Monthly Archives: May 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past, a Continuity Snarl, & the origins of Wolverine

days of future past

IN X-Men: Days of Future Past, a mutant must use Kitty Pryde’s power in order to take the Bad Future from X-Men: The Last Stand & The Wolverine & turn it into – guess what – a Good Future. Well, duh. Anyone familiar with the Days of Future Past storyline in Ucanny X-Men could have told you that. But rather than it being Kitty Pryde using her own power to travel back to the Austin Powers 1970s – like in the comics – or even it being Bishop – who took the Kitty Pryde rôle when the animated series X-Men adapted Days of Future Past, & whom  this movie even introduces, then gives nothing to do – Wolverine is the mutant who goes.

Apparently that’s because his mutant healing factor, the Swiss Army Knife of superpowers, makes him the only mutant capable of such a large leap without being torn apart by the timestream, or something. It seems odd that Kitty Pryde isn’t suited to using her own powers, but I suppose mutation will always be a bit of a genetic lottery. Anyway, despite his lack of people skills, his weirdly dim memory of his own life in the 1970s, & his having been rude to Professor X the only previous time they met, Wolverine manages to save the day, & in so doing, provide 20th Century Fox with everything they’ve ever wanted in an X-Men film: managing to retcon the rather shitty X-Men Origins: Wolverine out of existence; retcon the rather good X-Men: First Class into existence (despite its many inconsistencies with the rest of the series); &, as far as I can tell, provide themselves with opportunities for two new Wolverine-led pictures: one new prequel/remake of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, about how the Weapon X programme happened in this continuity; & one sequel about how the Wolverine who still remembers the old timeline copes with living in the body of a Wolverine who, until they merged, only remembered the old timeline. He’s sort of a different person now, & that must surely be difficult to cope with.

But never mind! X-Men: Days of Future Past was really quite a stroke of brilliance, untangling one of cinema’s more terrible non-Highlander Continuity Snarls, bringing the best but least canonical movie into continuity, bringing back characters who needlessly died in X-Men: The Last Stand, & of course, providing viewers with way more Wolverine, in the present & into the future. There have been three X-Men films which have come off more as Wolverine and the X-Men; two solo Wolverine spinoffs, & one X-Men with only a crowdpleasing cameo. Despite the success of X-Men: First Class, it feels like the producers & writers still feel the need to force Wolverine into being the hero of a non-Wolverine-centric storyline.

It’s a shame. In the comics, you could say Wolverine was a Break-Out Character, slowly proving himself popular & durable, rising through the ranks of Marvel Comics until achieving such rare distinctions as a solo series & membership of Avengers. He never got to be a Breakout Character in the films, because as early as the first film, Fox essentially told audiences they loved this character. & I suppose they weren’t wrong; his popularity has been sufficient to hold up two solo films, after all. But the films are reimaginings of the characters, & maybe Film!Storm or Film!Nightcrawler could be cool & popular characters, too. It doesn’t feel like we’ll ever find out, because we’ve never got to know them. & it’s funny, besides, all of this fuss over a throwaway Hulk enemy who was only saved from cancellation by being Canadian while a Canadian was in charge of X-Men; a short, smelly, gruff, hairy & unpleasant sort who has become increasingly tall, handsome & noble as a result of his popularity. Now, it seems executives have the idea that it’s impossible to sell X-Men media without the character. Say, do you know what TVTropes calls that sort of thing? Wolverine Publicity.

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