Days of Future Past
Quick, apart from being X-Men, what do Bishop, Kitty Pryde, and Wolverine all have in common? They’ve all been back in time, trying to save the world from the Sentinels.
I grew up with my sisters watching The X-Men every Saturday morning. “Days of Future Past” (season 1, episodes 11-12) was my favorite story line in the five seasons the cartoon was on air.
I read the comic as an adult (The Uncanny X-Men #141-142) and was disappointed. It was boring and nothing like I expected. I never even finished reading the whole thing. Maybe I wanted it to be too much like the cartoon. Maybe the comic purists feel this way about the cartoon version; I don’t know.
There are similarities between the movie, comic, and cartoon: there is a war in the future where the Sentinels are destroying mutants. On the verge of total destruction, a last ditch effort is made to stop the war and the extinction of mutants. In the movie and comic, only the time traveler’s consciousness is sent back in time. This explains Wolverine’s bone claws in the movie—he doesn’t yet have the adamantium skeleton. Bishop, Wolverine, and Kitty must all find Mystique and stop her from assassinating an important character. In the comic and cartoon it’s mutant-hater Senator Robert Kelly and in the movie it’s Bolivar Trask, the creator of the Sentinels.
One thing remains constant: Mystique is the key to all of this trouble. The movie takes place 10 years after X-Men: First Class. Struggling to find her own identity apart from Charles (James McAvoy), disillusioned by Eric (Michael Fassbender), Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) strikes out on her own, determined to put an end to the one person who has done so much damage to mutants: Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage). While the assassination of Trask triggers the funding of the Sentinels, it’s the subsequent capture of and experimentation on Mystique that sets the X-Men’s future demise into motion. Experimentation done at the hands of none other than Major Stryker (Josh Helman).
The X-Men: Days of Future Past movie blends just enough of the comic and cartoon storylines while adding its own material to make most fans happy. There are new mutants. Bishop (Omar Sy), Quicksilver (Evan Peters), and Blink (Fan Bingbing) all add to the movie, while Sunspot (Adan Canto) and Warpath (Booboo Stewart) are simply there for the die-hard comic fans. There’s no real introduction for them other than that they’re part of the good guys and they know how to fight. The new bad guys, the Sentinels, are giant robots who have the ability to sense and track mutants, something deadly in any time, not just the future. The Sentinels in the 70s have yet to become unstoppable—they don’t have Mystique’s shape-shifting abilities—but they are still too strong for the X-Men of that decade.
I won’t harp on the only disappointment: the small amount of screen time for Bishop and Quicksilver. They’re both great in the movie. I only hope they have roles in future X-Men movies.
X-Men: Days of Future Past proves, yet again, that Bryan Singer knows what he’s doing with superhero movies. He can almost be forgiven for Superman Returns and X-Men: The Last Stand. Yes, I know he didn’t have anything to do with X3, but by leaving the franchise to work on another one, he is, in my book, culpable. He may have given us a little apology for X3, but you’ll have to watch the last few minutes of the movie to judge for yourself.
There’s a moment I keep going back to in the movie: McAvoy’s younger, drug-addicted Xavier, torn apart by the betrayal of his best friend Eric and the love of his life Raven, meets his older, wiser self. Seeing McAvoy and Patrick Stewart come face to face as the same character is exhilarating on a nerdy level. The older Xavier encourages his younger self not to give up on hope, to have faith in humanity, and to continue the good fight. Stuff we’ve all heard before. But this moment is touching because Stewart’s Xavier had so much love and compassion for his younger self. Even though older X knew all of the mistakes and of the dark place younger X was in, he still believed in him. I walked away from this movie wondering what older me would say to younger me. It’s comforting to know that even in our darkest moments, there resides in all of us the strength to overcome and face the fear head on. I only hope my older self is as compassionate and strong as Charles Xavier is.
Don’t forget to stay until the End Credits scene. It is a Marvel movie, after all.
X-Men: Days of Future Past is in theaters now.