The first trailer for X-Men: Days of Future Past—the time travel epic that unites the modern X-Men movie characters with the 60’s versions from X-Men: First Class—premiered online today, with plenty of Easter eggs for hardcore fans of the comic.
X-Men: Days of Future Past is not scheduled to open until May 24, 2014, but anticipation is already high for director Bryan Singer’s return to the franchise, from which he has been absent in a directorial capacity since what many consider the series’ previous high point, 2003’s X2.
The plot seems to follow, in most ways, the classic “Days of Future Past” storyline from the comics, written by legendary X-Men author Chris Claremont in collaboration with artist John Byrne. The X-Men movies, like the comics before them, have always dealt with prejudice, using the fear and hatred normal humans have for the super-powered mutant protagonists as a metaphor to talk about real-world racism and discrimination. The “Days of Future Past” saga took this theme to its logical conclusion, showing the X-Men’s future, and how social intolerance could grow into a Holocaust-like dystopia of forced internment and ongoing genocide.
In the original storyline, one of the X-Men was sent back in time to warn his past compatriots of the horrible future that awaited them, and tell them how to prevent it by saving a key political figure. The movie keeps this same basic idea, but instead of sending back fan favorite character Kitty Pryde (played in the movie by Ellen Page) as the harbinger of things to come, an even more popular mutant takes this central role: Logan aka Wolverine, portrayed by Hugh Jackman.
But aside from the usual suspects from the previous X-Men films, this trailer also gives us our first glimpse of mutant characters who have yet to appear in the series, including Bishop, Warpath, Sunspot, and Blink. The appearance of Bishop and Blink, especially, has fueled speculation that there may be plans in the works to adapt another legendary X-Men storyline, the alternate timeline saga called “The Age of Apocalypse.” The spotlight shots of each of these new characters are probably the biggest Easter Eggs for comics fans in the premiere of this first X-Men: Days of Future Past trailer.
Another persistent rumor has been that a film featuring one of the X-Men’s spinoff teams, X-Force, may in the pipeline as well, and Warpath, Sunspot, and Bishop have all been connected to various versions of that team. Fans are likely to see their inclusion as another hint in the direction of X-Force, which has traditionally a smaller and more ruthless “special forces” squad of deadlier mutants willing to take extreme measures to further mutant rights.
Spotlighting shots of these new characters along with stars of the previous films—including Halle Berry as Storm, Anna Paquin as Rogue, Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, Shawn Ashmore as Iceman, Nicholas Hoult as Beast, and Daniel Cudmore as Colossus—there are plenty of treats for X-Men lovers. A version of Richard Nixon appears, along with other shots of the White House, showing that this film will likely weave in with historical events the same way X-Men: First Class did. But perhaps the most exciting element of the film is seeing the confrontations between the actors who have played older and younger versions of the same character.
Featured toward the end of the trailer is a high-pitched scene between a wise, hopeful, and bald Patrick Stewart and an embittered, long-haired hippie James McAvoy, respectively playing the older and younger versions of X-Men founder Professor Charles Xavier, aka Professor X. It is unknown if Ian McKellen shares any scenes with his younger counterpart Michael Fassbender, with their shared character Magneto allied to Professor X in the future but acting as his violent rival in the past.
Personifying the forces of hatred, fear, and intolerance in the film is Game of Thrones’ star Peter Dinklage as Boliver Trask, the genius behind the giant mutant-hunting robots known as Sentinels, which play a key role in the future mutant apocalypse. Unfortunately, since according to Singer they are still working on the effects, the Sentinels are the one glaring absence from this first trailer, even though they have featured heavily in the marketing lead-up.
With this film, Jackman sets a record for actors playing superhero characters, as this is the seventh film in which he has been cast as the mysterious anti-hero with miraculous healing powers and adamantium claws. Even more popular characters have been played by different actors in different films, such as Superman (who has been portrayed by Christopher Reeve, Brandon Routh, and Henry Cavill), Spiderman (Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield), and Batman (Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale, and soon to be played by Ben Affleck), but no one has ever played Wolverine on cinema screens except for Jackman.
Speaking to the NY Daily News about why he keeps coming back to don the crazy hair and muttonchops associated with the most famous X-Man, Jackman said, “I love this character, and I never take for granted the opportunity I have to play what I think is one of the cooler, more interesting, multilayered comic book characters. Particularly with this one, I have wanted to do the story.”
Forbes’ magazine’s Scott Mendelson traces the film’s formula of mixing old and new to Fox’s success with the 2011 The Fast & The Furious sequel Fast Five. “What Universal did with Fast Five is basically ‘franchise all-stars to the rescue’, bringing back not just the original cast members from The Fast & the Furious but nearly every major character from every previous Fast/Furious installment for a glorious team-up adventure. It was The Avengers a year prior to The Avengers,” Mendelson writes. “The result was a $626 million worldwide haul, nearly double the $363m gross of Fast & Furious. That’s the trick that Fox is trying for this, the seventh (!) X-Men picture released since 2000.”
Of course, Mendelson could be wrong, as this may just be the next logical step in the franchise, since a sequel to X-Men: First Class was the natural follow-up to that well-received film. Next to “The Dark Phoenix Saga” (which was already covered to an extent in Brett Ratner’s less well-liked X-Men 3: The Last Stand), “Days of Future Past” is the most revered X-Men story in the comics, and it was an obvious choice for a film. But it is clear that bringing together the franchise’s “all-stars” is building a great deal of excitement among fans.
Judging by this first trailer, when the actual movie premieres in May, X-Men: Days of Future Past will have more than just hidden Easter Eggs to offer fans of both the comics and the films.
Written By: Jeremy Forbing