I know I’ve been posting a lot about comic book movies, so please excuse this rant. But X-Men: First Class is a mess.

X-Men: First Class, Matthew Vaughn

First a little bit of a recap. Two days ago and awkwardly posed (and obviously Photoshopped) picture of the cast showed up on MSN before quickly being taken down. It was for naught as the photo made it’s way around the internet in no time.

X-Men: First Class, cast photo, Magneto, Michael Fassbender, Moira MacTaggert, Rose Byrne, Emma Frost, January Jones, Azazel, Jason Flemyng, Beast, Nicholas Hoult, Havok, Lucas Till, Angel Salvadore, Zoë Kravitz, Mystique, Jennifer Lawrence, Professor Xavier, James McAvoy

From left to right, it features Michael Fassbender as Magneto, Rose Byrne as Moira MacTaggert, January Jones as Emma Frost, Jason Flemyng as Azazel, Nicholas Hoult as Beast, Lucas Till as Havok, Zoë Kravitz as Angel Salvadore, Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique and James McAvoy as Professor X.

As a result, Fox ended up distributing 3 new photos from production to media outlets yesterday that show the cast in more traditional clothing, Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw chatting it up with Jones’s Emma Frost and a quaint shot of McAvoy and Fassbender playing chess.

X-Men: First Class, cast

Kevin Bacon, Sebastian Shaw, January Jones, Emma Frost

James McAvoy, Professor X, Michael Fassbender, Magneto

Serviceable photos, but a little ho-hum. As bad as the leaked cast photo was, at least it gave us something to sink our teeth into. In fact, they kind of make X-Men: First Class look… well, boring.

That brings us to today. Now we have a conversation with director Matthew Vaughn who was so incensed about the original promo shot being leaked, he reached out to SlashFilm and provided them with a pair of HIS OWN exclusive images – including one of Fassbender wearing his Magneto helmet.

James McAvoy, Professor X, X-Men: First Class

Michael Fassbender, Magneto, X-Men: First Class

“I freaked out on them yesterday,” said Vaughn. “I don’t know where the hell that came from. I don’t think it’s a Fox image. It’s not a pre-approved image. When I found out, I said, ‘What the f*** is this s***?’ and Fox is running around trying to figure out what happened as well. I agree. It’s like a bad Photoshop, which maybe it was by someone. It didn’t reflect the movie. I was shocked when I saw it. I was like ‘Jesus Christ’…”

Vaughn goes on in the interview to assert that he loves the X-Men, that they are not bastardizing the concept, that the tone of the film is serious, more realistic and basically the most awesome thing since sliced bread.

Pardon me if this sounds like a load of crap.

Clearly Vaughn and Fox are scrambling to adjust perception of the film in the wake of the leaked cast photo. That’s admirable. They’re trying to manage expectations for the film and that leak undermined it.

But at the same time, I can’t help but think all of this scurrying around is nothing but a huge cluster-eff and it really hasn’t done much to change my perception of the film.

I understand it, the plot revolves around Professor X and Magneto jointly establishing their “School For Gifted Youngsters” and the ideological differences that drive them – and the student body – apart. Framed within the context of the social upheaval of the 1960’s this makes sense.

But it over-complicates things.

Why do we need Angel Salvadore and Azazel in the mix? Modern characters that even most comic book fans aren’t familiar with. For that matter, why do we need Havok or Mystique?

What’s wrong with telling the origin story of the X-Men and using Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman, Angel and Beast? Why does there have to be this manufactured conflict or behind-the-scenes view of the school’s foundation that depicts the how and why of Magneto and Professor X’s falling out?

In the words of Patton Oswalt, “I don’t give a s*** where the things I love come from! I just love the things I love!”

Mostly I think I’m worried about Fox’s flimsy adherence to continuity. I don’t need the movies to be exactly like the books, but Fox seems to have trouble following character development in their own films.

In X-Men 2, Hank McCoy (AKA Beast) had a cameo in human form as a mutant rights activist. In X-Men 3, he shows up in his more well-known furry blue form and is played by Kelsey Grammar. If the leaked promo shot is to be believed, Beast shows up blue and furry almost 20 years prior to the events of X-Men 2. Um, okay.

In the comics, Havok is the younger brother of Cyclops. But in Wolverine: Origins, we see Cyclops recruited by Professor X while he’s still in high school. So I guess I’ll be interested to see how they explain that – if at all.

I’ll also be interested to see if they make any mention of Emma Frost’s relationship to Silver Fox – a plot contrivance that was also laid bare by Wolverine: Origins. Or are they just going to continue doing what they want?

Vaughn seems to hint as much.

“I’d say this is more like Casino Royale than [JJ Abrams] Star Trek. If you think about it, Casino Royale just totally rebooted Bond — they kept what they wanted and got rid of what didn’t work. You sort of saw Bond become a double O for the first time and yet it didn’t seem to matter [what they changed]. I think my rule is to make a stand alone movie that is as good as possible and do as many nods and winks towards the comics and the other films, but not get tied up in knots worrying about that.”

So, in other words, another hatchet job that will leave fans of the comics dissatisfied and Bryan Singer’s X-Men 2 the high water mark of the franchise.

What’s your take to the pictures that have been released? What do you anticipate from X-Men: First Class? Are you optimistic about the film or do you have reservations? Do you think Fox and Vaughn can salvage the negative emerging perception of the film? Leave your comments below!