Why Days Of Future Past Invalidates Every X-Men Movie


Time travel movies aren’t easy to get right. Be too fastidious with the science and you risk alienating your audience, ignore too many of your own rules and you risk distracting them from the plot and characters.  Most continuity issues within Days of Future Past itself come from it being a prequel, not a time travel film. In fact, the film actually handles its time travel elements better than most, it just makes casualties out of the earlier films in the process.

So somehow preventing Trask’s death and having mutants save the President (from a scarier mutant) means that the dark future inhabited by genocidal Sentinels never happens. One of the worst narrative travesties occurs when the Sentinels are introduced. In 1973. Which would mean they would have been hunting and killing mutants, growing more and more advanced with every upgrade ever since 1973. All the way up to the dark future time period. 50 years of mutant slaying. Odd that no-one mentioned them in X-Men 1-3 or the Wolverine movies. I guess they weren’t very good at their jobs until recently.

X-Men Days Of Future Past - Silver Screen Snobs

Plot holes like this are a symptom of Prequelitis. Just ask George Lucas. Telling a prequel story without altering your beloved characters or worlds is tricky. Other problems are plot strands that are simply dropped from the other films without explanation. How is Professor X alive? Where did Kitty Pride get her sweet time travelling powers and would they not have come in handy earlier? Why is Magneto fighting the good fight and more importantly: when and how did he recover his powers? None of these issues really matter when your intention is to retcon these films into oblivion.

Until now, the X-Men universe had produced films of drastically varying quality, but through all the highs (First Class, X2) and lows (Origins, X3) one thing that the filmmakers cared about was continuity. Yes, even Brett Ratner. X3: The Last Stand is a misfire on many levels but it completes character arcs (however poorly) from the first two movies. It is in turn legitimised by The Wolverine (2013) which uses Jean Grey’s death as an important part of Logan’s journey. X-Men Origins: Wolverine was a mess of a film, but it honoured the films that came before and tied Wolverine’s Weapon X flashbacks from X-Men and X2 directly into its narrative. When it concluded it led satisfyingly straight into X-Men.

X-Men Days Of Future Past - Silver Screen Snobs

These films all respected the fact they were part of something bigger. They cared that these characters existed in the movies before and after the one they were making. The very premise that Disney’s Marvel Studios’ success is built on.

On one level it’s pleasing that the contentious events of X3 never took place. But if the price is also wiping out the events of every other X-film (save First Class, its 60’s setting excludes it from time travel tinkering) then I’d say that price is too high. As film fans, we enjoy connecting with these characters and watching them go through trials. They grow, they learn. Not anymore. None of those movies ever happened. Those stories have been erased. Whatever events brought us to the happy, shiny ending of Days of Future Past, we are not privy to them. One could argue we don’t really know these characters any more.

X-Men Days Of Future Past - Silver Screen Snobs

Days of Future Past could possibly have weathered the storm of the aforementioned continuity errors. By ignoring certain elements to tell their story the filmmakers might have been able to get away with it. But did they have to eradicate every other X-Men film in the process? Killing the perceived weak to ensure the survival of the strong?

Magneto would be proud.

7 thoughts on “Why Days Of Future Past Invalidates Every X-Men Movie

  1. Drew Moden

    Alright. So while I agree with many things you bring up here I feel compelled to shed light on just one point in particular.

    First off, I loved this new film – it was a lot of fun. Having said that the only time I saw X3 was at the cinema and for one reason or another I’ve since wiped it from my memory – which is probably why I was able to enjoy “days of future past” so much.

    As you state this is a time travel film. This is important. So in the past (70’s where majority of film is set) what originally happened was Mystique killed Trask, was captured and her DNA was used to create super sentinel soldiers. Trask’s death forced the governments hand to fund the operation – and to my knowledge the whole thing was kept under wraps until the sentinels were complete with all adapting capabilities and until they truly needed them which in the xmen universe, was after X3.

    Now, the moment Mystique, Magneto and Beast were seen in public by hundreds of people and caught on camera in full mutant form – which happened once the Trask assassination failed – it made everything set to happen after it void.

    The government had a world of people who had seen mutants and were scared so a demonstration in 1973 HAD to be made to calm the masses – a demonstration which was not needed when Trask was kilked behind closed doors and mutants remained an unknown species.

    The moment that integral moment in the past was changed – everything thereafter changes.

    So my point is that the sentinels wouldn’t have been flying around killing mutants during x1, 2 and 3 but they were being worked behind closed doors and weren’t ready at the times of these films. Because the mutants got seen the whole operation was fast tracked to show the world the government could fight back against the mutants.

    Besides that you are right, we have no idea who the characters in the future wolverine comes back to in days of future past are. How is wolverine still made of adamantium? Would he have even ever met rogue and found xaviers school? Where the shit is magneto?

    So while there are many unanswered questions, I was still able to enjoy this film immensely.

    I hope I made my point haha – Love the show!

    • Tom Roe

      Thanks Drew. That’s an excellent explanation of the lack of sentinels in the other films, hadn’t thought about that.

      But yeah my main issue is with DOFP is with it’s relationship to the other films. Having said that, it’s still my 3rd favourite X-men film. Lot of great stuff to enjoy. Reckon I’ll like it even more the next time I watch it, since I won’t be spending any brain energy trying to connect the dots with the larger universe.

  2. John

    Well said.

    I’m here to clear off some of your doubts; First, how did professor x came back to life was explained in the post-credit scene of x3. Next, to understand that kitty pryde can phase people back in time, I guess we’ll have to throw away the comics style, the key thing here is phasing, she has the ability to phase, and it’s probably to a different level of phase for survival sake.

    As for magneto, his union with charles was also explained in post-credit scene of The Wolverine, during that point of time he had already regained his power. So for his powers, I can only deduce that charles probably cured him or perhaps had someone else like frank McCoy to do it.

    Additionally, Bryan Singer explained that wolverine had his adamantium claws recovered through magneto’s help. I hope these helps, more importantly, watching post-credits are very important as well. Cheers for the great x-men!

    • Tom Roe

      Thanks John.
      I’d have to disagree with you about Xavier’s return being explained. Just because a coma patient speaks with Xavier’s voice does not explain why he happens to look identical to Xavier and is also in a wheelchair.
      Having to guess why Magneto got his powers back (and your deductions are solid and as reasonable as any other) is not something the audience should have to do. It could be explained with a throwaway line and we’d be happy. The screenwriters fail us when they ignore something major like that and assume it won’t matter. If they don’t care about their characters, why should we?

      In any case, the point of my article was none of these issues are a concern any more as these storylines don’t exist now. Which is a shame. Some of them were pretty great.

      Cheers for your feedback and answers though!

      • John

        Hey Tom,

        I just remembered that Magneto’s power had already began to resurface at the end of x3.

        Haha, and yeah, I understand the point of this article, however considering what the beast had said, some timelines in the event of history can’t be changed, perhaps some of the characters didn’t really get invalidated from the previous x movies after all. The major changes were wolverine, scott and jean. But still, without the previous x series, it wouldn’t had led us to the beginning of dofp.. So it’s kind of like the grandfather paradox for the audience. Ok I’m getting confused. ROFL.

        In my hopes though, I hope that I would be able to see more of magneto and charles fighting for mutants side by side.

        Thanks for your time and reply, cheers!

  3. james

    My feeling is that this whole film was created solely to erase x3 from existance so the studio can keep pumping out current timeline sequels as if x3 never happened. This film does a huge injustice to the “past” iterations of the characters created in First class, by using them as clunky tools to justify more Wolverine-sentric sequels.
    I would have much prefered a true sequel to first class.

    • Tom Roe

      I don’t really agree on the X3 timeline sequels. Stewart and McKellan are too old to keep coming back to those roles. I think rebooting the timeline gives them a chance to redo story arcs with younger actors, meaning they’ll re- introduce storm, cyclops, jean and give those stories another shot. The DOFP coda was just to say goodbye to those iterations if the characters.

      Having said that there’s already reports some of the orig cast will pop up in Apocolypse via time travel so I don’t even know anymore 🙁

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