Changing continuity of a film franchise is nothing new to Hollywood, but in the age of shared cinematic universes, it is becoming more and more uncommon. Every studio seems to have at least one cinematic universe these days, and when movies become so interconnected the continuity becomes a focal point of the stories being told. Fans remember details and will call the movies out for breaking continuity, usually resulting in a lot of criticism. Of course, this doesn't mean that breaking continuity is entirely out of the question. Even the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which popularized shared universes and is praised for its continuity, has committed the crime.
Long before Marvel created their shared universe, Fox released the original X-Men movies. While they were a trilogy and followed each other, small details in the continuity were largely ignored, and the recent prequel timeline has created even more confusion with regards to the franchise’s continuity. Marvel and DC are at the forefront of the superhero cinematic universe, Fox’s X-Men universe has been around the longest, but in 17 years, there have been multiple instances of the continuity just not adding up. Whether they abandoned a plot line or completely changed their depiction of a character, here are 15 times the X-Men films have changed continuity.
The year 2009 brought with it what is considered to be the worst movie in the X-Men franchise, X-Men Origins: Wolverine. One of the biggest problems that fans had with the movie was its depiction of Deadpool. Ryan Reynolds’ mercenary was on a strike team with Wolverine in the 1970s and embodied the classic Deadpool persona. He was ruthless and mouthy, to the point where their boss William Stryker wanted to have his mouth sewn shut.
Stryker did exactly that and in the final battle scene Deadpool returns unable to speak, with laser eyes, teleportation abilities, and swords protruding from his hands. This did not sit well with fans and in 2016 Fox released Deadpool. The same character was again played by Ryan Reynolds but faithful to the comics. This movie ignored Origins completely and was set in modern day with no regard to the previous iteration of the Merc with a Mouth.
14 DAYS OF FUTURE PAST ENDING
After a long departure, Bryan Singer returned to the franchise in 2014 and directed the massively successful X-Men: Days of Future Past. After the lackluster original trilogy’s conclusion in X-Men: The Last Stand and the mess that was Origins, Fox had a lot of damage control to do. This resulted in a prequel series that began in 2011 with X-Men: First Class and is set to continue next year with Dark Phoenix. Days of Future Past merged the prequels with the originals by sending Wolverine back in time and saved the world from an apocalyptic future but also rewrote everything that happened in The Last Stand.
In the film’s final scene, Wolverine wakes up in the X-Mansion to see Jean Grey, Cyclops, and Professor Xavier alive, as well as Rogue with her powers intact. Since most fans were upset by their original outcomes, Fox used the time travel component to completely disregard the events of The Last Stand.
13 PROFESSOR X IS ALIVE IN THE WOLVERINE
At the end of The Wolverine, Logan is approached by Xavier and Magneto asking for his help to prevent the extermination of mutants. This caused much confusion among viewers as Xavier had died in The Last Stand, which takes place before The Wolverine. Of course, Xavier was not truly dead as it was revealed in a post-credits scene that he had transferred his consciousness to the body of a man in a coma.
The problem was that he returned to life in his old body, and given the fact that Charles had never before shown a gift for shapeshifting, that was decidedly off-brand. The studio claimed that the man in the coma was his twin brother, but that still doesn’t explain why he was using a wheelchair in The Wolverine.
12 MOIRA MACTAGGART WAS IN THE LAST STAND
In that same post-credits scene, Xavier says one word telepathically -- "Moira." Fans recognized this as Moira MacTaggart, one of Xavier’s love interests from the comics. She was depicted as the nurse tending to the comatose man. A few years later, she appeared on-screen again but this time as a government agent in the 1960s.
The post-credits scene revealing Xavier’s true fate and the existence of Moira in the film universe has been completely disregarded in future films. It makes no sense that Moira was an adult in the '60s and in 2006, with two wildly different jobs at that. The first iteration of Moira is no longer part of the film universe, as it is Rose Byrne’s portrayal in the prequel films that has become the true on-screen version of Moira Mactaggart.
11 TWO VERSIONS OF SABRETOOTH
Wolverine’s nemesis, his brother Sabretooth, is one of the most popular X-Men villains. He was a member of Magneto’s Brotherhood of Mutants in the first movie, and relegated to a secondary villain role. Portrayed by Tyler Mane, Sabretooth had long, flowing blonde hair, big bushy eyebrows, and a beard, giving him the animalistic and primitive look he is known for in the comics. He also barely spoke and communicated mainly through grunts.
Nine years later, he appeared in Origins with a much larger role. However, he was completely different. He had dark hair rather than blonde and actually spoke instead of grunting. Liev Schreiber’s version of the iconic villain was a cunning foe and had an extremely different personality than that of the same character in the original film.
10 CHANNING TATUM IS GAMBIT... MAYBE?
Another popular X-Men character to make an appearance in Origins was the ragin’ Cajun himself, Gambit. Wolverine travels to New Orleans and encounters the mutant who provides him with information about Stryker. This was the only time the fan-favorite character has appeared in an X-Men film, although it is not the only iteration of him in the universe.
Fox announced an upcoming Gambit film, to star Channing Tatum in the titular role, but production problems have prevented the movie from getting made just yet. In the past few years, rumors of Tatum’s Gambit appearing in X-Men movies have floated around but he has yet to appear. The studio still claims that the solo film will be made and that Gambit will be part of the universe, but it will of course be a different version than the one seen in 2009.
A standout character in Logan, Caliban provided much needed lightness and comic relief to the overall dark and depressing movie. What many viewers didn’t notice, however, is that Caliban had appeared on-screen just a few months prior in X-Men: Apocalypse. He appeared only briefly in a movie stuffed with characters, so it is easy to forget the one scene he had.
In his first appearance, Caliban was serious, save for one subtle joke about his baldness, and was far from being the film’s source of comic relief. He also spoke in the third person and was a mysterious man who used his tracking abilities to find mutants for money. This was a far cry from the sarcastic and caring Caliban who helps take care of a sick Xavier in Logan.
8 MAGNETO WAS THERE WHEN XAVIER MET JEAN GREY
Another major plot point from The Last Stand that has been disregarded in X-Men continuity is the recruitment of Jean Grey. A flashback in the film shows the audience how Xavier and Magneto found her in her home as a child and brought her to the X-Mansion. This scene was meant to take place in the late 1980s, but in First Class, the audience learns that Magneto left the X-Men at the Cuban Missile Crisis in the '60s.
Magneto was no longer friends with Charles by the time Jean became a member of the X-Men, so he could not possibly have been there to recruit her, since he and Charles were sworn enemies by the late '80s. It appears as if the flashback scene is no longer true in the X-Men films... which is smart.
7 WOLVERINE GETS HIS ADAMANTIUM CLAWS BACK
In a shocking moment during The Wolverine's climactic battle, the titular hero loses his trademark adamantium claws. The film sees Logan facing off against Silver Samurai and his adamantium sword, resulting in the loss of his claws. Thankfully, due to his healing factor, Wolverine grows back his bone claws but they are no longer coated in adamantium metal.
In the opening scene of Days of Future Past, Wolverine is seen using his claws and they are once again coated in adamantium. After fans noticed this discrepancy it was quickly stated that Magneto used his powers to coat wolverine's claws in adamantium once again, but this was never stated in the film and was simply the studio's excuse to cover up their mistake.
6 MYSTIQUE CAPTURES WOLVERINE
The end of Days of Future Past contains another major continuity change. After Wolverine is drowned at the bottom of the Potomac, the rest of the team goes on to save the day without him. As the film wraps up, viewers see Stryker pull Wolverine out of the river but his eyes flash yellow, indicating that it is not Stryker but rather Mystique in disguise.
While fans awaited with anticipation to see how Wolverine would go from Mystique’s custody to the Weapon X program, this plotline was dropped entirely. In Apocalypse, Wolverine is already part of Stryker’s experiment and Mystique makes absolutely no reference to ever kidnapping him after Trask is defeated.
5 COLOSSUS WAS IN THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY
One of the best parts of Deadpool was the juxtaposition between the anti-hero protagonist and the supporting character Colossus. The metallic mutant is part of the X-Men and attempts to recruit Deadpool, but also tries to tame the merc and teach him how to be a true hero. The back and forth between the two was a high point for audiences and it also helped tie Deadpool into the overall universe by including a member of the X-Men.
Interestingly, this was not the first time Colossus appeared in an X-Men movie, but it was a completely new version of the character. Colossus appeared in small roles in the original trilogy, mostly as a young mutant living in the mansion. In those films he was American and much younger than the version seen in Deadpool. Also, he had the power to switch between human skin his metallic skin. The new version was constantly metal, even while eating cereal, and was Russian with a heavy accent.
4 WEAPON X IS DIFFERENT IN APOCALYPSE
Origins explored Stryker’s Weapon X task force and experimentation in great detail, showing audiences how Wolverine got his adamantium skeleton and lost his memory at the hands of Stryker. In fact, one of the most iconic moments in all comic book movies comes from the film, when Wolverine wakes up and escapes from the tub where the adamantium is bonding to his bones. Following this, he lashes out at the facility and escapes into the wilderness with no idea who he is or where he came from.
Apocalypse contained a surprise appearance from Wolverine when the young mutants end up at Stryker’s Weapon X facility. This time, the experiment was nothing like the one from 2009. Wolverine was not in a tub but rather a cell and has his memory partially restored by Jean Grey before escaping the facility.
3 STORM, NIGHTCRAWLER & ANGEL IN APOCALYPSE
Apocalypse introduced three classic mutants to the prequel series in Storm, Nightcrawler, and Angel. Storm, played by Halle Berry, had a crucial role in the original trilogy, while Nightcrawler and Angel appeared in X2 and The Last Stand respectively. The versions of these characters seen in Apocalypse differ drastically from their original on-screen counterparts. All three characters have different personalities than the ones shown in the original movies.
The most noticeable difference is easily Storm’s background, as the version in Apocalypse is more accurate to the comics by keeping her accent and African background intact. Also, Angel’s origin is greatly explored in The Last Stand, and is completely different from the one hinted at in Apocalypse. The newer versions of these characters are nothing like their originals, but are definitely more accurate to the comics.
2 BEAST WAS IN X2
One of the most blatant continuity changes in cinematic history is quite possibly the inclusion of Beast in X2 and The Last Stand. As one of the founding members of the X-Men and one of Marvel’s most popular characters, it was surprising that he did not show up in the first X-Men film. Fans were hoping he would be present in the second film, and he sort of was, but only for a quick cameo.
Beast was a main player in The Last Stand but was in his blue and hairy form, which did not line up with his cameo in X2. Dr. Hank McCoy, Beast’s real name, was shown in a television interview in X2 and he looked like a normal human, although fans knew from his name that he was a mutant. Despite his iconic mutant appearance in The Last Stand, there is no explanation given as to why he turns blue.
1 TRASK WAS IN THE LAST STAND
Days of Future Past’s main villain was Bolivar Trask, played expertly by Game of Thrones stalwart Peter Dinklage. As the creator of the Sentinels, robots that hunt mutants, he was a suitable threat to the X-Men, who had to stop the Sentinels from being made before they could wipe out all of mutant-kind. Surprisingly, this was not Trask’s first appearance on film, as he had a tiny role in The Last Stand.
Strangely, the Trask seen in Days of Future Past is nothing like the one seen previously. As the head of the Department of Homeland Security, Trask was portrayed by Bill Duke, an African-American actor. He looks absolutely nothing like Dinklage, and even the ages do not match up. Trask could not possibly be 44 (Dinklage’s age at the time of filming) in the 1980s and still be a middle aged man in 2006.
Did you notice any other glitches in the X-Men matrix? If so, let us know in the comments!