Also beware of spoilers for Days of Future Past (both comic book and film) after the jump.
The comic book version of Days of Future Past was originally released 1981 in Uncanny X-men 141-142. In Sweden it was released through a Marvel Special called Marvels Universe (it featured different Marvel Characters in every issue) in April 1987. I was nine years old and I still remember seeing the haunting artwork for the first time and how it called for me to get my hands on it.
Even before Days of Future Past comics had been a huge part of my life. It had mainly evolved around the Swedish Donald Duck magazine or the Swedish army comic 91:an (very Beetle Bailey:esque comic book).
Around 1987 I’d been starting to read the Amazing Spiderman and it had opened up my eyes to a completely new way of storytelling. It was more mature and used a challenging narrative through subplots that were referenced for years without resolution.
With that as a background Days of Future Past still blew me away.
The story starts out 2013 in a demolished apocalyptic New York where a few surviving X-men and Marvel Superheroes are trying to throw down the Sentinels through one last mutiny while also sending Kitty Prydes consciousness back in time to her younger self in 1981 so she can prevent the event that creates the Sentinels to exist in the first place.
In the film they have used the two existing X-film timelines (X-men 1-3 and First Class) to combine this dual time layer story. In theory its a great idea, especially for fans of First Class. I’m an avid First Class hater myself so it was more or less my love for the original DOFP comic that made me go to the cinema. Hell it might still be the number one on my most anticipated comic book adaptation list of all time.
The biggest difference between the comic and the film is how the future is portrayed. Its more a 40/60 split in the comic. The insane thing is that only Wolverine, Colossus and Storm are left alive of the well-known X-men in that version. Having it set-up like that gives the turmoiled future a depth and heaviness that the film can’t live up to.
The film is structured 20/80 in the future and the past and the future is a hack job set-design wise compared to the comic book. Location-wise the future is only portrayed through two castle-ish locations that are very similar looking and don’t hold a candle against the epic New York demise off the comic. The tone in the film is pretty harsh but it doesn’t come close to the comic book. Not only the future but also the parts taking place in 1981 is pretty damn harsh for being a comic book not solely aimed towards adults.
Both the film and the comic book have great action sequences in both future and past. In the film the big group battles are in the future while in the comic book it takes place in the past during the assassination attempt on Senator Kelly. Again I’ve got to go with the comic because the two group battles in the film feel way to repetitive and similar even though they are brilliantly choreographed. The action in the comic is more diverse and you can never go wrong with the rouges gallery of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.
With that said the film delivers its own version of the plot pretty well. I came out of the cinema way happier than after sitting through the First Class train wreck. My favorite scene was Xavier trying to reconnect with Raven/Mystique when she is on the airport through other passengers. The combo of her loneliness and the good direction on the passengers being used for communication by Xavier brought me to tears. I also really enjoyed Magneto’s turn against Mystique during the peace treaty conference. All in all I think Michael Fassbender again turns in a great performance as a younger Magneto.
My biggest issue with the 70’s timeline in First Class was always how it felt so off (mainly set-design/props/make-up/wardrobe) towards the rest of the X-men film verse. Almost like an alternate timeline where things evolved way quicker. There are similar problems in the DOFP film but not nearly as disturbing as in First Class.
Two minor complaints I felt coming from lazy script writing was the obligatory shoehorned Magneto prison escape (still a great scene but it starts to feel like a X-trope that Magneto has to be rescued from a “insert material that isn’t metal” prison) and the fact that Xavier already had created a similar serum as the one used in X-men III the Last Stand. I wish they had removed both these sub-plots and gone a little fresher. As for the Last Stand its pretty obvious that Brian Singer does his best to erase that installment completely.
I also felt the need to have Quicksilver come back and play a part in the end after the showdown during the escape scene. When he was zoomed in with his sibling in front of the TV watching the motivational mutant speech I wanted him to sprint over and talk some sense into Magneto. It might also have had a chance of becoming the most needed I’m your father scene since Empire Strikes Back.
As a final conclusion I’d say the film is decent on its own merits (I’d rank it as number four in the X-film verse after X-men, X-men III Last Stand and X2) while the comic book still is a masterpiece. The Swedish Marvel Universe edition also contains the fantastic Kitty Pryde vs Xenomorph one-off from Uncanny X-men 143. Which I highly recommend everyone to check out as well.