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May 27, 2014

X-Men: SPOILERS of Future Past
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 02:41 PM * 44 comments

Once again, I find myself opening a discussion thread for a film I haven’t seen. While this allows me to safely avoid any spoilers in the original post (a good thing), it does also give me free rein to imagine what those spoilers might be (a thing of dubious value).

IMDB tells me this film depicts how “the X-Men send Wolverine to the past in a desperate effort to change history and prevent an event that results in doom for both humans and mutants.”

Now, for my money, it’s not a proper time travel story if it doesn’t involve at least one of the following elements:

  • A blue box
  • Robert Lansing holding a cat
  • a dead grandparent
  • transparent aluminum
  • the Bishop’s Bird-Stump
  • a DeLorean
  • a rabbit costume
  • Eloi and Morlocks; Tanu and Firvulag
  • miller-guns
  • something unpleasant in a microwave oven

I am now imagining Wolverine using all of the above items to fulfil his mission. Quick, while I’m distracted, discuss the movie!

Comments on X-Men: SPOILERS of Future Past:
#1 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2014, 05:10 PM:

I am X-Men fan and the continuity in this film makes my eyes spin. Does Logan have metal claws as of the finale? Exactly how much of the first movie happened?

(Also, I had forgotten and was reminded by reviewing things about Apocalypse that he's intimately connected to the FF and the Avengers -- he arises under, and fights, Rama-Tut who, of course, is Kang (just like everyone else is).

#2 ::: Paul (@princejvstin) ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2014, 05:17 PM:

Keeping most of the "kill off" from between First Class and DOFP in the new timeline sort of pissed me off. We get most of the X-men franchise back (including Scott and Jean)...but Emma? Azazel? Dead, and gone forever.

This new timeline is more tangled than ever. :)

Also...this movie would have been simpler if they didn't break Magneto out and went right for Raven.

#3 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2014, 05:19 PM:

Clearly X2 and X3 at least were either totally prevented or went very differently, and I have the same question about the adamantium (because if he doesn't have it, he's going to be very surprised the next time he gets shot in the head).

If Charles already knew Logan, it would explain a lot about his reactions to him in X1, though.

Also, this fic is hilarious.

#4 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2014, 05:31 PM:

I haven't yet seen X-Men: Days of Future Past, although from the title I deduce that it opens with the Moody Blues remembering the taste of a madeleine.

As for that DeLorean in the FPP, I'm still reeling from someone's recent observation (well, recent to me) that the entire payload of the BTTF movies is to retcon history so that a middle-class white boy really did invent rock and roll. Eeeeuw.

#5 ::: JBWoodford ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2014, 06:01 PM:

I'm afraid I don't recognize the rabbit costume reference (the microwave oven reference came back to me while I was writing this...though I thought it was a toaster oven).

#6 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2014, 06:07 PM:

Rabbit costume is probably "Donnie Darko".

#7 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2014, 06:20 PM:

I'm only a casual X-Men fan. I liked XMFC because of the extreme slashiness. This movie? Sadly, the most exciting part for me was seeing the gorgeous boat-tail Mercury that Wolverine acquires when sent back to 1973. (Yes, I liked it better than Hugh Jackman's butt, too.)

It needed the snappy Joss Whedon dialogue from Avengers. It needed Mystique to be more than a McGuffin. It needed SOMETHING to keep me from starting to doze off in the second half.

Also, can somebody please explain the post-credits bit to me? I have no idea who that was or why he was significant and my more comics-aware friend couldn't tell me either.

#8 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2014, 06:26 PM:

He was Apocalypse. The tl;dr is that he's a mostly-immortal, super-powerful bad guy who wants to rule the world because He's Awesome. Marvel did a canon AU once called the Age of Apocalypse in which he managed to take over and, as you might expect, it sucked.

The AoA only ran for 6 or 7 months, but basically all the X-books were shunted (without warning) into this new continuity. Like, one month comic store owners opened the boxes that they expected to contain Wolverine and got a notice that no, instead they'd have this new title called "Weapon X" instead. No one took this well, which makes me sad because I'm a sucker for dystopian AUs, and a few months in they pulled the emergency stop they'd built in and went back to the "normal" tineline.

#9 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2014, 06:28 PM:

If you want to read the Age of Apocalypse, you can.

#10 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2014, 06:40 PM:

Dystopian AU? Thanks but no thanks. Guess it means I'm not the target audience for the next movie.

#11 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2014, 06:46 PM:

It's not clear we'll be getting Age of Apocalypse for the next movie, just that the next movie will (presumably) use him as the villain. He had nearly two decades of nigh-constant X-Villainy before AoA and, while he's defunct right now, it's X-Men, he'll be back.

(You can tell he's Apocalypse even without perfectly clear facial markings and a total lack of armor because A: it's Egypt -- X-Men and Egypt mean him or the Shadow King; B: the four horseman in the final shot; and C: the crowds are chanting En Sabbah Nur, his mangled-Arabic epithet.)

#12 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2014, 06:52 PM:

Bishop's mutant power is stumping birds?

#13 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2014, 06:55 PM:

I kinda liked it. Anything with that many great actors is going to be fun to watch. And I have no complaints about Naked!Wolverine.

But two things that bugged - all the "future" stuff. The pacing started out all fighty-fighty-splodey CGI (yawn!) with a bunch of characters I didn't recognize and not-quite defined powers, and then slowed back down to regular drama specs when Wolverine went back. Also, the escalation of meaningless heroic deaths when the whole concept of the film is "Hey, don't panic - we're retconning this!" was just so much needless fake drama.

The second thing that bugged - was Mystique dumb or otherwise mentally incapacitated that great swathes of the plot had to do with taking her out? I'm sorry, but I don't buy forgiving the person who was about to kill you just because it was for the greater good. I suppose it might have changed the plot to spend as much time just snatching Mystique up and explaining why her plans were a bad idea as they did busting Magneto out of jail. But maybe someone should have figured that shit out. I'm sure they would have been able to get some more action-explodey CGI stuff in rather than long arguments about which man should be controlling Mystique.

#14 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2014, 07:10 PM:

The one thing that confused the heck out of me was, since when can Kitty Pryde send people back in time? Is this something she learned to do as a side effect of her phasing? Is it actually from comics continuity and I've missed it because of not reading comics anymore?

ISTR that Bishop was the time-traveling lynchpin in the comics DoFP, which I could not find my copies of to brush up before the film. But I don't remember that Kitty was the one who sent him back--or if she did, there was Science! involved, not her personal mutant power.

#15 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2014, 07:27 PM:

Carrie S. #8: Well, as I noted in the Open Thread, the original AoA comics, besides their bait&switch aspect, did complicate the main continuity too.

Among other things, Jean Grey got back the son she'd sent (as an infant) into the future again -- while the first one (Cable) was still around. (And yes, she got the chance to discuss this with both of them.) Of course, her (and her family's) continuity was probably the most complex in the Marvel multiverse -- she later got a daughter too, from yet another timeline. (Nevermind all her deaths and resurrections, what with the Phoenix thing.)

#16 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2014, 08:03 PM:

The Quicksilver scene in the Pentagon has got to be one of the best action scenes in a movie this year. Applause for that.

I enjoyed the rest of it as well, but I got the feeling that Logan had mellowed out a bit too much.

#17 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2014, 08:49 PM:

Carrie S.@14: The original "Days of Future Past" story was a decade before Bishop was so much as a gleam in Chris Claremont's eye. It had Kitty being the one doing the time-traveling, but psychically into her present-day body rather than physically. She was sent back by a red-haired telepath named Rachel, which was a bit mysterious at the time. (There were further developments, but I won't go into the details -- your eyes would glaze over.)

#18 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2014, 09:03 PM:

Right! Bishop was the lynchpin in the Age of Apocalypse, though, I'm pretty sure--he can remember the original timeline, maybe? Shows you how long it's been since I read the books.

So basically they took the idea of "psychic time travel involving Kitty" and moved the pieces around a bit. (I know who Rachel is. :)

#19 ::: Bruce ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2014, 09:29 PM:

>'Now, for my money, it is not a proper time travel story if it does not involve one of the following elements:'

Rescuing our ancestor's minds.

Spoiler warning, Lifehouse, Spider Robinson. Double spoiler warning for the sonic poof.

#20 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2014, 09:30 PM:

BSD #11: IIRC, Apocalypse is a serial reincarnator, with spare bodies built and protected by his personal cult.

#21 ::: John ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2014, 10:58 PM:

#1: The amount of the first movies that happened is unclear, deliberately - since everything that happened since Wolverine drowned in 1972 has been rewritten. Obviously, much of it has not been ENTIRELY rewritten, but, as the man says, he has no clue what's happened between now and then. And since he's the viewpoint character...

#2: Well, yeah. The changes happened AFTER First Class. So the events of First Class were unchanged.

#14: The original Days Of Future Past started because Kitty found a way to phase not just through matter, but through time. For me, this was less an issue than why Professor X wasn't dead when Phoenix killed him in That Crappy Sequel, and I accepted it for the same reasons I accepted Kitty Can Phase Through Time: Because it involves a new movie that is better than That Crappy Sequel.

#22 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2014, 05:16 AM:

Haven't seen the movie and probably won't. But I just wanted to note that I would LOVE to see the (well-done - aye, there's the rub) movie featuring the Bishop's Bird-Stump!

#23 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2014, 12:22 PM:

To say nothing of the dog.

#24 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2014, 12:40 PM:

David Goldfarb @17: The original "Days of Future Past" story was a decade before Bishop was so much as a gleam in Chris Claremont's eye.

Actually, Claremont had nothing to do with Bishop, who was created after he had stopped writing X-Men - almost immediately after, IIRC.

#25 ::: Michael Johnston ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2014, 02:17 PM:

As I recall, Bishop comes from yet another alternate timeline; one in which mutants police each other (Bishop is an officer in the Xavier's Security Enforcers), which is also a dystopian world, because it was the 90s.

My feelings on this film are mixed. Like his first two films, Singer gets the emotional core of the stories right, but the character details he changes bug my inner comic-book nerd self.

#26 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2014, 08:44 PM:

Rob Hansen: Oops, you're right. Thanks for the correction.

#27 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2014, 11:53 PM:

Normally I agree with Abi. This time I have to take exception. Although one of the two times he did so was by accident, having "the wrong ten-year-old" would help almost any time travel story. If I were King of the World I would give his creator huge piles of cash for some new adventures.

#28 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2014, 10:50 AM:

Dave Harmon @11:

From my memory and a review of the marvel wiki, Apocalypse has either three or four functional immortality schemes that, together, cover both age and misadventure. He is presently defunct, but his presently-good clone Evan Sabbahnur may, in the future, become him or as bad as him.

It would, of course, be perfectly X-Men-sensible for him to have a back-up-back-up-back-up.

#29 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2014, 08:52 PM:

I just came back from seeing "Days of Future Past". What to say? I loved the ending, which corrected the flaws of "X-men - Last Stand", but it ironically made me realize that the latter was a better movie because it had heart, for one thing. There was McAvoy in "Days", but that's about it. The whole thing felt scattered, and Wolverine was remarkably passive, and this was one of those movies where the ads promised a better plot than we actually got. Oh well.

#30 ::: GarrettC ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2014, 02:51 PM:

Wow. So. I loved the movie.

I loved everything detailed on Tor here.

I loved that Peter Dinklage's height was not written into Bolivar Trask's motivations, nor was it relevant to the plot. It's the first time in a long time I've seen him in a role that values the fact that he's a great actor so much more than it values his ability to "be a dwarf."

I loved the fakeouts about self-correcting time. Though there was never really any question that they would manage to avert the Sentinels future, playing with the trope allowed them to get away with what turned out to be a GREAT fakeout in the closing pre-credit scene (and usually I hate fakeouts like that).

I loved the mellower Logan because 1) it makes sense. At that point in the timeline, he's emotionally older, and 2) it finally gives Jackman a way to actually be truly convincing in the role. If Logan is mellower, Jackman can convincingly inhabit that.

I loved that the movie kept things difficult for its characters as much as possible, not taking opportunities for easy resolutions most of the time, and certainly as much as possible in a couple of hours. They kept Young Charles broken as long as possible. They allowed Young Charles / Young Erik to end the movie more unresolved than ever. They left Mystique, at the end, on her own (neither "come home" to Charles nor stuck to Erik's side).

I loved Lawrence and McAvoy and Fassbender. Mystique's role isn't perfect, but Lawrence is truly great, using enough of Romijn's Mystique to be recognizable as somebody who would eventually become that character while still bringing her own power and personality to role.

I liked Quicksilver.

And I loved Ian McKellan imagining what it would be like to change history so that he doesn't spend years fighting with Charles, only (as an audience) to watch the two grow further apart as youths all over again.

And, of course, the events of all the other movies still happened. Logan remembers them, so they can be kept relevant as long as he continues to be a character the movies care about.

I mean, I loved it.

#31 ::: Howard Bannister ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 12:16 PM:

Howard Tayler described the first 20 minutes as nostalgia done right, evoking the original X-Men/X-2 movies in just the right ways.

Yeah.

It was a cheap trick to give Wolverine this movie instead of Kitty Pryde; I wanted very much to watch that alternate movie, with Ellen Page having to do all the heavy lifting of the movie, emotionally and action-wise. And she would have been great.

--

But the choice to use Logan as a viewpoint character while keeping it very much an ensemble was a good one. As GarrettC notes, the ensemble is where the story-telling is at.

And the ability to include massive action sequences that are of little import to the dramatic sequences fixes a pacing problem Singer has always carried. Slowing down? Massive future-fight.

Also, First Class had one problem; too many characters had plot immunity. Anybody we saw living all the way to the original movies had to survive. Eric and Charles can't die. Mystique can't die.

Well, at the end of DoFP, Mystique and Eric don't have any plot immunity. Any films set in the past can kill them without altering anything we say. Wolverine, Prof X, and Hank have plot immunity, but they're the only ones.

#32 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 01:06 PM:

Did anybody figure out why Magneto tried to shoot Mystique to save the future, then went on to drop a stadium on top of the White House, an action that can't have helped the future either?

#33 ::: pallas ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 01:23 PM:

Can someone please tell me what the microwave oven references? Is it the anime Steins: Gate, or something else that Steins: Gate was drawing upon?

#34 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 02:03 PM:

I went in knowing that:
a) I would happily pay to hear the lead actors read the phone book; and
b) having just read the original "Days of Future Past" story on Marvel Unlimited, I'm grumpy at the sidelining of most of the female characters.

Having seen the movie now:

I agree with GarrettC about Emily Asher-Perrin's analysis on Tor. I like that interpretation of the character development, and if the sausage factory that produces the next movie falls in line with it, I'd be delighted.

I really liked the contrast between the tightly coordinated future action sequences and the individual action in the past.

Quicksilver was a happy surprise.

And I'm still grumpy that Kitty Pryde's part was given to Wolverine, especially since they had Ellen Page right there. Yes, I know the chronology wouldn't have worked without some fiddling somewhere.

Serge@32: I don't have a better Watsonian explanation than that, as when he shot Raven, Erik is a master at boldly and steadfastly making bad decisions. He's also unable to engage without going full "Fear me, puny humans!". My Doylesian theory is that it serves to clearly distinguish Raven's path from Erik's. I did like that there were really three paths on display (four, if you distinguish despair and engagement on Charles' part), rather than just good vs. evil.

#35 ::: Howard Bannister ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 02:23 PM:

@34

They're already making up the method of time travel. Having Kitty project a consciousness back. That's already a change in the time travel methodology. They deliberately chose a method that made it so they had to exclude her.

The alternative, fiddling with it in such a way that SHE was the only one they could send back, isn't really that much harder.

And once you're there, then you get to 'but we want Wolverine in the movie,' and, again, it takes a very simple hand-wave to make that happen.

Re: Why does Eric do what he does, I think the answer is simple: he believes that he's already lost the battle to prevent the rise of the Sentinels. He believes that at this point they have everything they need from Mystique's blood, and all the science they need. He doesn't believe the humans can be talked down.

He falls back to militancy because it's his default position. He's been given a vision of the future, one that makes it urgent to win entirely right now.

Desperation makes the idea seem like it might work. It's go big or go home time.

@33

The microwave oven is, I think, a reference to Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits.

#36 ::: Howard Bannister ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 02:28 PM:

Also, the revelation that Mystique, after murdering Trask, spent an un-disclosed amount of time being experimented on by the government for their purposes goes a long way towards explaining her turn even further along Erik's path. (and since they would have both been in custody, I surmise that probably he rescued her when he escaped, explaining her unquestioning loyalty in the original trilogy)

#37 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 03:26 PM:

Howard Bannister@35: I'm not saying that there was no way to have Kitty make her own journey; just that the original details no longer fit the movie chronology, so it would have required a different set of handwaves to have Ellen Page in the projected-back role. I would still go to see that film.

#38 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 03:47 PM:

dotless I @ 34... "Fear me, puny humans!"

Fassbender didn't quite bombast though. McKellen would have bombasted every drop out of the whole thing. :-)

#39 ::: Sara E ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 07:35 PM:

Quicksilver's "Time in a Bottle" sequence made the whole movie for me.

#40 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 11:19 PM:

Patrick @4: Inasmuch as Professor X and Magneto map to Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, there's an argument to be made that the X-Men franchise exists to recast the Civil Rights Movement as a White struggle.

#41 ::: James Quixotic ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 12:03 PM:

I also liked the Quicksilver set piece. It did highlight why they had to keep him off screen for most of the picture though - he could have solved most of the confrontations instantly, and then what would the main characters do?

Similarly, they generally have to make Magneto dumb at the climax so that he doesn't use his powers effectively. Instead, the climax of any movie involving Magneto often revolves around him picking up heavy things.

#42 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2014, 02:30 PM:

Y'all aren't giving Magneto enough credit. All his grand-standing has a devilishly clever set-up: by taking over the Sentinels and using them as part of his murder, he is trying to taint the Sentinels so thoroughly in the minds of the public that ever using them again will be unthinkable. Pro-mutant militancy is just the cover for his real purpose.

Kevin Riggle @ 40: "Inasmuch as Professor X and Magneto map to Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, there's an argument to be made that the X-Men franchise exists to recast the Civil Rights Movement as a White struggle."

Someone on Twitter awhile back, and I can't find who, said they thought the X-Men weren't properly a metaphor for civil rights or homosexuality, but for white privilege. The unimaginably mighty few, terrified of the less powerful masses--It's something I'm still mulling over.

#43 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2014, 05:17 PM:

All his grand-standing has a devilishly clever set-up: by taking over the Sentinels and using them as part of his murder, he is trying to taint the Sentinels so thoroughly in the minds of the public that ever using them again will be unthinkable.

Plus, he's the "normal" one, visually, and the blue lady with creepy eyes saved the day.

#44 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2014, 05:32 PM:

"Sworn to protect a world that fears and hates them"

Remember how the comic-book used to encapsulate the concept of the X-men? Oh, and they were created by two men whose ethnic group had, not long before, been the target of a scientifically conceived genocide. In other words, this interpretation of the whole affair as White Privilege has rather shaky foundations.

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