Strange as this may sound, I wasn’t really convinced of the scope of "X-Men: Days of Future Past" until Wednesday’s news that "Game of Thrones" star Peter Dinklage has been cast in an unconfirmed role, per director Bryan Singer’s Twitter. Speculation immediately abounded over whom the diminutive Dinklage could be playing, whether the obvious (Alpha Flight mutant Puck), unconventional (maniacal madman Arcade), or just plain obscure (Bantum, the sidekick to Trevor Fitzroy who... oh, I’ve already lost the thread).
It’s a solid move, obviously, because anyone who’s seen "Game of Thrones" or "The Station Agent" knows the dramatic chops that Dinklage is capable of bringing. But it’s inspiring in another way, because Dinklage represents the first significant actor brought onto the project who hasn’t been previously affiliated with the X-Men.
Stars like Hugh Jackman, Anna Paquin, Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart are great and all, but it’s one thing to bring the band back together — and another to add more keyboardists without mucking things up.
In fact, it seems like Singer barely had to do more than pull on some nostalgic heart strings to get them to join. As he says: "I got the impression that everyone was kind of excited to come back. The actors from ‘X-Men: First Class’ are contracted to, but the ones I’ve spoken to are very enthusiastic. Jen[nifer Lawrence]’s very excited, I’m with Nick [Hoult] these past few days and he’s excited, and Hugh, Ian, Patrick, Anna—they remember we felt very good about those first two X-Men films back then and I think there’s a good feeling about all of us working together again, and I’m very excited to work with the new cast members as a director as opposed to just a producer."
What Dinklage’s casting represents, in a weird way—and possibly I’m making too much of this, because despite winning a Golden Globe he’s not yet a household name—is that Singer’s vision is attractive enough for outsiders to join, rather than those already predisposed to go along with whatever he’s got planned for the new movie. It lends more credibility to Singer’s claims of "It’ll be the biggest movie I’ve ever made"—this from a guy who’s literally directed a movie about giants—and secures the possibility he’s not just talking a big game to work comic fans into a froth. The increased inclusion of the original X-Men seems to evince the fact that the new movie will be an era-spanning, thread-tying, continuity-reconciling epic I’ve been thinking about for the last few months as a possibility far, far in the future, not nearly as soon as 2014.
I mean, most of us probably would’ve been fine with a cameo—a Jackman here and there to quip something snarky and stab a robot in the face. But, as Singer mentions: "The story is designed and catered to the combined cast. It's not just throwing in people to occupy the screen, occupy the billboards. The story 'Days of Future Past,' and our version of 'Days of Future Past' is geared very much toward the mass cast and all their relationships and all their foibles and their achievements."
All of this sounded good before Dinklage was cast. But if the movie’s going to be appealing to outsiders, then it’s a nice sign that they were able to secure an outsider with real ability. "You have to capture the essence of those stories, and if you try to do every single detail that’s in this story, that can be too much for a movie," Singer said. "But if you can grab the essence of that story and those characters, and then realize it’s a movie it’s not a comic book so there are certain parameters that are different, it’ll still be satisfying to fans and non-fans." Count us in.
This Mutant Life explores all corners of the cinematic X-verse, from the kids of "First Class" to the berserker rage of "The Wolverine." Suggest topics for future columns in the comments or on Twitter!
Previously on This Mutant Life: