I consider Bryan Singer’s X2 to be the finest comic book film this side of The Dark Knight (which stands as a man amongst boys in the genre), so I, perhaps unfairly, judge every subsequent entry against it. This one got a high number of positive reviews, so I was pretty excited to see if it stopped a disappointing trend of most comic adaptations of late outright sucking. Alas…though “suck” would be too harsh of a word for X-Men: First Class, it struggles to reach the “barely mediocre” threshold. Its attributes and weaknesses can be broken down into two categories: the relationship between Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender), and everything else. The dynamic between the leaders of the X-Men’s primary factions is excellent, with explanations aplenty for non-followers of the comics themselves, terse and believable decision-making, and strong acting—I was skeptical of the choice of McAvoy, but he delivers, and Fassbender rarely misfires (and nails it here). Kevin Bacon hams it up, but I can dig it given the role…but the rest of the film is mostly tired clichés and typical summer blockbuster fare. The sequences involving Mystique could serve as advertisements for tired pump-you-up speeches, and Beast’s transformation is also a snooze. The Nazi backdrop, which has become quite prevalent in movies of this ilk, sort of works in theory, but never really pops with any creativity. And the prejudice subtext, the fear of those who aren’t “like us”, feels worn out at this point: hell, I’ve had enough of it watching politicians try to paint our current President as somehow foreign. As summer entertainment goes, you could do worse, but you could also do much better.