We’ve met our rich-boy, poor-boy leads, and our story will turn out to be a romance between them. Because X-Men: First Class is a love story, it is allowed two protagonists. Generally speaking, a love story is weighted in the favor of one participant or the other, but First Class‘s seems genuinely evenly-balanced. So, if we have our two protagonists, the question immediately rises: what do the protagonists want? Erik’s desire is clear, and stems from privation: he wants his mother back. Xavier’s desire, on the other hand, stems from comfort and plenty: he wants all those who are unusual to feel safe and welcome. (It’s an interesting question how safe Xavier feels in his estate, if his mother is cold and distant.)
But before we get to the love story we need to meet our primary antagonist, Dr. Klaus Schmidt. Dr. Schmidt, before he even sits down to speak to Erik, tells us that he is “not a Nazi.” He listens to Edith Piaf, pooh-poohs the Nazi goals of blond hair and blue eyes and offers Erik chocolate. He’s playing “good cop,” and in fact is positioning himself as Erik’s new father in this wartime drama. It takes a special kind of man to pretend to be a Nazi to the extent Schmidt does, and we will learn more about that later.