At this point there have been so many movies based on comic books, even I, a die hard comic book fan, find myself skipping some. I was once a regular at the opening night midnight screenings, no matter what my responsibilities were the next morning, but the new Spider-man movie has been out for a month and I still haven’t gotten around to seeing it.
Part of the reason is there is such quantity that it no longer seems like a special event to see the stories of my youth transferred to cinema, but the bigger problem has been the quality. Last year’s Superman was disgusting, the latest Thor sequel made me throw up in my mouth, but about once a year a comic book movie gets it right and brings a sense of wonder and humor to the screen. The newest X-men sequel Days of Future Past is just such an occasion.
Inspired by two issues from 1981 of the Uncanny X-men comic by the immortal Chris Claremont and John Byrne, the movie refuses to be a slave to the source material. It picks and chooses which elements from the original story to use, makes up some other elements, adds some different characters and throws in a kitchen sink, a football stadium, and Richard Nixon for good measure.
The comic book version of Days of Future Past was a precursor to the Terminator movies where a character from an apocalyptic future time travels to the present to stop a pivotal moment in their history from happening. In the movie version the future is a dark and dismal 2023, and the past is a groovy 1973 complete with sideburns, lava lamps, Pink Floyd t-shirts, and the afore mentioned Richard Nixon.
Unlike the Avengers brand movies produced by Marvel Studios where each episode seems like a commercial for the next commodity they’ll be hawking in a few months, X-men: Days of Future Past fulfills on its own. Sure, after the end credits there is a teaser for the next X-men sequel that will be coming out in a year or two. But there is none of that empty feeling of only getting part of a story that will never end as April’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier offered us. Instead X-men: Days of Future Past gives you a complete story with a solid beginning, a thrilling middle, and even a satisfying, happy ending.