In the year 2000, 20th Century Fox brought the X-Men to the big screen with X-Men . Although Blade had released two years prior and was relatively successful, X-Men was Marvel's first big launch into comic book movies, having sold the film rights for some of its most popular properties to various studios in order to stave off bankruptcy. X-Men was a hit, both critically and financially and director Bryan Singer was hailed for bringing such a diverse cast of characters together, as well as launching the career of Hugh Jackman, perfectly cast as Wolverine. The success of the film was succeeded with X-Men 2 in 2003, which is widely regarded by fans and critics as the best entry in the series. However, X-Men: The Last Stand in 2006 was greeted with a mixed response, clumsily combining two different storylines (the mutant "cure" and the Dark Phoenix Saga), which was then followed up by the derided X-Men Origins: Wolverine in 2009. By this point, the franchise was in trouble and Fox decided to reboot the series with X-Men: First Class in 2011 to some of the best reviews since X-Men 2 . Set in the 1960s, First Class introduced younger versions of Charles Xavier, Magneto, Beast and Mystique, forming the first iteration of the X-Men.
The series was back on track and with the franchise divided into two time periods, the decision was made that the next film (outside of 2013’s The Wolverine ) would bring the two generations together with X-Men: Days of Future Past , an adaptation of the 1981 comic of the same name. Singer was brought back on board as director to tell the story of a dark, alternate timeline of extreme mutant persecution: it's only hope, a lone time traveller sent to change the past to reset the future.
The Setup: (Comic)
In a dystopic future, where the robot Sentinels have wiped out the majority of the mutant population of North America, the surviving X-Men send back the mind of Kate Pryde to her younger self in 1980. Back in the past, Kate must persuade the current day X-Men to join her in preventing the assassination of a senator, thus avoiding the catastrophic future she came from.
The Setup: (Movie)
In a dark, alternate timeline, mutantkind has been hunted to near extinction by the Sentinels. The remaining X-Men agree to send Wolverine's mind back through time to the body of his (relatively) younger self. His mission: to prevent the assassination of Dr Bolivar Trask, the creator of the Sentinels by Mystique, inadvertently revealing mutants as a threat to humanity.
The Players: (Comic)
Kate Pyrde/Kitty Pryde Colossus Magneto Pyro Storm Franklin Richards Mystique Destiny Wolverine Rachel Summers Avalanche Angel Charles Xavier Blob
The Players (Movie)
Wolverine Charles Xavier Colossus Storm Magneto William Stryker Mystique Kitty Pryde Bolívar Trask Hank McCoy/Beast Quicksilver
The Days of Future Past comic storyline was written by Chris Claremont, with artwork provided by John Byrne, published in The Uncanny X-Men #141-142 in 1981. The story alternates between the then present day of 1980 and the dark future timeline of 2013 (dark times indeed). In this future, the Sentinels rule the United States with an iron fist and hunt mutants, placing them in internment camps. Having either imprisoned or eradicated mutants and other super beings, the Sentinels turn their attention to the rest of the world, which the collective foreign governments see as an act of war. Against this post-apocalyptic backdrop, the surviving X-Men: Wolverine, Storm, Colossus, Franklin Richards and Rachel Summers decide to send back the mind of Kate Pryde into the body of her younger self to warn the past X-Men of the assassination of Senator Robert Kelly by the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, the catalyst of Kate's doomed future. After taking over the body of her younger self, Kate attempts to convince the X-Men that she is from the future, where mutants have been hunted to near extinction. Sceptical, the team decide to take her to Charles Xavier, who is attending a hearing on mutants in Washington DC. Xavier scans Kate’s mind and determines she is telling the truth, at which point the hearing is interrupted by Mystique and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Meanwhile in the future, the X-Men embark on a daring raid on the Baxter Building (the former headquarters of the Fantastic Four) to knock out the control signal that will cripple the Sentinel's operation across the country. Unfortunately, the team is lured into a trap and the majority of the X-Men are killed, with only Rachel Summers cradling the unconscious body of Kate Pryde remaining. Back in the past, the X-Men do battle with the Brotherhood, defeating them, with Kate able to prevent the assassination of Kelly by phasing through the clairvoyant mutant Destiny, while an irate Mystique slips away, vowing revenge. The mission completed, Kate’s mind travels back to the future, leaving the younger Kitty Pryde unaware of what has happened. The X-Men ponder whether they have avoided the future or if it will ever happen at all. In a secret meeting, the President orders Henry Gyrich to begin construction on a new line of Sentinels.
The film, X-Men: Days of Future Past serves as a loose adaptation of the comic, while acting as a sequel to X-Men: First Class . Similar to the comic, a dark, future timeline has resulted in the near extinction of mutantkind at the hands of the robotic Sentinels, who have the ability to absorb any mutant power. The surviving band of X-Men led by Charles Xavier decide to send someone back through time to stop Mystique from assassinating Bolívar Trask, the creator of the Sentinels, leading to her capture and using her DNA to advance Sentinel research. Wolverine is selected to travel back since his healing factor makes him the only person capable of surviving the trip. Using her phasing ability, Kitty Pryde sends Wolverine's mind back to the body of his younger self to gather together the X-Men of the 1970s. In the past, Wolverine finds a deeply depressed Xavier, distraught at having lost his students to the Vietnam War, but manages to convince him of his mission to stop Mystique. Along the way, the group rescues Magneto from the Pentagon, with the help of Quicksilver and prevent Mystique from assassinating Trask at the Paris Peace Accords. The existence of mutants revealed, President Nixon authorises Trask's Sentinel programme and unveils the prototypes at a ceremony. Magneto takes matters into his own hands, by infusing the Sentinels with steel, enabling him to control them. Magneto traps Nixon by encircling the White House with the Robert F Kennedy Memorial Stadium, but Mystique (disguised as a Secret Service agent) incapacitates Magneto. Xavier manages to persuade Mystique to give up her revenge against Trask and allows her and Magneto to escape. Mystique’s actions are seen as a mutant saving the President and the Sentinel program is cancelled. With the mission completed, Wolverine returns to the future and finds his friends, including Cyclops and Jean Grey safe and well in a new reality.
The Days of Future Past storyline is one of the most well-known stories in X-Men comics. The storyline has been adapted in media numerous times, including the X-Men animated series in the 90s (in that version, the mutant Bishop was the one who travel back through time to warn the X-Men of a "traitor" who assassinated Senator Kelly). The film adapts the story to suit its own ends, bringing together two generations of X-Men, with Wolverine acting as the "bridge" between both timelines. The movie became the best reviewed film of the franchise and grossed over $747 million worldwide. X-Men: Days of Future Past was followed up with X-Men: Apocalypse in 2016, with the X-Men taking on the immortal tyrant Apocalypse in the 1980s. The Days of Future Past comic is a well-written story, with grit and pathos for the future X-Men in their war-torn reality. It's surprising that such an ambitious story was only two issues long as much more could have been explored in more instalments. When Kate Pryde travels back to the body of her younger self, it's unclear what happens to the current day Kitty Pryde, since Xavier believes that the two have psychically exchanged places when he scans Kate’s mind, however, when Kate returns to the future, Kitty has no memory of what has occurred, past or future, suggesting that Kitty’s subconscious was subdued when the older Kate possessed her. All in all, Days of Future Past is a classic and one for all comic book aficionados, so go track it down.