Anthony Stokes on why X-Men: Days of Future Past has derailed the X-Men franchise…
I grew up with the X-Men franchise, and found myself getting less and less invested with every movie. They haven’t aged well, and there’s something a bit dull about some of the drama, especially that centered around Jean Grey, Wolverine, and Cyclops. There’s the Rogue and Iceman subplot that in retrospect feels really Twilight-ish. There’s also the fact that up to this point every X-Men movie has had Wolverine in it, and I’m burned out on it. The saving grace for the franchise was X-Men: First Class, which brought a breath of fresh air to the franchise and was something entirely new, sort of. I even enjoyed The Wolverine, which made Logan somewhat interesting and had some interesting characters. And then this little movie called Days of Future Past came out and threw off the momentum.
I know people love X-Men: Days of Future Past and I can see why. It’s by no stretch a bad movie. I wouldn’t even call it a disappointment. For some people this is The Avengers of the X-Men franchise… but some people don’t like The Avengers either.
I had a large list of things that annoyed me about Days of Future Past. It completely disregards The Wolverine and its characters , which I thought brought some interesting mythos to the franchise. It skips over a lot of detail: How did Magneto get his powers back? How is Charles back, and why is he still in the wheelchair? The only question I didn’t mind is how Kitty Pride can send Logan back in time, because honestly the X-Men comics do this all the time, taking a character who has a singular power and giving it a multitude of uses out of nowhere. Seeing them all gather together is half the fun. How can I be invested if all the important things are just told in exposition, if at all? And I understand it might have been sloppy to sit there and explain everything instead of getting straight into the main plot, but a little explanation would’ve been nice.
None of the old X-Men characters have any personality. These are characters that we’ve become attached to over the span of three movies, and outside of fighting off Sentinels they’re given nothing to do. The action scenes were impressive, I can’t emphasize that enough, but you’re going to get Halle Berry back just to attack Sentinels? Seems like a waste. And then we get into the time travel and we have to have the bit where Wolverine comedically tries to explain to a mob guy time travel before reluctantly beating him up. The comedy in here is bad. Magneto’s “Imagine if you were metal ” line made me roll my eyes so hard. Then the movie shifts its focus to Beast, Xavier, and Wolverine – all of whom are made completely ineffectual characters. Beast’s big bad ass moment is him turning back into a human. And not just ineffectual as far as their powers are concerned, but ineffectual to the overall story. Wolverine may as well have told Xavier the future and then just went ahead back to the future and Beast could have just went back to the mansion after breaking out Magneto.
Furthermore, Days of Future Past completely ruins First Class by killing off most of the characters that I found way more interesting than the future characters they introduced. We get a small cameo from Havok and that’s about it. Why even bring that actor in? X-Men: First Class was my favorite movie in the franchise and I thought they were building up a team that could be parallel to the original one, but then they just go and ruin it.
When you get to the meat of the movie and what it’s really about, it’s another love triangle scenario. The same one we saw in the last movie, except this time Mystique is being a complete idiot. If two people with very conflicting ideas both agree that it’s a bad idea to do something, wouldn’t you sit down and listen? I’d understand if it was Magneto but Mystique has never been the hotheaded one. It also becomes the Jennifer Lawrence show with the entire movie hinging on her character. It’s an ensemble, but all the past characters are dead or powerless and all the future characters have nothing to do but fight Sentinels. And when the movie ends, the triangle doesn’t move. All three characters are in the exact same spots they were in before the movie started. Nothing is resolved really.
At this point I’m already a little frustrated, and then Bryan Singer decides to listen to the fans and completely wipe X-Men Origins: Wolverine and X-Men: The Last Stand from the continuity. But guess what else he wiped away… All the good X-Men movies too. If people can celebrate that the bad X-Men movies are no longer canon, I can complain that the good X-Men movies are out of the canon too. The entire movie was just fan service and then it only gets worse at the end.
So, that brings me back to X-Men: Apocalypse. When we heard it was going to be much more of a First Class focused movie, even though the characters from First Class are mostly dead, I felt that this was the point where I’d had enough of the main franchise for a while. Then we heard Apocalypse is going to have Cyclops, Storm and Jean Grey, and I lost all interest. Cyclops is not a very interesting character. Yes he can be if done right, but they haven’t yet and I’m tired of him. Same with Jean Grey and Storm. Do we really have to keep showing the same seven characters over and over again?
It’s going to take a lot of good marketing for me to get on the Apocalypse train. I’m waiting to be wowed, but it looks like X-Men: First Class is the best I’m going to get for a while.
Anthony Stokes is a blogger and independent filmmaker.