Refreshing the franchise by returning to its ‘60s genesis, X-Men: First Class details the formation of Marvel’s mutant superhero team, created under the auspices of benevolent telepath Professor Xavier (James McAvoy) and militaristic metal-controlling Erik Lehnsherr, aka Magneto (Michael Fassbender). Director Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass) dully rehashes Magneto’s concentration camp origins from the first X-Men in order to provide him with vengeful motivation against Nazi-doctor-turned-Cuban Missile Crisis-instigator Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon). It’s a plot crux that, like Vaughn’s assemble-the-team split-screen montages and CG centerpieces, is serviceable but seems more dutiful than dynamic, and is muddled by all sorts of random false notes, including Xavier and shape-shifting Mystique’s (Jennifer Lawrence) continuity-challenging close relationship. As with the material’s allegorical subtext about minorities, Professor X and Magneto’s Martin Luther King Jr.-Malcolm X relationship feels old hat, and isn’t helped by the director’s sleek retro set decoration and costume design. And though preaching progressiveness in the face of intolerance, the film subscribes to the era’s objectifying sexism by having Mystique, human CIA agent Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) and mindreading Emma Frost (January Jones) regularly flash cleavage and/or appear in states of minimal dress. Fassbender exudes the right blend of cold pragmatism and burning fury to make Magneto a compelling center of attention. So much so, in fact, that – with Xavier a noble bore, the young X-Men a pitifully second-rate bunch (Banshee and Havoc? Really?), and his mutant and human adversaries all one-note evil – it’s hard not to root for Magneto, driven by a belief in next-gen Darwinian evolution at all costs, to eventually eradicate most of this period-piece reboot’s dullards.