THIS MUTANT LIFE #4: Claremont Looks Back On ‘Days Of Future Past’

Through almost 50 years of stories, the X-Men have had dozens if not hundreds of writers across comic books, movies, books, cartoons, and whatever other mediums you can imagine. Among them all, Chris Claremont looms large. Undoubtedly one of the greatest X-Men writers of all-time, Claremont began a run on the “Uncanny X-Men” flagship title in 1975 that ended up spanning 17 years and hundreds of issues. If you’ve ever watched an X-film, you recognize his creations: elements from seminal stories such as “The Dark Phoenix Saga” and “God Loves, Man Kills” and characters like Kitty Pryde and Rogue have been adapted into the movies, and the upcoming sequel to “X-Men: First Class” will bear the title from one of his most enduring works, “Days of Future Past.”

Claremont was kind enough to take some time out for a chat about numerous X-topics — more to come on that in the coming weeks — starting with his work on the comic “Days of Future Past,” which was officially unveiled as the newest “X-Men” movie a few weeks ago.

“On one level it’s incredibly flattering,” he said. “It’s not just the X-Movies — the secret identity the Black Widow adopts in ’Iron Man 2,’ Nancy Rushman, is a character I created for Marvel Team-Up years ago. So, the giggle for me is that my work pops up all over the place, sometimes by accident.”

For those of you who haven’t read the comic, “Days of Future Past” involves a terrifying future in which the mutants have been remanded into government-sponsored concentration camps. From there, the surviving X-Men — among them Wolverine, Kitty Pryde and Storm — conspire to send one of their own back in time (to what was the X-Men’s 1980s present) so that the future might be prevented. While Logan got a winking cameo in “First Class,” Pryde and Storm have yet to be introduced in that timeline, leaving their involvement in the “Days of Future Past” film far from certain.

“My first question is: Will Kitty be the one who bounces through time?” Claremont asked. “And will there be an even more surprising guest appearance by Hugh Jackman than there was in the first one?”

That doesn’t necessarily mean the character dynamic has to be abandoned, however. The structure in “Days of Future Past” is so stunningly obvious that I almost felt a little silly after Claremont explained it. “Well, Logan because he’s the immortal, unkillable trigger of the team, and Kitty because she was the new kid on the block,” he said when asked why he decided to focus the narrative around those two. “It was the way of presenting the most vulnerable, innocent character in a context that forced her to redesign everything that lay ahead for everyone else.”

In lieu of Wolverine and Kitty, Claremont sees another dynamic that could potentially work for the film. Jennifer Lawrence, who plays Mystique, is a much bigger star today than she was when “First Class” was first filming; same with Michael Fassbender, who plays Magneto. With some creative shuffling, Mystique and Magneto could easily be recast in the Kitty/Logan roles — the gentle-hearted girl and her emotionally cold mentor — for those future scenes. (Claremont praised the casting team for finding actors who aren’t “household [names] at the time, but who are building up to the tops of their games, and in the two years since the films get made and shown, their careers are all rocketing. You’ve got a tremendous foundation of talent on the set already.”)

Stopping short of speculating too much on plot details right now, the world of “Days of Future Past” alone is worth a closer look. As for why Claremont set his story in such a dark setting, he responded simply: “Well, it seemed like a cool idea.” Which is the important thing to remember: that aside from its ominous portents about legalized discrimination, dystopian militarized societies, and the evils of trusting policing to robots, “Days of Future Past” is simply a thrilling ride, and a comic that’s endured more than 30 years after its release. If the producers can tap into its appeal, then we’ve got nothing to worry about.

Tell us what you think of this week’s THIS MUTANT LIFE in the comments below or on Twitter, and check back next week for another column!