Rumor has it that 20th Century Fox recently registered the title Days of Future Past with the MPAA Title Registration Bureau. So why did they not just announce the coming First Class sequel as X-Men: Days of Future Past last week when the release date was given? Simple. Either it just isn’t true or it IS true and Matthew Vaughn does not want to show his hand to the fans just yet.
For those not aware, the Days of Future Past arc dealt with the present day assassination of a senator (by the Brotherhood) which causes an alternate future where mutants are effectively rounded up into concentration camps and routinely executed. Through time travel, the X-Men are made aware of this and must find a way to stop the assassination so the mutant holocaust will not come to pass. It also involved Sentinels, something that we have yet to see in this franchise outside of a severed head cameo.
Assuming this is true, it actually makes a lot of sense for a number of reasons. First off, director Matthew Vaughn and writer Simon Kinberg have repeatedly stated their desire to explore different decades with each film in the proposed First Class trilogy. The first is set at the start of ’60s and this one will presumably examine some point in the ’70s. The years in between were rife with political assassinations*, making it the perfect point to insert an additional one centered around a politician whose main platform is the “mutant agenda”. It would be yet another excellent way of allowing the X-Men and their foes to interact with history in their own special way, which is part of what made the last film so interesting.
Secondly, Fox can use this to rewrite the history of their film franchise. A Star Trek ’09-esque reboot, if you will. What if Colonel Stryker or someone else important to the original trilogy is a side casualty of this time traveling crusade? The ripples it would cause within the cinematic continuity would change everything. It essentially gives them a way out of the corner they are boxing themselves into as they slowly approach the timeline that the original three films operate within; something which hamstrung the ending of First Class. It also allows said films to remain canon.
Doing this would obviously serve up plenty of dramatic material for McAvoy and Fassbender to chew on. Xavier can use this future knowledge to lecture Magneto on how his violent tendencies could hurl their species into extinction and Erik can fire by with the “I was right in thinking they will exterminate us, let’s strike them first!” mentality that fills every inch of his being. It also will allow for various characters to have killer death scenes without keeping them from future sequels and gives more of the murderous side of Magneto that Fassbender so perfectly embodies. Magneto also tends to still be alive in many of the post-apocalyptic future tales that Marvel has chucked out over the years, so don’t be surprised if we get an aged Fassy and another certain X-character (more on that in a second) tearing shit up in harsh future landscape as well.
Now comes the really fun part. Who wants to take bets on who the Judi Dench/Leonard Nimoy of this particular franchise retool will be? I don’t know about the rest of you, but my money is on Hugh Jackman. Like it or not, he is the lynchpin of this franchise. So much so, in fact, that they felt the need to give him a cameo in the last one. They were right to do so. That cameo ended up garnering a massive positive reaction from fans and general audiences alike. It also makes sense to keep the man around when he has another solo sequel (sidequel?) hitting screens next summer (The Wolverine) and, in all likelihood, a third beyond that one. While I wouldn’t bet on him showing up in the “present day” portion of this film, tossing Jackman into the alternate future sequences as an old cantankerous Sentinel-slaying Wolverine makes so much sense that it isn’t even funny. To NOT do it would be sheer insanity. A few flashes of such footage in the previews is also a surefire way to get asses in seats.
Adding to all of this is the fact that Jackman is not yet locked into any roles once he finishes filming his Japan jaunt as Logan-san this summer. The still-not-officially-titled First Class sequel does not begin filming until January, which gives Hugh plenty of time to finish up one turn as Wolverine and roll-over onto another production as the exact same character in what would probably amount to an extended cameo role. If this is something that Fox hasn’t already considered (which is doubtful), then they damn well should.
Regardless of whether or not this particular production rumor turns out to be true, one thing is clear: it has people talking. There’s not a single person I know who wasn’t at least partially disappointed by the final product when it came to X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Because of said disappointment, many avoided seeing First Class in theaters. By the time they got around to catching it on DVD/Blu-ray, most seemed to wish they they hadn’t previously dismissed it. While I might not go so far as to say that there is a lot of excitement swirling around its pending sequel, I would definitely say that any news of it is being looked at with legitimate interest from all sides.
More as it comes. Until then, what say you?
* – John F. Kennedy (1963), Malcolm X (1965), Robert F. Kennedy (1968), Martin Luther King Jr. (1968), George Wallace (1972 – attempted), etc.