It would seem that First Class was not a fluke, and that the retconned (not rebooted) X-Men films have a very bright future ahead of them and I could not be more thrilled about it.
One of the strongest parts of this film was it’s ability to stretch it’s characters – to take these established icons and force them into scenarios so alien to them that they become different people.
Seeing Wolverine banned from combat and need to mediate people (far far FAR from his comfort zone of X-Force, the mutant kill-squad) is a brilliant tool to develop him further. Since he’s pretty much only known as the unstoppable slashing machine.
But stealing the show is Professor Xavier; taken down from being the moral paragon and father-leader of the X-Men, to this broken mess of a human being. Because he’s always depicted as a sort of Zordon – larger than life, incredible, impervious, yet mobility impaired, we normally don’t see him loose hope.
But here we got to see it destroy him until he is but a substance-abusing husk of his former self. A brilliant use of irony really, that he gets his legs back but can’t function without assistance – he is more crippled when he is physically speaking ‘normal’, than when he was wheelchair bound.
This combined with watching Magneto slowly take up his mantle as leader and statement-maker of the rebel mutant brotherhood, and Mystique having to question how far she should go to get things done, makes this film the perfect vessel for character development, refinement and empathy.
And that’s not even mentioning the completely brilliant fight scenes and visuals!
X3 (As it demands to be called) had two mutant armies fighting, but pretty much boiled down to a couple of one-on-one rounds of fisticuffs. Here instead we get to see proper teamwork in action, by both the enemies and allies, thanks to the catalytic characters of Blink and Bishop.
The films does have it’s problems, for sure; we never learn or even get hints as to why Shadowcat can send people through time now or how Patrick Stewart’s Professor X is alive again all of a sudden. Almost all of the mutants established in First Class are already dead when the film opens, which is weird and feels kinda rude – if we aren’t going to get to see any of that and get more insight into Peter Dinklage’s character, Trask and how he first discovered mutants and decided to hunt them down, then we could have at least had some kind of flashback of them disappearing in the first place?
I’m hoping for some deleted scenes with these bits in them, as I assume they’d have been scripted but were cut for time or re-casting issues. These flaws are all things we are kindof told to just accept and move on from so we can enjoy the film at hand, which works okay but can still be rather distracting.
Also consider that during the original comic series Days of Future Past many major details are the same, but it was Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat who was sent back to everyone of the Sentinels and stop Mystique. Considering her lack of screen time and the lack of female characters in the 1973 storyline, It’s interesting to consider if the film would have been much different had she been sent instead? Personally I’d have liked to see that. And not just because Ellen Page is awesome. Which she is.
Despite the flaws Days of Future Past is thrilling, gripping and totally recommended.
As is the post-credits teaser scene 😉 No spoilers for that one here.