Today, the first trailer for X-Men: Days of Future Past, Bryan Singer’s sequel to 2011’s X-Men: First Class, hit the internet to lavish praise. The film, slated for a May 23, 2014 release, will be Singer’s return to the X-Men series after an 11-year absence. The film adaptations of the adventures of Marvel’s leading mutants have varied drastically in quality since Singer’s X2: X-Men United. However, First Class and The Wolverine have put the series back in a positive direction for the moment and judging by this trailer, Days of Future Past will continue to improve on this trend.
The Days of Future Past film shares its name and premise with those of one of the most famous X-Men stories of all time. The few remaining X-Men of an apocalyptic future must return to the past in order to prevent the key events that led to the world’s collapse and the deaths of many of their comrades. This trailer demonstrates that Singer and his crew are more than up to the task of bringing this legendary comic run to life. Check it out below:
The first detail worth discussing is the return of the previous cast members who have not been seen (as adults) since 2009’s X-Men: The Last Stand. Rogue, Storm, Kitty Pryde, Iceman, and the elder versions of Beast, Xavier and Magento all make appearances in the trailer. I have high hopes that their inclusion is the result of a total retcon of the third film. By most measures, that movie was a travesty and started the decline of the X-Men film franchise. Beloved characters such as Cyclops, Jean Grey, and even Professor X himself were unceremoniously killed off (some more permanently than others) while other characters such as Rogue, Magneto and Mystique were stripped of their abilities (again, perhaps not permanently). By including them in Days of Future Past, I can only hope that the poor choices made in 2009 will be wiped from existence in 2014. Given that this is a time travel story, it is entirely possible that our heroes will be placed in a version of reality where The Last Stand never happened. I wish I could go with them!
The first voice we hear is that of Patrick Stewart’s Xavier imploring Wolverine to go back to the past and alter history to prevent this dystopian future from occurring. His voice is as stirring as ever and his words are painfully sincere. The scene with the two Xaviers facing each other as the elder begs the younger to hope again is particularly powerful. While it is a tall order to expect everyone’s dialogue and delivery to match this level of gravitas, the bar is set high from the very beginning. We hear the Professor’s plea over shots of various X-Men and Brotherhood members. There were several new faces in the crowd, and to be honest, I couldn’t identify all of them, though one face stood out from the rest. I laughed out loud when I saw Bishop looking exactly like Forest Whitaker in Battlefield Earth. That hairdo, though accurate with the source material, has no place in this or any decade. Bishop needs to go back in time to right before he decided to go with long dreads and pick literally anything else.
To go further down this road, I think most of the costumes have been vastly improved from the past. Special praise goes to Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan’s future getups, which can only be described as badass. However, there are three major offenders I can’t abide in good faith. Bishop is one, as noted above. The second is the young Xavier. James McAvoy looks like he came over from auditioning for the part of Forest Gump‘s Lieutenant Dan, post-Vietnam. I can forgive this only because his scraggly facial hair and that hideous shirt are in line with the fashion trends of the time. Lastly, Beast still looks like a rejected Muppet dug out from Jim Henson’s dumpster. These missteps aside, the rest of the characters look exactly like they should, given their plight. It appears that the casting and costuming choices were made excellently.
There are two other aspects of the trailer that I find particularly exciting. The X-Men of the past are in the 1970’s and the scenes shown from that period properly reflect the societal upheaval that was iconic of that time. People are rioting, officials are escaping to clandestine bunkers, buildings are collapsing into rubble, it’s mass hysteria everywhere, as it should be. This is an America that would have clung to Richard Nixon’s promises to bring order from chaos, even at the cost of personal liberties. I certainly hope this film explores the rich backdrop of America under the authoritative Nixon Administration and mines it thoroughly for material. Much like First Class, this film seeks to be a period piece and its team present an entirely convincing vision of the time period.
Finally, I would be remiss in my duties if I didn’t mention Peter Dinklage as Bolivar Trask. He has no dialogue, but he doesn’t need any. The brief clip speaks for him. First his back faces us as he sits in front of what is likely either a military or congressional committee, then the mustachioed Dinklage, surrounded by microphones, takes a deep breath before what is likely to be a key moment for his character. Trask is a vital component of the X-Men legacy and selecting a lauded actor like Peter Dinklage for such a pivotal role gives me faith about what is to come.
All in all, this is a tremendous trailer, even with my short list of minor gripes. I was somewhat excited for this movie, but now it is only behind The Winter Soldier on my big list of anticipated films of 2014. Of course, when we find out more about it, you can come right here to One of Us for the skinny.
What do you think of the X-Men: Days of Future Past trailer? Feel free to share your opinions down below in the comments!