Review: X-Men: Days of Future Past

Bryan Singer’s return to the director’s chair of the X-Men franchise did not disappoint. A skilful and respectful re-interpretation of Cockrum & Byrne’s classic story arc (far more so than Brett Ratner’s disappointing waste of the ground-breaking Dark Phoenix Saga), the film unites the casts of the original three X-Men films with the younger, hipper gang from the film that injected the franchise with new blood: Matthew Vaughan’s X-Men: First Class.The movie is great – enormously entertaining, well written, well acted and with superb action and set pieces. I was particularly impressed by how well it juggled its large cast of mutants. Beyond that observation, this post won’t review the film as plenty of others have already done that, and pretty positively too. As my followers will know from my posts on Doctor Who and the Star Trek reboot, I am a bit of a stickler for continuity, and while I know I am far from alone in that respect, I also know a lot of people will roll their eyes and say “get a life”. So consider yourselves warned…

While I love the film, X-Men: Days of Future Past plays havok with the film series’ established continuity, and not in a way that can be explained by the story’s central time-travel plot device. For example:
  • Professor Xavier’s tantalising reappearance in a post-credits scene in 2013’s The Wolverine, following his death in 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand, goes unexplained. Yes, the 2006 film hinted that he had transferred his consciousness to the body of a vegetative man in the care of Moira MacTaggart, but in The Wolverine/Days of Future Past he is in his original body, complete with spinal injury. And no explanation.
  • The African American Dr. Bolivar Trask of The Last Stand is not the same man as Peter Dinklage’s Bolivar Trask in Days of Future Past. Two men, clearly unrelated, separated by decades, sharing that name? I think not.
  • Wolverine’s claws have been re-coated with adamantium in Days of Future Past, which he lost in The Wolverine. Did Magneto do him a favour? Maybe, but we don’t know.
  • If Sentinels were being unleashed on the world in 1973, why were they not in evidence in the original X-Men trilogy (except in a Danger Room simulation in Last Stand)? No, it can’t be because the events in Days re-wrote history – that suggestion doesn’t work given that the events of The Last Stand also seem to have been erased (thankfully) as we see when Logan revives in the X-Mansion to discover that Jean Grey and Scott Summers are alive. The history portrayed in all of the original trilogy must have been altered or erased, which means that they must have originally been in line with the unaltered events of 1973. Oh, my aching head…

To be honest, one thing the X-Men franchise has always played fast and loose with is continuity. Sabretooth and Toad have now had vastly different histories and characterisations across the films, and Patrick Stewart’s bald Xavier is seen walking in Last Stand (in which he is also, in the prologue, still friendly with Magneto) and Origins (ummm… astral projections anyone?). The Dr. Moira MacTaggart who appears post-credits in The Last Stand is clearly not the same woman who appears as a C.I.A. agent in the 1960’s in First Class. I could go on. If anyone wants a masterclass in managing complex cross-property continuities, talk to Joss Wheedon about the Marvel Cinematic Universe (though the Hulk’s back story has taken quite a hammering, it must be said). Continuity matters in this genre – c’mon guys, do some research and get creative. If you really need to escape from the constraints of too much history, take a look at the Star Trek reboot.

Some have complained that the timeline of Wolverine’s origin, especially his infusion with adamantium by Stryker and the Weapon X programme as established in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, just doesn’t tally with the dates in Days of Future Past. I believe in Origins, Logan met Stryker in Vietnam in 1975, and Logan was given his adamantium six years later (thanks Wikipedia). Days is set partially in 1973, so if time has not been altered by the intervention of Logan’s consciousness from the future, he still could have gone to Vietnam two years later. The events of Days brought his encounter with Stryker forward. So maybe that one isn’t a fudge after all.

Rant over. See Days of Future Past anyway, because on its own merits, it is a damn fine piece of comic book sci-fi.
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About Mark Winter

Dark Fantasy novelist (INFERNAL PREY). Blogging on politics and current affairs (GibberLog), science and history (BlatherLog), sci-fi, fantasy & horror (WittlerLog), business, product development & start-ups (MutterLog). View all posts by Mark Winter

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