So much credit is given to “Iron Man” and Marvel for creating the current fever for superhero movies, but it was Bryan Singer’s “X-Men” in 2000 that truly got the ball rolling and proved that superhero movies could be taken seriously. Singer returns to the franchise along with many of the original cast members to once again prove that this team of mutants is not only an impressive team in the movie, but a highly entertaining unit for audiences.
“X-Men: Days of Future Past” marks the seventh film in the franchise that includes the original trilogy, two spin-off movies that center on Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, and a reboot that brought superstars like Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence into some of the more iconic roles. With all these different ingredients Singer was able to pull off a rather impressive feat, take all that had come before in the franchise, tie it together and set it up for many future installments.
Based on the iconic comic book of the same name, “Days of Future Past” begins in the future, where the mutant race is on the brink of extinction from powerful robots called Sentinels. Wolverine is sent back in time with the hope that he can help the young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and young Magneto (Michael Fassbender) change history.
Despite dealing in the often tricky waters of time travel, “Days of Future Past” is able to be pretty coherent and offers plenty of old and new tricks to make audiences happy. It was a treat to see Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen back in their roles as the older Xavier and Magneto; staples from the original trilogy like Halle Berry, Ellen Page and Shawn Ashmore also are a joy to see, though aren’t given a great deal to do.
The reason for that is because after the success of “X-Men: First Class,” this franchise is now in the hands of the aforementioned McAvoy, Lawrence and Fassbender, and they prove that these characters are in good hands. Lawrence and McAvoy shine in this film, as both of their characters are the emotional center of the story. Fassbender, on the other hand, is solid, but his villainous Magneto feels extraneous in this story despite being the signature villain in the franchise.
Once again, credit needs to be given to Singer, who truly knows just how to make these movies work. No slight on Matthew Vaughn’s work on “X-Men: First Class,” which reinvigorated the franchise, but its with Singer behind the wheel that these characters and stories really fly. Once again pleasing the fans, “Days of Future Past” helps to wipe away the relevance of the only film from the original trilogy that he did not direct, “X-Men: The Last Stand.”
The biggest issue with “Days of Future Past” is that the theme doesn’t differ that much from the previous entries, causing it to become more and more diluted. Fear of those who are different and the battle over whether they can live in peace or are destine to destroy one another has been a large part of each story. Those ideas still work the best in the first two installments and the subsequent films have had a hard time differentiating themselves enough to resonate nearly as well. To “Days of Future Past’s” credit, adding the more personal arches of Xavier and Mystique (Lawrence) made the story work better, though the original idea is still very much present.
14 years after its debut, “X-Men” is still setting the gold standard for what a superhero franchise can and should be. While “X-Men: Days of Future Past” is not the best entry in the cannon, it was a great ride to see original cast members with new ones to help set the story down an exciting line. You’ll get everything you loved from previous “X-Men” movies with “Days of Future Past” and remember what a great summer blockbuster looks like.