Regrettably, we live in the darkest timeline where “It was better than The Last Stand” is the laughably low bar set for films in the X-Men franchise. And that about sums up my feelings on the Days of Future Past film adaptation.
It was overcrowded with undeveloped characters. Opening in a dystopian wasteland of the future, we meet a mix of new and familiar characters right off the bat — including fan-favorite Blink — who get immediately trounced by super-sentinels who are absolutely not referred to as Nimrod. This happens repeatedly, and it’s about all the screen time these characters get.
The bulk of the film takes place in the past, with the leading lights from X-Men: First Class, plus Future!Wolverine inhabiting the body of his 1973 counterpart. And I’m down with that, because that’s a pretty interesting group of characters, particularly as the story hinges on the decision that Mystique makes, a character who’s generally been the strong right hand of someone else.
What bugged me about this set-up was it felt like it was trying to play service to the contemporary and retro eras, as well as incorporating the future dystopia. One of the appeals of this setup, I might have thought, would have been contrasting past and future selves. We got that in part with Magneto and Xavier, but the only other person who bridged the gap could not, by virtue of the McGuffin, provide much room for comparison with his younger self — the state in which he arrives in his 1973 counterpart notwithstanding. In adapting this story, if you want to parallel the past and future, why not choose a span of time that can include more characters at both ends? At the very least, it’s a more compact cast and there’s less “Who’s this one?”
I wondered at times if this was going to be a passing of the baton. We’d had a new set of castings and characters with First Class, so this seemed like the opportunity to begin a new continuity. However, the way the film ends, it feels like a return to the circumstances at the end of X-Men, and X2. (“Don’t worry, guys!” Bryan Singer soothes. “I’m back.”)
Again, at least it’s better than The Last Stand.