Scene It, See It Again: X-Men: First Class – “Magneto the Nazi Hunter”

Inspired by the Ringer’s Rewatchables podcast, I present to you unforgettable scenes that demand repeat visits. The movies, shows, or books these scenes are part of don’t necessarily have to be all-timers. Even mediocre media can surprise us with a haymaker. That being said, these scenes only elevate their respective stories. Read below, then queue up the classic scene. Again, and again, and again.

X-Men: First Class isn’t perfect, but it reset the X-Men movie franchise in a big way, recruiting talented young actors like Michael Fassbender and Rose Byrne. Sadly, the rebooted franchise sputtered out and fell back on Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine to remain relevant. That disappointment can’t take this scene away from us, though.

Erik Lehnsherr (later known as the supervillain Magneto) had everything taken away from him in the Holocaust. The man he blames the most is his fellow mutant Sebastian Shaw. Erik journeys to an Argentinian bar and finds two German men connected to Shaw. Then the fun begins.

There’s so much I love about this scene. The Germans are jovial until Erik points out his parents didn’t have names, only numbers. The musical score is absolutely perfect, a slow build with a percussive flourish as Erik reveals his own number. In a short three minute scene the characters speak three different languages: greetings in Spanish, the reveal in German, and Erik’s motivation in English (Fassbender makes the Frankenstein line sound so sinister). My favorite part of the hunt is Erik could easily kill all three men using his mutant powers, but instead he blocks a knife attack and disarms the pig farmer using physical prowess.

Here’s something I didn’t think about until writing this feature – Erik is not the aggressor in this fight. That sounds untrue considering all the killing he does. But watch the scene again. Erik talks about his tragic family history, shows his number, and he’s attacked. Sure, he might have killed these Nazi bastards regardless, but that’s beside the point. Speaking of Nazi bastards, this is only one of two Nazi killing bar scenes Fassbender has been a part of. The Inglourious Basterds scene is more bloody and brutal (it’s Tarantino, natch), but Fassbender doesn’t make it out of that one alive. Though I enjoy X-Men: First Class, I’d prefer a Magneto film focused solely on retribution. I could watch Fassbender hunt Nazis all day.

Best quote: “Blood and honor. Which would you care to shed first?”

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