Looking into the Past of the Future

With a slew of new promotional materials, from a first trailer to new still shots and of course, those <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/20151-empire-magazine-debuting-25-x-men-days-of-future-past-covers.html>25 Character Poster covers of <i>Empire Magazine</i></a>, we have at least a solid idea on the tone that <b>X-Men: Days of Future Past</b> will take. So we decided that now would be a good time to revisit this countdown, originally posted in March 2013. <p>In it, we posted our early musings on the film and presented a wish-list of sorts of things we wanted to see Bryan Singer incorporate, offering a little unsolicited advice to the director upon his return to the franchise. <p>So today we’re going to revisit that original countdown keeping exactly what we said then, along with new updates on whether it looks like we’re going to get what we wanted.

WE LOVE JENNIFER LAWRENCE, BUT...

<b>What We Said Then</b>: Congratulations to young Jennifer Lawrence for all she's accomplished. She's headlining the next major young adult franchise, she's won all sorts of awards including the Oscar, for her role in <i>Silver Linings Playlist</i> and she is just plain <a href=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLKZb1wLmAY>adorable and undeniably likable</a> on top of all her talent. <p>But that doesn't mean Mystique needs to be a major, featured character in the story of "Days of Future Past." Now, if there is an assassination involved (and come on, there has to be), it certainly seems likely that a shapeshifter might be heavily involved. But don't shoehorn her in just because her portrayer is an Oscar winner now. If she fits, great, but let's not pull a "Storm" here, OK? <p><b>Are We Going to Get It?</b> For better or for worse, it looks like much of the "past" storyline will center on Mystique. There is that assassination we hypothesized, and she appears many times in the initial trailer, seemingly <i>against</i> Magneto. <p>The good news is, in just the 10 months since we first wrote this, Lawrence has only grown in her stardom, ability, and likability. If we could have one back, it's probably this entry.

COMIC BOOK COSTUMES ARE COOL

<b>What We Said Then</b>: In 2000, the original <b>X-Men</b> film ushered in the tradition of more practical superhero costumes variations on black leather, since outfits like Wolverine's classic yellow and blue were deemed too garish for the big screen. <p>That ended up influencing the comic books themselves, with series like Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly's <i>New X-Men</i> also developing a more practical look. But change in comic books is almost always cyclical, and brighter costumers were re-embraced in Joss Whedon and John Cassaday's <i>Astonishing X-Men</i> and in the movies, too. The upcoming <i>Amazing Spider-Man</i> sequel will see the title character in duds closer than ever to the comics, and the $1.5 billion Avengers saw an Iron Man, Thor and Captain America all pretty close to their in-print counterparts (though Hawkeye's classic look is evidently still not ready for live action). <p>So given all of that, maybe it's time to see some of these X-Men a little closer to the way fans have known them on panel. (Though you probably shouldn't hold your breath if you're expecting to see Hugh Jackman in a mask anytime soon.) <p><b>Are We Going to Get It?</b> Um, not a chance, sorry guys. We'll see a little yellow on Beast, but for the most part, expect lots more black leather.

DON'T BE SCARED OF CGI

<b>What We Said Then</b>: While we appreciate having a real face underneath the blue fur in both <i>The Last Stand</i> and <i>First Class</i>, the manifestation of the Hank McCoy's powers has been mostly limited to wire and springboard stunts, and us comic books fans know the Beast is much more capable than that. <p>Hell, even big-screen Spider-Man is mostly CG-rendered these days and Spidey doesn't have anything on Hank in the strength and agility department. <p>So while we'd like to see Nicholas Hoult under the make-up again for those close-ups, here's hoping when the action kicks up we also get to see a much faster, stronger, more agile Beast this time around. <p><b>Are We Going to Get It?</b> Possibly. There are a lot of shots of Hoult all dolled up, but with what are sure to be massive battles between groups of mutants, not to mention those Sentinels to take down, there's still hope to see Beast bounding around in a more larger-than-life way. Maybe trailer #2, which may well come this week, will show that off? If nothing else, he <i>does</i> kick Magneto's ass at least once.

LET YOUTH BE SERVED

<b>What We Said Then</b>: While it's good Bryan Singer is getting the band back together (well, mostly good, feel free to have Halle Berry's Storm die a meaningful, noble death before the credit sequence is over), we hope he also remembers the spirit of the X-Men has always been youth. That's why it's always been set in a school. <p>Yes, we're glad to have Hugh Jackman back, but we'd also like to see the torch passed in the present day timeline to the younger generation in a genuine way. Whether that's an appearance by a New Mutants squad at the end setting up a continuation of the franchise, or simply Kitty, Iceman and Colossus (if he ends up in the film) stepping up in a big way, its time for the first class and the master class to step aside for a new, younger class. <p><b>Are We Going to Get It?</b> There is definitely a large infusion of youth here, whether it's in the past with Hoult's Beast, Til's Havok, or the controversial Quicksilver, or in the future with new mutants like Sunspot, Warpath, and Blink entering the fray. However, the story does still focus on the "big 3" of Wolverine, Xavier, and Magneto. We know it's all building towards an <i>Apocalypse</i> now, so it looks like this one is 50/50.

WHERE IS THE LOVE?

<b>What We Said Then</b>: The original X-Men films obviously had Jean Grey and Scott Summers as an established couple, and Wolverine throwing a bit of drama into their dynamic, as seen in the comic books for years. <P><i>X-Men: First Class</i> was pretty much bereft of any love story, with the two most important relationships both platonic: Xavier and Magneto, and Xavier and Mystique. <p>With all the time traveling and characters being fit into <b>Days of Future Past</b>, Bryan Singer and company might want to see if there's any space to fit some romance into the film, to help give it a solid emotional center. <p><b>Are We Going to Get It?</b> There certainly wasn't anything in the initial trailer to indicate this. There are possibilities, like the continuation of the Iceman/Kitty Pryde relationship in the future (or maybe she's now with common comic book beau Colossus there?), but with all the timeline juggling, don't expect your heart strings to be plucked too hard.

MUTANTS CAN BE FUNNY, TOO

<b>What We Said Then</b>: It started with <i>Iron Man</i>, sure, but Joss Whedon's <i>Avengers</i> really proved the point: comedy can and should exist in superhero action movies. We know that the mutant condition is all about being hated and feared, but would a laugh or two hurt? <p>The thing about the <i>X-Men</i> films is that while there are moments or causes to cheer on, there haven't really been <i>people</i> to cheer for, and part of that is in simple likability. The quick wit, a joke, a quip, can do wonders to make a character relatable, and it lets you remember that these characters can be used for <i>fun</i> stories, not just epic dramas. Don't drop the action or the tension, but don't be scared to relieve it a little sometimes, too. <p><b>Are We Going to Get It?</b> Doubtful. The first trailer for <b>Days</b> was decidedly dour and bleak, despite 1 one-liner from Wolverine. <p>We're sure they'll be a break-the-tension quip here and there, but so far Fox seems to be going out of their way to make sure fans don't expect a rollicking romp ala <i>The Avengers</i>' entire third act. The tone seem more on a Shakespearean tragedy tip.

GIVE US SENTINELS ALREADY!

<b>What We Said Then</b>: The Sentinels are the face of mutant hatred, and one of the most quintessential parts of the X-Men mythos. But when it comes to <B>X-Men</B> movies, they've been teased only in the briefest of moments. But if this adaptation of Days of Future Past is to work, then these extra-sized soldiers need to be a big part of that. <p>In Bryan Singer's inaugural <B>X-Men</B> movie, the Sentinels appeared in an early draft but were cut, apparently for budgetary reasons. They were also planned for <b>X2</b>, but were excised with only the barest traces left: a mention of Project Wideawake on a computer screen, and sketches for them in the extras of the DVD. In the third movie, <B>X-Men: The Last Stand</B>, we saw a Sentinel on the screen for the first time, but it was merely a Danger Room simulation with only a head visible. <p>Given the original <b>Days of Future Past</b> comic book story, Sentinels would fit naturally in a film adaptation, patrolling the skies, fighting mutants and showing that epic barbecuing of Wolverine. <p><b>Are We Going to Get It?</b> Oh yeah, baby. There are Sentinels, and they are glorious (and, you know, central to the entire plot).

DON'T LET THE CAMEOS WEIGH DOWN THE STORY

<b>What We Said Then</b>: Since it was announced that Bryan Singer was returning to the <B>X-Men</B> franchise and adapting the lauded Days of Future Past, we've been inundated with welcomed news of returning cast members from both the original trilogy and the <B>X-Men: First Class</B> movie. But with eleven returning actors confirmed, along with debuts from Peter Dinklage and Omar Sy, it leads some to worry that this stage may not be able to hold them all. <p>Obviously not all of them will be in the lead roles, but I'd argue that Singer and co. be very precise about balancing the desire for cameos and easter eggs with keeping a firm and linear narrative going. We've all seen <B>X-Men: The Last Stand</B> and saw how an immense cast can weigh down a story, and while seeing some returns and some characters in both their younger and older years is rewarding, let's not let that get in the way of telling a great story of time travel and mutantkind. <p><b>Are We Going to Get It?</b> We are cautiously optimistic on this one. Yes, it is a <i>huge</i> cast. But Singer has already shown judgement in the cameo game. Anna Paquin, who returned to shoot scenes as Rogue in the film, was actually cut from the final product, despite appearing in the initial teaser trailer and at the panel at Comic-Con in July 2013 in San Diego. Her only main scene wound up being unnecessary for the larger story, and thus was cast aside. <p>We like Paquin, and would've liked to see her back, but respect that Singer is making tough calls, and tough cuts, to keep the story coherent. We hope.

KEEP THE TIME TRAVEL SIMPLE

<b>What We Said Then</b>: Look, we know that "Days of Future Past" told a bit of a weird time travel story, using the projection of Kitty Pryde's consciousness in place of actual time travel. Then there was the <i>X-Men: The Animated Series</i> adaptation that threw Bishop into the mix. And there's the slight strangeness of having the "future" characters be in the present day, and us not actually having time travel yet. <p>Hey, we didn't have time travel in 1985, either, did we? <p>So forget all that, and just keep it simple. In fact, borrow from another long-standing sci-fi franchise, Doctor Who. In that series, time travel is simply a thing they have, and it lets them move the story forward, no long explanations necessary. That's exactly how to approach it here: We need to fix the future, so we're going back in time. After all, it's a world where a woman can call lightning from the sky, a man can propel hundreds of missiles with a wave of his hand, and a child can alter her appearance to look like anyone on the planet. With that in mind, time travel isn't so crazy. <p><b>Are We Going to Get It?</b> The time travel here is, at least primarily, going to be consciousness-only, with Wolverine standing in for the original story's Kate Pryde. In this film, he will have his future mind transported into his past body to prevent a war. <p>Soooo we kind of got what we asked for?

DON'T MIX STORYLINES

<b>What We Said Then</b>: <i>X-Men: The Last Stand</i> nearly killed the franchise. They had so very many good ideas, so many great stories to pull from - some real classics. You had elements of stories from Joss Whedon, and Chris Claremont, and characters that fans desperately wanted to see. And it was all crammed together in one disjointed movie. <p><i>X-Men: Origins: Wolverine</i> went a step further and so dramatically altered a character that they forgot the guy known as "the merc with the mouth" needed... you know, a mouth. <p>We just told you that when it comes to Time Travel, you should keep it simple. That's actually what you need to think about for the whole movie. "Days of Future Past" is already a great story, all on its own. Sure, you need to alter it a bit to make it work with these two casts and timeframes. You need to take a character out here and throw a new one in there. But when you try to please everyone, you wind up pleasing no one. <i>X-Men: First Class</i> saved you. Don't pay them back by making things too convoluted. <p><b>Are We Going to Get It?</b> It remains to be seen. The primary story is definitely one of these two pasts colliding to circumvent a tragedy that leads to war. <p>Knowing that the follow-up to "Days" is "Apocalypse" makes us wonder if we won't see a bit of "Legion Quest" mixed in there, but that's digging a bit deep for most casual fans. We remain optimistic that this story will be just that - one tale. There will likely be a bit more of the "future" world than fans of this original two-issue comic book story remember, in order to give that older cast their due, however.

10 Things We Want(ed) From X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST

Date: 27 January 2014 Time: 05:00 PM ET