Friday, May 23, 2014

'X-Men: Days of Future Past' is a Deus Ex Machina Retconned Fun Time at the Movies That Should Not Be Missed

I do not want to ruin X-Men: Days of Future Past for those of you who have not yet seen the film. Therefore, I would like to share some general thoughts--and a few relatively harmless specifics--about the movie.

I have just returned from a screening of X-Men: Days of Future Past. It is a fun movie that balances fan service with narrative smarts. When I was in middle school, my friends and I talked about how the X-Men comic's storyline "Days of Future Past" would be the greatest and most awesome thing to ever be put on screen.

I also remember, not too long ago, predicting that a black man would never, in my lifetime, be President of the United States--unless he was a self-hating black conservative in the mold of Clarence Thomas.

Perhaps I am getting old, the world is just turned upside down, or in the spirit of the new X-Men movie multiple timelines have somehow intersected?

Whatever the explanation, I just watched X-Men: Days of Future Past, around the corner from Barack Obama's Chicago home, in a small, sub-par movie theater on a tiny screen seated in front of a coughing, hacking, human behemoth who should have stayed home instead of infecting all of us with the plague, and it was still a great experience.

Who knows, maybe post racial, Age of Obama America, is really the "Days of Future Past" made real...a world that hopefully is not overrun with the Legacy virus.

X-Men: Days of Future Past is a movie that breaks the 4th wall in its efforts to reconcile the continuity problems that exist between the more recent X-Men: First Class and the earlier X-Men movies. X-Men: Days of Future Past's director is winking at us. All that Bryan Singer asks for is a whee bit of faith: if the audience returns the gesture, and subsequently jettisons their cynicism, X-Men: Days of Future Past works on almost all levels.

X-Men: Days of Future Past is a master example of the Deus ex machina moment done properly.

Some questions and quick thoughts on X-Men: Days of Future Past.

1. President Kennedy is "one of us". Okay. What about Brother Doctor King or Malcolm X? Are they mutants? Space aliens?

2. I was very critical of the ahistorical post racial color blind lie that was offered by X-Men: First Class and its whitewashed depiction of the 1960s. X-Men: Days of Future Past does something very subtle in its mention of segregated washrooms in the Pentagon. When I heard that quick line of dialogue I smiled.

In my work on the politics of race and popular culture, I proceed from the assumption that accurate representations of our past/present make for better story-telling. Singer and his writers had the chops to speak a little truth to power in such a way that it added to the integrity and verisimilitude of X-Men: Days of Future Past in a positive way. Wonderful stuff.

3. Where is Magneto's daughter? Yes, Quicksilver is awesome.

4. The new Sentinels are no joke folks. Yes, I am a fan of having one uber Sentinel in the mold of "Nimrod". I agree that Bryan Singer chose to make a change to X-Men lore for the better.

5. Wolverine awakens to Roberta Flack's song "Play Misty for Me". Has Wolverine had experience with crazy stalkers such as Jessica Walter's character in the movie of the same name?

Random thought: Am I the only one who feels like Hugh Jackman is channeling some Clint Eastwood-like fortyish-year-old badassness?

6. In my opinion, the climax of the movie makes the mutant apocalypse more likely and not less.

7. Sanford and Son and Star TrekX-Men: Days of Future Past is full of love.

8. After watching X-Men: Days of Future Past, I remain uncertain about the X-Men films' continuity. That is okay. I had a great and entertaining two hours at the movies.

9. Stay for the Easter egg after the credits. You will not be disappointed.

10. Great movies are the sum total of little decisions made right. X-Men: Days of Future Past is an example of that truism and rubric in practice.


Scopedog said...

Loved the film. Good points made, and honestly I didn't mind the changes made from the original to the film. I give Simon Kinberg a lot of respect for writing the script.

And did you spot Len Wein and Chris Claremont?

chauncey devega said...

Where were they? What did you like about the movie?

Mike said...

Loved the movie.

-Possible spoilers-

The last few scenes made me happy, as it looked like X-men 3 is now officially non-canon. However, the movie's ending is also a double edged sword, as it implies the events of X-men 2 (and at least parts of X-men 1) are also not considered canon, which sucks since the original two movies had far better plots. But I guess that's the price to pay for wiping out X-men 3 from existence? Not sure how to feel about that.

At least this movie paves the way for more X-men movies, which is a good thing.

Also, was it just me or did the ending feel way too perfect? I mean, I'm happy the apocolypse was averted and all, but I didn't expect a utopia "everyone-is-alive-and-humans-and-mutants-get-along-with-no-conflicts-whatsoever" ending.

Still, great movie.

JC_John Sese-Cuneta (謝約翰) said...

This film retconned all previous X-Men and Wolverine films except First Class.

Second, the next in the franchise is X-Men: Apocalypse, they announced it months ago and it was clearly hinted in the post-credits scene. ;)

Mike said...

The new trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy looks awesome. With all of the successful movies Marvel's been pumping out recently, it's good to see them trying something new like this.

I'm almost certain this movie will tie into Avengers 2, since (as I understand it) Thanos was featured in this upcoming movie. Still, it looks like a promising action movie with a most-likely good story and a lot of snarky one-liners, so I'm looking forward to it.

On that note-----I wish D.C. would take notes on universe/world building. I heard they're not even using Nolan's Batman trilogy as the foundation for their Justice League movie, which kind of sucks.

Stephen Kearse said...

I loved the movie as well, but I think it was kind of sloppy. Kitty's new powers were unexplained, Rogue was absent, the entire cast from First Class was gutted, Wolverine inexplicably had metal claws in the future and Quicksilver was left behind despite clearly being able to stop bullets, among other things. But it was a good spectacle nonetheless. And I can deal with disregard for continuity as long as the film in question does well on its own merits.

I agree that having a fleet of sentinels was better than just having Nimrod. Nimrod's name was always so lame to me. I didn't catch the line about segregated washrooms. That's pretty sharp on their part.

I'm excited to see who they choose to be in the next X-Men movie now that they've basically retconned everything from X3.

chauncey devega said...

Well on the Wolvie claws part the only movies that about are First Class and this one, so his has not become Weapon X yet. Quicksilver was in it for the fun not to be a rebel or for political purposes. I don't know enough about the various versions of Rogue to offer an explanation--isn't she a later addition to the team? It was fun and miles ahead of the mess that was X3 and Origins.