Director Bryan Singer has been tied to virtually each of the X-Men films since the first movie in 2000, and he’s looking to tie things together with Days of Future Past, the latest installment of the long-running, sometimes-decent franchise. Singer revealed on Twitter that James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender and Nicholas Hoult (Beast) would all be returning for the new film… as would modern era Xavier and Magneto Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen.
Thrilled to announce @ianmckellen118 & @SirPatStew are joining the cast of #XMEN #DaysOfFuturePast #magneto #professorX More to come… — Bryan Singer (@BryanSinger) Nov 27
I don’t know exactly how I feel about this yet. As much as I loved both great actors in these roles, I really wanted to see First Class reboot the franchise from the ground up– yes, the Hugh Jackman cameo was fun, but the movie was very careful about what it selectively carried over and what it threw out the window from the previous films (e.g. January Jones’ adult White Queen completely snubbing her teenage appearance in Wolverine Origins). Tying First Class directly into the previous continuity seems like it could cause more harm than good– Singer’s first two X-films seemed great when they were released, but some strong casting choices aside, they haven’t withstood the test of time all too well. And X-Men 3 was an insulting, stupid disaster, a mess of a film created with the sole purpose of pissing off comic fans and killing the franchise so the studio could focus on spinning off Wolverine as a solo hero.
Now it looks like First Class is being planted firmly within the muttled, compromised continuity of the previous movies– two kinda sorta okay ones, followed by two terrible ones. But First Class was really good! So why marry it into the sub-par material that came before it?
My best guess would be that Singer and company are still trying to reboot the franchise and clear out the mistakes Fox brought on the franchise years ago… but they’re doing it in a more “by the book” way than simply ignoring those movies. Days of Future Past is a time travel story, so there’s clearly going to be some jumping between different times in the plot. My hope is the movie will utilize this time travel– and the paradoxes it may cause– to clean house on the mistakes within the franchise. This could allow the X-Men to have their cake and eat it too– they get to keep their best actors, old and new, and course-correct the modern day story to essentially invalidate large chunks of X-Men 3 and Wolverine Origins.
Who knows how deep they’ll go to clean up the cinematic X-Men, but I’m personally hoping they will at least find some clever way to bring back Cyclops. I dug James Marsden in the role, but he got the shaft completely in the first three movies– a sidelined leader who is given one of the most insulting off-screen deaths in the history of genre films. Singer has claimed Scott Summers as his favorite X-Man many times in the past, and his death was worked into X-Men 3 specifically as a dig at Singer and Marsden, both of whom jumped ship for Superman Returns. It was short sighted and stupid– Cyclops is the X-Men’s leader, and he’s proven throughout almost 40 years of comics that he’s a better leader than even Xavier. Including him is vital to the X-Men, so I hope the new movie can find a way to pull him back in.
I think less likely will be trying to erase X-Men 3 entirely, but honestly it would be a great move for Fox as they attempt to “Avengers-ize” their X-Universe. X-3 took on the Dark Phoenix Saga, and botched it thoroughly and completely. Aside from Days of Future Past, Dark Phoenix is probably THE quintessential X-story, and I don’t know how many good movies it would take to make up for a misfire that big, and one that means so much to the X-Men’s history.
I’ll remain positive about Days Of Future Past for now. First Class was a high mark for the franchise, and Stewart and McKellen were among the best parts of the first two movies. It’s a bummer to know Singer is avoiding the full-on reboot route, which I still think would have been the best option for the future of the whole series… but I’m hoping he’s working on something that will essentially do the same job, within the confines of the new film.