Imagine, if you will, that you moved into a new neighborhood. You quickly proved yourself as a great addition to the neighborhood and were seen as very respectful. Your new neighbors welcomed you with open arms. However, you eventually needed to move on to bigger and better things and you decide to move and start renting your house out. The guy who immediately rents the place is a slob. This slob hosts large, loud, obnoxious parties and doesn’t clean up after himself. The neighbors hate him and scoff every time they drive by the house. This tenant ruined any good reputation that you once tried to establish. The series of crappy tenants continues even after this first renter is evicted. The second guy who rents the place is just as bad. The neighbors are to the point where they wish you never moved there in the first place because of how the house has been tarnished which brings down surrounding property values.
You almost give up on renters entirely and think about selling it to a more favored realty group. Then a possible renter asks if he can renovate the place and bring the house back to its former glory. He does so and the house is no longer the black eye in the neighborhood. This tenant is well-received but people still cling to their distaste for the house’s previous reputation. Then some very polite Asian tenants rented it out for a week and everyone thought they were quite pleasant. At last, you decide the best way to redeem the property is by moving back in and completely erasing your neighbors negative association with the people who couldn’t properly take care of the place.
This is my random (long winded) allegory for the X-Men movie franchise.
In 2000, Bryan Singer made Marvel comic book movies acceptable with the first X-Men. It was the first watchable superhero flick since Tim Burton’s Batman Returns, which came out 8 years earlier. In 2003, Singer directed X2 and vastly improved on the first movie. X2 is still near the pinnacle of comic book movies. It was an incredibly solid team-up movie that teased fans with great plots to come.
The only problem is that Singer left the franchise to direct the beautifully boring Superman Returns. Brett Ratner took over the X-Men franchise with X-Men: The Last Stand. He then proceeded to take a dump on it. The manure quality continued with Gavin Hood’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine. These poor decisions left many fans hoping Fox would give the property back to Marvel/Disney. In comes director Matthew Vaughn with a reboot in X-Men First Class. While not a perfect movie, it reinvigorated the franchise with the inspired casting of James McAvoy as young Xavier and Michael Fassbender as young Magneto.
And now, Bryan Singer is back with X-Men: Days of Future Past. This movie has nearly as many mutants as X3, time travel and giant robots. This project was nearly doomed from the start.
Except that it all works.
It’s difficult to say where Future Past begins. We get a good glimpse into the future as Prof X (Patrick Stewart), Magneto (Ian McKellen) and the crew flee from unstoppable sentinels. The world is now a wasteland where both humans and mutants hide and fight for their lives. As a last ditch effort, Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) sends Wolverine back 50 years to stop Mystique from killing Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) which spawns the anti-mutant movement and starts the sentinel program.
Wolverine attempts to convince a jaded Xavier to stop Mystique and prevent the great war 50 years from that point. Long story short, both villains and heroes unite to stop Mystique and hopefully mitigate the future end of the world.
I was hesitant about this movie because I no longer care for the old cast. I cringed seeing Halle Berry again. But Days of Future Past made me care. These older mutants are in the fight for their lives. Every single one of them is expendable and the sentinel threat feels real. Even with powers, these heroes don’t stand a chance. I promise you, characters that you know will be butchered.
The purpose of Bryan Singer’s return is to right all the wrongs that X3 committed. It succeeds. By the end of the movie, you’ll realize that Future Past is Singer giving the bird to Ratner.
The movie finds a great balance for its overwhelming number of characters. Based on an early look at QuickSilver, I was worried about the character. He manages to steal the entire movie in a 6 minute scene. Sadly, he doesn’t stick around for long and it’s a shame. Though, he’s already rumored to play a larger role in the sequel due out in 2016, Apocalypse. Blink, one of the future X-Men has the powers of a portal gun. The choreography of the future action scenes is worth the price of admission alone. The character who deserved far more screen time was Peter Dinklage’s Bolivar Trask. All we know is that he wants all mutants dead. We don’t know why he has such a grudge.
Hugh Jackman is featured in nearly every scene, but he takes the back seat to James McAvoy. A disillusioned Xavier struggles to overcome apathy over what may or may not happen in the future. He cares so little about his role in the world that he takes serum to hold back his natural-born gift.
X-Men Days of Future Past succeeds even without the standard superhero flick staples. There is no epic final battle set piece. Most of the action takes place in the future. Also, there is a lack of a clear supervillain. Sure Magneto is shady and Trask wants mutants to die, but this movie works despite a nefarious villain chewing the scenery.
I hate to oversell this X-Men sequel but I consider it as the best of the lot. I say that as an enormous fan of X2. Thank goodness for time travel and Singer’s complete disregard for X-Men: The Last Stand. In a time when audiences are being overwhelmed with superhero flicks, Fox has made something to get excited about. X-Men: Days of Future Past is the summer movie to beat. Go see this movie now!