War: What is it good for? Whether it is man vs. mutant, mutant vs. mutant, or man vs. man, Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past compels viewers with an intelligent script that does a whole lot more than the standard superhero flick. We are in the midst of an inundation of superhero and comic book movies and there is a specific formula that these movies have began following. However, Days of Future Past is a breath of fresh air, just like Captain America: The Winter Soldier was last month.
By transcending past the generic superhero film and elevating the material, this X-Men franchise is quickly becoming the best superhero vehicle out there. I was not too interested in this series when First Class came out in 2011. It took me at least a year to even see it. But once I saw it, boy, was I hooked onto X-Men. First Class is, in my opinion, the best Marvel movie out to date. That is until Days of Future Past came out, which now claims the top spot in my eye. Sorry, Thor, Tony, Steve, and Bruce, but the mutants got ya.
I am no comic book reader, but by simply having this timeline corroborate with the Vietnam War makes for interesting film viewing in itself and poses important questions to the viewer, like the validity of war. This film does a marvelous job dealing with violence and the consequences that may follow. Future Magneto and Professor X, played by stalwarts Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, understand how pointless their years of fighting were, as the consequences were disastrous. It is this lesson on nonviolence that they want to convey to their younger selves, in hopes of avoiding the devastation that follows. They want to change the future.
Their younger selves, however, are stubborn. Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy return to play Magneto and Professor X and are even better than the first film. They have absorbed their characters like Sebastian Shaw absorbing a grenade and provide a potent combo. The linchpin to their grenade is Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique. It is her constant desire to kill Dr. Trask (played by the always engrossing Peter Dinklage) that set the subsequent actions in motion. It is her mutant DNA which is used to create the first sentinels, which are then used to wipe out the mutants and send the world into a tailspin. It is her mere existence which hinders the future.
This tailspin was rectified by film’s end and the mutants saved face by saving the president. Sure, a mutant was also attempting to kill the president, but for the time being, things are okay and the future has changed for the better. But let’s remember what Hank said about the ripple effect and how all actions have consequences. So, even though the darkest timeline has been averted, another timeline could have emerged. The next installment is called Apocalypse, which is seemingly named after a super-villain (again, I’ve never read the comics, so I can’t say for certain). Anyway, things won’t be peachy forever.
Another driving force behind the ingenuity of this movie are the motives displayed by the characters. Each big character has their own motive and reasons for doing what they did. They have their own problems and issues they have to work through on their own as they go on this journey to rectify the future. The most interesting dynamic is the exchange between Magneto and Mystique, as they personify the mutant struggle. They both fight for the mutants in their own way and, at the end, they both go their own way. Mystique is almost like Frankenstein, a creation of Magneto’s mind, as he grooms her to be the new fighting machine she has become. But the Magneto’s human skepticism plays a large role into the pursuit of his former pupil. All the while, Professor X is trying to get used to his mind again, as he threw away his powers for a bottle and his legs back.
Lastly, it was just great seeing the whole X-Men universe together and having Wolverine, played by the ageless Hugh Jackman, as the surrogate between the past and the present. I am a nostalgic fellow and seeing the old crew was fun. But old crew, new crew, however you want to slice it, this movie kicked butt.