X-Men: Days Of Future Past - Comparing And Contrasting


Today, we go back to school.  The lot of you are probably crying foul and saying, “What!?  This is such a bait-and-switch!  You didn’t say anything about school?  If it’s not Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, I ain’t going!”  Trust me on this one.  Remember those “compare and contrast” essays you use to write in school?  We’re going to do one today — for the recently released X-Men: Days of Future Past film and its comic book source material (The Uncanny X-Men #141 – #142).  This is going to be a fun one.  Let’s see what’s different, what’s the same, and what has been improved:

The Uncanny X-Men #141 – #142

The Future is 2013 and the Past is 1980

The Uncanny X-Men #141 shows the future as 2013 and they send Kitty Pryde back to the (then) present year of 1980.

Kitty Pryde is the Star

Kitty Pryde … ahem … Katherine “Kitty” Pryde-Rasputin is the one whose mind travels back in time and into her younger body.

Kitty Pryde Doesn’t Have Time-Travel Powers

In the comic books, Rachel Summers, is the one who sends Kitty Pryde’s mind into the past.  And if that name sounds familiar, you’re right.  She is the future daughter of Jean Grey and Scott Summers.

Kitty Pryde is Married

I already gave this little factoid away.  In the comic books, the future Kitty Pryde is married to Peter Rasputin.

#141 – #142 Roster

  • Alive in 2013: Kitty Pryde, Wolverine, Storm, Colossus, Magneto, Franklin Richards, Rachel Summers.
  • Dead in 2013: Charles Xavier, Cyclops, Nightcrawler, The Thing, Jeremy Storm, Angel, Mr. Fantastic, Beast, The Scarlet Witch, Iceman, Spider-Man, Dr. Doom, Captain America, The Hulk, Black Panther, The Human Torch, The Invisible Woman; in other words, lots of people are dead
  • Helping Kitty in 1980: Charles Xavier, Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Wolverine, Angel
  • Against Kitty in 1980: Mystique, Pyro, Avalanche, Destiny, The Blob

The New Brotherhood of Evil Mutants Kills Senator Kelly

Kitty Pryde is sent back to prevent the assassination of Senator Kelly.  It’s also not known which of the New Brotherhood of Evil Mutants kills Senator Kelly.

There is No Bolivar Trask

The one in control of the Sentinels is an industrialist named Sebastian Shaw, a mutant, who also doesn’t make much of an appearance until the end.

Magneto is Not an Antagonist

In the comic story arc, Magneto, in a wheelchair, is only seen in 2013 assisting the X-Men.  He doesn’t play a part in the past.

The Sentinels Talk A Lot

When I mean talk a lot, I mean these guys really like to spew bravado.  They’ve got some primo attitude on them.

An Impending Nuclear Strike

Kitty Pryde is sent back to prevent this timeline from ever happening.  The motivation is that this timeline leads to a nuclear strike.

Mutants are Put in Concentration Camps

Mutants aren’t necessarily killed right off the bat.  They are classified and placed into concentration camps.  Mutants also wear a sort of governor around their necks to prevent them from using their abilities.

No Sentinels in the Past

There are no Sentinels to fight in the past.  They were yet to be created in the future.

The Story is on a Smaller Scale

The story arc is contained in New York and Washington D.C. for both the future and past.  The fight between the X-Men and the New Brotherhood of Evil Mutants is contained on the Great Mall.

The Ending is Unsure

When Kitty Pryde’s younger mind returns, we are unsure if the timeline has actually changed.

We Meet Sebastian Shaw

At the end of the comic (You can pretty much call this the post-credits scene.) we meet Sebastian Shaw.

X-Men: Days of Future Past (Film)

The Future is 2023 and the Past is 1973

When Logan’s mind travels back in time, he travels to 1973.  The time jump is bigger and much more dramatic.  This was a pretty obvious story choice for the creative team to make.  Modern audiences won’t find the year 2013 to be quite as compelling as 2023.  Because of this, Logan is also working with much younger versions of the X-Men.

Logan is the Star

Charles Xavier is originally asked to be sent back, but the shock of the trip would tear his body apart.  Logan volunteers himself because he’s virtually invulnerable.

Kitty Pryde has Time Travel Powers

Through her phasing abilities, Kitty is able to send a person’s mind back in time into a younger version of himself/herself.  Therefore, she’s the one who sends Logan’s mind back in time.

Kitty Pryde is Single

There’s no implication that she has any romantic involvement with anyone.  Why would she?  She and her team are running from Sentinels all day.  There’s no time for all that lovey-dovey junk.  This Kitty Pryde has her priorities straight.

Days of Future Past Roster

  • Alive in 2023: Wolverine, Kitty Pryde, Charles Xavier, Magneto, Colossus, Iceman, Blink, Storm, Warpath, Bishop, Sunspot
  • Dead in 2023: Everyone that’s not listed as “Alive in 2023″
  • Helping Logan in 1973: Charles Xavier, Beast, Quicksilver (briefly), Magneto (initially)
  • Against Logan in 1973: Mystique, Magneto, Bolivar Trask, William Stryker

Mystique Kills Bolivar Trask

There is no New Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and the event that sets everything in motion is the killing of scientist and industrialist Bolivar Trask.  It is also known, on record, that Mystique was the assassin.

Mystique is Integral to the Future Sentinels

After getting caught and arrested, Mystique is used as a lab-rat and her DNA is extracted.  The research into her abilities gives rise to the ever-adapting Sentinels of 2023.

Bolivar Trask

There is no Sebastian Shaw or Senator Kelly in the movie.  Trask is one of the main antagonists and the one responsible for the Sentinel Program.  Bolivar Trask replaces the parts of both Sebastian Shaw and Senator Kelly from the comics.

Quicksilver is Recruited

Quicksilver, Peter Maximoff, is recruited for his super-speed to help break Magneto out of his cell beneath the Pentagon.  A key scene in the movie also alludes to him being the illegitimate son of Magneto.

Magneto is Both Ally and Enemy

Magneto in 2023 is on the side of the X-Men as they all fight against the Sentinels.  In fact, his last words were lamenting about him and Charles wasting valuable time, through the years, fighting each other.  In 1973, Magneto assists the young X-Men at first, but later has his own agenda in ushering in a new era of mutant domination.

The Sentinels are Silent, But Deadly

Trust me, these guys are not farts.  Farts are funny and these guys are anything but.  The Sentinels of 2023 do not talk and are stealthy like ninjas.  They also adapt and change while fighting mutants (Thanks to Mystique getting caught and researchers using her DNA to evolve the Sentinels.).

A Last Ditch Effort

There is no impending nuclear strike, but there might as well be.  The X-Men just want this war to end and they’re tired of this hopeless future.

Mutants and Humans are Exterminated

There are no “Brave New World” sorting bins here.  Mutants and humans, because of their potential to produce mutants, are killed by the Sentinels with the highest degree of brutality.

Sentinels Exist in the Past

First versions of the Sentinels existed in 1973.  The ones in the future are much more advanced and virtually unbeatable.

The Story is on a Much Larger Scale

Geographically, we visit different countries in both the future and past.  There is also a large involvement of past events (e.g. JFK’s assassination, the Vietnam War, etc.) and different agencies.

Charles Xavier is a Buzzkill

When we meet Charles in the past, he’s in a deep depression due to all his mutant friends being killed and Mystique leaving.  He is persuaded by Logan to stop Mystique before she assassinates Trask.  During one of Charles’s lowest points, Logan uses his own mind as a conduit to allow Charles to talk to the future Charles.

Mystique Arcs

Mystique makes a conscious decision, after some persuasion by Charles, to not kill Trask.  Mystique, being the one who also stops Magneto from killing Nixon and his whole administration, shows the world that it was a mutant who protected humans from another mutant.  She’s also the one who retrieves Logan from the river in 1973 after he’s flung into it by Magneto.

The Ending is Optimistic and Bright

When Logan returns to the future, everything is rainbows and unicorns.  No, seriously, it is.  He’s a history teacher at Charles’s school, the mutants that were dead in the future are alive, and … wait for it … Jean Grey is also alive along with Scott Summers (Okay, maybe not everything’s great for him.  Bad joke … I kid.).

We Meet Apocalypse

In the film’s post-credits scene, we meet En Sabah Nur — Apocalypse.  He’s being worshipped by a mass of chanting people.

Similarities

  • There is a meeting with government officials where Senator Kelly (Bolivar Trask in the movie) compares the rise of mutants to the rise of modern man killing off Neanderthals.
  • The final showdown in the past occurs in Washington D.C. and we cut back and forth with the final showdown in the future.
  • There is a final battle in the future where the rest of the X-Men are wiped out.
  • Storm dies the same way in both the comic book and the movie — impaled by a Sentinel.

Final Verdict

Is the movie better?  Hell yes!  In reading the comic books, I can see how much the screenwriter matured the story and expanded upon it.  On top of that, he also allowed characters to serve double-duty.  For example, Mystique not only kills Bolivar Trask making him a martyr, but because she is caught, her DNA is used to create the super-Sentinels of 2023.  Having two very bad things stem from one event really ups the tension and conflict in the story.

Another thing I noticed was how the film upped the stakes.  Instead of just putting mutants in concentration camps, the Sentinels just killed them.  He didn’t even stop there.  The screenwriter “Skynet-ed” the hell out of the Sentinels and had them kill humans who carried the mutation gene.  The screenwriter saw the line and basically said, “Dude, check out that line.  Screw the line!  Let’s do a running start and do a swan-dive leap over it.”  If Logan failed, all of humanity will fail.

The comic book also didn’t go into much character development.  Mystique and her New Brotherhood of Evil Mutants were pretty much one-dimensional.  They fought the X-Men and retreated.  I like how the movie played with the inner conflicts of Mystique and Magneto.  The two of them are not evil.  They long for family and see the potential government policies and xenophobia as threats to their loved ones.  Their only choice is to become the dominant species.

There’s a lot to enjoy in the new film and I’m happy that the creative forces behind it made the choices they did.  The movie is not so much as “based on”, but more like “inspired by.”  It’s very much like how 2004 – 2009′s Battlestar Galactica series was reimagined for a more modern audience.  The characters and key events may be similar, but the themes and dramatic conflicts are much richer and more meaningful.

Tags: Beast Bolivar Trask Charles Xavier Colossus Kitty Pryde Logan Magneto Marvel Movies Mystique New Brotherhood Of Evil Mutants Quicksilver Rachel Summers Sebastian Shaw Senator Kelly Sentinels Uncanny X-Men: Days Of Future Past Wolverine X-men X-Men: Days Of Future Past

  • Dumb_Tim_Armstrong

    Amazing write-up! Well done! The great drunk and high Finnish film critic Kimmo Mustonenen has written a hilarious review of X-Men that’s worth checking out:
    http://mankabros.com/blogs/btp/2014/05/23/x-men-days-of-future-past-review/

    • Steve Lam

      Thanks for the comment! I checked out the review you pointed me to. Hilarious stuff! I take it he’s a big fan of Jean Grey and Magneto, and later on … Mystique. ;-)

  • http://actfourscreenplays.com/ StoryMapsDan

    Great article, Steve. But I’d love to see you compare and contrast the original X-Men Graphic Novel: God Loves, Man Kills. They also took a lot from that story. This was before your time so you may not be familiar with that book. The term “graphic novel” was so new that only this special line of books carried that classification. The New Mutants were introduced in one of these original Marvel graphic novels. I still remember laying on my bedroom floor reading it.