X-Men: First Class

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
X-Men: First Class Movie Poster Image
Popular with kids
Superhero film has action, thrills, tough moral questions.
  • PG-13
  • 2011
  • 132 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 43 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 109 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

While many characters embrace the brand-new idea of mutants and humans living together in peace, others can't or won't; there's lots of conflict surrounding the idea of whether mutants should try to "fit in" or embrace their differences. But ultimately the message is that it's important to be yourself, whatever that self may be able to do or happens to look like. Still, some of the mutants feel justified in waging war against normal humans, who are afraid of them. And even the heroes feel like outcasts. Though the good guys are willing to protect non-mutants, there’s still a lively debate about why they should.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Although some characters are clearly good (Charles Xavier) or clearly evil (Sebastian Shaw), many represent various shades of gray and are pulled in conflicting directions. Erik is driven by revenge and anger, though Charles helps soften some of his edges. Ultimately, the X-Men must take a stand to protect the regular people who fear them, even though they don't show the same willingness to watch the mutants’ backs. The movie has some strong, powerful female characters and a somewhat diverse cast.


Plenty of action, including super-powered combat featuring energy beams, fireballs, whirlwinds, and sonic blasts, as well as super-strength fistfights that send characters flying across the room. A fierce assault pits super villains against normal people, who are easily (and brutally) dispatched. There are major explosions, crashes (plane, submarine, more), gunshots, and several flying blades, and a coin is turned into a lethal weapon, shown in slow-motion close-up as it hits its mark. A boy's mother is killed in front of him, scarring him for life. A man's hand is stabbed through with a knife; people are slashed with knives and swords. Overhanging threat of nuclear war.


Frequent skimpy, Bond Girl-esque outfits and one blue, scaly female mutant who sometimes walks around nude (though it looks as though she's wearing all-over body armor). In one scene, a girl, seemingly naked under the covers, invites a man to join her in bed; other scenes show kissing/groping. One scene includes several women in lingerie who are implied to be call girls/escorts; another is set in what appears to be a strip club, though there's no actual nudity.


One memorable use of "f--k"; other language includes infrequent use of "ass," "hell," "goddamn," "oh my God," and "damn."


Tie-in to vast quantities of related merchandise.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A few scenes show people drinking, both in rowdy bars and in more quiet moments at home -- sometimes to excess. The younger mutants have one somewhat wild party. Occasional smoking (accurate for the 1960s setting).

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that X-Men: First Class is an exciting X-Men prequel/origin story has plenty of action as the heroes and villains battle it out using their wide variety of special abilities, many of which can be deadly. Though overall the film has a bit of a retro feel due to the 1960s setting, there are big explosions/attacks, as well as hand-to-hand battles and a few intense death scenes -- including one in which a boy's mother is killed in front of him and another in which a coin becomes a lethal weapon. The threat of nuclear war hangs over most of the movie. Expect moderate drinking and smoking; female characters sometimes appear in their underwear, skimpy costumes, or less, though there's no actual nudity. Language is infrequent but does include one use of "f--k." The movie includes weighty discussions about morality, self-acceptance, and fear of the unknown and -- staying true to the original comic books -- makes comparisons between the Holocaust and how people react to the presence of mutants.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bymiaaz October 27, 2012

Lots of gratuitous and exploitative near-nudity

There are a few things that, in my opinion, make this movie inappropriate for children. One is the implied and threatened Nazi torture at the beginning, and th... Continue reading
Parent of a 8 and 9-year-old Written bykheartbooks May 27, 2014

Good for teens and older....Holocaust storyline

I agree with all the other reviews regarding the portrayal of women as objects and hookers (not good for kids).

What no one has brought up is the whole Holoc... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byPopcorn enthusiast July 23, 2020

My favorite movie of the franchise

The thing that makes this movie so good is definitely the way it is played out. This movie focuses on the relationship between Charles and Erik, and the two act... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bysh124313 August 9, 2019

Very sexual

I couldn't get pass the scene in the movie where all the escorts are in lingerie. I'm not saying that this movie is bad, I haven't finished it,... Continue reading

What's the story?

In X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, James McAvoy stars as Charles Xavier, a powerful telepath who recruits a band of fellow mutants -- each with unique abilities -- in this prequel to the popular X-Men franchise. After a World War II-era opening sequence, the bulk of the story takes place at the height of the Cold War in the early 1960s, as Xavier teams up with another powerful mutant, Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender), to track down the nefarious Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon). Shaw and his colleagues are trying to kick off a nuclear disaster, while Xavier and the newly formed X-Men (including Xavier's childhood friend/foster sister, Raven/Mystique, who's played by Jennifer Lawrence) try to prevent World War III. Meanwhile, Erik may be pursuing his own agenda.

Is it any good?

This movie isn't perfect, but it's more fun to focus on what's right: the brilliant casting, for starters, especially when it comes to McAvoy and Fassbender. Compared to the others, they're practically conducting a master class in thespianism, regardless of the movie's otherwordly plotlines. That said, X-Men: First Class is a bit too long, some scene transitions are abrupt, and the dialogue has its bumpy moments. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the messages in X-Men: First Class. What do the mutants' struggles have in common with other challenges that people have faced? Why do people tend to fear what is different?

  • What does the movie say about revenge? Is Erik justified in his pursuit of vengeance? Do the ends ever justify the means?

  • What distinguishes the "good guys" and the "bad guys" in this movie? Do any of Shaw's arguments make sense?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love superheroes

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate