I am sick to death of superhero franchises. We need to put a stop to them, and quickly.
Studios have realized two things: One, that people will see absolutely anything as long as it’s got superheroes or a Marvel logo in it, and two, that they can trick people into getting invested in the franchise by treating it like a television show. X-Men: Days of Future Past is an infuriating film, mostly because it isn’t a film at all. It’s a palate cleanser, a mega-blockbuster excuse to stroke fandom ego and put pieces in place for their next mega-blockbuster. And they’ve sunk lower than ever before with this one. This movie is less like an episode of a TV show and more like the webisode-prequel to a new season of a TV show. There is nothing accomplished in this movie that isn’t just about moving pieces into place for whatever the next movie is going to be about. It’s an insult to the audience.
There is exactly one good scene in Days of Future Past, and it’s probably one you’ve already heard mentioned. About halfway through the movie, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman, really really good here) and Young Professor X (James McAvoy) enlist the help of a young mutant named Quicksilver (Evan Peters) to help them break Young Magneto (Michael Fassbender, awesome as ever) out of a secret prison cell deep underneath the Pentagon. This sequence is so good that it’s unfair that it’s stuck inside such an awful film. The sequence has a zip to it that’s nowhere to be found in the rest of the movie, and more importantly it has a sense of humor. I know this isn’t a new complaint, but why do superhero movies always insist on being so grim and dire? Quicksilver is the only one in this movie having any fun. I wish we could’ve just followed him.
But alas, there are Serious Matters to attend to. I won’t offer a synopsis because the film’s plot is total nonsense, but suffice to say that it involves time travel. Remember Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) from X-Men: The Last Stand? Her mutant power was to move through solid objects? Well, turns out she can ALSO send your consciousness back in time to your younger body. If that sounds like complete bullshit to you, I’ve got some bad news. The entire film is built on stuff like that. This is the seventh film in this franchise and yet almost nothing about it flows naturally from its predecessors. The future timeline comes without any warning whatsoever, but we’re told that things have gotten really, really bad. The last movie in this series, last year’s The Wolverine, seemed to take place in a non-dystopic world, so I’m not sure where this is coming from.
Well, I do know where it’s coming from, since that’s the whole point of this movie. But even the past timeline has stuff like this. It takes place about ten years after X-Men: First Class, which means that they can dole out exposition about the radical character changes that have happened in that time without bothering to show it. It’s such a cheat of a film. They really needed to tell this story, so they made arbitrary changes to everything we’ve previously been told about this franchise rather than building on what they’ve already created. It’s unbelievable how poorly this film treats its fans.
And if that weren’t bad enough, Days of Future Past features the incredibly boring filmmaking that’s a hallmark of director Bryan Singer’s work. This film is a black hole of style. I know that most people who will see this movie only care about seeing their favorite characters, but is it too much to ask for some halfway-interesting filmmaking as well? Matthew Vaughn’s First Class may have had a few issues, but at least it had a discernible aesthetic. The entire movie is on auto-pilot. All the big bombastic trailer moments just kind of happen for the sake of having big bombastic trailer moments. The characters do things and go places because they have to. The cast is doing their damnedest, but all of these characters are incredibly boring. Even Magneto, who once upon a time was the most interesting villain in any superhero movie, has been flattened within an inch of his life. Peter Dinklage is wasted as Bolivar Trask, the film’s unbelievably lame villain. In fact, almost all of these actors are totally wasted, minus Peters as Quicksilver, who is a major part of why his scenes work as well as they do. You’ve got some of the best actors working today. Give them something to chew on, for god’s sake. Even Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart are thrown away on what basically amounts to cameos. Fassbender and McAvoy bring their A-game (they’re some of the only actors who successfully weave their mutant powers into their physicality) but it hardly matters. Everyone in this movie would rather be doing something else, and while most of them are talented enough to still turn in a decent performance, the rest of the cast looks bored.
People are calling this the “best superhero movie ever,” because of course they are. And if you really enjoyed this movie, please don’t take that as an attack on your opinion. If you enjoyed the film, more power to you. I certainly wish I did. But you deserve better. X-Men: Days of Future Past is a con of the highest order, and a disturbing look at the future of blockbusters. I paid ten dollars to watch a movie studio set up their next film. Joke’s on them, though, because there’s no way I’m seeing it. Fool me once, etc. etc.