Tag Archives: X-Men Days of Future Past

‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ crosses the streams

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I’m not sure there is a stranger big-screen superhero franchise than the “X-Men” movies.

I’m not counting the new series of “Spider-Man” movies, which Sony is apparently trying to expand into an entire universe by basing movies on villains and second-string characters. You think the general public hadn’t heard of Iron Man before 2008? Try basing an entire movie on Black Cat or Venom.

And I’m also not talking about the “Fantastic Four” reboot, which seems alarmingly intent in removing everything “fantastic” from the story, characters and situations of Marvel’s First Family.

Heck, I’m not even talking about “Ghost Rider,” which is inherently weird.

It’s just that, since 2000, the “X-Men” movies have followed an oddball path. Director Bryan Singer made two good movies – I’d even say that the first sequel, “X-Men United,” was a great superhero movie – then left the series for the unfortunate “Superman Returns.” Some “Wolverine” spin-offs ensued which gave us charismatic Hugh Jackman and little more. Matthew Vaughn’s “X-Men: First Class” was a terrific return to form, showing the origins of Professor X and Magneto and Mystique and featuring a charismatic cast in a tale of the swinging 60s and the sudden appearance of mutants in the world.

So I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with Singer’s return in “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” He brings back nearly every character and actor from the earlier films, either through starring roles, cameos or flashbacks. He introduces others, most notably Peter Maximoff, the mutant known as Quicksilver. (Quicksilver is the only character so far appearing in both the mainstream Marvel Cinematic Universe and these offshoots, making appearances here and in the tag at the end of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and in next year’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” He’s by a different actor in the MCU films.)

The story, loosely based on a classic tale from the comics, opens in a future time when a war between mutants and Sentinels – mutant-hunting robots created by Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) – has ravaged much of the globe. A few X-Men, including Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Magneto (Ian McKellan) and Wolverine (Jackman) come together with a plan to change history: If they can stop young Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from killing Trask back in 1973 – thus speeding up the Sentinels program – they can stop the war.

To stop Mystique, they task Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) with sending Wolverine’s mind back into his 1973-era body. There, he must find young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and young Eric Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) at a time they are decidedly not filling their fated roles as Professor X and Magneto and persuade them to help.

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The plot is reminiscent of how the older Spock sent Kirk on a mission to win over young Spock and become a team and at least offers a better explanation for why a simple sit-down between key players couldn’t have resolved matters much more easily.

The movie does a pretty good job in immersing its story and characters in 1973, with period-appropriate clothing and jokes about “all three” TV channels – and PBS – and events and figures from the day, including a healthy supporting role for Richard Nixon.

The movie is relatively light on the “future” sequences, where Storm (Halle Berry) joins some younger mutants in fighting off the Sentinels until Wolverine’s consciousness can complete its mission.

The light-hearted tone of “First Class” is mostly gone. There are moments of humor – most of them involving Wolverine – but the tone is one of urgency and distance, with Charles, Erik and Raven all blaming each other for the estranged relationships among them.

The movie’s got big battles and impressive special effects, but what stuck with me after seeing the movie is the ending, that’s full of warmth and hope and could certainly lead to more stories featuring the “classic X-Men” cast. But I have the feeling the future of the franchise rests with the younger actors.
On that count, we’re left with a much murkier picture of the future.

Random observations:

I was somewhat surprised by how much Wolverine seems like a spectator in this movie. The storyline really focuses on young Charles, Erik and Raven.

One thing the movie does not have: Any sense of an explanation as to how the storyline follows the tag at the end of “The Wolverine,” which had Xavier and Magneto meeting Logan at an airport with an urgent mission … that they apparently wait a few decades to dispatch him on.

The movie has some fun cameos from familiar faces and a post-credits scene that is mystifying but apparently points toward a sequel Singer has announced based on the “Apocalypse” storyline from the comics. Who will fill out the ranks of the mutants remains to be seen.

 

‘Winter Soldier’ and ‘X-Men’ marketing 101

empire covers xmen

Apparently someone at Fox believes the old saying that any publicity is good publicity.

That must be the idea behind the 25 different covers released by Empire magazine featuring 25 different characters (including a non-character, director Bryan Singer) for “X-Men Days of Future Past.”

Some of them aren’t bad, like the ones above featuring Magneto, Professor X and Wolverine.

Some are just inexplicable, including the one showcasing the movie’s version of Quicksilver.

In the comics, if you’re not familiar with the character, Quicksilver (along with his sister, Scarlet Witch) was part of the second wave of Avengers recruits back in the 1960s, serving under Captain America and replacing Iron Man, Hulk and Thor.

It was a plot point that the new Avengers, including Hawkeye, were drastically less powerful than the original team.

And I’m wondering if when Joss Whedon has Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch join the Avengers in the 2015 sequel, there won’t be some similar storylines playing out.

But in “Days of Future Past,” it appears that Quicksilver is … what, would you say, a punk kid with really bad hair and an outfit that’s even worse?

quicksilver comic and empire cover xmen

Here he is, side by side with the comic-book version.

The X-Men Quicksilver is a look that was certain to – and did – inspire derision.

Then there’s the latest marketing from “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” due out in April.

captain america winter soldier poster

There’s this great poster featuring Cap and the main cast, including Robert Redford as SHIELD honcho Alexander Pierce. It’s right out of the Marvel marketing playbook and is reminiscent of posters for “The Avengers” and others in the Marvel cinematic universe.

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And then there are the character posters, including those for Nick Fury and Black Widow (photoshopping aside).

That’s how you market characters. And I’m looking forward to one featuring Falcon. Please.

 

‘X-Men’ – Meet the Sentinels

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The Sentinels are finally ready for their close-up.

The three-story tall robots, in case you’re not familiar with them, are the hulking menaces used by the government to try to to exterminate mutants in the “X-Men” comics.

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They were introduced in “Uncanny X-Men” 14 in November 1965 and were created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

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They’re nearly as much the archetypal villain for The X-Men as Hydra is for Captain America.

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The Sentinels were apparently on the “no-no” list at Fox during the years the “X-Men” movies were being made, although I’m not sure why. The only appearance of the robots in the initial round of movies is in a Danger Room practice in “X-Men: The Last Stand.” Wolverine beheads one in a training session after being thrown by Colossus.

They apparently figure prominently in “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” the 2014 feature mixing the classic and new movie casts. Their creator, Bolivar Trask, is played in the movie by Peter Dinklage.

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Could that ‘stache be any cooler or more 1970s period?

At top is a shot from the movie, featuring a Sentinel watching over the Reagan inauguration in the movie’s fractured timeline.

Coolness: ‘X-Men Days of Future Past’ teaser posters

xmen days of future past teaser posters

It really seems like when it comes to movie posters these days, a lot of studio marketing departments play it safe. Photoshopped images of characters staring off in different directions seem to dominate.

So teaser posters, especially those that focus on individual characters, can be a lot of fun.

Here are a couple of cool ones for “X-Men Days of Future Past.”

One features Patrick Stewart and a hairy James McAvoy as the two faces of Charles (Professor X) Xavier in the time-spanning movie, while the other features Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender as Eric Lehnsherr, the movies’ Magneto.

The effect is cool and kinda freaky.

The posters were released right around the time of Comic Con.

The movie opens in May 2014.

Magneto on the job in ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’

michael fassbender days future past

Michael Fassbender’s Magneto was one of the best things about “X-Men: First Class.” A few people opined online that they’d pay to watch him hunt Nazis for an entire movie.

So a little Fassbender is nothing but a good thing in “X-Men: Days of Future Past.”

Director Bryan Singer is tweeting pictures of the cast and from the set, and today he released the Fassbender.

The movie comes out in July 2014.

Professor X shaggy in ‘X-Men’

james mcavoy new x-men

“X-Men First Class” was a really fun movie and had some sport with its 1960s setting, particularly in the boots and “groovy” threads worn by its cast.

It looks like “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” which apparently straddles several time periods in uniting the largest “X” cast ever, is going for a similarly authentic look.

So here’s James McAvoy as the younger Professor X. Patrick Stewart also plays Charles Xavier in the movie.

Director Bryan Singer tweeted this picture of McAvoy in the past day or so.

He dubbed it “Serpico,” and McAvoy does look a bit like the undercover cop played by Al Pacino … good lord … four decades ago.

“X-Men: Days of Future Past” opens July 2014.

‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ – What we want to see

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New developments for the next “X-Men” movie just keep coming, it seems.

First we learned that the follow-up to the quite successful – in many senses of the word – “X-Men: First Class” would be “X-Men: Days of Future Past” and would be based on a popular 1981 storyline from the comics that found the mutant superheroes living in – and trying to prevent – an apocalyptic future in which mutants are held in concentration camps guarded by robotic Sentinels.

Then we learned that director Matthew Vaughn would not be returning, but director Bryan Singer, who helmed the first two “X-Men” movies in the 2000s, would instead.

And in the past few days we learned that in addition to returning “First Class” cast members like Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy and Jennifer Lawrence, the actors who played longtime antagonists Magneto and Xavier in the original trilogy, Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, would return.

And we learned that Hugh Jackman, who had a fun, two-word cameo in “First Class,” might be returning after filming his solo film “The Wolverine.”

Of course, with a story featuring time travel and alternate realities, it’s not impossible to imagine multiple actors playing the same characters and it’s not impossible to imagine characters from widely divergent “X-Men” eras clashing and teaming up.

So with a couple of years to go until we see the movie, what do we want to see from “X-Men: Days of Future Past?” A few thoughts:

Colorful costumes. This seems silly, almost, in the wake of the true-to-the-comics costumes in “First Class” and “The Avengers.” But remember that the last time Singer directed these characters, the conventional wisdom at the time was that moviegoers would only accept the X-Men in black leather with yellow accents. We know better now. Bring on the blue and yellow spandex!

Beefy roles for various generations of X-Men. I want to see the Fassbender version of Magneto go on the equivalent of the Nazi hunt he conducted in First Class, maybe abetted this time by Jackman as Wolverine. Who wouldn’t pay to see those two in unstoppable pursuit of some villain?

A “Spock meets Spock” moment. Or several of them. We want to see the two versions of Magneto and Xavier meet each other and we want to be able to relish it, like we did when Spock met Spock Prime in “Star Trek.”

Sentinels. Sentinels. Sentinels. We’ve only been teased with the giant robots so far. Hollywood special effects are more than ready to give us these menacing figures now.

Wolverine, yes, but more than that. Who doesn’t love Wolverine and his on-screen personification, Hugh Jackman? But even if Jackman does appear in “Days of Future Past,” he shouldn’t be the focus. He’s best when he’s the wild card, going on a berserker rampage and scaring the hell out of every bad guy in sight.

Above all else, Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy. It’ll be cool to see Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, the heart and sole of the original “X-Men” movies, together again. But Fassbender and McAvoy made the roles of Magneto and Xavier their own in “First Class.” They energized the roles. I wish the finale of the movie hadn’t so thoroughly put Xavier in a wheelchair and set him and Magneto at odds. It was the least subtle element of the movie. But there’s a lot more to told about these two characters early in their conflict and I hope that’s what drives the movie.