[Movie Review] X-Men: Days of Future Past Should Please Movie Fans, Comics Fans… Maybe Not
Just keep telling yourself, "This is a movie."
X-Men: Days of Future Past hits theaters this weekend, and I think the biggest question to ask is, “How does it compare to the other films in the franchise?” I’d say if you’re a fan of the other films, you’re going to love this one. If you’re a hardcore comics fan, though, it might leave you wanting.
Future Past did what I think the other films failed at, which is successfully adapting a well-known storyline from the comics to the screen. If you’re familiar with the “Days of Future Past” storyline from the comics, or even the old 90’s cartoon, there are some significant changes, but the premise is the same.
In a future where mutants are being hunted mercilessly by Sentinels, the X-Men of the future send someone back in time to alter the future and prevent the darkest timeline. X-Men fans are probably excited, because the Days of Future Past storyline means we get our first glimpse of Bishop on the big screen. Unfortunately, that’s all it is — a glimpse.
French actor Omar Sy plays Bishop in the film, and he certainly looks great as the character, but he maybe has 12 words of dialogue in the entire film. The character is incredibly under utilized in the film, and everyone’s favorite time-traveling future badass is relegated to bodyguard keeping watch over the real hero of the movie — Wolverine.
They could cut Bishop out of the movie entirely, and it would change absolutely nothing about the story, which I found pretty disappointing. Bishop seems to have been included to appease fans, but I’m sure a lot of people would have liked to see more out of the character.
Bishop disappointments aside, the adapted story fits well in the established X-Men film world, which has been all about Wolverine from the start.
Ellen Page’s Kitty Pride is relegated from the main protagonist of the Days of Future Past storyline in the comics to a simple time-travel McGuffin. Rather than traveling through time herself, she uses her powers to send people’s consciousness back in time a few days into their younger selves.
The rag-tag band of the mutants in the future are using it as a trick to duck Sentinel attacks, but because Wolverine is the only mutant film audiences seem to care about and Wolverine’s healing factor, he’s the only one that withstands Kitty’s time jumping brain squeezes to go far enough back in time to really change things.
The time travel doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but don’t dwell on it too much, and you’ll be fine.
Once Wolverine is sent back to 1973, the focus moves to young Charles Xavier’s struggle with… something? Honestly, it’s been a few years since I watched X-Men: First Class, and the movie didn’t leave much of an impression on me. I remember Xavier and Mystique had some kind of relationship and that he was sad she sided with Magneto, but in Days of Future Past, we’re greeted with a deeply depressed and wayward Xavier, who’s hooked on Hank McCoy’s mutant-gene-suppressing formula in an obvious metaphor for heroin use.
The formula gives Xavier use of his legs, but silences his telepathic powers. He’s lost hope in being able to help other mutants and has shut down his school. Wolverine is basically tasked with going 50 years into the past to make Charles Xavier believe in himself.
To stop the Sentinels, the X-Men have to stop Mystique from assassinating Dr. Trask, played perfectly by Peter Dinklage. The first step in this process is breaking Magneto out of the Pentagon, and to do that they have to recruit Quicksilver. This of course leads to the inevitable wink to the audience about Magneto being Quicksilver’s father.
Those have been pretty standard in the X-Men movies so far, and if you were worried they wouldn’t continue in this one, don’t be. It’s full of those little moments that try to reward fans for knowing a thing. There are near-constant references to the fact that, pre-Weapon-X, Logan’s skeleton isn’t yet adamantium.
At the premiere, Michael Fassbender told me that Erik is a full-on megalomaniac in this one, and he’s not kidding. Magneto this time around is a man willing to do anything for his cause.
I’ve seen a lot of people talking about Quicksilver being a real highlight of the movie. I don’t necessarily disagree, but the character is essentially a plot device. He’s used in the big Pentagon heist and then left by the wayside. They do such a good job of establishing him as an interesting and truly powerful character that the rest of the movie seems a little empty without him.
If your focus going into the movie is to pick out all the ways in which it differs from the comic or cartoon version of Days of Future Past, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Accept it as an adaptation, and you should be fine. As a movie it works, particularly as a movie in this franchise. The story, though very different from previous versions, is compelling. If anything, it suffers from trying to include too many characters and not taking the time to really focus on anyone besides Wolverine, Xavier, Magneto, and Mystique.
(image via X-Men: Days of Future Past)