The box office mutant extravaganza, otherwise known as X-Men:Days of Future Past, delivered a new fan fave and righted the wrongs of the x-verse, laying the foundation of a new era of X-movies with Xavier, Magneto and Mystique at the center of it.
If you haven’t seen X-Men: Days of Future Past we won’t side eye you just yet (but you did have an extended Memorial Day weekend to see it so there’s that), but you may want to bookmark this article until you do.
Now, if you have seen DoFP, get comfortable, cause we got some things to discuss. DoFP is not a perfect piece by any means, but its the perfect opposing book end to X-Men: First Class, both healing the wounds of the franchise and opening the door to more integral X-plots. Dark Phoenix Saga, re-do anyone?
In the Wake of X3: X-Men: The Last Stand turned into a bit of a gaping wound. There are multiple issues with X3 (trust we have a list somewhere, don’t worry), but one of the biggest is the mismanagement of major characters such as Cyclops, Jean and Mystique by way of death or fumbled plot lines – making our characters fight for on-screen glory in a semi Hunger Games tribute ordeal. And while something so horrific can pass with a singular film, it destroys the bigger picture, and shatters continuity. How does the franchise go on without the leadership of Cyclops, or Xavier for that matter? So Jean’s dead…again? But is this really dead? Or like from the ashes, I’m back dead? Either way, the fact is that changes so severe can’t be ignored or easily reversed.
So you can imagine X-fans all over the world feeling heartbroken,and disappointed even at the possibility of not seeing our dream team of X-Men on the big screen. Wolverine films aside (which is a beast and another article of its own), the core team is now what? Storm, Wolverine, Iceman, a depowered Rogue, Colossus and Kitty? Other than Storm (that’s debatable) and Wolverine, none of these characters are truly explored in the films, leaving quite a question mark in the team dynamic.
Welcome to First Class: Matthew Vaughn and prodigal son, Bryan Singer ushered in a different age of the X-verse. Predating the events of Singer’s first X-Men, First Class started as a conversation between long-time producer Lauren Shuler Donner and Singer on what the inception of the world’s greatest team of mutants would look like. The original comic team consisted of Cyclops, Beast, Jean, Iceman and Angel, but were replaced with Storm, Jean, Cyclops and a tag-a-long Wolverine for the cinematic-verse. Considering the fate of the current post-X3 team was up for grabs, focusing on a younger Magneto and Professor X was the next best move, and it certainly payed off.
First Class at first glance appears to be the tale of the first attempt at an X-Men team, but its more like a love letter to the characters of Magneto and Professor X. In the prior films, both are incredibly stoic and standout leaders – this could be mainly due to Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart hallmark performances – but it’s in First Class that we see them as vibrant, young mutants with a budding obsession for chess. Michael Fassbender’s Magneto is a stealth machine, attacking Sebastian Shaw’s submarine in a wetsuit, while James McAvoy’s cocky but charming personality wins over the attractive girl at the bar. It’s the dynamic duo like we’ve never seen them, and honestly we’re pretty into it.
Then you add in Mystique as Xavier’s adopted younger sister. Seeing a young, impressionable and insecure take on the shapeshifter brought to life by now Oscar winner, Jennifer Lawrence. There’s some magic here, and though its not Storm, Jean and Cyclops, the character development for all three creates an entirely new dynamic for the franchise, and by the end of the First Class, X-fans are sold.
Days of Future Past, Is it Really The Future? At the end of First Class, we see the first divide between the central characters. Xavier is wheelchair bound and has started open enrollment for academy, while Magneto has started a rag-tag group of villains – also known as the first Brotherhood of Mutants – which includes Xavier’s childhood friend, Mystique. So there’s mutant drama already. Days of Future Past is looking through an already bleak lens. Within the first five minutes of the film we see the death of Iceman and friends at the hands of an unstoppable gang of Sentinels (more on that later), which Xavier later explains were built off the basis of Mystique’s DNA. As if this isn’t bad enough, Mystique’s plans to assassinate Bolivar Trask set off a chain of mutant-crippling events leading to the barely livable dystopian circumstances the X-gang are currently in. But that’s not to say we didn’t enjoy her antics at the Paris Peace Accords.
Shapeshifting to the Master of Magnetism for a second, Mags doesn’t fail to disappoint as the secondary big bad. Its clear from the beginning of Wolverine’s time jump, that Magneto is a necessary addition to stop Mystique, but as things go awry after Magneto’s prison break – compliments of Quicksilver in one of the best scenes of the film – it’s clear that he has darker plans. While the future showcases an epic battle between the core X-franchise team and the Sentinel horde, the past is an epic stage for his mind-blowing abilities. Seriously Mags, an entire friggin’ stadium? Mind, blown.
And speaking of mind blowing, that leaves us with Xavier- who’s a disheveled mess on a borderline junkie level. He easily becomes an emotional core of the movie, having difficulty moving past his own shortcomings to help mutantkind, as Mags so aggressively pointed out in the airplane scene. Proving that he is the heart and soul of the X-Men, young Xavier’s journey is a roller coaster at the point of derailment until the older Xavier interjects. “Please, we need you to hope again.” And its here that we see the young Xavier refocus, ditching his need for the serum that Beast concocted, ready to fulfill his future responsibility as the gatherer of mutants. It should also be noted that Wolverine tells him to pursue Jean, Scott and Ororo, establishing his future in the x-verse and the foundation for X-Men: Apocalypse.
So what happens now? The trio collectively became the nucleus of the past portion of DoFP, and because of their actions (with the help of Wolverine), the future is now one that includes adult Beast, Jean, Storm, and Scott, giving the franchise the freedom to explore these characters in the future films. But Magneto, Xavier and Mystique have become a new and separate focal point for the franchise, which may or may not be a temporary thing. All three will no doubt appear in Apocalypse, and it would be foolish for them not too. But who’s to say if their existing triangular relationship will be carried on to the next film or if we’ll start exploring other assets of the X-team. Though we love this trilogy, we’re hoping for the latter.
The new triumvirate was a necessary and refreshing change for the cinematic X-verse, and we can’t wait to see what story they bring us next.
Images: 20th Century Fox