Even with the Star Wars machine powering back on to take over theaters again for the next several years (probably for the rest of my life and beyond), there remains no movie I am more eagerly anticipating than 2014's X-Men: Days of Future Past. Which is odd, considering that Bryan Singer is directing it, and I'm not exactly his biggest fan. I really didn't care for the first X-Men movie, and, though I liked his sequel better, it was nevertheless very far from what I would have wanted out of the film version of my favorite Silver Age superhero comic. I was often heard lamenting how we would have to wait years for Singer's vision to fade out of the the public consciousness before someone else could reboot it and get it right. That bitterness lingered on until 2011. Matthew Vaughn's X-Men: First Class was quickly my favorite superhero movie of all time, and suddenly I was very hopeful that it would be a new beginning for X-Men in the movies, even if the reboot was on the soft side. So, yes, when I heard that not only was Matthew Vaughn out as director for Days of Future Past but Bryan Singer was in, the news was nearly heartbreaking. Rather than being allowed to start a new series, First Class was to be used and abused to resuscitate a dead series that the world had entirely moved on from?
Given time to process it, however, I've come around to being extremely, sincerely excited to see this impending monstrosity of a movie, even if not for the same reasons I would have looked forward to a simple First Class sequel. But a continuation of both First Class AND the trilogy? With nearly every star from both? Even Shawn Ashmore?! Just picturing the poster boggles the mind. The meticulously engineered experiment that culminated in Avengers now seems paltry by comparison. Cast aside, this has the potential to be, conceptually, the most massive story ever attempted in film. We've had clever time travel movies in the past, but this is a series that has already had two prequels (plus flashbacks in the original trilogy), where multiple eras of the team have already been represented by different illustrious casts, and which has changed hands creatively enough times that, whether deliberately or out of carelessness, it has already undergone several retcons. It is not just one timeline but three or four at work already in these movies, and, when they travel back in time in Days of Future Past, we must ask, back in which time? Personally, I want them all! I even hope they take advantage of the inherently paradoxical time travel angle to confront head-on the continuity errors that have amassed all over the chronology of the previous movies.
I can picture it now:
A Shyamalan-style montage, as some temporal custodian, perhaps Immortus (though I'm guessing he's not included in the X-Men license), reveals all the places where timelines were already being altered during the earlier movies, hence the contradictions (e.g. Why is Picard Xavier walking around in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but then Professor Mr. Tumnus is (SPOILER) in a wheelchair at the end of First Class?).
And another scene, where we witness the timeline in the act of being altered, as, mid-stride, mid-speech, Ellen Page morphs into Katie Stuart and then Sumela Kay. And, even as her reality and her very self are fragmenting, Kitty Pryde, ever the resolved hero, marches forward with nary a misstep along her multiverse-saving mission.
Maybe even, one hopes, a scene where, as time and space compress, Liev Schreiber's Victor Creed comes face-to-face with Tyler Mane's Sabretooth, and, horrified at the implications, Creed protests, "No, it can't be! I don't believe it!" Only to have an enigmatic and unknowable Tyler Mane answer back, "Is it any crazier than that dog who saw a rainbow?" Then Schreiber, unable to come to grips with this revelation, can only scream, and Tyler Mane also starts screaming (a la Liam Neeson in Darkman), and the camera, between them, spins from one's face to the other, quicker and quicker, becoming a blur, until, when it finally stops, the two are morphed into one man: the Liev Schreiber from Kate & Leopold! And the setting has altered from the time-compressed limbo—floating rocks in outer space and the works—to a New York apartment, where a groggy Schreiber is roused by the snapping fingers of Hugh Jackman, who, having morphed from Wolverine into the time-displaced Leopold Alexis Elijah Walker Thomas Gareth Mountbatten, Duke of Albany, has no memory of any "X-Men" and acts as if everything is just normal (well, aside from the fact that he himself is over a century removed from his proper era).
Okay, so maybe that's a lot of morphs. At least I resisted the temptation to insert the character Morph from the 90s cartoon. Because Morph sucks.