X-Men: Days of Future Past had a lot of buzz leading up to it’s release. The follow up to 2011’s X-Men: First Class was burdened with enormous expectation to deliver not only a good sequel but a good X-Men movie period. Matched with Bryan Singer replacing Matthew Vaughn in the director’s chair, the idea of a terrible X-Men movie loomed on the horizon. The question of continuity hovered in the air like a bad odor, everyone noticing it and everyone commenting on it. And even though Bryan Singer had not dealt it, he certainly had to somehow sort it out.
And boy does he.
Days of Future Past does it’s predecessor justice. The sequel pays amazing homage to it’s era, never straying from the previous design book. You’ll read it in a thousand other reviews: Days of Future Past utilizes the old “what if we could go back in time and kill Hitler?” plot. Sentinels, machines created to eliminate mutants, threaten the extinction of mutants and present day X-Men send one of their own back in time to try to prevent the machines from ever coming to fruition. Time travel plots are tricky, altering-time plots are trickier. This film brings the two franchises together seamlessly. With First Class fresh in my memory, the sequel starts to feel like a Saturday Night Live sketch with alum cast members making clever and endearing cameos. However, once sending Wolverine’s (Hugh Jackman) present day conscious into his 1973 self, everything starts to blend together in an exciting crossover film.
Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) runs rampant, Magneto (Michael Fassbender) remains locked away in a cement prison (the brief viral marketing the movie tried to use makes it’s appearance with his imprisonment, claiming he is the one who assassinated JFK), and Charles (James McAvoy) is hidden away in his former school, relying on treatments that Beast (Nicholas Hoult) concocts that trade his powers for the ability to walk. The 1970’s drug addiction/Little Mermaid metaphor is strong, but makes for a necessary character development. We have all had moments of doubt and would rather take the easy route rather than suffer to meet our full potential. McAvoy makes you feel the struggle, makes you look within yourself and consider those obstacles we all must face but if we accept help from those who support us, your full awesomeness can be reached. His transformation from groovy and skeptical Chuck X to the Proper Charles Xavier develops through the film, and damn if it isn’t beautiful.
If I was caught off guard by anything, it was the introduction of Peter Maximoff (Evan Peters), the mutant known as Quicksilver. The comedic relief is over too soon (one would say…too fast? Ugh, sorry), but a surprising moment of entertainment. Mystique’s past is quickly touched upon, and her character is left with not much to do but follow a rigid path to assassination.
A friend of mine jokingly asked if this was the best superhero movie of the year. I reacted a little too quickly, but I think accurately: this is not a superhero movie. There are no heroes in this movie. Yes, there is teamwork. Yes, there are superhuman abilities. But no one is a hero in this film. And it is wonderful.
Finally: duh, stay after the credits.