There’s plenty that could be said about X-Men:Days of Future Past. That’s why I’ve been highlighting it on our Tumblr this week, and am writing multiple posts about it. Expect another on Friday, focused on Kitty Pryde.
That means the goal for me tonight is simply to focus on our LitFlix style: comparing the movie to the comics. These comics are some of the X-Men’s finest, and come in at an astounding 2 comics. That’s it. For as enduring an idea and a storyline as it was, for as many characters and situations as it opened up, it accomplished an amazing amount in a short amount of time.
The movie goes both bigger than this, and smaller. It’s a time travel story, set both in a dystopian future and what is now decades past. The movie makes the future big, with no holds barred. The past, meanwhile, is pared down to only a few characters, and spends a lot of time going in-depth into their souls. Quick review? Great comics, read them, no question. Great movie, go see it, and enjoy.
Spoilers to follow for both!
The movie opens in the future, in a safe house full of mutants. I explored most of these mutants the other day, and found some to be amazing, and some wanting. However, this is all quite different from the comics.
In the comics, as you can see in the cover above, almost all of the mutants – hero or villain – are dead. Many of the rest are trapped in camps by the Sentinels, with their powers suppressed through technology. The shock of them dead was one of the great impacts and shocks of the series, and gives weight to the thought that changing the timeline really might be the best idea.
However, I think that it was the right idea to get everyone back in the movie. In the comics, the characters had been alive and well in the last issue – a month prior. The last time the future X-Men – except Wolverine – had been seen on-screen was in X-Men: The Last Stand, 8 years ago. To get audiences invested and involved in the characters again, and the plot and the urgency of changing the timeline, the characters, and subsequent character death, was necessary.
I also like them killing them all – and then wiping it out by traveling back in time, through Bishop’s consciousness and actions. This does a good job of accomplishing a lot of storytelling goals: setting up the characters, as well as the idea of time travel, the method of time travel, and the fact that everything changed for the better through their time travel.
Importantly, it shows us that we’re not dealing with multiple timelines. We’re dealing with one true timeline – that can be changed, can be edited. It’s like Back to the Future – a contemporary story to the comics. The time traveler can end up back in the future, with no memory of what’s changed, but it all has. In the movie, we end up with this as Wolverine, which is too bad, because it means he doesn’t die like he does in the comics…
They got together the movie characters who were alive in the comics, too: Magneto, Colossus, Storm, Wolverine, and Kitty Pryde. Sure, there’s no Franklin Richards – but they haven’t got the Fantastic Four figured out yet to work them in. Nor was there Rachel Grey, but with both of her parents dead in the movie continuity, she would be hard to include as well.
But ah, Kitty Pryde. So much to say about her… Friday. But meanwhile, she’s also a good segue to the past!
Kitty Pryde. Someone who would not have been alive with how far back they go in the movie. It’s tough to fit a comic continuity into the passage of real time. The X-Men are 50 years old – and the characters have definitely not aged 50 years. The future events of the Days of Future Past comics happened in 2013… the characters in the comics today are not the age they were in that future timeline.[tweet https://twitter.com/compgeeksdavid/status/470080622443384833 width 200]
Yep, I’m a geek.
In the comics, the past had two teams. One was the X-Men, at that point largely made up of characters introduced in Giant-Sized X-Men #1. However, in the past continuity built in X-Men: First Class, we had a different set of first heroes. No problem, they were there in Days of Future Past, right? Nope, most all of them are dead, good or bad – all victims to Trask and his experimentation. It’s still too early in time for most of the Ultimate X-Men inspired characters from the original X-Men movies to show up (rumors are that young versions will make it into X-Men: Apocalypse in 2016). So which heroes do we have in the past?
Yeah, the answer is basically none. Remaining from First Class, we have Xavier, Magneto, Mystique, and Beast.
Well, that works. In the comics, Mystique is heading up a new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, with a new roster and only one returning villain, the Blob. So with Mystique, we get a new Brotherhood, right?
Nope. There’s a bit of a nod to the idea, with her finding and saving mutants early on, including a couple of movie characters: Havok and Toad. Who don’t really do much after that. But it all makes sense: with no team of heroes, we can’t very well have a team of villains! Otherwise they would win. So that means Mystique is on her own, but she handles that pretty well.
By cutting out these extra characters and action, we end up with a far more personal story, one of a broken Xavier, an enabler Beast, and a prisoner Magneto. And of Mystique, Hell-bent on stopping Trask and saving the mutants, but ending up dooming them instead. Oh, and Wolverine. He’s there too. But he’s pretty much just there, the voice of warning, the spur for the plot.
In the comics, the time traveler – Kitty Pryde – gets to do a lot more than Wolverine. The large fight that breaks out, between the X-Men and the Brotherhood, breaks out into the streets. That leaves behind Destiny, who is about to shoot Senator Kelly. Okay, it couldn’t be Kelly, he’s in the original X-Men, and it being Trask instead works just fine. Anyway, Kitty Pryde hangs back, and stops Destiny, and saves Senator Kelly.
With no giant battle, there’s no secret assassination. And, with Mystique’s power fueling the future Sentinels, it’s not just a fight for stopping one assassination attempt. It’s a battle for the heart, soul, and mind of Mystique. Winning this fight makes a real impact, a lasting impact on the future. One powerful enough to take the dystopia and make it into a happy ending.
Because that’s the last piece missing in the comics, the final ambiguity. You don’t know if any of it worked, and Xavier basically says as much. And really, things probably haven’t changed in the comics future, when you have images like this showing up recently…
But for the movies, where you’ll likely never get that old cast together again, it was a great sendoff into the future. A nice ending point. The movies from here sound like they will look at the middle years, between Days of Future Past and X-Men, and there’s plenty you can do there.
And if there’s Apocalypse, there’s always a chance something will go horribly, horribly wrong.