I've seen First Class twice now, and while it's my current favourite flick of the year (being the X-Men fan that I am), I'm more interested in where the series will turn next. Specifically, I'm trying to piece together a better idea of where each character fits within continuity and how they can better link the First Class era to the modern X-Men era. Ignoring Wolverine of course. Completely.
So here's a few theories. Suggestions if you will. Though I may be close, or not even close at all, I'd like to suggest that if anyone from Fox Studios needs my advice for the script I'd be happy to lend a hand ...
The beauty that surrounds the very first X-Men movie is that it doesn't give an exact time frame of when it happens. The not too distant future is all we have to go on, and that could easily be right now, compared to the date the movie was 'actually' released. The cuban missile crisis, a key element to the First Class plot, occurred in 1962. If we put the original movie into context with that, it's a 40 year gap. That means that the movie's key characters, Professor X and Magneto, are both in their seventies (or late sixties) within this canon. So that makes sense.
Then again, that leaves a lot of years to catch up on. The obvious question now is, does Magneto and Xavier team up again? It's rather clear at the end of FC that they are on opposite sides, but the original trilogy suggests that they maintain a friendship of some kind long after the events in Cuba. In their late 40's, for example, they meet a young Jean Grey. Earlier than that, supposedly, they create Cerebro 2.0.
I can think of one solution to the above problems, a higher being out to destroy all. Someone powerful enough that both sides of the mutant problem must co-exist in order to fight back. It's a story angle that was slightly used in X2, but by that time Magneto is a fully fledged bad guy, there's no turning back for him. As an earlier self, he could struggle to grasp his full capacity of who he wants to be. He wants equality for all mutants despite the threat that they now pose.
Mutants are still a secret to society at this point, only the highest government authority are aware they exist, so there's elements to play such secrets close to the chest. Magneto could begin his underground movement to convince X of the plight. What could turn his thoughts around is a mutant so powerful it threatens all, leaving him with no choice but to unite Mutantkind. That can easily lead to a truce, in turn the discovery of Jean and the creation of Cerberus to find more mutants to defend Earth against the threat.
It's mentioned in X-Men that Storm, Cyclops and Jean (and please, call her Marvel Girl) are X's first students. Clearly that isn't true now, although you could argue that they are the first students of an open, available school. It still may take some time before Xavier opens the institution, it's also possible that very few students initially appear within the compound. Others may leave without seeing things through. Therefore, Xavier could be suggesting that these three are the first X-Men to graduate from the school, becoming leaders in their own right. Banshee, Havoc and Beast all part ways at some point, so that would be a decent way to tie things up.
For a while I did consider the possibility of Havoc being Cyclops' father, but it's more likely a role reversal from the comics, where instead of being his younger brother, Havoc could be Cyclops' older brother, one that hasn't been seen by the family for some time. That would explain how Cyclops gets involved with the school, a family reunion of sorts (again, ignoring Wolverine's plot).
As for Storm, if you check out First Class again and take a closer look at the sequences involving Cerebro, a young Storm appears in cameo form for a split second. She could easily fit within the movie canon as one of the first recruits, finally allowing a chance to explain her African roots (a severely lacking subplot not explored in the original trilogy aside from a bad accent.)
As for other mutants to bring into the fold for the next movie (and Fox would be silly not to), I'd first suggest not to deviate too far from the more realistic portrayal of mutants in a human world. Unlike the Marvel Avengers movies which are working closely to recreate Asgard and possible alien threats, I'd keep the X-Men movies grounded and avoid such things as time travel. That would negate something silly (though cool) as Cable. I say silly since it's far beyond any concept the current movies have portrayed. Apocalypse, too, should be avoided.
No, what I'd like to see are characters with abilities that can exist within the realms of the current movies without becoming too far fetched, and beyond what will happen time line wise with Jean. I'd also prefer female characters with a different kind of edge to them, darker in spirit and tougher in ability. Marrow would be a perfect fit, something out of left field but in a vein not far from Wolverine in physical ability. Psylocke would also be a welcome addition, perhaps as a bad guy turned good for once.
Since Darwin made it into this movie, on the strength of who he is as a mutant and not on being a fan favourite, why not add Petra or Sway. Their abilities would be unique in movie cannon, earth manipulation and time control respectively.
Meanwhile, there's always been a suggestion that Mystique is Nightcrawlers' mother (it's common knowledge in the comics), so that too can now be confirmed movie wise if she and the red skinned teleporter Azazel get it on in the next movie, which would mean giving him a bigger role. Perhaps there's some in fighting between Mysty and Emma Frost for Magneto's affections as well, leading to the living diamond's departure.
And there's a character I'd love to see more of. Frost is a modern bad-ass in Astonishing X-Men, it would be just as piss poor as the Cyclops trilogy arc if they ignore her abilities further in another movie or two. Round her off as someone with her own agenda, maybe replace the actress with someone who can hold her own in a decent fight sequence. Or, allow her to create a splinter group as tension mounts with Magneto's new regime.
This is all speculation, honest hope of a geek who loves his mutants. I'm already aware that certain story arcs I love, such as Gambit and Rogue, will never come to pass on the big screen. But at least now, with a somewhat fresh perspective and a cast young enough to play the parts for some time (if they choose), there's plenty of stories that can be told to bridge the long gap.
I think, of all the series out there, X-Men is the only one that can retain a level of excellence over time because of its vast character lists and unique perspective on the world. Yeah, they kind buggered things up there for a while, but three movies from five ain't a bad record.
Just, please, don't go overboard. We're just now getting over Wolverine thanks to this, so don't bugger it up again!