The X-Men film franchise started strong back in 2000. They had a bit of a slump with The Last Stand, and Origins was just bad. But the series received a much-needed shot in the arm with the success of First Class, and now the X-Men are back in business. Not just the new, young, prequel X-Men, mind you. The original X-Men are still in action, too, thanks to a genius idea that led to Days of Future Past.
Days of Future Past, the seventh and newest installment in the X-Men film series, takes place both in a dystopian future and in a could-have-been past that the X-Men desperately need to make a reality. In the future, the X-Men (played by the original cast) are being hunted down by mutant-seeking robots called Sentinels that exist partially due to decisions each of them made in the past. In a desperate attempt to create a better future, they send Wolverine into the past to interact with their younger selves (played by the new cast) and hopefully avoid the horrible future they caused.
When I first heard about Days of Future Past, I thought it was too ambitious. I thought they had gotten cocky after the success of First Class and bitten off more than they could chew. But then I saw the first trailer and got really excited. From the first time I saw footage from the film, I knew it was going to be amazing. I realized Days of Future Past could be done and done right. And that it was.
A big part of the movie’s appeal is that it can draw in the original crowd of X-Men fans from the early 2000’s while also getting the attention of newcomers who have only seen First Class. Days of Future Past serves as a sequel to both The Last Stand and First Class. The combination of casts is brilliant. While the majority of the movie takes place in the past, there is a good deal of time spent with the original cast in the future, and what takes place there does have implications for the film’s overall plot. To me, the film felt pretty well balanced, and that’s something I found very reassuring.
Days of Future Past was also just a pleasure to watch. It had great action, some funny joke, and even a couple of touching moments. The plot never seemed to drag. The acting was spot-on. And the movie always kept you just confused enough to stay interested. I have no complaints about any of those aspects of the film. I do have a couple of worries, though.
I was really hoping that the filmmakers were introducing the time travel element to fix some of the inconsistencies between The Last Stand and Days of Future Past. In The Last Stand, we see Professor X and Magneto walking together and starting the school in the 80’s. In First Class, we learn that Professor X lost the ability to walk and also had his falling out with Magneto in the 60’s. I haven’t found any good explanation to correct these discrepancies. I was hoping Days of Future Past would offer that. It didn’t, which leads me to believe that no future X-Men film will. But maybe that’s OK. The new films are much better than The Last Stand, so maybe I should just choose that version of the story over the old one.
But that one complaint aside, I have nothing but good things to say about this movie. It’s accessible to long-time X-Men fans and to people who have only seen First Class. It has fanboy appeal and serious mainstream possibilities. Days of Future Past is just another reminder of how great X-Men films can be when they’re done right, and it makes me excited for the future of the franchise.
Days of Future Past does leave the future of the X-Men films a mystery, though. It definitely sets us up for a sequel with the new cast, but it also seems to be continuing the story of the old cast in the new timeline. Are they planning on splitting the casts back up and making separate films? Will every subsequent X-Men film include members of both casts? Does Days of Future Past completely undo the plots of all the movies before it (excluding First Class), or are at least some aspects of them (for example, Wolverine’s adventures in Japan) kept? These are questions the X-Men film creators will have to answer now that the film is out. And they’ll have to do it fast if they want to have Apocalypse ready for 2016.
In the age of superhero film universes, X-Men has proven that they’re still very much in the game. They’ve put out seven movies in 14 years with two different casts and created a rich, fun universe for moviegoers to experience. And this is only the beginning. There are at least three more X-Men movies in the works, and the X-Men will soon be crossing paths with another superhero team, The Fantastic Four, after Fox reboots that series. The future of X-Men is bright, and I can’t wait to see what’s to come. Thank you guys for reading. Go see Days of Future Past, and let me know what you think of it!