I don’t know if you were as excited as I was to see the latest installment of the X-Men film franchise, but X-Men: Days of Future Past didn’t disappoint. Director Bryan Singer returns to direct the highly anticipated sequel to both X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men: First Class. It took Memorial Day Weekend by storm, grossing over $90 million in sales.
Sure, the cool action scenes and use of superhuman powers keep you watching, but when a movie can deliver a powerful message at the same time like this movie does, you strike gold.
X-Men: Days of Future Past
Days of Future Past takes place in a desolate future where dangerous robots called sentinels have destroyed nearly all mutants and continue to terrorize humans. In an attempt to rewrite history, the X-Men decide to send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back to the past in order to prevent the creation of the sentinels.
This involves a single goal: find Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and stop her before she kills Dr. Trask (Peter Dinklage), the sentinels’ creator. In the current version of the future, Trask’s death makes him a martyr, Mystique gets captured, and Trask Industries uses her DNA to make the sentinels unstoppable.
Since it’s set in the past, we get the hot James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender version of Professor X and Magneto for the majority of the movie. Their rocky relationship that stems from the events in The Last Stand takes center stage as they work together to stop Mystique.
Yet, the young Professor X is markedly different; he is a forlorn character who drinks a lot, lacks the motivation to reopen his school, and even makes the drastic choice to suppress his powers so that he’ll be able to use his legs.
As Mystique embarks on her kill-Trask-mission, we see a more human side to her. (Did you know that Mystique actually cries?) We see her motivation to avenge her mutant brothers and sisters who were tortured and experimented on even if it involves murder.
There are two internal struggles going on: Mystique’s grapple to sacrifice her moral character to commit murder and Professor X’s strained effort to find hope again. Their struggles imbue the central conflict because Professor X needs to convince Mystique to change her mind, but he can’t do that without first believing in himself.
Luckily, Professor X has the chance to speak to his younger self. “Just because someone stumbles, loses their path,” he says, “It doesn’t mean they can’t be changed.” The words are in reference to Mystique, but apply directly to young Charles who has lost his way himself.
Young Professor X is also having trouble using Cerebro, which he needs in order to find Mystique. The fear of other people’s pain is troubling him, when old Professor X tells him that it is his own pain he’s afraid of.
“As frightening as it may be, that pain will make you stronger,” old Professor X says, “If you allow yourself to feel it, embrace it, it will make you more powerful than ever imagined. It’s the greatest gift we have, to bear that pain without breaking.” With this, young Professor X is inspired to hope again.
I’m sure if we had the opportunity to visit the past, there’s something we’d go back and tell our younger selves. Many of us would say just that, remembering a time in our lives when we were at a low point and utterly devoid of hope.
Such a powerful message weaves itself into the crux of the conflict. Long after the movie climaxes and the credits roll, this motivating theme stays with the viewer.
And that’s what I think makes this movie a step up from your average action-filled blockbuster. Previous X-Men films have also made compelling comments on discrimination and civil rights, which is reminiscent of America’s history: peaceful Professor X can be seen as a Martin Luther King, Jr. during the struggle for mutant equality while the more radical Magneto is a Malcolm X who doesn’t hesitate to use violence.
In my book, a movie that entertains you and teaches you something at the same time is great. There’s always a demand to appease the country’s short attention span, but a movie’s content should not be sacrificed; it should still say something.
If you haven’t seen Days of Future Past and that’s not enough reason to make the trip to the theater, there’s plenty of killer action scenes and special effects that I’m sure you’ll enjoy. Don’t forget to stay for the juicy post-credits scene that teases you with the forthcoming X-Men: Apocalypse.