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Given this, the finale makes devastating sense: While the ghastly reaction of the humans ("Thanks for saving our lives ... but now we're gonna kill you all because you're funny-looking and frighten us!") is the swift kick in the ass that Professor X's kumbaya worldview desperately needed - if he wants his utopian dream of coexistence, he's going to have to roll up his sleeves and work for it. But for Magneto ... it's a breaking point. The human militaries' rash actions have confirmed all his worst fears, paranoia and persecuted self-righteousness. He's been nudged over the edge, and there's no coming back. The soft man gets a backbone, the hard man turns to stone.

Perfect.

But ... here's the crazy-geeky-cool part: Not only is it this profoundly affecting interpretation of these characters and their relationship... it also has the effect of (perhaps intentionally?) introducing a paradox into the continuity of the series that appears to delete the two "problematic" (to be charitable) installments of the previous (but later-set) series, X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. How?

See, the finale takes place during the Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962. During the finale, two key things happen: Magneto and Xavier's alliance ends, and Xavier is crippled - confining him to the iconic wheelchair for the remainder of his life. But in Wolverine we see Xavier up and walking around in 1979 (during the Three Mile Island disaster) and in Last Stand we see him walking around with Magneto still as a colleague in a flashback set "twenty years prior" to the film's 21st Century present.

Thusly, while First Class does still appear to take place in the same timeline as at least the first two X-Men films; the clashing of those definitively-stated dates (X1 and X2 only give "the near future" as a reference) would seem to suggest that, whatever continuity First Class ultimately belongs to - either its own or connected to the first two - X3 and XO:W can't be part of it.

What that - potentially - means (wow, did it take longer to get here than I thought...) is that future X-Men sequels may be free to ignore the forms taken by multiple X-characters and story points in these now "retconned" installments; possibly allowing the series to right some past mistakes and engage in some fun angles left previously unexplored. For example:

JUGGERNAUT

In First Class, Xavier makes a point of mentioning his paranoid step-father. This is concurrent with the general comic continuity, where Charles' biological father is dead and he was instead raised by his mother and her second husband Kurt Marko, who had a son named Cain (subtle!) from a previous marriage. Cain was kind of a douche, made worse by the fact that his own father seemed to prefer Charles to him (Kurt Marko was a doctor, Charles was a science-whiz, Cain was more of a jock, do the math) and the two didn't get along. And, as the big boldface title has already given away, Cain Marko grows up to be the supervillain Juggernaut.

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