Over the weekend, I had a revelation. Not the type of revelation that actually means a whole lot in the grand scheme of my life; I’m not joining a monastery nor am I now a Brony (both of those are major life commitments). It was a little revelation, but one that still had enough of an impact to put my fingers on the keyboard today.
So what caused this revelation? It came after Bryan Singer tweeted that Anna Paquin, Shawn Ashmore and Ellen Page would be reprising their roles in the upcoming film, “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” joining Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, three other original trilogy actors who had decided to come along for the ride. This news sent my brain into overdrive, as if rapidly piecing together the plot of a superhero sequel was my mutant power and it had just been activated. My boyfriend, God bless him, was doing some hardcore shopping in the Container Store, asking very important spice-rack-based questions to my blank face as I reached the most startling conclusion:
“X-Men: Days of Future Past” is going to undo the events of “X-Men: The Last Stand.”
Let’s be clear about one thing: I have no inside knowledge. I’m going off of tweets, here. But this makes perfect sense when you consider where the X-Men film franchise is at, the events of that much-reviled last installment, and the plot of the original “Days of Future Past” storyarc. This, by the way, was not my big revelation. I’m still teasing that, but I want to get this theory published and on the record so that if it comes to pass, I can direct everyone back to this post and — well, nothing. Gloat, I guess? Sure.
For those unfamiliar with “Days of Future Past,” it was a two-part story by Chris Claremont and John Byrne originally published in “Uncanny X-Men” #141-142. In that story, the X-Men of the present (1981) are visited by the remaining X-Men of a post-apocalyptic future (2013!) in the hopes that they can prevent that future from coming to pass. In that far-flung future, which is scarily enough the year we are currently living in, mutants are all in internment camps and most of the X-Men and Marvel heroes are dead. The inciting incident, it turns out, happened in 1981, the year the story was published. Senator Robert Kelly, an anti-mutant politician, is assassinated by a group of mutants (the debut appearance of the most enduring iteration of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants), thus sparking mutant-related hysteria. Things go badly; mutants have to wear power-dampening collars, giant robots walk the streets, and Kitty Pryde changes her name to “Kate.” It’s dire.
If this doesn’t describe the status of the X-Men film franchise, I will print out a copy of this article and eat it. The movies are pretty much split up into two eras, both divided by time period and viability. The original trilogy, set in “the not too distant future,” started out strong in 2000, redefined the genre with its sequel in 2003, and then bottomed out with the final installment in 2006. By the end of “X-Men: The Last Stand,” Cyclops is dead, Jean Grey is dead, Professor X is dead but maybe in another body, Mystique is depowered, Rogue is depowered, and Magneto is depowered (but maybe not?). That’s six of the main characters rendered utterly unusable in future installments. It killed the franchise, leaving Fox to focus on developing a Wolverine franchise.
That’s telling. “The Last Stand” somehow made a ton of money, yet Hollywood couldn’t figure out how to continue the series after that mess. Instead of having a lucrative X-Men team franchise and a lucrative Wolverine franchise, Fox had to settle for one lousy Wolverine movie.
The only choice? Reboot. A sly reboot-prequel hybrid that came in the form of 2011’s “X-Men: First Class.” The film was fun, fresh and a success. It had way too many contradicting elements to be considered a proper prequel to the original trilogy, but I didn’t care; this was a new thing that contained a lot of visual nods to what came before. I didn’t mind it because my X-Men were on the big screen again, kicking ass in 1962.
And then they announced the sequel would be “Days of Future Past.” And then they got all high-school-reunion on the casting. And then it all clicked into place. The X-Men post-“The Last Stand” will be going back in time to the X-Men post-“First Class” to prevent the apocalyptic future we saw in that Brett Ratner-helmed movie.
Now, I don’t know what event could take place in the 60s that would undo the events of “The Last Stand” without touching the first two films, but I’ll leave that up to the filmmakers. But based on the success of “The Avengers” (which proved that multiple sets of characters can combine to form something awesome) and J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek” (which proved that rabid fanbases can handle twisty time travel and universe resetting), it seems plausible that this could be in the cards.
If Bryan Singer undoes “The Last Stand” in “Days of Future Past” and resurrects and re-powers all of those characters, as well as gives all those actors a fun, positive, rewarding experience that they enjoy the way all the “Avengers” actors seem to enjoy their experience, Fox stands to leave the “Days of Future Past” film with a “First Class” franchise, a Wolverine franchise, as well as a healed original X-Men franchise, ready to pick up where “X2: X-Men United” left off.Â
You can understand why I was so distracted in the Container Store.
Now with all of that raving lunacy out of the way, I can get to my revelation. I was previously of the mindset that I did not want “First Class” to, in any way, connect with the original trilogy. The timelines are off (Storm has a cameo as a teenager in the ’60s, Havok has to be Cyclops’ way older brother, Professor X was walking in the early ’80s but paralyzed in the early ’60s), the characters are inconsistent (Beast is blue in the ’60s but on TV as a human in “X2,” Mystique and Professor X have no history), and the facts are not straight (who built Cerebro, really?!). I would aggressively make all of these points anytime anyone said that “First Class” was a prequel. I would insist it was a firm reboot that paid homage to the original trilogy.
But something changed when I rewatched the original Singer films. I remembered how much those films meant to me and also how great they are. Whatever magic Whedon wove in “The Avengers” is present in that first X-Men film. The characters pop and almost all of the performances are ridiculously enjoyable. The cast was special and I was really sad that the franchise was derailed that badly; I wanted Hugh, Patrick, Ian, Famke, James, Anna, Shawn, Ellen and the rest to have as much fun and success as the Avengers are having now. I realized that the only thing that could possibly overtake my Avengers enthusiasm was a new X-Men film, by Singer, with this cast.
And now, here it is. But it’s coming alongside a possible admission that the “First Class” series is directly tied to the original X-Men trilogy, something I vehemently despised the notion of. And my revelation is that I don’t care. I don’t care. I can overlook all the inconsistencies if it means I will get to have something I truly love again, and I think that’s a valuable lesson for fans to learn. Does whatever you are griping about really outweigh the love that you want to feel? Don’t let it. Enjoy things that you want to enjoy.
I’m not going to let Moira MacTaggert being two different characters of similar ages in two different time periods overshadow the fact that I’m going to get to see Iceman on the big screen again. That’s exciting. And even if this wild, kooky theory I have doesn’t come to pass, I’ve stepped off this mad train of thought with the knowledge that I shouldn’t let continuity quibbles demolish my excitement; a well made movie (or comic) is well made, and we should all just sit back and enjoy it.
Brett White is a comedian living in New York City. He co-hosts the podcast Matt & Brett Love Comics and is a writer for the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre show Left Handed Radio: The Sequel Machine. His opinions can be consumed in bite-sized morsels on Twitter (@brettwhite).