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X-Men: Days of Future Past: Does Time Heal Old Wounds?

Photo Credit: 20th Century FOX

It’s been almost 14 years since 20th Century Fox released the movie X-Men. Based off of the Marvel comics from the 1960s, the first two installments of the franchise helped break ground for comic book movies to become an excepted (and exceedingly popular) genre in the theaters. With two pretty good, albeit unspectacular films and the superhero demand on the rise, the series took a huge hit with its third movie of the planned trilogy, X-Men: The Last Stand. Bryan Singer, the original director, left the franchise in the hands of Brett Ratner, whose vision for the characters and story led to the movie becoming the one largest disaster of the franchise.

While the movie is still the most successful movie of the franchise, many fans of the characters lost faith with the series. The X-Men Origins: Wolverine spin-offs and semi-reboot X-Men: First Class did little to revamp the popularity of the series (not to mention continually distorted the established plots and continuity), with its box office totals being well short of the similar franchises like Sony’s Spider-Man and Marvel Studios’ movies.

Fans of Marvel’s favorite mutants hoped the X-Men would get a shot at redemption for past mistakes and missteps. X-Men: First Class, while a step in the right direction, still required rebooting the series and even then it still used a cast of characters that the general audience weren’t familiar with. X-Men: Days of Future Past was challenged to bring back viability to the franchise while keeping enough continuity from previous films to avoid dismissal as yet another reboot. A larger cast than any of the previous movies added the pressure of focusing on major characters while still setting up future stories to include lesser-known X-Men.

Fortunately there is a lot of good to this movie and that starts with the performances. Our writers, Chris Hill and DeShawn Blankenship sit down and discuss everything about the latest Marvel movie that is breaking box office records: X-Men: Days of Future Past.

DeShawn Blankenship: I know that Sirs Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, along with Hugh Jackman, are the “big names” in this movie but the real star of this film, in my mind, is James McAvoy. His turn as a broken and hopeless Charles Xavier really sold the tone of the movie for me. The elder Charles Xavier has unflinching faith in his team and his dream, which Sir Patrick Stewart has proven over several movies. McAvoy, by contrast, shows us the darkest period in Xavier’s life, when he doesn’t care about anyone or anything more than his own pain and suffering.

McAvoy didn’t just bring it every time he was on screen. He brought it, stole the show and didn’t look back. I take nothing away from anyone else in the film but James McAvoy was just on another level here with the most solid performance in a film full of solid performances.

The contrast was also very apparent in the brief interaction between Elder Charles and Young Charles and well-played by both actors. How did you feel about it?

Chris Hill: I would have to agree with you on McAvoy, as his acting was phenomenal and his part of the script was really well written. I loved Fassbender’s parts too, though. Those two were the best parts of both X-Films that they have been cast in, hands down. As for everyone else, I thought the original cast did well in their limited roles, and it’s a big up to the franchise that the likes of Halle Berry and Sir Ian came back for minor roles. What’d you think?

DB: [nods] I agree with you.  Michael Fassbender turned in a solid performance with Magneto, although he’s in a darker place than he was at the end of First Class. This Magneto is much more the villain we know, though we still understand his motives.

Photo Credit: 20th Century FOX

I also grudgingly admit that Wolverine belongs to Hugh Jackman the way that Iron Man belongs to Robert Downey Jr. I’m weary of all the over-saturation of Wolverine over the last decade but Jackman finally found a balance between the cynical loner and the team-player that the X-Men come to trust and count on.

Peter Maximoff, aka Quicksilver, was a surprising choice to put into the movie but was eccentric enough to bring some light moments and probably had the best visually appealing scene of the movie. I will never listen to “Time In A Bottle” the same way again. Aaron Taylor-Johnson is playing him in the The Avengers: Age of Ultron. I’m looking forward to comparing the performances.

CH: Definitely, I think Quicksilver’s scenes did well to bring humor without overtly compromising the overall tone of the film. While I didn’t like the look, he really fit with the time that the movie was set in. For me, the movie was visually stunning, especially the White House and Future scenes.

quicksilver-dofp

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox

DB: Absolutely right. This movie felt like one big 70’s movie sandwiched between two pieces about the future. It tied both franchises together and got rid of X-3, so that’s a plus. There are a few characters, like Kitty Pryde, who I wish they’d given more to do. She was more of a plot device as opposed to being the driving force she was in the comics.

CH: I can see that. I’ve never really been a big fan of Ellen Page as Kitty Pryde, but that was a miscast from another movie…

DB: [laughs] Ouch!  Also, Colossus was used as a metallic doorstop. I disliked that.

CH: You know I had almost forgotten he was in the movie! I think his “inclusion” in the films has been a big waste of an interesting character.

DB: I think he got one line in this movie. I guess that’s an upgrade from the first three films but I agree that it was a waste of the character.

CH: I hate to be the one to start diving in on the negative, but while the movie was thoroughly entertaining, some parts just felt sloppy to me.

DB: Oh yes. There were definitely some rough spots.

CH: While I like Peter Dinklage and his portrayal of Bolivar Trask, I really don’t think they gave him enough of a reason to contemplate the genocide of mutants. I mean, it is genocide and for his character to be one of the main reasons for the extinction-level environment of the future, he needed to be fleshed out more for me.

DB: I agree on Trask. Fleshing him out would have made him more than, literally, a “bad guy with a mustache.” It’s a credit to Peter Dinklage that I saw Bolivar Trask and didn’t think about Tyrion Lannister.

CH: Very true. My other issue is with the story, mainly Mystique’s role in the film. While her relationship with Charles and Erik is compelling, having her be the central issue only sort of makes sense.

Photo Credit: 20th Century FOX

DB: I understand the “why” there, mostly. Mystique’s evolution is interesting and she’s important to both Charles and Erik…even if this issue wasn’t in the first trilogy. She’s the foster mother of Rogue and the mother of Nightcrawler so without those two in the movie, her connections to Xavier and Magneto tie her to the plot. But what issue did you have with Mystique in particular?

CH: Without giving too much away, Mystique’s power is to imitate, not replicate. They’ve established that throughout all of the X-Films, so that’s not just me being a comic book fan. She can look like Wolverine (as she did in X1 when the real Wolvie stabbed her) but she can’t take/use his healing power (as she still had the scars in X2 from that fight). So her particular DNA couldn’t really have the impact that it was said to have in the movie, but Rogue’s could. Her power is to absorb and duplicate…so I’m not sure why Fox cut her parts (30 minutes worth, I do believe)—from the movie and changed that particular part of the script.

DB: That makes sense. Without getting into the pseudo-science of it all, I guess you could say that it isn’t a huge jump from imitation to replication but that sounds like reaching even as I say it.  I also don’t understand cutting Anna Paquin’s scenes from the movie. (SPOILER) It was a little jarring to see Bobby fawning over Kitty only for him to end up with Rogue.

CH: Yeah, but I can’t complain too much about that. I wasn’t a big fan of Page being cast to play Kitty anyway. But like you said earlier, Rogue is the daughter of Mystique. I think the movie missed a huge chance to make a more compelling story/sub-plot that could produce a more interesting (and inevitable) Mystique spin-off.

jennifer-lawrence-mystique-dofp

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox

DB: Right. The bit on Mystique makes sense but there is also pointed back to it a little but with how Hank ended up with his bestial form in First Class. He used Mystique’s cells as the base and that’s how he ended up blue. It doesn’t explain how the Sentinels can copy powers but it’s a start? Maybe? I know it’s a reach but…[laughs]

CH: True, or maybe the movie version will eventually try to spin it that Mystique’s DNA could have produced Rogue, so the powers may be ingrained inside her cells? While that’s probably not what they were thinking at all, it’s something that they could pull off.

DB: Time-travel heals all wounds….

CH: (Laughs) Tell that to Brett Ratner. But it still doesn’t explain how Mystique exists in the future, and the first 3 movies. (SPOILER) If Mystique had gotten caught by the government when she killed Trask, would she really have been alive to go down that “darker path” later? Considering what Trask said he would need from her dissection, I don’t think so. This part of the script is just a bit sloppy to me, but I’ll just blame the rewrites and need to capitalize on J-Law’s current star power.

DB: J-Law vs. Katniss Everdeen. Who wins?

CH: The box office, of course [laughs].

DB: [laughs] Beast’s acrobatics bugged me a bit. I know he can do them but the wire-work came across poorly in this one. I’ve seen better in small-screen shows.

CH: With the budget they probably burned on the cast, maybe they needed to cut corners somewhere?

DB: Very true. The rest of the visuals were excellent and it tied everything together enough to let the franchise continue.

CH: Agreed.

DB: Speaking on that for a moment…where does the franchise go from here? Another film is lined up, but do we really need it? Should we leave well-enough alone and wait for Marvel to get the rights back?

xavier-meets-xavier

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox

CH:You know, I actually had this same conversation with my Dad after we saw DOFP. I know there is going to be X-Men: Apocalypse, but I wish this were the last film in the franchise. While it wasn’t 100% neat and tidy, I thought they wrapped the future up well. However, I just feel like the movie was pretty much made for the sole purpose of eliminating X3 and rebooting the franchise without having to recast it. I’m actually dreading the spin-offs. What about you?

DB: Anything that gets rid of X-3 is good in my book. [laughs] The post-credits scene was great, but then I hear they’re casting Channing Tatum as Gambit, and I get nervous.

CH: You don’t think he could pull off the Cajun accent?

DB: I don’t. I’d like to believe he’ll surprise us, but I don’t.

CH: I’m not really impressed with the casting either. But maybe he’ll impress. As for Marvel Studios getting the rights back, I think they have so much on their plate right now that if they got any more properties they’d start throwing out less quality films. Honestly, as long as the stories are well thought and fleshed out and the movies are entertaining, I don’t care who has the rights.

DB: If X-Men and Fantastic Four go back to Marvel Studios, I’ll be happy. Sony can keep Spider-Man. I’d just to like to see the X-Men continue WITHOUT Wolverine. Hugh Jackman isn’t getting any younger and the X-Men have compelling stories that don’t require Wolverine to drive the action. Not all of them are suitable for films but we need less Wolverine. I feel like the character is less an anti-hero and more of a crutch to prop up the franchise because they aren’t developing any other characters.

CH: Very, very true.

DB: On the plus side, we have Cyclops and Jean back. We have Xavier. If we’re going to do new films, I hope they’ll tap into some other material. I hope they’ll treat Colossus better. (laughs)

CH: Agreed. I love the X-Men and this movie had the first mostly non-Wolverine-centric story.One thing that Marvel Studios would have done by now, is try to branch out into the other characters lives. They already have a diverse range of characters and sources to generate revenue for the franchise. They just need to take advantage much like Captain America: The Winter Soldier did.

DB: Yes. All of that. The formula used in the Winter Soldier would benefit every superhero movie going forward.

CH: So, what do you think—is DOFP worth a re-watch? For me, it accomplished what it set out to do which was eliminate X3 and give us a more emotional and entertaining story. It is definitely something that fans of the series should watch, but I’ll wait until the see what happens next before I invest in the movie again.

DB: Great casting. A solid story. Visually compelling. James McAvoy. That is four reasons to go see it again. That’s four reasons to go see if you’re still on the fence about it. I was on the fence about it when it was first announced but I’m glad I saw it.

X-Men: Days of Future Past is now in theaters! Follow X-Men on Twitter and Facebook, and their official website.

About the Authors

___________________________________________

DeShawn Blankenship is staff writer here at “The Hudsucker”. He lives in the Kansas City area with his fiancee and his army of felines called the Legion of Basement Cats. When he’s not entertaining the cats or doing web support for a pharmaceutical company, he’s playing Marvel Heroes, reading, watching professional wrestling or writing his first novel. He lives on Skullcrusher Mountain with his super-hero (for now) girlfriend and ever-growing army of feline followers. Follow him on Twitter as @DABlankenship.

Chris Hill is a contributor here at “The Hudsucker”. A graduate from Georgia State University in 2009 with degrees in Journalism and Creative Writing, Chris has spent a lot of time working with the media. From engineering radio broadcast for most of Atlanta’s major sports teams to shooting high school football games behind a camera, Chris has a lot of media experience. Besides that, he loves soccer, detective shows, and a buffet list of ‘nerdy’ things that would embarrass his wife. Follow him on Twitter as @ARadioVoice.

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3 Comments on “X-Men: Days of Future Past: Does Time Heal Old Wounds?”

  1. Rob Stephenson May 30, 2014 at 3:14 am #

    Awesome post gentlemen! I wish I could comment more directly about the movie, but I need to see it first. I’ve been anticipating this film for a long time, and even the negative reviews I have read only make me more eager to watch it. Thanks for the commentary, I hope to read more soon.

  2. John August 14, 2014 at 4:23 am #

    Hopefully it’s unlike Singer’s first two attempts in that it turns out to be more than just a mundane popcorn flick. It’s more likely to be extremely overrated like the others and not live up to its true potential.

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  1. Which Comic Book Movie Will Conquer 2016? | The Hudsucker - March 28, 2016

    […] with the “corrections” the last X-Men movie made to their cinematic timeline, there are still a number of continuity issues that have […]

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