New post up on Overthinking It comparing X-Men First Class to the spy fiction of the Sixties:
Despite the explosive mutant battle on the shores of Cuba that caps the film, the primary conflict in First Class is espionage. Sebastian Shaw operates behind the scenes to provoke the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. to the brink of nuclear conflict. He’s an ex-Nazi scientist, but he’s so useful to the Eastern and Western powers that they still take meetings with him. To combat him, Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr team up with the CIA. They recruit a team of special agents from the private sector and turn them into paramilitary operatives.
First Class is a story of the Cold War. While there are established (if not always honored) rules of warfare, a cold war – a war of spies and diplomats – has fewer explicit codes. The question of methods is foremost. Is blackmail acceptable? What about torture? Assassination? If you use immoral means to achieve a moral end, does that leave you on the side of the angels? And if you use moral means but fail to achieve your end, was it worth it to even try?