Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
The mutant heroes of X-Men: Days of Future Past have a lot more than just mutant-hunting robots to fight against; they have the legacy of one of the more reviled entries in the X-Franchise to contend with. Screenwriter Simon Kinberg surprisingly admitted 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand‘s shortcomings in his appearance on a panel at WonderCon.
“It’s our attempt to right the wrongs of the past,” said. “We probably should have done better with Dark Phoenix, so this is our attempt to do better with Days of Future Past.” Every X-Men fan in existence knows that the word “probably” should be exchanged for the word “definitely” in order to accurately convey both how important “The Dark Phoenix Saga” is to the mythos – and just how horribly the film handled it. But at least the people behind this May’s X-Men: Days of Future Past know what they’re fighting against, and as another fan-favorite ensemble cast franchise taught us, knowing is half the battle.
So what egregious errors do we want to see X-Men: Days of Future Past rectify? We narrowed down the long list to these five.
Love him or hate him, you have to acknowledge that Cyclops is one of the most important characters in the X-Men’s universe. He’s their leader, he’s their glue, he’s the driving force that puts Charles Xavier’s dream of co-existence into action… and he got killed off in a five-minute scene. The X-Men without Cyclops is like the Avengers without Captain America; Scott Summers often gets saddled with the “bland” adjective only because he’s morally unwavering in his devotion to the cause. Without Cyclops, the X-Men feel unmoored and aimless. His return to life means the X-Men have a direction again.
Jean Grey’s death
Sure, Jean Grey’s a character that tends to make a bigger impact dead than alive, but that doesn’t mean we’re okay with her suffering a death that removed all of her agency and put it in Wolverine’s clawed hands. In the comics, Jean’s sacrifice was of her own doing, for the betterment of the universe; Last Stand turned all of Jean’s pain into fodder for Wolverine, and then gave the hirsute hero the killing blow. We know that the movies make every story about Wolverine, but that shouldn’t be done at the expense of the female characters. Jean Grey needs to come back to life, with full control of her Phoenix powers, and be the hero fans have grown to love.
While we’re not sure how much screen time Rogue’s actually getting in X-Men: Days of Future Past, we still have our fingers crossed that her limited involvement will undo make up what The Last Stand did to her. Rogue’s known for her sass mouth, brawling nature, and unflappable confidence; the movie Rogue’s only been shown fretting about her powers and swooning over Iceman. That culminated in Last Stand, where Rogue subjected herself to the mutant cure and wrote herself out of the final act of the movie. If Rogue can get one line of dialogue in the new film that conveys both confidence and take-charge gravitas, we’ll consider it a step in the right direction.
The X-Men films have a villain problem, in that they almost consciously steer away from A-Listers in order to adapt minor threats like Stryker and Lady Deathstrike. The big name, non-Magneto villains they do adapt get makeovers that make them almost unrecognizable (see First Class‘ weird take on Sebastian Shaw). They turned the unstoppable Juggernaut into an oafish Brit only because they cast Vinnie Jones in the part, not because they thought the change would make the character more unique or compelling. They also removed his relationship with Charles Xavier, a trait that defines him in the comics and has made for a number of compelling stories. No, Juggernaut’s not a criminal mastermind (Mastermind – another major X-villain given the shaft on film), but he could have been handled a lot better.
The bleak tone
It’s hard to leave a movie that includes the death of three major X-Men with a smile on your face, as X-Men: The Last Stand proved. Between the major sacrifices and generally dour tone, Last Stand zapped any positive vibes out of the X-Men film franchise. X-Men: Days of Future Past doesn’t exactly look like a laugh riot, and the title of 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse doesn’t seem all that sunny either. But Apocalypse will be set in the 1980s, not in the time period depicted in Last Stand or X-Men: Days of Future Past‘s post-apocalyptic future. All X-Men: Days of Future Past has to do is show that this time-traveling caper pays off, and that the bleak future that started in Last Stand was eradicated. Just imagine a post-credits scene reuniting James Marsden and Famke Janssen with Hugh Jackman, Anna Paquin, and Halle Berry for a light-hearted, heroic bit of super-powered, colorfully costumed action, thus showing that all is well in the X-Timeline circa 2014. Just give us a glimpse of something positive, and we’ll be truly happy.