It’s not particularly showy, but the new First Class trailer is telling.
The new trailer shows a scene in which the existence of mutants is revealed to the federal government. It’s not the whole scene, of course, and there are obviously some lines missing from the middle (for example the last lines indicate that sometime during the scene, someone called what Charles was doing a ‘magic trick’), but it’s mostly a complete conversation at least, and it gives us our first real good look at McAvoy’s performance as Xavier.
Of course, he’s no Patrick Stewart (who is?), but there is also an unattractive sort of childish arrogance to his actions which I suppose I wasn’t quite expecting.
I mean: I understand it, surely. The movie is attempting to depict the younger days of the X-Men, and so must show them in the light of some character flaws which, in their later lives, they’ve grown out of.
The movie is depicting the story of how the mutant community became so starkly fragmented, and since Charles is the protagonist, he must of course make some mistakes, something to explain the regret in his future character. Of course, I get all that.
But this, the Xavier we see in this scene is just not being very smart. He’s supposed to be the smartest thing on the planet, and even if he’s supposed to be a bit incautiously arrogant (as opposed to the casual, knowing arrogance depicted by Stewart), he should still be smart enough to know that antagonizing the men at this meeting is a diplomatically bad decision, a move contrary to his clear goals.
This is the kind of moment that is going to make me role my eyes in the darkness of the cinema. Maybe it’s just a pet peeve, but it bugs me when ‘smart’ characters do such obviously dumb things. I mean: there were plenty of other ways he could have handled that simple situation. Creating an atmosphere of antagonism was not the ‘smart’ path, even if it did turn out okay.
It’s not McAvoy’s fault of course. It’s the writing, not the performance, but I hope the film is not filled with moments like this. That would make it very difficult to watch.