X-Men: First Class was the lowest-grossing film in the mutant franchise since the original X-Men. But $350 million is nothing to sniff at, and stars Jennifer Lawrence and Michael Fassbender have both become omnipresent in the year since First Class opened, so it wasn’t too surprising when Fox announced a July 2014 release date for a First Class follow-up. And there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the prequel-sequel. Director Matthew Vaughn gave the movie a distinctive retro flair, replete with Roger Moore-era Bondian set design and a great villainous turn by Kevin Bacon, to say nothing of the great frenemy tension between James McAvoy and Fassbender. And X-Men producer Bryan Singer has just given an interview which indicates that plans for the next X movie are very ambitious indeed. In a video sitdown with IGN, Singer says that the movie – currently being written, and set to start shooting “in a few months” – will be called Days of Future Past, which is also the title of one of the most memorable X-Men story arcs ever.
For the newcomers in the audience: Days of Future Past was a time-travel story released in the early ’80s. In a bleak dystopian future, the mutants of the world are hunted down and sent to internment camps. Most of the X-Men are dead; the ones that are still alive are on the run. In the original story, the future version of Kitty Pryde time-travels back in time into her young self’s brain and works with the present-day X-Men to prevent the atrocity that kickstarts the whole miserable future. If this sounds familiar, it’s because Days of Future Past has been frequently imitated in pop culture. (Remember “Save the Cheerleader, Save the World”?)
Now, here’s the twist: It’s impossible to know just what elements of Days of Future Past will be used for the new X-Men. The original tale focused on the regular X-Men team, whereas the First Class series takes place decades before that team’s existence. (Ellen Page played Kitty Pryde in X-Men: The Last Stand.) But that’s where things get interesting. In the interview with IGN, Singer notes that “There’s a strong desire to broaden out the universe” of the X-Men films, and to “perhaps bring in some connectivity, as Marvel’s done so well.” That’s a reference to the expanded-universe established by Marvel Studios’ Avengers films. Since Days of Future Past is fundamentally a time-travel story, could the First Class sequel connect forward to the original X-Men trilogy? Certainly, the possibilities are rife for cameos from original X-Men actors – imagine if Fassbender and McAvoy faced off against their future selves, played by Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart!
Mind you, there are reasons to be concerned about this development. Time travel is a tricky thing to throw into any franchise. Indeed, ever since the initial publication of Days of Future Past, the looming possibility of a dystopic future has been regularly revisited, usually to diminishing returns. On the other hand, the themes in the original story are still timely – heck, it feels right in line with the current vogue for Hunger Games dystopias.
Watch Singer’s interview below:
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PopWatch Dictionary: ‘Preboot.’ (Example: ‘X-Men: First Class’)