I mentioned, the other day, that I saw a preview for In Time before watching X-Men: First Class. I think that was wrong; I think it was before Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but today seems a good day to write about XMFC anyway (fifty years afterwards, to the dot).
I went into watching X-Men with almost no idea what it was about. I knew it took place well in the past, with Charles and Magneto the principals, but that was the extent of my knowledge. I certainly had no idea it took place around the Cuban missile crisis.
It's kind of interesting to me how often they have reworked the origin of Charles, along with that of Magneto. We've gotten rid of Juggernaut entirely, made Charles and Magneto closer, added in Mystique, and had Charles' accident moved considerably later.
I think I liked how they moved Sebastian Shaw into the story (although they've done something weird with his power that I'm not sure I understand. It seems based on the original, but with some additional effects that are very significant. Perhaps I'm just too far behind in the comics); in the original X-Men timeline, the Hellfire Club people seemed too well-established to just show up around X-Men 110 (or so; I'm too lazy to look it up right now) without ever having been heard from. Of course, they're missing the character who had the most effect in their original appearance (that would be Mastermind).
Anyway, I liked what they did with both Charles and Magneto. Showing Magneto getting revenge for his parents was very cool. Showing Charles helping him to refine his powers was also pretty neat. Seeing Charles as a grad student was quite an amusing change of pace. Changing Moira from a Scottish scientist to an American spy was more than slightly weird (and don't get me started about her underwear selection while on a mission), but worked fairly well in the context of this story.
Their choices of X-Men was a mixed bag. Banshee was an excellent choice; I always liked him in the comic, and would have liked seeing more of him. Mystique, as I mentioned, was an odd choice for moving into the origin, but worked fairly well in the story. I very much liked some of the things they did with her, and they set up the earlier movies well with her also. Havok seemed a bit of a weird choice, what with Scott being in the other movies. Beast was even weirder, actually, given that he was a contemporary of Scott in the original comics (oh, and his oh-so-predictable change to blue and furry? Not bad-ass. I like Beast, but that was really terrible. He just looked lame). The others were pretty forgettable.
What else? Well, I liked Charles and Magneto going out to individually meet the mutants was very well done (and Wolverine's cameo was hilarious). And, overall, I liked the setting of the Cuban Missile Crisis. I didn't know much about what originally happened there, so it took a while for me to see what was going on (I've since found out that the US missiles in Turkey being removed were a major factor in defusing the crisis in our timeline). It worked out very well.
Overall, I thought the movie was well put together, especially as regards setting up the other movies. I can't say as I liked all the details, but, overall, it worked quite well.