Days of franchises past
The last thing moviegoers need right now is another superhero film franchise and X-Men is perhaps the least needed of them all, considering its original trilogy ended eight years ago. But, like any other money-grabbing franchise, X-Men rages forth, even though continuing to produce sequels means the writers have to actually go back and pretend some of the events of the previous trilogy never happened. Which is precisely the premise upon which Days of Future Past is built.
The film serves as some kind of weirdly creative crossroads between prequel and sequel to the original trilogy, but ultimately is an iron shield to ensure the franchise’s survival. Not that I’m complaining. If Marvel is going to put forth as strong an argument as Days of Future Past about why this franchise should continue, then I have no objections.
The film starts by showing audiences a potential future (which at the time is “real,” but is anything truly real when you’re dealing with time travel?) in which Mutants, people with enhanced DNA giving them special abilities (you know, the X-Men) are hunted and almost wholly exterminated by an army of super-adaptable androids known as Sentinels. With very few mutants left standing in this future, Professor X, Magneto, and Storm (Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, and Halle Berry, at least for now) decide to use Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page)’s time travel ability to send Logan the Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back in time to prevent this from ever happening.
Logan soon arrives in the past, where he encounters the young versions of the mutants we met in X-Men: First Class, including Professor X and Magneto (now played by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender). Their mission: stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from getting kidnapped, as it is from her shape-shifting DNA that the Sentinels gain their adaptability.
As confusing as the story may sound, the film keeps the math work simple and the pacing exciting. Everyone in the humongous ensemble cast (of which I have mentioned only a few) is given their time in the spotlight without things ever getting cluttered, though new character Quicksilver (Evan Peters) leaves perhaps the strongest impression. He’s a mutant who completely embodies his power of super speed giving the air of someone impatiently stuck in a traffic jam, even during action scenes, and delivers some one-liners as hilarious as his actor’s wig. Here’s some advice to the franchise going forward: more Quicksilver. Whedon, take notes.
With director Bryan Singer back at the helm for the first time since the first two X-Men (which are arguably the two best-received), it’s pretty obvious that as long as he’s directing, the franchise will keep delivering. Days of Future Past needed to be a lot of things for the franchise’s sake (action-packed, sentimental, and cohesive, to name a few), and it beyond excels. Here’s hoping the series’ future is better than its past.