X-Men: Days of Future Past is the perfect bridge story between the early-2000’s X-Men movies of Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, and Hugh Jackman, and the younger core of James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Jennifer Lawrence first introduced in 2011’s X-Men: First Class.
Unfortunately, it serves as little more than a bridge. Entertaining as it is, I found the movie’s plot highly predictable, a plodding build-up to an action-packed, but ultimately foreseen conclusion.
Stewart and McKellen largely sat on the sidelines in this film, leaving the action roles to their younger counterparts, McAvoy and Fassbender, respectively. It is this on-screen dynamic that makes Days of Future Past a worthwhile investment for fans and moviegoers.
It is clear that Days of Future Past was built as a passing of the torch ceremony to the younger core of actors. McAvoy, Fassbender, and Lawrence carried the emotional weight of this film, as they did in First Class. Focusing on how their rivalries and bitterness actually developed is an investment in future films for this franchise.
While Stewart and McKellen deftly portrayed the decades-old rivalry between Professor X and Magneto in the original trilogy, McAvoy and Fassbender have created an onscreen relationship that explores the depth and complexity of the friendship and history between the two mutants. It exposes the underlying character drama of these stories in a consistent arc that was frankly inaccessible in the original trilogy, save for those who were familiar with the comics and cartoons of the 1990’s.
This dynamic bodes well for the future of the X-Men franchise, and there is much to be excited about. The not-quite-official reports of Channing Tatum starring in a feature about Gambit are surely enticing. Tatum has the debonair charm and rogue smile to play the role of Remy LeBeau that was lacking in the first cinematic iteration of 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Days of Future Past also took a page from the Marvel Studios handbook by teasing the next big project with a post-credits scene, revealing the (already announced) villain of the next film, X-Men: Apocalypse, slated for 2016. Is it too ambitious to dream about McAvoy, Fassbender, Lawrence, Jackman, and Tatum all fighting side-by-side in two years? Evidently not.
Days of Future Past does indeed succeed as a retcon. The action is intense, the acting is superb, and it connects the two worlds of X-Men cinema in a way that does not deter from an overarching story. However, it seems to serve mostly as a vehicle for future movies –which is not necessarily a bad thing. I am certainly excited for what the future holds for this franchise.