It was around 1984 when I first caught the rerun of Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends titled “A Firestar is Born”. You’d be forgiven for not knowing who Firestar is. She was made up for the TV show and later added into the comics as a Hellion (Hellfire Club) and later inducted into the New Warriors where she hooked up with Vance Astro, leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy before Star Lord. Well, I mean before in that he was in comics leading the Guardians before Star Lord but it was actually in the future so it was after Star Lord. Getting side tracked.
The point is, this was my introduction to the X-Men. Cyclops, Storm, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Professor X, they all showed up. Juggernaut was the enemy. Wolverine had a voice actor who thought he was Australian or something, got his claws stuck in a brick wall. I wouldn’t know until a decade or two later that while I was enjoying this cartoon, in the comics Kitty Pryde was finding her place on the team under Storm’s tutelage, Wolverine was dealing with the fallout of his wedding to his biggest comic book love Mariko, Rogue was trying to get the team to trust her (after all she used to work for Mystique and put Ms Marvel in a coma), and Professor X was about to leave the X-Men to hook up with the love of his life Lilandra in space (thus leaving the X-Men for quite some time).
There isn’t a point in my life where the X-Men weren’t. Even when I stopped buying comics in high school, I re-read the ones I already owned, hunted down a copy of Pryde of the X-Men, and watched recorded episodes of the 90′s Fox X-Men TV show. So when I say the X-Men movies are really not the X-Men to me, I hope you understand the weight.
The X-Men at their essence are a team of rejects, of social and racial outcasts. The most ethnically diverse team the majority of the time out there. To see them reduced to their powers in a Wolverine support squad in the movies has been heart breaking. The parts the Avengers movies get right is the characters, their flaws, the things that make them happy, their costumes, their essence is still there. The X-Men movies do not have that.
I wish I could say Days of Future Past was a step in the right direction but it clings onto those 90′s leather outfits and Cyclop’s “Hey Logan, stay away from my girl” mentality. Do you know anything about the original Days of Future Past? Do you know about Nimrod, Wolverine’s death (along with most of the other future X-Men including Franklin Richards whom Fox owns the rights to), and that it starred a strong female protagonist named Kitty Pryde? Fox and their writers were afraid you, the audience, couldn’t handle a Kitty Pryde lead movie. They were afraid without Wolverine on the front poster no one would show up despite how well First Class did on a meager budget, duct taped together as it was.
Personality wise, this movie missed the mark for me on almost all counts. The largest affront was carried over from First Class which was Beast. They took away all his confidence in literature and the literature romantic and only left his insecurities. Now just a thug to carry and punch for the professor while looking uneasy and nervous.
But then they add in the old Singer cast with all their problems. Bobby aka Iceman with the personality of Cannonball. Kitty Pryde who… well let’s be frank, she doesn’t have a personality or background or story other than being Bobby’s girlfriend in the movies. Storm who is Halle Barry with a bad haircut making funny faces. Colossus who can turn into metal. Professor X who cares desperately what Logan thinks of him most. Magneto who enjoys saying “Charles”. And Wolverine who enjoys reflecting on the first 3 X-Men movies that launched Hugh Jackman’s career. They really should have been named Wolverine, Wolverine 2 United, and Wolverine 3 The Last Stand. Wolverine whose greatest movie love was Jean Gray. Or Silverfox, that woman he married once. Wolverine the rebel who doesn’t actually rebel against any of his teammates in the movie. Matter of fact aside from disagreeing with mutant cures, sentinels, and killing off the human race is actually a pretty agreeable guy in the movies.
And then the new characters, we can’t forget those! Blink, Warpath, Sunspot, and Bishop who have powers and who Fox hope will make you think the movie is ethnically diverse even though all the characters with backgrounds and multiple lines of dialog are white. Trask who is in the movie for at least 5, maybe even 10 minutes. And then there’s Ink who is not a mutant, nor does he have any lines. And unnamed black guy in the Vietnam camp who has a sick stare (he makes people sick by looking at them). That has to be… I dunno, maybe they retooled Pestilence into something completely different? The internet says its Spyke but Spyke isn’t really in the comics and grows bone spikes.
Magneto and Xavier’s carry overs from First Class received the best treatment due to First Class being the best movie representation of them. Magneto and Xavier were friends in the comics prior, even if it was a retooling of continuity after the fact. There are always divergences (Xavier was pretty much always bald, they turned Magneto into a baby once and then grew him up be 30 or so) but the essence of these characters in First Class was pretty spot on. No Magneto didn’t have a revenge quest against Sebastian Shaw but if the comics Magneto did have a revenge quest, it might have looked like that.
Fast forward to Days of Future Past and now we get a junky, whiny Xavier. Look, I’ll be the first to tell you Xavier has always been an asshole. He militarized teenagers for years (not to mention had a sexual thing for them). He worked to change the populace’s mind but when it came down to an individual he wasn’t above re-writing their brain. He abandoned his actual children at every turn. Basically the only ones close to him he ever seemed to treat with any decency was Lilandra and Magneto. But a junky? And on top of that a junky for a mutant cure? Yeah no.
Magneto was Magneto though, through and through. A man of conviction. A man whose manipulations were subtle and not the work of an evil mastermind, but of a private man. Magneto who has a plan all to his own and will act with little if any remorse. Oh sure in the comics, Eric has his spells of doubt. These are his good guy periods typically when he’ll lead New Mutants or join the Hellfire Club in an attempt to benefit the X-Men. But overall, he is sure of his place. Magneto is why I liked Days of Future Past the movie at all.
The Sentinels themselves didn’t matter. They were just a clock for the film in an attempt to add tension. I didn’t realize Kitty Pryde was sitting there with Wolverine in the future until midway through the movie when Wolvie had a bad dream and cut her. I’m not so sure the Sentinels should have mattered. Trask should have mattered but he didn’t. He was just another piece of machine. They kept him alive though, possibly to make a Master Mold or Nimrod in future films. Or reveal him to be the shape changing Apocalypse, would make sense with all those dead mutants mentioned.
And there’s Mystique who really isn’t anything like her comic counter part. She was a good character in First Class. In Days of Future Past she was what everyone was after and not much else. Could that have been fixed by staying true to her comic self? No idea. I do however find it funny that the movies made her comic outfit look modest. Now what really would have been nice would be if she had recruited those mutants she saved to be her Freedom Force. Mystique is a strong willed leader. I hear movies are afraid of those qualities in females.
I didn’t love Days of Future Past. As a time travel movie, it came off as Singer celebrating his previous X-Men movies, which for me do not stand the test of time. As a period piece, it was okay. The Kennedy part was idiotic and poorly written, which in my opinion undermined the credits teaser because now every mystery in history has the same answer – a mutant did it. I didn’t love Days of Future Past but I still liked it.
I just wish the X-Men movies could be more and be free of the Singer-verse. I wish the X-Men movies could be as inspirational as the comics and many of the TV shows were. I wish the X-Men movies could be as diverse and group focused as the stories that inspired them. I wish for something greater than liking. A Jean Grey that is more than whoever she shares her bed with. More than a woman in a refrigerator so to speak. A Storm that duels Cyclops for the team and tells Wolverine he's wrong with no doubt. A Cyclops who makes decisions he knows will irrevocably damage his relationships but does so for the greater good of mutant kind. And all that is Kitty Pryde in her leadership, sense of rebellion, and freindships. My days of future past won't be with the movie, but re-reading those stories that inspired so many.