in the movie his cape is damaged and he plummets to the ground.

The other problem I have is with his radar. He uses his scream to locate a submarine by reflecting his voice off a sub. How in the world does that happen? Do the writers even know how sonar works?

"The radar dish, or antenna, transmits pulses of radio waves or microwaves which bounce off any object in their path. The object returns a tiny part of the wave's energy to a dish or antenna which is usually located at the same site as the transmitter." - Wikipedia

What prevented the signal from scattering across the water? How would he know how to interpret it? It takes years of training to be able to interpret sonar signals.

Through 'reactive evolution,' Darwin can adapt to any situation or environment. Plunged underwater, he grows gills; in the dead of night, he gains night vision.

Darwin's body has the ability to change to adapt to his environment. I say his body because his adaptation is not under his control. This is mainly a defensive ability.

The best example is when he dunks his head in a fish tank and grows gills. If he could control his mutation then he could have grown gills without doing that. He also wouldn't have needed to be whacked in the head to harden his skin.

In one scene he changes his body to a stone-like substance to protect Angel from Havok. But, the problem with this is he was not adapting to any threat. He was adapting to a perceived on-coming threat. His body should have stayed exactly the same until the blast hit.

Angel Salvadore
Angel, the beautiful ex-dancer possesses a stunning tattoo of insect-like wings, which become actual wings growing from her back, giving her the gift of flight. Her arsenal is a deadly acid, which she projectile-vomits in combat.

According to the official description she vomits acid. Ew. But, in the film they show her spitting what looks like explosive grenades. Everything she hits either explodes or catches fire. While acid can cause flammable items to catch fire, it rarely causes objects to explode.

By the way, how in the world could those skinny little wings let her fly? Discuss.

Alex can emit concentric rings of super-heated energy waves, causing his targets to burst into flame. The handsome, athletic mutant has difficulty with his impressive powers, until Charles Xavier teaches him how to harness them

This is more of a problem I had with X-Men Origins than this film since it was obviously supposed to fit the other films. If we assume he has the same powers as his brother Scott then he emits blasts of force not energy. This is a common misconception.

They understood this in X-Men 1, 2 and 3 though. A good example is when Cyclops blew up the train station. The roof collapsed, but didn't burn. Contrast that with Xmen origins where he blew up a roof and started fires.
When Havok releases his hula hoops of death they cut a statue in half and it bursts into flame. His suit that focuses his energy he blasts a mannequin and it catches fire. Wrong.

Emma Frost
Emma, a platinum-haired beauty and close ally of Sebastian Shaw, is a telepath who possess a diamond-like skin that is indestructible. Like Charles Xavier, she can project her thoughts and will into another's mind.

Emma Frost's telepathic powers were consistent. Her diamond powers were not.

In the scene where she gets captured by Magneto he wraps her in a metal bed frame and she changes into her diamond form saying they can't hurt her like that. Then, Magneto starts choking her.

For some reason, this makes her give them information. Why? Wrapping metal around her diamond hard neck should have done nothing. That's the whole point. It's hard. Too hard to cut, blast, break or squeeze.

She should have laughed harder till the metal snapped.

Admittedly, she was able to move her arms and legs. So, some flexibility is expected, but it shouldn’t have been that easy to choke her.

What do you think? Did the powers in X-Men: First Class make sense?
[Image Sources: Starseeker, Daemonsmovies, xmenfilms]


  1. It's interesting that the black guy is the one that gets killed. Everyone else survives.  "First Class" I guess doesn't apply to everyone especially in the sixties.

  2. I've never seen any of the X-Men films so I don't have much too say about this.  But I guess if a viewer is already suspending a ton of disbelief in the first place, what do a few inconsistencies thrown into the mix matter.   I'm usually watching these movies for special effects and action rather than any logic of storyline.   I'll have to add this series to my Neflix queue.

    Tossing It Out

  3. Arlee, we geeks are easily distracted alright. Check it out!

  4. Michael! Spoiler! That's the way it goes in movies I guess.

  5. Ok (in particular for the sonar joke), but not all you say is relevant (eg., the diamond lady scene is not that absurd).
    There are, however (and while I loved the movie), unquestionable errors.Example: when Banshee flies and shouts in front of him, that should push him backward, which it does not. It's physics.Other one: when Banshee flies and lands in the water at super speed, he should simply have died at impact. 
    More generally speaking (but hey, that defies all superhero idea), there is a law of physics which states that energy is conservated. Energy does not appear by itself, energy that is unlashed is instead the same amount of energy that was previously stored in another way. Sebastian Shaw is true to that law, but what about Havok (among others)?

  6. Ginko, I never thought of those. Physics and superheros don't mix well. Banshee my have been the most improbable of the group.
    -----Original message-----

  7. as for emma frost, when she is in her diamond form she cannot use her psychic powers. similarly, other psychics cannot use there abilities on emma when she is in diamond form. thats what she meant when she said they couldnt get any info from her. also, her diamond form is hard but not indestructible. theoretically, the metal adamantium (wolverines claws) is harder and would be able to cut through her. regardless, diamond is still just a rock and under extreme pressure, say from a metal bed post under the control of a mutant might cause a crack. also, its known that she has a single fatal flaw when in diamond form although the location of the flaw is relatively unknown. maybe the director decided it was in her neck :p

  8. I think Havok's abilities are different from his brother's though the process of obtaining energy is the same. they both have the ability to absorb energy and reemit it however where as cyclops' power is amplified ambient energy converted into beams of force (like you said) Havok absorbs cosmic radiation which, when he releases it, super-heats the atmosphere around him creating plasma rings which in theory would cause things it hit to combust into flames

  9. Thanks for the insights. Since I haven't read much about her from the comics these kinda make sense. Wish they'd explained it better.

  10. That makes sense. I forgot Xavier was there with his brain-squeezing powers. Again, the movie could have made it clearer.


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