Some have called it the best movie of the summer, but how did X-Men: Days of Future Past rank for a couple of Place to Be Nation writers? Russell and Kati sat down to discuss how they felt about the big summer blockbuster. As a fan of the X-Men comic books, Russell will bring his insight from the comic’s perspective. Kati is a huge fan of the X-Men movies and will bring her perspective with no previous comic book knowledge. Note: there are spoilers below.
Russell: Alright Kati, first how did you think this movie compared to the others in the series?
Kati: This is actually up there with one of my favorites. I think it is possibly my number two (if we aren’t counting The Wolverine) I don’t count The Wolverine because to me, that is a stand-alone film.
This for me was solely based on storyline and my own personal entertainment. I loved the storyline and thought it was very well followed through. I thought the acting was amazing and overall just like the film better than I did any other (except X3). How did you think it ranked in comparison?
Russell: I had a similar feeling about it. I do count The Wolverine since it and First Class both had events that helped set this one up, but even just as another entry in the X-Men franchise, I think it stands with X2: X-Men United as the best of the films.
Hugh Jackman brought another great turn as Wolverine, but I was really impressed with James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender as Charles Xavier and Magneto, respectively. Both actors brought a lot of raw emotion and passion to their roles. And Jennifer Lawrence showed off some interesting internal conflict with her second time out as Mystique.
I thought the integration of the First Class cast and the original lineup was done extremely well. How do you think they stacked up to the original lineup?
Kati: That is a very good point about The Wolverine as far as it setting up certain events in Days of Future Past. I am a bit torn as to how well I think they stacked up. On one hand, I’d like to think that nothing beats the originals. On the other hand, I honestly feel like the newest additions are just as good, if not better in some aspects. I have been very impressed with how well done the new ones have been. Days of Future Past was better than First Class, but First Class was better than the first X-men movie, in my opinion. And as unpopular as my opinion is, I rank X3 above X2, but I think the two are on par with First Class and Days of Future Past.
Russell: That is, for sure, a controversial opinion. I haven’t met many people who would put The Last Stand above X2.I really loved the direction this movie took the X-Men history established in the first movie from 2000, but instead of slavishly sticking to setting up that continuity, it took full advantage of the idea of time travel and how it could be useful in making your original story more interesting.
Kati: Russell, you briefly touched on the portrayals of the Professor and Magneto. Which character did you feel was the most important to the story and also the best for entertainment value?
Russell: Most important character would probably have to be Mystique. Her actions were really the ones that carried the most weight, even if she wasn’t always aware of it. But really, the majority of the cast had vital parts to play. That’s one of the things director Bryan Singer does better than most ensemble-cast directors; finding the right balance of story and character moments. And the subtle humor and Easter Eggs were some of the best of any Marvel film I’ve seen.
Kati: I agree that Mystique was a very pivotal character, but I really enjoyed the character development of the professor. It was insightful to see his conversation with himself. I think we all wish we could do that sometimes. And it took his power to find Mystique and to convince her to do the right thing in the end. Also, as you mentioned, McAvoy did an astounding job portraying the character.
While we are still talking about characters, what was your favorite character development in the movie?
Russell: I loved pretty much every scene with Mystique, for both obvious and character reasons. Her character arc was the most progressive in the film to me. I also loved the conversation between old and young Xavier. It really hit all the right notes and brought McAvoy up to the level I thought he should be to take on the role full time since Patrick Stewart may not return to it for another movie. But the scene that really gave me chills was the scene on the plane when Magneto names off the mutants who died during and after First Class. Talk about a pivotal moment!
There’s a scene everyone seems to be talking about now; involving Quicksilver. What did you think of it and how do you think it stacked up against the Nightcrawler opening scene from X2? And which characters stood out to you as being the most important and/or entertaining?
Kati: I loved the Quicksilver scene. It was a little cheesy but was very entertaining. I liked that they showed him doing all of that. I don’t think it would have been nearly as effective if they hadn’t shown time standing still. Because of the effectiveness of how the scene was done and the bits of comedy, I like the Quicksilver scene more than the Nightcrawler scene. I will give the Nightcrawler scene its credit though, it was a good scene and it was much more serious but I like a little comedy mixes in with action. I thought the Quicksilver scene was a nice blend of the two.
Russell: I enjoyed the Quicksilver character, though I thought his speed abilities weren’t fully realized or maybe just not as interesting as they maybe could have been. Though the scene in question is really cool and one of the most striking in the whole series, I still put the Nightcrawler scene just slightly above it. I am looking forward to seeing more of his character in the next film.
Another thing I appreciated is how the movie managed to keep the overall basic plot of the comic story, but also changed it up to fit the story the films have been telling and put a fresh spin on things to keep it interesting for people who may know the original story from Chris Claremont and John Byrne. As someone who’s not read the original Days of Future Past story, did you have any issues following the plot or were there any moments where things didn’t seem to make much sense?
Kati: No, I followed along relatively well. As a fan of the originals I enjoyed the way they were all tied in. I think if I hadn’t seen the originals I might have been confused at times but I don’t think having not read the comics affected my viewing experience. I thought the story flowed nicely.
Russell: That’s the best kind of comic book film, to me. It doesn’t require a working knowledge of the comics to be entertaining and fun. It’s even better if they inspire someone to want to learn more by visiting their local comic shop.
Another interesting thing that stuck out to me was the practical use of effects. Sure, some of the mutant powers and big set pieces required some CGI help, especially the parts in the distant future and Magneto’s lifting of a baseball stadium, but there were plenty of times the film makers did a great job just making things look like they happened naturally.
What did you think of the visuals and was there any moment, aside from the Quicksilver scene, that took your breath away?
Kati: Well, I mean Hugh Jackman was butt naked once! In all seriousness, I thought they were fantastic. I get annoyed with movies that have CGI work that looks unrealistic. There were not any moments in this film that made me feel overwhelmed with CGI. I enjoyed the scenes where Beast made appearances. I thought the transitions were very smooth. Another big moment for me in the movie was when Magneto used the scraps of metal to guard the door to protect their future.
We’re you at all bothered by the fact that this movie undid a lot of what the originals had done?
Russell: I loved how this movie took out some of the parts I hated most about the series and seemingly “fixed” a lot of other issues. Especially with Jean and Scott now both being alive, I hope that means we’ll get younger versions of them in the next film. And, of course, I really want to know what happens next with Mystique seemingly taking William Stryker’s place. Will she be responsible for giving Wolverine his adamantium skeleton? Are we going to see a revisit of the Weapon X Program? If this movie effectively erased X-Men Origins: Wolverine from existence, then it’s earned a special place in my heart on that alone.
I know X-Men: The Last Stand was one of your favorites, but it does kind of look like that film has been undone by Days of Future Past. How are you feeling about that?
Kati: I am ok with it. I still got to experience the movie. And like you said it “fixes” the stuff I didn’t like. I love that jean is back. I held my breath from the time he woke up in the future until the time it showed her. I was so excited to have jean, Scott and even beast back. I think the way it was done leaves a lot of room for bigger and more exciting things to come.
Russell: Speaking of big exciting things to come, how about that post-credits scene?
Kati: Well, not being a comic book reader, I had to do a little digging, but even without the digging you get a really good idea of who this person is (mutation-wise). After doing some research, I am so excited to see this new character in a movie! As a comic book fan, what can you tell us about this character and what we might be able to expect?
Russell: For those who might not know, the character seen at the end was Apocalypse, the oldest and arguably most powerful mutant in Marvel Comics lore. Think of a mutant with powers that are a combination of Xavier’s, Magneto’s and Wolverine’s with no known way to kill him. He’s also been described as Charles Xavier’s worst nightmare: a mutant so powerful and damaged he’s been driven insane by his powers. He also has mind-control abilities and can even warp the powers of other mutants to his liking. The horsemen in the distance are called the Four Horsemen of Apocalypse, but their ranks have been filled by a variety of mutants over the years including both Gambit and Wolverine.
Kati: I have one final question. This may or may not be relevant, but is the Quicksilver from Days of Future Past the same Quicksilver from the post-credit scene from Captain America: The Winter Soldier?
Russell: The Quicksilver seen at the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier will be different from the one in X-Men. There’s a lot of legal jargon to explain why, but the X-Men and Avengers films don’t take place in the same universe due to Fox having the rights to the X-Men films and Disney/Marvel owning Avengers, but Quicksilver is one of the many characters who’s considered an equally important part of both the X-Men and Avengers. His role in Avengers: Age of Ultron will likely be even more significant than the version seen in this or future X-Men films and he’s not going to be a mutant or in any way related to Magneto in the Avengers continuity. And we’ll see his twin sister, the Scarlet Witch, in Avengers, as well.
Kati: Thank you for clearing all of that up!
Russell: It’s a lot to take in, for sure. And it’s easy to see how it can all get really confusing with all the “who owns which characters” business.
Kati: For me, This was by far my favorite movie of the year. I have enjoyed discussing it with such a huge fan and getting some comic book insight. I am looking forward to reviewing Guardians of the Galaxy with Russell, so be on the lookout for that later in the summer!
Russell: It was easily the best of the film series since X2 and corrected so many of the issues the series has had up to this point. It also clearly illustrates why Bryan Singer should never, ever leave this franchise again. And I had a blast working with my colleague in movies, Kati Price! We’ll see you again for Guardians of the Galaxy.