I wanted to close out my week of looking at X-Men: Days of Future Past by looking at one of the biggest changes: the role of Kitty Pryde. She’s come up in my look at the mutant character adaptations, and of course in the LitFlix comparing the film to the comic source.
A quick breakdown of how she was used: in the comics, Kitty Pryde travels back in time into the consciousness of her younger self, a new member of the X-Men, to warn of the apocalyptic future. She goes from being brand-new character, to being one that you know has a future and a purpose and immense power.
So there were three elements of this that they had to try to adapt into the film: the time travel, and its method; the traveler, Kitty Pryde; and the impending doom of the future. The movie accomplishes two of these three, but loses Kitty Pryde in the process. Now, I don’t see a way to hit all three and work within the movie continuity, but let’s explore some of the problems and options!
Kitty Pryde for Feminism!
So, I think one of the main points I am really speaking to in my post here is an article from the Mary Sue, about Kitty Pryde in Days of Future Past. You can read that here: http://www.themarysue.com/x-men-days-of-future-past-movie-kitty-pryde/
I’ll give you a minute to read that.
So, some of the author’s point is that cutting Kitty Pryde is sexism, and money making, and is about just going with Wolverine because he’s so popular. And that keeping Kitty Pryde in the story would have been as easy as changing the method of time travel.
And you know what? I think that’s true. As I said, there were three elements from the comics. If you introduce a time machine, and send someone physically back, then you could send whoever you want – you could send Kitty back for sure. And you would still hit two out of three elements from the comics, right?
That’s fair, you would. Kitty’s powers are such that you could have even cut Quicksilver out: she could have broken Magneto out of prison, no problem. Actually, most of the past section of the movie would have to be re-written, but the point is, it could have been done.
So now, how about a thought from one of the comments? Someone said, they’ve been upset about how Kitty has been portrayed in the movies since the very first X-Men. And I think that this is some of the problem.
What Happened To Kitty?
Though we are now thinking and talking about Kitty Pryde as Ellen Page, it was not always so. She was the third actress to play the part. In X-Men, they mention Kitty right at the start, in the Senate hearing – the girl who can walk through walls. Then, she’s the first mutant we see use her powers when Wolverine is at the mansions. And that’s it.
In X-2, Kitty, as a new actress, runs through the mansion and can’t be caught while the soldiers are attacking. She doesn’t do some of the things she could have done, like save all the kids by phasing them through the walls. And we don’t see her again. But she’s mentioned again, at the end: the girl who can walk through walls, who got Striker’s file. It’s a good callback to the previous film, but…
I think that, between these scenes, and the line, Kitty Pryde was the most important character without a major role in the films. She was conceptually important, to the idea of what mutants can do. Walking through walls is cool. And she makes an appearance, shows off the powers.
They finally live up to it, and bring her in as a character, and even get her a good actress in Ellen Page. Still, given that background, she just didn’t live up to what she could have been.
And what she could have been, the whole time, was Wolverine’s young sidekick. She spends time as this in the comics. She could have, in other words, been Rogue.
So let’s consider for a moment: if they used Rogue in Kitty’s role in Days of Future Past! What if they had sent Rogue back in time? This would have kept the spirit of the comics, of the role. It would have also given a reason to bring Wolverine in: Rogue would have gone to find him. And you could have worked in some of the stuff from the comics, of the relationship between Rogue and Mystique, who in the comics is Rogue’s adoptive mother.
However, of the three elements from the Days of Future Past comics, you’d lose two by doing this: the method of time travel, and the traveler… you’d just have the future peril left.
To make Days of Future Past work with Kitty, it would have been easiest if it had been Kitty from the start, rather than Rogue. Now, I grew up reading Excalibur, with its core team of Colossus, Nightcrawler, and Kitty Pryde. I would have loved a larger role for Kitty from the beginning. But it didn’t happen. And bringing her in just drew attention to the fact that they weren’t doing more with her. Which reminds me…
Kitty Can Do WHAT Now?
I think some of the problem with Kitty in the movie is that they draw attention to her, yet again. Only this time, by giving her the power to send someone’s consciousness back in time. Wait, what? How? Why? No explanation is given.
It’s like the consolation prize: you don’t get to go back in time, but you can send someone back. In the comics, it’s a telepath doing it, and that makes sense enough. Or, a teleporter like Blink would have made sense. But Kitty? I don’t see it. And honestly, she could have done more out on the field, fighting.
Actually, that may have been their problem. How do you kill her? Her phasing is powerful! There’s a reason why she, with Colossus, are some of the last couple of mutants left at the end of all things, in the comics. With her powers intact, there’s no stopping her.
They added enough new characters, though, that adding one to send the time traveler back would not have been a problem to me. I gave a few thoughts on Monday about who they could have used instead.
Because with it being Kitty, it just draws attention to her. And then she’s stabbed by Wolverine! Yes, it adds drama to the film. But she’s Kitty Pryde, she could have phased to avoid it!
I think that what they accomplished was drawing attention to a change, making it not make sense to the fans or even really people who’ve only watched the movies, and not explaining it. If they had used her as a fighter, I think it would have been less glaring of an issue.
In the final analysis, I think that working Kitty Pryde into the film in such a way as to match the Days of Future Past comic more would have been incredibly difficult, if not impossible now. Could things have been done differently in the past, with the earlier films? Yes.
But by now, they had a lot of issues to consider. The full continuity of the previous six films. The actors and contracts and all of that. And the fact that they decided to anchor the X-Men into the real timeline – forcing specific dates, times, and ages onto the characters. Something the comics avoid doing to quite the extent as was done in First Class.
Could they have set the film closer to the events of the first X-Men film? Sure. Would that have worked at all with the First Class cast? No. Please, please don’t put James Mcavoy and Michael Fassbender into old makeup, like they did with Patrick Stewart and Ian Mckellen in the young makeup at the start of The Last Stand.
So in the end, there are different focuses that the film could have gone with. One is pure adaptation of the comics. If my comics LitFlix this year and last year show me anything, it’s that pure comic adaptations don’t happen into film. Even just as a single film – much less as the seventh film in a franchise.
Another is what the author of the Mary Sue piece would have liked – a feminist film that empowers and showcases a female superhero. And it was based on a comic where this is exactly what happens, so the criticism is fair, and the thought that they could have done this is there. But there were a lot of things standing in the way of this happening, some of which I have discussed above. But really, in the end, the question is: was this their goal? They would have had to force it to make it work, but it could have been done.
However, in the end, their number one goal was to bridge their franchise, to pull together these now 7 movies into one continuity. Not an easy or simple task. And they had a secondary goal with this: to erase the sins of the two weakest performances of the series. Literally wiping them out. That in-and-of itself is a strong statement to the fans and audience, that they understand the problems they had in the past.
In the end, it is not the sole responsibility of this one film to give us a female superhero movie – especially since the X-Men are so much so an ensemble cast. And for the larger problem of a lack of female characters leading movies, beyond superhero, this movie especially does not have to carry that whole torch. However, as it is the highest-grossing worldwide release for a film from Fox in history, they could have done a lot to lead the way.
A missed opportunity? Absolutely. Do I think I could have done better than they did, with the problems they faced? No.