Unsolved Mysteries1 of 1220th Century Fox’s X-Men film arguably launched the current superhero movie craze way back in 2000 – but to say it perfected the shared the movie universe would be a stretch. See, almost from the get-go, the X-Men franchise has had trouble remaining internally consistent from film to sequels to spin-offs to prequels. 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past was meant to clean the slate and open the door to a better, less conflicting future. Director Bryan Singer has hinted that all the films should happen in the same continuity, but despite the work done to fix things, the logical inconsistencies in the in-universe timeline remain intact, and in some cases were exacerbated by X-Men: Days of Future Past.
X-Men: Apocalypse didn’t help matters, diverging even further from the established principles. While Apocalypse did a better job of sticking to the continuity of its predecessors than the franchise’s worst offenders, its timeline raises questions of its own, largely relating to the ages and relationships of the characters.
The continuity issues may also find themselves following the X-Men franchise to television, with Legion premiering this week – and its creators possibly still waffling on how or if the show fits in with the movies.
Marvel Comics used to award "No-Prizes" for fans who could offer up logical fixes to continuity issues. If anyone can figure out these top 10 movie continuity glitches, Fox may just offer a significant cash reward.
WOLVERINE'S SECRET HISTORY2 of 12The strange, inconsistent history of the X-Men franchise’s “main character” could get a little bit more of a pass than many of the other problems on this list thanks to his comic book history of amnesia, false memories, and super-long life if it weren’t for the fact that 20th Century Fox went and made a movie that was supposed to explain it all. Unfortunately for them, it only raised more questions – especially when later films contradicted its events even further.
Earlier X-Men films X2 and X3 establish that Wolverine has been suffering amnesia for around 15 years, placing his ailment as starting in the late ‘80’s – yet Origins shows his amnesia as starting in the ‘70’s. We could nitpick the ramifications of Logan being shot in the skull with adamantium bullets – the event that cause his amnesia – but we don’t even need to get that deep into the details. Why doesn’t Xavier remember meeting Logan in the ‘60’s in that ill-conceived recruitment during X-Men: First Class? He certainly remembered that meeting when they found each other in the ‘70’s in X-Men: Days of Future Past. And while he wouldn’t remember the events of Days of Future Past by X-Men because of alterations to the timeline, their first meeting should still have been on the books.
There’s also the matter of what Wolverine should and shouldn’t remember. In The Wolverine he has flashbacks to World War II, which shouldn’t be possible given the way his memories were altered. And, speaking of which, if his mind can really “heal itself” enough to survive Kitty Pryde projecting it back through time in Days of Future Past, shouldn’t he have recovered from the memory loss as well?
X-Men: Apocalypse introduced a new wrinkle into Wolverine’s strange history. When Logan was last seen in DoFP, he was taken into custody by Mystique, who was disguised as William Stryker. Then, when he’s next seen in Apocalypse, he’s in the control of the real Stryker. So what happened in between? How did he go from being Mystique’s captive to being Stryker’s test subject? Is X-Men Origins: Wolverine meant to bridge the gap?
DEADPOOL... JUST DEADPOOL3 of 12For many fans, one of the X-Men franchise’s biggest sins was its mishandling of Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Though he was still played by Ryan Reynolds, he was less of a Merc With a Mouth (literally, with no mouth at one point) and more of a pawn, experimented on and pitted against Wolverine.
Of course, now Deadpool has his own film featuring a much more comic book faithful version of the character sans the blade hands, eye lasers, and sewn up mouth of his Origins version. How did Wade Wilson go from a shadow of himself to an ultra-faithful mega success? We doubt most of Deadpool’s fans particularly care.
THE MUTANT CURE4 of 12The plot of X3 revolved around a mutant “cure” that deactivated the X-Gene of anyone who took it. Magneto, Rogue, and Mystique all lost their powers as a result of the serum. But according to X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past, Hank McCoy already had such a cure by the ‘70’s.
In Days of Future Past, Hank uses a serum derived from the one he created using Mystique’s DNA to subdue not only his beastly mutation but also Charles Xavier’s overactive psychic abilities. So why did it take so many years to get to the serum in X3?
You can't blame it all on Brett Ratner.
BLINK AND YOU'LL MISS 'EM5 of 12Many popular mutants from comic books have appeared in very minor cameo roles in the X-Men film franchise, including Psylocke, Emma Frost, and Jubilee – all characters who were later expanded into major roles that completely contradict their previous appearances.
Perhaps the best known of these is Emma Frost, who appeared as a teenager in the late ‘70’s in X-Men Origins: Wolverine even though she then appeared as a villain in her 30’s many in-universe years prior in the ‘60’s as part of X-Men: First Class. Although later they tried to explain the blond, mutant who could turn her body into a diamond and was named Emma in Origins was not Emma Frost.
Likewise, Jubilee appears as a background student in X2, and Psylocke is a minor character in X3, while both appear in X-Men: Apocalypse which takes places decades prior to those films in the ‘80’s.
Quicksilver, who had a scene-stealing role in X-Men: Days of Future Past and an expanded role in X-Men: Apocalypse also made a brief appearance in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
I FEEL IT IN MY BONES6 of 12The central conflict of The Wolverine was about Wolverine’s adamantium – and healing factor – being ripped from his body. By the film’s end, Wolverine’s powers were back - but diminished - and his skeleton back to being plain old bone.
But in X-Men: Days of Future Past, all of that is inexplicably undone, with Wolverine’s adamantium bones and powers back intact. The Wolverine also features a stinger with Magneto and Professor X – themselves both restored since the events of X3 - recruiting Logan to aid against the Sentinel threat, which doesn’t actually appear to boil over until the distant future. More on that later…
Then, in Logan, Wolverine will be back to having a diminished healing factor.
Continuity kerfluffle? No-Prize waiting to happen? Or just some untold story that may never be told? That remains to be seen.
LOOKING GOOD FOR YOUR AGE7 of 12The timeline of the X-Men films is incontrovertibly jacked. For one thing, if Magneto was 13 in 1943 during WWII, he’d be no less than 90 and perhaps much older by the time future portions of X-Men: Days of Future Past rolled around. Maybe it’s just the healing power of magnets, but that’s still fairly improbable – and the inconsistencies don’t stop there. X-Men: Apocalypse takes place in the ‘80’s and features 39 year-old Michael Fassbender as a fairly unconvincing 53-year-old Magneto, but by the late ‘90’s, in time for X-Men, he’s aged into Ian McKellen. James McAvoy’s Professor X suffers a similar fate, looking like he’s in his early 30’s for decades before suddenly becoming a 60-year-old man.
(Maybe the late 1980s/1990s were some wild, harrowing times for the two mutant leaders? That we'd like to see.
As for other characters, Cyclops is in his late 20’s when we meet him in X-Men, while his older brother Havok (who is younger in comic books) is a teenager in the ‘60’s. Anyone care to do the math on that age difference? And that’s not all – Professor X uses Cerebro to find mutants in X-Men: First Class, catching a glimpse of both Storm and Cyclops – or at least kids meant to look like them – in the ‘60’s, which would make Cyclops and Storm at least 50 by the time X-Men takes place.
If that’s not enough, Cyclops, Storm, and Havok are all in X-Men: Apocalypse making Cyclops and Storm teenagers in the ‘80’s, while Havok should theoretically be in his 40’s by that point.
Not only that, but by the Days of Future Past/Apocalypse timeline, poor Quicksilver is still living in his mom’s basement as he nears 30.
Is this all the hidden build-up for a Nanny and Orphan-Maker movie? Probably not...
MUTANT AND PROUD8 of 12According to the most recent films, Mystique is something of the third side of the triangle between Magneto and Professor X, straddling the line of hero and villain. In X-Men: First Class, she’s established as almost a sister to Xavier since childhood and a founding member of the X-Men. But in the original three films there is clearly no acknowledgment of any relationship much less a special life-long one between them.
And if Mystique is a longtime ally of Magneto’s – one of his most trusted companions and even an occasional lover – why is he so nonchalant when she’s stripped of her powers in X3? He recruits her in the first place by appealing to her mutant pride in First Class.
Now things like these are par for the course for retcons, and can usually be overlooked, but First Class curiously went out of its way to cameo original-Mystique Rebecca Romijn as the older version of Jennifer Lawrence-Mystique, inviting the attempt to try to connect the worlds of the prequels and originals, which in this particular case, doesn’t serve the series well.
ERIK AND CHARLES - THE BROMANCE9 of 12Speaking of core relationships, according to the timeline presented in X-Men, Charles Xavier and Magneto met when the former was only 17 years old. But according to X-Men: First Class, they became acquainted in the ‘60’s, when Xavier was in his 20’s. And that’s not the only time their relationship is contradicted in the films.
There’s also the little matter of their relationship falling apart in the ‘60’s, as depicted in First Class and still totally fractured in the ‘70’s, not even mentioning the fact that in either pre or post-Days timeline, Magneto is believed by the world to be JFK’s assassin.
This is nearly impossible to reconcile with the flashback in X3 depicting the two of them recruiting Jean Grey together in the ‘70’s. Magneto’s repentance in the ’80’s during Apocalypse raises only more questions about this.
Professor X also reveals that he and Magneto built Cerebro together in X-Men, while First Class shows Cerebro as a creation of Hank McCoy.
And that’s not even mentioning little things, like Xavier not knowing how Magneto was using his helmet to block his psychic powers in X-Men, despite Magneto having used the same helmet to do so since X-Men: First Class in the ‘60’s.
HAVE WE MET?10 of 12The X-Men franchise has been inconsistent at best when it comes to depicting its characters – and it’s not just the ones who have shown up in the background. From Colossus going from American to Russian between X-Men: Days of Future Past and Deadpool, Sabretooth de-aging and getting, well, dumber in the in-universe time between X-Men Origins: Wolverine and X-Men, or Beast turning beastly-and-back between X-Men: First Class and X3, the franchise has rarely known what it wanted on the first try.
And they’re not the only ones who have suffered. Moira MacTaggart went from being an older scientist in X3 to a young secret agent in X-Men: First Class, which took place decades earlier. Similarly, Bolivar Trask first appeared as an older black man in X3 (though his first name was only confirmed in the commentary) to being Peter Dinklage many decades prior in X-Men: Days of Future Past.
Nightcrawler and Angel appear to be the latest victims of this, having been central characters in X2 and X3 respectively, while appearing as teenagers many years earlier in the film’s timeline in X-Men: Apocalypse. And, you can bet Channing Tatum’s upcoming Gambit solo film (if it sees the light of day) will feature a vastly different take on the character than the one that showed up in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
FUTURE IMPERFECT11 of 12In many ways, X-Men: Days of Future Past was designed to right some of the inconsistencies created by the conflicting timelines of the films that preceded it, and open a new world of possibilities to build off of for future films. And that would have worked perfectly – if its own internal logic wasn’t, well, kinda busted.
See, even if Days of Future Past had the effect of rewriting everything that came after the ‘70’s in the film timeline, there’s still the matter of everything that happened before that still not making much sense.
Follow us here: In the original timeline that led to a Sentinel-controlled future that got undone as a result of Days, Mystique killed Trask in the 70s and was captured, two events leading to the eventual creation of the mimicking Sentinels. But these Sentinels were not seen or heard from over 40 years across five films – starting with X-Men Origins: Wolverine all the way through The Wolverine’s stinger when their threat is first implied, with X-Men, X2 and Last Stand all in-between.
Trask’s Sentinel and mutant-detecting tech already existed even prior to the thwarted assassination that altered the timeline. Trask may have been brilliant, but to suggest without him the technology took over 40 years to develop given his murder incited its implementation doesn’t pass the logic test.
And the ending of Apocalypse just reminds us of the Sentinel threat, a threat that apparently took a 40-year nap.
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