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How Well Does Days of Future Past Honor Its Comic Book Roots?

How Well Does Days of Future Past Honor Its Comic Book Roots?

In X-Men: Days of Future past, the brilliant and dangerous scientist Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) has a mutant detector which starts beeping like a Co2 alarm when super-powered beings are nearby. For those in love with the X-Men and their uncanny roots in Marvel comics, I’ve built a similar detector: one that dings when the timelines from the comics and the timelines from the movies start to coalesce, and it’s not always smooth.

Less of an adaptation of Uncanny X-Men #141(“Days of Future Past”) and #142 (“Mind Out of Time”) the new Days of Future Past attempts to be a time-traveling bridge between all of its cinematic properties, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ripples in the pond of cultural memory and comic book continuity. Here’s a brief guide to how Days of Future Past stacks up against “Days of Future Past.”

Spoilers for Days of Future Past 

Stop the Assassination! But of Who?

The original story in the comics centered on a terrible future which the X-Men want to avoid: the interment and systematic execution of mutant-kind at the hands of giant mechanical jerks called the Sentinels. Invented by a guy named Bolivar Trask, the Sentinel program is shut down a few times in the comics before taking off again after Mystique and the new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants kill a Senator Kelly. The film alters this by shifting the assassination to Trask himself. The films already used a senator named Kelly in the very first X-Men movie, so they couldn’t use him here, but Kelly’s appearance in X-Men way back in 2000 means the desire to cherry-pick movie elements from this one-single storyline has been underway for awhile.

Wolverine, Put Those Claws Away

When Wolverine wakes up in his younger 1973-body, he no longer has the metal adamantium claws, but instead bone claws. This is because at this point in his chronology, the adamantium skeleton hasn't been installed in this body yet.  And because he’s using mostly the bone claws in this film, Wolverine oddly doesn't do all the much of his signature slashing. This weirdly checks out with the original “Days of Future Past,” where X-Men team-leader Storm orders Wolverine to sheathe his claws because politically the X-Men can’t afford to appear too violent.

Bishop is From the Future… But He Stays There

The energy absorbing and redirecting Bishop appears in the dark (literally, the lighting is really low) dystopian future in Days of Future Past, but 1990’s fans of X-Men might remember him as being the one doing the time traveling “originally.” If you think Bishop belongs in the Days of Future Past storyline, you’re kind of correct, insofar as he appeared in a different adaptation of the tale: the 1993 cartoon incarnation of the story. There, Bishop was the one coming back from the future to tell everyone to change their ways or face terrible zap-ray Sentinel deaths in the future. Here, Bishop is hanging out, but he stays firmly in the future. In the comic book, Bishop’s first appearance was in 1991, a full eleven years after the original “Days of Future Past” storyline. See? He’s always been from the future.

Friends and Foes Unite

As in the comic books, previously “bad” X-Men come together for a common cause of fighting the Sentinels in the future. Specifically, a wheelchair bound Magneto assists Colossus, Storm and Wolverine in the dystopian future. In the film, Magneto has also teamed up with Professor X and the surviving X-Men (including Blink, Iceman, Colossus, Sunspot, and others) and makes a final stand with Storm against a crushing onslaught of mutant extermination.

One of these X-Men is From the Future

The biggest alteration from the classic story is easily the fact that the original time traveler was Kitty Pryde and NOT Wolverine. The film quickly tells us the reason why Wolverine is being sent back is because his body and mind have the ability to withstand being ripped apart. However, the original notion of using Kitty Pryde as a vessel for her future more adult persona was because at that time in her youth, Kitty couldn’t resists an kind of telepathic intrusion. In the film, its insinuated Kitty Pryde’s phasing abilities help send Logan back in time, but tragically, Kitty should be the one doing the time traveling. Sure, Wolverine is probably a better-known character than Kitty Pryde among non-comics fans, but seeing Ellen Page’s Kitty central to the storyline of this Days of Future Past would have made it into a much truer and perhaps richer adaptation of this classic tale.

The Future Is Safe… or Is It?

When Kitty and the X-Men prevent Senator Kelly from being killed in the comics, we don’t really get to see if the future has been altered/saved. However, this version of “Days of Future Past,” gives us straight-up totally revitalized gleaming future in which not only did the Sentinel thing not happen, but virtually everyone is alive.  Does this mean the future has really truly been saved? As Professor X says (totally aware of his cliché) “only time will tell.”

What shout-outs from the comics did you notice in X-Men: Days of Future Past? Did you wish Kitty Pryde had been more central to the plot?

Tags: movies, books-and-comics, marvel, marvel entertainment, x-men: days of future past, 20th century fox

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About the Author
Ryan Britt

Ryan Britt is the author of Luke Skywalker Can't Read and Other Geeky Truths, forthcoming from Plume (Penguin) Books on 11.24.15. He's written for The New York Times, Electric Literature, The Awl, VICE Motherboard, Clarkesworld Magazine, and is a consulting editor for Story Magazine. He lives in New York City.

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