Endless Days of Future Paradoxes

posterA true sense of reverence to the X-Men history buoys this entry into the franchise.  It helps that this comes on the heels of the terrific X-Men:  First Class as well as the surprisingly good, The Wolverine.  The Days of Future Past screenplay, by writer-producer Simon Kinberg, from a story by Jane Goldman, Kinberg and Vaughn, takes its name for a two part story *way* back in Uncanny X-Men 141-142, where we get to see a possible future timeline where the sentinels have run amuck.  [This would eventually lead to a convoluted history to the franchise (with the way time travel stories working, that timeline was both averted and still exists because … yeah).]  Hardcore comics followers also get to see Wolverine before he gets his adamantium skeleton, touching on yet another major comic’s storyline.

All of this may point to the fact that Bryan Singer seems to not only “get” the X-Men but truly loves them.  His absence was felt during the third X-Men movie, whose director obviously DID NOT get or love the characters while at the same time, Singer didn’t seem to have as strong a connection to the Superman canon.

“What if this is who she is?” –Hank/Beast

Opening with a sequence reminiscent of Magneto’s experience with the Holocaust, a group of renegade mutants, including Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Magneto (Ian McKellen), Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and Storm (Halle Berry), hide from robot hunter/exterminators, Sentinels.  A future Kitty Pryde uses her (just cause) consciousness transference powers to send a future Wolverine back along his own timeline in order to prevent Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from killing Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), creator of the Sentinels.  However, it’s her capture and subsequently extrapolated DNA which creates the next gen power adapting Sentinels which go on to wipe out mutants and humans alike in the future.

In the unfamiliar role of voice of reason and mentor, Wolverine is tasked with putting the band back together, getting a past disillusioned and strung out Professor X and a past tormented and angry Magneto to work as a team, bolstered by the Beast (Nicholas Hoult).  The script manages to wring out more than its share of laughs along the way.  A big part of this includes a spectacular scene where Peter Maximoff, aka Quicksilver (a character who gets to be in both the X-Men and Avengers franchises, though without cross-referencing) helps break Magneto out of his cell under the Pentagon.  Too bad he isn’t in the film more.

“Just because someone stumbles and loses their way doesn’t mean they are lost forever.” –Professor X

magnetoX-Men: Days of Future Past demonstrates an emotional depth rarely seen since the temptation of super hero stories is to go for maximum action.  The movie revolves around relationships and redemption.  The relationship between Magneto and Professor X; Professor X and Mystique; Mystique and Magneto.  At its core is characters working through how to define themselves:  Professor X, the only character who gets to confront his younger self; Mystique (if she is to be the woman Professor X imagined her to be or the one Magneto hopes to mold her into) and Magneto (who has to struggle against the demons of his past which fuel his sense of mission).  And the stakes are huge:  their choices essentially determining the fate of human and mutantkind.

“We give you a second chance to define who you are.” –Professor X

A human being is defined by who loves them. They can be defined by the pain of their past or be defined by the loved of God.  They can find their identity in lies and self-deception or find their self-worth in truth. Magneto and Mystique each come to their own moment of crisis, a crossroads point, and have a decision to make as far as who they are going to be and how they are going to live.

Brokenness can be redeemed. Finding redemption means washing their own wounds and past, giving up those histories of hurts, and letting go of them. It means finding forgiveness, for themselves as well as others. In so doing, their wounds might become occasions for new visions.  Real love risks and offers redemption and when loved well, we’re taught about God.

“You can show them a better path.” –Professor X

The thing about time travel/alternate future stories is sort of like watching alternate universe scenarios play out (or reading Marvel Comics’ What If …? Series):  we’re allowed to experience the shock and pain of our heroes suffering/dying without the actual consequences to their canon (I know, I know, we’re still talking about comics’ canon where no one truly dies for long).

The other thing about time travel stories is that most times they breakdown if you think about them too hard.  We have to pretty much accept the “just cause” rule of time travel as to why any action occurs in the future once Wolverine gets sent into the past to change said future (but “just cause” we want to see more Bishop and Blink in action works).

By the time the movie is done, it essentially gets to reset continuity (so only Wolverine has to remember the third X-Men movie).  For everyone else, next up is X-Men:  Apocalypse.