Bryan Singer’s X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST was not a film I was particularly looking forward to, mostly because of how much I enjoyed Matthew Vaughn’s X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, and had been hoping to see Vaughn carry on with the adventures of his X-Men. Which is why FUTURE PAST came as such a genuine surprise, not only being a very strong standalone action film in its own right, but also more than any other feeling like the first true “X-Men” film in a long series of X-Men films.
But to discuss why, it’s very important that we first have a SPOILER WARNING.
To wit: everything from this point on will be discussing matters from the end of X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, matters you most definitely do not want to know about before seeing the film. So if you haven’t seen the film yet but intend to, by all means, bookmark this page and come back after you’ve seen it. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.
Everybody all caught up? Good.
Where were we? Ah, yes. X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST.
Now, that’s more like it.
Even if it wasn’t a solid summer action movie top to bottom (which it is), even if it didn’t smartly adapt one of the best X-MEN stories in a way that fits the continuity of the films while still remaining true to the heart of the source material (which it does), even if it didn’t boast great performances by long-familiar faces and fantastic introductions of all kinds of new-to-cinema X-Men characters (which it does, in spades) — even if all of that weren’t true, X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST would still have had me leaving the theater far happier than I expected, just for the film’s closing minutes, which show Wolverine returning to an altered future, where Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters is thriving, and the characters brutally and stupidly wasted in earlier films have returned.
More specifically, Scott Summers and Jean Grey have returned.
For me, more than anything else, the X-MEN have always been primarily about Scott and Jean, and have been ever since the first time I read Claremont and Byrne’s Dark Phoenix Saga.
Even during the years that Jean Grey was gone in the comics, the memory of that relationship still remained the heart of the series for me, and when those characters, along with Patrick Stewart’s Professor Xavier, were so stupidly killed off in X3: THE LAST STAND, most of my interest in the X-MEN movie franchise went away.
So the final few minutes of DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, with Wolverine exploring a happy and productive Xavier’s School, with Kitty and Colossus teaching, a jovial Beast bounding down the hall, and Scott and Jean hanging out in Xavier’s office? That’s what the X-Men is to me. That’s what these movies always should have been. It was so effective, the moment when Logan first sees the woman in the red dress with her face obscured in Xavier’s doorway, I found myself thinking the same thing we’re supposed to expect Logan to be thinking: “Please, let that really be her.”
There’s so much more to like in DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, of course. I’ll be the first to admit how wrong I was about the film’s version of Quicksilver, whose all-too-brief appearance almost steals the movie, and whose spotlight moment breaking Magneto out of the Pentagon to the tune of “Time in a Bottle” is already a classic.
But that ending. Bravo. There could never be another X-Men movie and I’d be fine with it.
Or they could just move forward with that restored X-Men team, Scott and Jean and Logan and Kitty and Peter and Beast and Rogue and Iceman, and just tell good X-Men stories in the movies and I’d be fine with that, too.
But for now, this is more than good enough.