When comic book movies come out, it’s sometimes hard to tell what storylines they’re pulling from. Based on the trailers, X-Men: Days of Future Past focuses on a future where Sentinels have taken over, no longer just targeting mutants, but everyone. In order to combat this threat, Wolverine travels back in time to get the X-Men of the past to alter the timeline so this doesn’t happen. While the plot of the movie is obviously pulled from the source material of Chris Claremont’s Uncanny X-Men story, the darkness of the characters and the loss of hope seen in the trailers also reminds me of the first arc of the recent All New X-Men and the dark place Whedon took us in Astonishing X-Men. So before you see the movie, if you want to get into the right mood, I suggest checking out Claremont’s story and the following titles. Enjoy!
The storyline for issues #1-6 of All New X-Men is both complicated and simple at the same time. Scott Summers has sided with Magneto to protect mutants while the X-Men (Beast, Wolverine, Storm, Kitty Pride) are still at the school. Beast sees the coming disaster and decides to violate the space-time continuum, travel back to the X-Men when they first became X-Men, and bring them forward to help against Scott, who is out of control. Beast’s hope is that when young Scott sees what he has become, he will change the timeline. There is division in the ranks, within both ensemble X-Men teams (past and present) over the issue of whether or not Beast’s actions will unravel the universe or solve the situation.
Jean Grey of the past has been brought to the future, and is understandably confused. In order to best explain, Beast “shows” her inside his mind. This fractured image represents everything Jean Grey has been in the X-Men series; it succinctly represents her entire story, from her start with the X-Men, to her time as Marvel Girl, the Phoenix, her marriage to Scott, and her death. Each segment of this fragmented panel is a side of Jean Grey. The most profound image is in the bottom right corner, which shows our past Jean Grey bowed under the weight of all this knowledge.
The storylines focus on the original five X-Men being brought to the future to face off against their present day counterparts. It kind of feels like an interesting twist on the time-travel craziness of Claremont’s “Days of Future Past”, with the substitution of Beast, not Kitty, traveling back in time.
The storyline of Joss Whedon’s “Gifted” will be familiar to anyone who has seen X-Men: The Last Stand, but there are themes reminiscent of Claremont’s “Days of Future Past” too. A cure has been found for mutants, but mutants are still slandered. Some mutants embrace the cure, including Hank McCoy, while others, like Logan and Scott Summers, want it destroyed, not only because there’s nothing wrong with being a mutant, but because it represents a dangerous moral precedent. This is a darker X-Men incarnation; Jean has died, the world is against them, and they have lost their status as heroes. The X-Men break into Rao’s lab holding the cure and discover both Nick Fury and Agent Abigail Brand from S.H.I.E.L.D., who are working with the Sentinel program (S.W.O.R.D.). Breakworlders have glimpsed a future, a genocide created by a mutant, and are determined to go back and wipe mutants out in order to preserve the future.
“Dangerous” begins with Xavier’s school being attacked by a Sentinel and all the students stuck in the Danger Room, while Professor X faces off against the sentient, and corporeal, Danger Room. The X-Men come to Xavier’s aid, and Kitty defeats the Sentinel by letting it remember the genocide of 16 million mutants at Genosha. The volume ends with the appearance of the Hellfire Club. “Torn” begins with the Hellfire Club and Emma Frost invading Xavier’s school, and controlling the minds of the X-Men. At the same time Ord breaks out of his prison with the help of Danger, threatening Agent Brand and the S.W.O.R.D. installation. Kitty is able to defeat Emma and imprison her, and it’s revealed that Colossus, brought back to life by S.W.O.R.D., is the mutant destined to destroy the world. Each of the X-Men are trapped in their own inner torment – Hank has de-evolved, Scott has lost his powers, Logan is a driveling idiot, and Kitty is stuck in a dream where she must save her and Peter’s (Colossus’s) imagined son. The X-Men are able to break the spell, and “Unstoppable” introduces the X-Men teaming up with Agent Brand to track Ord back to his home planet. A huge bullet is sent to Earth, and we flash back and forth between Ord’s planet and Earth, where Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, Storm, and Strange try to stop the giant bullet from hitting Earth. In the end though, it is Kitty, within the bullet who saves Earth by phasing the entire thing, sacrificing her life.
While the story of Astonishing X-Men at first seems to be more X-Men: The Last Stand than X-Men: Days of Future Past, there are some clear connections that I think are fun to ponder while watching X-Men: Days of Future Past. One is the dark place that the X-Men find themselves in — hated, hunted, and in despair. Another is the prominence of the Sentinel and A.I. the in Astonishing X-Men storyline. There’s no telling what we’ll be surprised by in X-Men: Days of Future Past, but if nothing else, this recommended homework will have you prepped with X-Men history.