After the disappointing Last Stand, the X-Men franchise was at a crossroads; how to revitalize a once promising film series and breathe new life into something that, up till that point had been fantastic comic book cinema. Matthew Vaughn was chosen to helm First Class and the finished product was everything the name implied. As the next film began the percolate and Matthew Vaughn exited the project, fans were worried that the the series would once again flounder. Bryan Singer, director of X1 and X2, was tapped to return and with him brought us a film that rivals First Class for one of the top spots in comic book movie rankings. Days of Future Past is a film that utilizes the best of the original cast and the newest film to create a mind-bending tale of time travel as well as resetting the X-Men film universe for the future. The Quicksilver scene is alone worth the price of admission. If you have not seen Days of Future Past, do! This film is sure to entertain as well as leave you thinking as you walk out of the theater for weeks to follow.
One of the hallmarks of the X-Men series has be Professor Xavier’s ability to hope when all seems lost. In this film, we learn why. In the future, Sentinels have all but eradicated mutants as well as all people who would help them. There is one play the mutants have; send Wolverine back into his past self to stop Mystique from killing a weapons specialist who’s life work will turn into the Sentinels. Wolverine will also need to revive Xavier, who after the events of First Class has lost his abilities (the drug he takes to allow him to walk impairs his mental powers) and his school because of the Vietnam draft. Xavier has lost all hope in the world as well as himself and has descended into wallowing in self-pity and self-loathing. Through his interaction with Wolverine, who allows him to communicate with Xavier in the future, he is able to regain his focus and his hope. It is a powerful scene with the reminder that one cannot live long without hope. Peter reminds believers of this in his first letter when he says,
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
There is little in this world that is more harmful to a person than a loss of belief in themselves or the idea that no one else believes in them. Mystique is on the brink. She believes that she is forever set and cannot go back to who she use to be. Estranged from Xavier and betrayed by Magneto, she sees no options for herself. Xavier makes a statement midway through the film in reference to her, “Just because someone stumbles and loses their way doesn’t mean they are lost forever “. What a beautiful, gospel-filled message that no matter what someone has done, they are not beyond salvation. There is nothing more powerful than the cross of Christ and it is only when we loose sight of that, that we write people off. Xavier realizes at the end of the film that he has been trying to control Mystique instead of believing in her. His ultimate act of giving her the choice in the end brings to light the admonition that people cannot be force into something. Cohesion or control are never effective in winning the hearts and minds of people. It is only through love, belief and authentic relationship that people can change.
The X-Men series is at the top of it’s game. With Apocalypse as the storyline for the next film and a focus on the First Class iteration of characters, the series looks to be poised for greatness once again.