Directed by: Bryan Singer. God help me, but this Michael Fassbender fascination has become a full-blown compulsion. I made the mistake of seeing him on the DVD cover of X-Men: First Class, and that prompted the obsessive-compulsive comic book geek in me to revisit and catch up on the X-Men film series, right from the beginning. Bryan Singer was widely praised for the first two films—which I did see in theaters—and it seems on hindsight to be well-deserved praise. The beginning in particular seems to be fairly dark and—dare I say it—realistic, at least for a comic book movie. I guess “realistic” is pushing it, but, compared to Spider-Man and the many other superhero films that followed, the tone struck me as a bit less campy overall, owing largely to the political subplot—the bigoted senator on a crusade looks alarmingly believable. And after all—how many superhero movies begin in a Polish concentration camp (with no subtitles)? With the arrival of this movie (pre-dated slightly by the Blade movies), Hollywood began its euphoric fascination with comic book superheroes that it has yet to relinquish. It’s a natural fit when you consider some of the other dominant features of our culture these days. With superheroes, Hollywood can use established characters and storylines to build not just a film but a franchise—action figures, Halloween costumes, Big Gulp cups, and most importantly, sequels. We can see young, athletic action stars with sculpted abs and sexy curves, dressed in ridiculous costumes, jumping all over a CGI environment, complete with explosions and explosions and explosions. I’ll save some of this commentary for a bit later, as I’m sure I’ll notice a lot more as I watch these sequels, and the Spider-Mans, and the Iron Mans, and the Hulks…God help me.