Early in the evening on Thursday, the first trailer for “X-Men: First Class” popped up online — the general consensus on the footage being: dope! — and only hours later, we found ourselves chatting with star Michael Fassbender, who was in town to promote “Jane Eyre.”
Charming, self-deprecating chap that he is, the 33-year-old actor agreed to walk MTV News through the trailer, pointing out his favorite bits and the scenes that make him cringe and offering some newsy insight into the way his character fits into the narrative.
Fassbender plays Erik Lehnsherr, the magnetically enhanced mutant who eventually becomes the villain Magneto. But when we first meet Erik in “First Class,” he’s a close confidant to Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), who is gathering a collection of mutant-students and teaching them how to maximize their potential. As Fassbender noted, Erik is not Xavier’s fellow teacher, but his student.
“I’m not a teacher; I’m a pupil,” he said. “Charlie boy is the teacher. That’s the cool thing. He sees the potential in this new race and gathers us all together to really fulfill our ultimate powers, to really unleash these gifts.”
In the trailer, Erik can be seen rocking two different helmets. You won’t see a third enter the picture, Fassbender told us, though he stopped short of explaining exactly how and why the mutant switches up his headgear — “There are two versions. There’s that silver one and that red one,” he said coyly. But based on his nervous laughter on the topic, we have a feeling the helmet switch speaks to an important plot development, perhaps the point at which Erik formalizes his change from Charles’ friend to his nemesis.
Magento, of course, was famously brought to the big screen in three previous “X-Men” films by Ian McKellen. Fassbender, however, took his creative cue not from the Oscar-nominated actor, but the character’s comics-based mythology as a Holocaust survivor who eventually relocates to Israel after the war.
“I always had little remnants of [McKellen] somewhere in here,” Fassbender said, pointing to his head, “but I used the comics as the source material.”
Check out everything we’ve got on “X-Men: First Class.”