Editorial by Jorge Solis
On May 23, comic book fans and moviegoers are in for a special treat as X-Men: Days of Future Past hits theaters. The highly anticipated summer blockbuster is based on the comic book masterwork by writer Chris Claremont and artist John Byrne. Who better to bring about this adaptation to the big screen than director Bryan Singer, the man who started it all with the original X-Men movie. Though some wish Matthew Vaughn was returning to helm the project, my hopes are high for Mr. Singer and his all-star cast.
I’m not a particularly huge fan of all of Claremont’s story arcs. Maybe because it’s a staple of ’80s cheesiness, but I thought Claremont’s “Nightcrawler’s Inferno” was a silly tribute to Dante’s “Divine Comedy.” But when Claremont really has a spectacular idea, most notably in “God Loves, Man Kills,” that’s where his writing shines.
“Days of Future Past” follows Kitty Pryde, also known as Shadowcat, who lives in an apocalyptic future where Sentinels have taken over the world. In this future the master race thinks they are in control, mutants are either hunted down or sent straight to concentration camps. Forced to live in slums, the last remaining mutants are tagged with electronic collars around their necks. As a last ditch for hope, Kitty has to travel back in time to prevent this horrible future from ever happening.
Many physics professors believe time-travel is a believable possibility. It’s not the physical body that goes back in time; it is the person’s mind that makes it feasible. Kitty’s mind from her future self travels backwards in time and ends up in her younger body. Claremont’s time-traveling concept harkens back to author Kurt Vonnegut and his sci-fi/war novel, “Slaughterhouse-Five.” The main protagonist in Vonnegut’s book, Billy Pilgrim, sees everything because his mind is unstuck in time.
In Kitty’s future, doomsday comes about because of the death of a single person. An important figurehead, Senator Kelly, must be saved from an assassination plot. The X-Men have to rescue a racist politician, who has already incurred the wrath of those he hates. Echoing the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Professor Xavier believes Kelly’s racist tantrums can be stopped if he can understand his fears are baseless.
Throughout the narrative, Claremont speaks about the universal theme of human nature. Are we capable of learning from our mistakes? Or, are we destined to repeat the same mistakes over and over again. Though humanity has faults of its own, the story ultimately teaches that we are capable of change.
As Claremont switches the action between the past and future, Byrne depicts two distinct timelines in his artwork. The major shocker happens in the conclusion. In the future timeline, every fan-favorite mutant dies horribly. Byrne illustrates a painful death for each member of the superhero team, as if to say there’s no coming back from this. Like a slasher movie, the Sentinels takes down the entire team one by one, leaving just a sole survivor to continue the good fight.
Based on the trailers, the writing team looks to have taken some creative liberties with the original plot given how little we actually see of Ellen Page as Kitty Pryde. I know Lonmonster is not too happy about this, but then again I think the X-Men: The Animated Series is the best adaptation, even though there are many changes. I know everyone wants Kitty Pryde to be the major star, but I’m a huge fan of Bishop. I was totally rooting for Bishop, the trigger happy time-traveler, who shot first and asked questions later. He’s actually making things worse in his recklessness. The writers even brought in the “X-Traitor” storyline into the main arc.
I’m very excited for Bryan Singer’s cinematic version because the essential themes are still in place. Even Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine has white hair just like Bryne’s drawings. The focus continues to be about the bromance between Charles Xavier and Eric Lenhnserr, who are symbolic representations of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. These are two people of the same race who share the same ideals, but have different attitudes towards reaching their goals. This is an acting tour-de-force with Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, James McAvoy, and Michael Fassbender at the helm.
The horrors of the future meets the tragedy of the past in Bryan Singer’s cinematic adaptation of X-Men: Days of Future Past. Say what you will about the X-Men movies, but I know this one is going to be a whole lot better than The Last Stand, even with that ridiculous Quicksilver costume. Comic book storytelling at its best, “Days of Future Past” has launched many story arcs in the X-Men universe and its influence can still be seen today.
X-Men: Days Of Future Past hits theatres on May 23, 2014.
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