We’re Not in Westchester Anymore, Toto: X-Men Movie Confuses Westchester with England

X-Men: First Class takes place in Westchester County, New York. But you wouldn’t know it, based on the architecture

X-Men: First Class debuted at No. 1 at the box office this weekend. Though it only grossed a little more than the first movie (and far less than the following ones), it inspired critics to write that it reclaimed “much of the pop-operatic grandeur and insouciant wit so evident in the series’ first two installments.”

I agree: It’s not so much a sequel or reboot as it is a “preboot,” going back to look at the beginnings of the Professor X/Magneto rivalry in the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis. That means we get some new blood in the franchise (not that Hugh Jackman isn’t wonderful as Wolverine). You’ve got younger, groovier versions of Professor X and Magneto; cool ’60s touches, including the swingingest underwater submarine-lab-lair-shagpad outside of a James Bond movie; and even shout-outs to the other X-Men films. It’s basically everything you could want in a summer superhero-popcorn movie.

x-men professor x school for gifted x-mansionKnowing Westchester, we wonder what the taxes are like on this thing

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With one big exception, if you’re a local.

The X-Men always held a special place in my heart because they live in Westchester. Professor X sets up the X-Men HQ, School for Gifted Youngsters, in his family home in “Salem,” Westchester.

In the new movie, when we first see a young Charles Xavier, a title card appears that says “Westchester: 1944.” Only what follows is not like any Westchester I’ve come to know…

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Instead of the stately Colonials and sprawling horse farms, we’re confronted with this enormous manse with spires and pyramid-shaped topiary that you’re more likely to see in England. (Actually, Architectural Digest reveals that the stand-in for the X-Mansion is actually the Englefield House, an Elizabethan manor in Berkshire, England.) Sure, we have some big houses here. But I’ve checked the Houlihan Lawrence listings for North Salem: While one abode described itself as English-style, there are no Elizabethan manors for sale. Add that to the fact that James McAvoy — otherwise a wonderful Professor X — speaks with a charming British accent and attends Oxford University, the movie gives the overall impression that Westchester is in England. Thumbs down!

Oh well. There go my dreams of Professor X drawing new mutants to his school by taking them sailing on the Long Island Sound and promising them trips to Playland.

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