What is… Days of Future Past?

Luke Owen gives us the lowdown on X-Men: Days of Future Past and looks at the possibilities for Fox’s newly-announced movie adaptation…

Yesterday saw the announcement of the title to the X-Men: First Class sequel – X-Men: Days of Future Past. This didn’t come to a surprise to many as it has been rumoured for a while and it seems that the massive success of The Avengers has spurred studios to do cross-over movies to bring in cinema goers. The announcement was met with quite a lot of praise from the comic book fandom world as Days of Future Past is one of the most famous, celebrated and popular Uncanny X-Men titles.

Published over two issues in 1981, Days of Future Past has been adapted into the 90s X-Men: The Animated Series cartoon, the more recent Wolverine and the X-Men series as well as pseudo-spoofed in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, had versions of its famous cover parodied by Star Trek and Star Wars, was referenced in the first episode of TV’s Heroes and was voted in 2001 by fans to be the 25th greatest Marvel Comic ever produced. And now, it’s making the transition to the big screen.

But why is this a big deal for cinema goers? Well, it could possibly bring together the First Class characters with those of the previous X-Men movies…

Days of Future Past

Days of Future Past deals with two timelines that run side by side – the present day where the X-Men are fighting against Mystique and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, and a dystopian future where mutants have lost and are now placed in internment camps. In this timeline, the X-Men failed in stopping the assassination of Senator Robert Kelly by the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, and they and the rest of mutantkind are hunted down by giant robots named Sentinels. Many of them are found and murdered while the rest remain on the run, fighting for their survival.

In an attempt to fix the future by altering the past, Kitty Pryde transfers her mind back in time to her younger self to warn the X-Men of this terrible future. The X-Men stop the Brotherhood of Evil Mutant’s assassination plan but unbeknownst to Kitty Pryde, her return to the past actually causes the rise of mutant extermination. Upon her return to the future, she discovers that it sadly remains the same – time is a circle and no matter what she does, the X-Men will eventually lose and they will all be killed.

In the 90s cartoon version, Kitty Pryde is replaced with a future mutant named Bishop who is sent back in time by Forge and Wolverine to find the mutant that turned their back on the X-Men and started the Sentinel takeover. Bishop identifies that Gambit is the culprit and makes it his mission to stop his plans to assassinate Robert Kelly. It turns out that Gambit is actually the shape shifting Mystique in disguise and together with the help of the real Gambit, Bishop manages to prevent the assassination of Senator Robert Kelly. But like Kitty Pryde, Bishop’s return the future reveals that time has not changed and it’s a circle.

The Wolverine and the X-Men storyline is the most liberal interpretation of the original source material and features Professor X waking up from a coma to find the world overtaken by Sentinels. Using his telepathic skills, he contacts the X-Men of the past to prevent this horrendous future. In this version, the X-Men do actually stop of the Sentinel uprising but in doing so they give rise to the Age of Apocalypse.

What can we expect from the movie version?

Judging from the ending of all three versions, a pretty bloody bleak movie… With the three options to choose from and the library of already established characters, I think director Matthew Vaughn and screenwriters Jane Goldman and Simon Kinberg may take elements from all three to make a brand new version. Internet rumours are awash that the plot will stick rather closely to the original comic series and given their backgrounds and love of comic books and all things X-Men this could all well be true. However I think they are smart enough to know that there isn’t much point in just rehashing the original story when they’re creating their own world.

We’ve already seen Kitty Pryde in the original X-Men movies played by Ellen Page, so it seems very possible that they could introduce a younger Kitty in the First Class timeline for the mind meld to take place. However, simply introducing Kitty into the First Class X-Men could feel like a contrived plot device just to facilitate the story. By going with Bishop, you forgo this plot contrivance and actually create a more interesting story, but the worry there is that a man coming to the past to prevent the future could look more or less like a rehash of The Terminator.

Personally, I think the option of having Professor Xavier contact them from the future to warn them of the dangers could actually be their best option, albeit the most boring. The problem with that however is that Xavier was killed by the Dark Phoenix in X-Men: The Last Stand, so perhaps that option might be out of the question.

Whatever plot line they go with, the most interesting aspect of Days of Future Past is seeing the crossover of timelines between Bryan Singer/Brett Ratner’s worlds and the more recent X-Men: First Class. In terms of cameos, I think it would be a safe bet to say that Hugh Jackman would reprise his role as Wolverine (yet again) and we could see Ellen Page return as Kitty Pryde. Of all the characters in the main roster, I think those two would be front runners of sure bets. I don’t think it’s entirely unreasonable to think that we may also get future flashbacks for cameos of Storm (Halle Berry), Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) and the others that didn’t die in X-Men: The Last Stand to see how they meet their fate. It will actually be a nice denouement to the Bryan Singer/Brett Ratner X-Men storyline and will more than likely be a much sweeter conclusion that X-Men: The Last Stand

But do you know what I am looking forward to most? When 20th Century Fox release that poster we know is coming. The movie poster of that comic book cover. If it looks half as awesome as it does in my head, we’re in for a treat.

Days of Future Past movie image by Deviant Art user Wobblyone.

Luke Owen is a freelance copywriter working for Europe’s biggest golf holiday provider as their web content executive.

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