There's a wild rumor out on the Web regarding the future of the "X-Men" films. According to Ain’t It Cool News, 20th Century Fox has registered a copyright for the title "Days of Future Past" with the MPAA Title Registration Bureau. For those of you who don’t know, the bureau exists so that studios can claim titles for projects they may intend to work on, even if nothing comes of it... which makes the name grab so interesting.
"Days of Future Past" is one of the most famous X-Men comic storylines, one that imagines a dystopian future in which mutants have basically been turned into concentration camp prisoners through government legislation and systemic genocide. From the future, Kitty Pryde transfers her mind (through science!) to her past self, so that she may warn the X-Men and prevent the chain of events that leads to her disastrous reality. She succeeds, and though the future continues to exist as an alternate timeline, she at least has the assurance to know that the past can go in a different way.
So how could this be used for a "First Class" follow-up? First of all...
If this is on the level -- and not plans for an animated movie, of a series or web shorts, or a suffix they’re slapping on the "Three Stooges" sequel -- then this gives Fox a convenient way to reconcile the dual "X-Men" timelines. It doesn’t take a fanboy to see that there’s conflict between the original films, set in the nebulously defined "modern day," and "First Class," which used the backdrop of the Cold War to introduce the mutants. Obviously, Professor X and Magneto aren’t pushing 70 by the time the modern films roll around (or are they?). There’s also conflicting versions of Emma Frost: the January Jones ice queen in "First Class," and the detained mutant prisoner in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine."
But here’s a thought: By the end of "X-Men: The Last Stand," the X-world is in pretty dire straits. (SPOILERS FOR A REALLY OLD MOVIE) Rogue and Magneto are depowered, while Professor X, Cyclops and Jean Grey are dead. It’s not too hard to see how the mutant situation could decline from there. Without its eldest statesman around to make their case, and following a laughable amount of mutant-led terrorist incidents, the government could be easily pressed into jumpstarting a program to register and round up all existing mutants, just as was discussed in the earlier "X-Men" films. (The montage showing the Senate floor debates would be brief, I imagine.)
So. The world goes bad. Mutants are put in camps led by the Sentinels, just like in the "Days of Future Past" storyline. From the future, a plan develops: A sole mutant will be sent in the past to fix the moment when the entire situation went wrong. Cynically speaking, that would probably be the moment Professor Xavier was killed in "The Last Stand." But for story purposes, let’s imagine it’s much further in the past: the '60s or '70s, whenever the "First Class" sequel kicks off. Say it’s whenever a proposed mutant integration bill was positioned and didn’t pass, or when a mutant terrorist made himself known for the first time and instilled the public fear in everyone. Say it’s when the mutants could’ve come out in public and didn’t at the time. Say when Professor X and Magneto stopped being friends, thus splintering the path of human-mutant relations forever -- and that this future traveller has been sent back in time to make sure things go right, so that they don’t go wrong in the future.
The future traveller? None other than a grey-haired Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, of course. This is a bit fan servicey, and we shouldn’t let our imaginations run wild. (Despite the premise of this post.) But future Wolverine is a hero we’ve seen many times -- in the "Days of Future Past" story, in "Old Man Logan," in any number of alternate timelines too plentiful to count. It would make sense, because he ages slowly and would be alive in the future, because he’s instantly recognizable, and because it’s Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, arguably one-of-if-not-the-best actor-as-character castings in superhero movie history.
What happens from there is up in the air; I imagine it ends with the future traveller dying to make sure the past is corrected, and that the future goes rosy again. Thus, the new films are free to break off and do whatever they want without worrying about upsetting the existing continuity. (Sort of like a "Star Trek" reboot situation.) We can see the origins of familiar X-heroes like Storm, Cyclops and Jean Grey; we can see how the team is built, and how they come into the modern day, and so forth. Anything is possible! It becomes a blank slate for the best story to win out.
Of course, this could all be a ruse and Fox could deal with the existing continuity by saying, "Screw it, it’s a reboot with no explanation." That would be well within their right. But wouldn’t the alternative be so much cooler?
How do you see the "Days of Future Past" story fitting into an "X-Men" film? Let us know in the comments section or on Twitter!