This weekend, the unthinkable happened. For the first time in movie history, a film franchise was "retconned" onscreen.
("Retcon" is short for "retroactive continuity." It's essentially a "reset" button typically used in comic books to correct continuity mistakes from previous storylines, like when a well-liked character is killed off.)
And we all saw it coming. The people praising this film the most are all tepid fans of the franchise who are still smarting from X3 and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. They're the people who walked into the theater excited to watch a franchise correct the mistakes it made a decade ago. When will we ever witness something like that again?
[X-Men: Days Of Future Past](movie:203942) opens about a decade or so after the events of The Wolverine (we learned in the post-credits of said film that Professor X was still alive and Magneto had acquired his powers again after losing them in X3).
In order to protect themselves against mutants, the normal humans invented powerful sentinels that can adapt to the powers of any mutant. As a result, countless mutants are wiped out, including the humans who help them.
The remaining X-Men, still led by Xavier, Wolverine, and Storm are now joined by Magneto, but their only remaining hope is to travel back in time and prevent Mystique from murdering the original inventor of the sentinels, Bolivar Trask, and getting captured (her DNA is used to perfect the sentinels' adapting powers).
To do this, Kitty Pryde uses her newfound "phasing" powers (we'll get to that later) to transfer Wolverine's consciousness to his younger body in 1973, shortly before Mystique murders Trask.
Logan has to team up with the young Xavier who has medicated his powers away due to depression, as well as the psychopathic Magneto, who is being locked away under the Pentagon for assassinating John F. Kennedy.
Make no mistake. DoFP is an incredibly flawed movie, but that's really become par for the course with Fox's handling of our mutant heroes.
Even the franchise's most lauded films, X2 and First Class, were executed with their fair share of continuity errors, structure issues, character assassination (Deadpool anyone?) and story missteps.
But these movies always seem to come out on top for me and other fans, and it has everything to do with the characters.
The story of DoFP (and any other X-Men film, really) would be entirely forgettable if it weren't for the fact that Wolverine is as fun to hate as he is to love, Halle Berry is Storm and the chemistry between Xavier and Magneto is fascinating no matter how old they are.
So is the case with DoFP, a movie riddled with nonsense plot points and errors that I didn't care about in the slightest because I was watching, again, an onscreen retcon. Also, it doesn't hurt that the pacing for DoFP was almost perfect. I wasn't bored in the slightest.
That doesn't mean I simply glossed over what doesn't work in this film. Though James McAvoy's Xavier was once again a standout, I was honestly disappointed with how empty Michael Fassbender's Magneto came across this time around.
Granted, his action scenes (notably the climax) were excellently done, but he didn't really steal the show quite as effectively as last time, even during the scenes that were deliberately written for him (i.e. his temper tantrum on the plane).
A minor issue was how out-of-place it was to give Kitty Pryde (Ellen Paige) the ability to "phase" people back in time. As far as I know, this is an ability she has never displayed in the comics, and it doesn't seem to really make sense within the context of her powers. We could have used a better explanation, but I was ultimately able to forgive this oversight.
I DON'T WANT YOUR FEWCHAR!
Speaking of the future scenes, I have nothing to complain about. The future X-Men didn't have very much to do during the bulk of the movie, but their "last stand" (for real this time) was a thrill to watch, especially due to how high the stakes were for once.
The future sentinels were as deadly as we wanted them to be, killing off our beloved heroes without mercy. My eyes were glued to the screen, and the result was a moviegoing experience where I didn't take the single life of a character for granted.
An unlikely transformation...
It saddens me to say that Jennifer Lawrence came across as a bit too serious this time around as Mystique. Though that makes sense according to the story, I ended up missing the "fun" and mysterious aspect of Mystique that Lawrence nailed in First Class.
Fortunately, that responsibility fell on Hank (Beast) McCoy and Quicksilver, two characters who clearly had quite a good time playing themselves. Watching Nicholas Hoult "beast out" was always fun to watch, and his fight against Magneto in DC was one of the best duels of the film.
Of course, Quicksilver is the character that most people will be raving about as they leave the theater. Every scene with Peters as the speedster was both hilarious and exciting, especially if you're aware that he is the son of Magneto (a tidbit they allude to but don't address directly).
Is it worth watching?
There's a lot to love about DoFP in terms of grand scale action, beautiful special effects and a story that sets up a universe of possibilities with characters we once wrote off as being butchered by Brett Ratner (director of X3).
It's absolutely worth watching for any X-Men fan (comics, movies or TV), though I suspect the movie will be difficult to enjoy if you're expecting something more akin to the Avengers playbook being utilized by Disney/Marvel.
But overall, it's similar to the Avengers in that it's a huge payoff that ends up feeling earned when the credits roll.
All I ask for when it comes to the upcoming [X-Men: Apocalypse](movie:1194267) (yes, there is a post-credits scene BTW), we get a story that branches out from the tired "Mutant Politics" song and dance we've been hearing for almost 15 years.
Seen the movie? Check out spoilery cameo checklist: "10 Cameos From 'Days of Future Passed That You Might Have Missed."