Warning: This review contains SPOILERS. DO NOT read this if you haven’t seen the movie yet. Instead, go check out my first article on what Days Of Future Past means to me, go watch the movie, and THEN come back and read this. If you have seen it already, then keep on scrolling!
I was expecting a lot from this movie.
I wanted to see Chris Claremont’s vision of a broken and devastated future dumped into the hands of Bryan Singer’s X-Men, complete with time travel and killer Sentinels that even those with fully developed powers of fire, ice, and brute strength cannot hope to defeat. I wanted to see Wolverine sent into the past, hunting down Charles Xavier and forcing him to see that his dream needs to survive, or mutantkind will not. And more than anything else, I wanted to see young Erik and Charles confronting each other with ten years of pent up pain and anger, while their future selves battle side by side the way they could have been all those years.
Days Of Future Past gave me all of that and so much more.
As Patrick Stewart’s narrative kicked in, the opening sequence so perfectly mirroring that of the original film, I was instantly brought back to my first X-Men movie experience. I was nine years old again, practically jumping out of my seat because the X-Men, the freaking X-MEN, are on the big screen! In those first moments, both then and now, I knew that this was the movie I’d been waiting for.
The future X-Men have been deliberately chosen for their power sets, which are visually both impressive and immediately clear to any audience. The opening battle showcases Sunspot’s flaming form, Colossus’ strength, and Bobby’s ice-slide, while Blink wields her portals with deft precision. For all their skills, however, they are only a distraction against the advanced Sentinels, while Kitty brings herself and Bishop back through time to meet the rest of the surviving X-Men. You already know the rest- Kitty is to send Wolverine back in time by fifty years to unite the Erik and Charles’ younger selves and prevent his future from ever happening. The scenes that follow waste no time in conveying this premise, and yet no detail is sacrificed in such a short but essential period of time. Charles has donned armor and moved from pacifist to fighter, while Kitty is the only one in street clothes, reflecting her defensive power set that even now is used to prevent rather than attack. Magneto is no longer wearing his helmet, suggesting a level of trust between him and Charles that has not existed since 1963. Bobby is always by Kitty’s side, yet there is a palpable distance between them created not only by this ongoing war, but also by Rogue’s unremarked upon absence. Like X-Men: First Class, this is a movie where I could watch it a hundred times (and you know I will) and still pick up new and different intricacies every time.
Everything in DOFP has a purpose, and even the tiniest detail contributes to a cohesive and consistent adaptation of comic lore into the current movie universe. Although Kitty does not travel back in time as she did in the comics, she holds the power to send Logan in her place. Mystique will assassinate a key figure in history, triggering the future that Kitty and her fellow X-Men must face. Yet rather than being lumped with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, as in the comics, or disguised as Gambit, like in the animated series, Mystique alone is implicated as the killer. This draws focus to her internal conflict while motivating the young Charles Xavier, who still feels a filial responsibility towards her, to help Logan in his mission. But, to reiterate from my last post, this is not a superhero movie. It isn’t about bringing the X-Men together to fight a single villain and save the world. Mystique may be holding the gun, but what about Bolivar Trask, planning to stomp out the mutant race with his army of Sentinels? Or Magneto, who believes he has a second chance to lead mutants into his version of a better tomorrow? And what of Charles Xavier, who fell into addiction and despair, and gave up on his own dreams for the future?
The X-Men comics have always been a place where stories are propelled by the fact that anything is possible given the right context, and DOFP is no exception. All of these intricacies work so well together because they are saturated with reasoning taken straight from the comics. Example: Kitty is able to send people back in time because of a secondary mutation. Wolverine must be the one sent back because, even though Xavier has potentially the strongest mind in the world, it cannot heal itself. Young Charles’ drugs heal his legs but suppress his powers because they are a differently synthesized version of Mystique’s own DNA. Logan conveniently knows a guy who can break Magneto out of prison, because he’s had fifty years longer to meet who knows how many mutants and watch them die. And speaking of which, Quicksilver’s offhanded “So you can move metal…my mom knew a guy who could do that” not only perfectly alludes to his and Erik’s relationship, but also parallels the reveal of Mystique as Nightcrawler’s mother in the original comic.
I could go on about all the ways this film flawlessly adapts both the comics and the previous movies into a unified vision of past and future X-Men, or how everything is so perfectly interconnected that I just want to scream from rooftops that THIS is everything an X-Men movie should be. I could write you an entire essay on Erik and Charles’ relationship, starting with how hurt and abandoned Erik feels by Charles, and how it is made worse when he discovers Charles sacrificed his telepathy to walk. And I would love to spend at least another paragraph talking about the level of trust and solidarity between Storm and Magneto as together they use the Blackbird to destroy a horde of Sentinels. But you don’t need to read all of that, and frankly, I don’t want you to. I want you to watch Days Of Future Past two, three or twenty times more and discover something new every time, the way that I know I will. I want you to watch this movie and see the look in Mystique’s eyes when she is hurt and exposed before the public, and draw your own conclusion about not only how she feels, but about what this means for the future of mutantkind. And most of all, I want you to see for yourself that, at the core of this movie and all the others before it, both Erik and Charles are the ones driving the future of mutants forward through hope and fear, both fighting for sanctuary and acceptance (or in Erik’s case, supremacy) for their people.
So stop reading, get off your computer or phone or whatever, and go watch the movie again. In fact, go watch the original trilogy and First Class again and notice things that you haven’t before. Even better, notice all the details that are now different to you because they were either referenced or directly affected by the events of DOFP. Watch X2 and wonder how Azazel could be dead when Nightcrawler existed in the same timeline, and then watch X3 and jump for joy because the entire movie has been retconned.
And finally, go forth and do what we as fans do best – start a conversation, discuss theories, argue, rant, rave, use too much caps lock, and get creative, because this new alternate future? It’s not just for the X-Men and their fellow mutants. It is, as Hugh Jackman and Patrick Setwart said at the global premiere, first and foremost for fans like us!
Mary is a walking encyclopedia of X-Men, avid cosplayer, and obsessive reader. She’s dreamed of living in the X-Mansion since she was eight years old, which is almost as long as she’s wanted to be a Sailor Scout. You can check out her cosplay at http://www.facebook.com/marymordrake and her fanfiction at http://archiveofourown.org/users/Harleydoll/works . Her twitter is @magnetictrifles and her Pinterest is Mary Mordrake.
Scoop here: When I first met Mary, I did not realize she could write an entire review in ALLCAPS. Thankfully I fixed that 😉 Her X-Men fandom only narrowly beats out her Harley Quinn fandom. And she is a vicious Quidditch player.
P.S. X-Men Days Of Future Past opens Friday, May 23rd, 2014. It is based on X-Men #141-142, published in 1981 by Marvel Comics, written by Chris Claremont and drawn by John Byrne.