Friday, May 30, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past - SPOILER WARNING -

When talking of X-Men: Days of Future Past, it should be mentioned that Bryan Singer has sexual abuse allegations circling him currently.  In matters of this nature, I'm more inclined to lean on the victim is telling the truth than the alleged perpetrator.  While many want to point out the timing to now, you should keep in mind those abused, especially males, often find it difficult to come forward.  The timing of this may very well have to do with X-Men: Days of Future Past itself, but you have to consider that Singer's face was attached to much of the marketing initially too.  Think of it from the victims perspective.  You've spent much of your time since trying to tell yourself to forget that it happened, and now you're being forced to see your abusers face everywhere you turn.  For their own sanity they may have needed to stand up and let the truth out.  I tend to agree with the views expressed that having him tied to the X-Men cinematic franchise is problematic.

It should also be mentioned that Michael Fassbender has had allegations of domestic abuse in his past as well.  In 2010 there were allegations that he broke his girlfriend's nose, among other questionable behavior.  That then the victim retracted her complaints with a statement that said she didn't want to harm his career if those were to go permanently on record.

X-Men: Days of Future Past also features Patrick Stewart though.  A man who is a strong advocate of women's rights and speaks against domestic violence quite vocally.  It can be confusing in wanting to support him, while also inadvertently supporting the other two mentioned as well.

How you want to balance whether or not you want to see X-Men: Days of Future Past based on the histories of those involved is up to you.  These are some very serious allegations and complaints that can make one question if they want to support this film or not.  With Hollywood especially, there is a thick layer of protect talent and shame or silence the victim.  PR teams are paid big bucks to make things disappear and often there is an unspoken rule of "snitch on me, I'll snitch on you" so everyone stays silent even on matters they shouldn't.  Whistle blowers often get blacklisted simply for telling the truth & trying to stand up for what's right.  It's a system designed to protect and generate revenue streams by using people.  Does that mean all of Hollywood is like this? No.  It does mean that you should be aware of it though.  Many things are swept under the rug and hidden for various reasons be it good or bad.  Image to the public is king no matter what the facts are.  Hollywood bends the truth to suit its needs and tries to alter perceptions based on the gullibility of the masses to not notice.  This is also why it can be even more satisfying when seeing honest stars that are true to being themselves make it big.  It's also why it can be more disheartening when you find out ones you thought were, really are only playing image games to hide their true nature.

Since this film is part of the Fox X-Men cinematic continuity though, and to keep an eye on the trends & story paths associated to that, I did have to go see it.  How I'll balance that out on my own conscience is something I'm still figuring out personally.  While it is a great film, I am not one that wants to support or condone the actions of abusers with histories of sketchy behavior or words that often suggest such allegations were indeed true.  Separating talent from the work can often be difficult.  It's some of the same points raised here previously about supporting comics led by industry voices that enjoy harassing the fandoms their audience is a part of.  It can be disconcerting.  Much like how the Catholic church handled their own claims, these abuses can force the one that did them to be shuffled around to out of sight for awhile or to a different arm of the company to allow time for them to cool down and get out of the public's direct eye for those past behaviors or work.  Marvel themselves often has a habit of this with who they send over to their animation forays and live action departments to allow them a chance to focus on something different for awhile until they can reconsider bringing them back to the comics.  We've seen this before when questions of trends to certain authors work featuring violence against children or women became too heavy and then also again when certain editors were becoming too flippant and angry with fans, often without merit to the point an editor was cyber-bullying any who dared speak an opinion and then reveling in it by hounding their victim all over the internet.  Some still try to hide these actions blaming it on the fans themselves or hiding behind locked sign-up only forums.  That's not to say there aren't trolls and bullies within the fandom either though.  It's a fine line of figuring out the details and make the best judgement call for what you believe is right.

It's a very complicated issue if you do want to push for social justice among any industry and in the work you're willing to support because of that.

Now onto breaking down X-Men: Days Of Future Past for how it fits within the confines of the continuity!

Immediately in the film we're shown a future in shambles, and the first mutant we see seems to be a reference to Nate Grey from X-Man fame.  It's only a quick cameo, but it sets a trend of wondering what events themselves are different in this future.  Wolverine has his metal claws back, but the metal shade is different than before, so that potentially insinuates that he has had them repaired since the events of The Wolverine.  This quick cameo of Nate Grey though, raises the question of when or how did Scott Summers & Jean Grey die or if Mr. Sinister/Nathaniel Essex has a presence within the confines of this cinematic universe.  As comic fans will tell you, Nate Grey was created by Sinister without Jean or Scott ever knowing.  It suggests potentially other timeline alterations and events that led to this future existing than we are made aware of onscreen.

There are other minor continuity quips associated to this story as well.  How it connects to the first X-Men film where mutants were just starting to be noticed by the government and other minor continuity blips raises questions.  As a film that connects to the larger franchise, there are many little hiccup spots and glaring inconsistencies to the previously established timeline.  This includes how the timeline itself was reset at the end to be a positive future where Jean and Scott lived.  This ending scene showed us that the film universe is now more in line to what people have come to expect with Rogue still seeing Iceman, and Kitty Pride suggested to be with Piotr Rasputin instead.  Because of the inconsistencies though, it makes you wonder what events still took place.  The events of the first X-Men film are how Wolverine and Rogue arrived at the school alongside how she got the white stripe in her hair.  So these alterations to the timeline have ramifications throughout like a riptide, but we aren't shown their effects at all.  DOFP skews the timeline from all sides to create a brand new one and essentially reboot the X-Men cinematic universe entirely while already being a reboot by skewing the timelines from the past before time travel comes into play.

That being said, it's a decent and fun film.  With how it resets the timeline solidly, it opens the door for many more stories to be told of the future of the X-Men and their past.  Gone now are the confines of any of the events to X-Men Origins: Wolverine after 1973.  This means that Gambit, Silverfox, Deadpool, and more are all different events that we know nothing of as yet(unless Mystique sends Logan to Vietnam after DOFP).  The same can be said of how Rogue arrived at the school, or how Jean was accepted(Charles and Eric may or may not work together again after the events of DOFP), or even how Scott Summers himself came to the school.  Much of this may be explored in the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse as it's set within the 1980s.

That's right.  The next film will be dealing with En Sabah Nur, otherwise known as Apocalypse.  An ancient Egyptian character that has been repeatedly stated as having been the first mutant.  With his involvement we may see the inclusion of Mr. Sinister as well.  They have often been connected through most previous media forays.

With the reset in the timeline's entirety to being closer to what many know of the comics and from the various animated forays, it becomes much easier to align decent miniseries to be adapted or other stories to be told.  Elements of X-Force v3 are easier to intermingle into the future X-Men timeline with minor changes now.  X-23's story won't need to make reference to any of the X-Men films previously, and could even help establish more elements of this new timeline like if the Xavier school is public about being a mutant school and when they announced that.

There's a wide open door here for any direction or recasting if they choose as DOFP effectively shrugs off nearly all the baggage and continuity these serial films have built.  While I enjoyed the film, and its message, even enjoyed the subtle nods, I do wish it had taken better care with working within the confines of the established timeline it was going to rewrite anyway.  As it stands now, DOFP is a future timeline that's suggested to having already diverged from the previous timelines at the Trask Industries point even prior to the time travel element/event.  These inconsistencies to the continuity created would be problematic if it weren't for the complete timeline reset anyway.  While it can be disconcerting for anyone looking at the films as one large continuous story, it is still a satisfying movie nonetheless.

The film should be commended on some of the newer characters used though.  Blink has quickly become a favorite among casual fans.  Warpath and Sunspot were both given decent action scenes.  Iceman was finally able to be the Iceman longtime fans have come to expect, and we even get to see Colossus in more robust action scenes.  Quicksilver himself nearly steals the film with his scenes and they even make reference of his sister Wanda, or maybe I should say his half-sister as implied by the story(Magneto was imprisoned for 10 years, and Peter's sister is much younger than that).

The pieces it establishes for future films sets the stage for much that audiences can enjoy.  Mystique is no longer a follower of Magneto, opting to walk her own path.  The portrayal by Jennifer Lawrence gives us that perfect blend of comic to cinematic convergence.  We get to see the character's personality stand out while also blending the action choreography that the first trilogy established her as capable of.  Magneto is now on his path to create a new brotherhood of mutants.  Xavier is re-establishing his school.  Beast has a more Jekyll and Hyde approach to his transformations that could be built upon for when it finally settles to one side or the other and how he enters the political arena if he ever does.  As of the events of this movie, the public is aware of mutants.  So the entirety of events from 1973 to the present are an open book to re-write now.  This film brings the excitement back to X-Men cinematic universe overall even with the hiccups along the way.

The X-Men cinematic universe is rebooted entirely now into an easier slate to work with all around.  This will allow for much easier idea integration across the board as well as film or TV spin-offs.  How it's done this may be questionable, but it's been done.  Now let's hope they can keep with this new established timeline so that there aren't anymore inconsistencies.

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