In honor of the new X-Men: Days of Future Past coming out Friday and because I’m personally obsessed with X-Men, this post takes a look back at how Marvel’s X-men went from the comics to the big screen and the story behind X-Men Days of Future Past.
X-Men created by the comic geniuses Stan Lee and Jack Kirby first appeared in 1963 featuring Iceman, Cyclops, Angel, and Magneto to name a few, but started on rocky waters; as the X-Men comics initially failed to reach the success of similar comics in the Marvel Universe like Spiderman and The Avengers. Nevertheless, by the early 1980s X-Men’s story lines and characters begin to rise in popularity, with notable names like the Phoenix and Wolverine and new characters like Jubilee, Kitty Pryde, Psylocke, Sabertooth, Apocalypse, and Rogue. The era also saw the launch of the Uncanny X-Men, The Hellfire Club, and X-Men Days of Future Past, shortly after followed by the Original X-Men and beloved characters like Deadpool and Gambit.
Soon after X-Men’s increasing popularity opened the franchise up to other opportunities in media, like the animated TV series, of which there have been several versions since the 1990s, video games, and films — 20th Century Fox purchased the film rights during the mid 90s.
From there the first film took nearly a decade to develop and multiple rewrites, before the initial launch of the franchise in the summer of 2000.
On this journey from comic adaptation to screen I’ve discovered a few interesting facts about the franchise and comics that fans may not know.
1) “X” in X-Men refers to extra powers or abilities of the mutants; the x-gene.
2) Columbia Pictures was originally considered developing X-Men.
3) The X-Men original animated series on Fox was one of the highest rated Saturday morning shows.
4) Bryan Singer originally turned down the project several times, before accepting as director.
5) The comics have sold more than 400 million copies to date.
6) Beast and Pyro were cut from the first X-Men film due to budget.
7) James Cameron was originally developing the first X-Men film.
8) Hugh Jackman was not originally cast as Wolverine.
9) The effects and look of X-Men take a nod from the Matrix.
10) X-Men has drawn comparisons to the civil rights movement — Magneto as Malcolm X and Professor Xavier as Martin Luther King Jr.
Also X-Men Days of Future Past has been adapted multiple times, each with slightly different story lines, particularly with the hero changing for each version — Kitty, then Bishop, to now Wolverine. Thus the new film is similar to many of its predecessors. For those unfamiliar with the story, basically a mutant goes back in time to change the future assassination, war, and inevitable elimination of mutants and/or humans in the future by the Sentinels.
For the new film version releasing tomorrow, Wolverine is the hero that save’s the future from this dystopian world, but as always it’s truly a team effort and so far the reviews have been fantastic. Which seems likely given the critical praise of the first two X-Men films, X-Men and X2: X-Men United, which were helmed by the same director, Bryan Singer.
X-Men Days of Future Past releasing on May 23 is written by Simon Kinberg and features the characters listed below, who are not necessarily always good or evil in the series.
PROFESSOR X – a young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy/Patrick Stewart), who seems to be dealing with a lot if emotional turmoil. Especially given his new physical limitations.
STORM – future Storm (Halle Berry) battles her own turbulent world, that is quickly falling to pieces, while sporting a new do.
KITTY PRIDE/SHADOWCAT – Kitty (Ellen Page) plays a future team fighting role with the ability to pass through things, and is not the one who goes back in time in this version.
WOLVERINE/LOGAN – past and future Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) kicks some butt and keeps everybody in line.
ICEMAN/BOBBY – Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) teams up with Kitty, Rogue, and the rest of the future X-Men to defend their turf.
ROGUE – Rogue’s (Anna Paquin) role has been downsized, but she’s still a valuable member of the team, in what capacity remains to be seen.
BEAST/HANK – Hank (Nicholas Holt) and Wolverine try to play nice. Someday they’ll be friends.
COLOSSUS – (Daniel Cudmore) Colossus assist the future team holding off Sentinels.
HAVOK – Havok (Lucas Till) aka Alex Summers up to his old tricks.
WILLIAM STRIKER – a younger version of his later self.
QUICKSILVER – Peter’s (Evan Peters) busting people out, with his lighting speed.
BISHOP – Bishop’s(Omar Sy) hanging tight with rest of the gang instead of traveling to the past using his energy. Sorry, Wolverine got that spot this time.
BLINK– Blink (BingBing Fan) aka Clarice Ferguson is a teleporter of a different sort.
SUNSPOT– (Adan Canto) Sunspot can absorb and channel solar power, we’ll see if that comes in handy.
WARPATH – (BooBoo Stewart) Warpath has superhuman strength and speed, among other heightened abilities … think superman taken down a notch.
DR. BOLIVAR TRASK – (Peter Dinkledge) Trask is somebody you probably don’t want to mess with. A military scientist and creator of the Sentinels and primary antagonist in the new film.
SENTINELS – badass machines that have a mind of their own.
MAGNETO/ERIK – Magneto(Michael Fassbender/Ian Mckellan) . . . needs no introduction. Can’t wait to see what he does this time.
MYSTIQUE/RAVEN – Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) is all bent out of shape and dead set on bringing someone down.
TOAD – A younger Toad(Evan J.) with a small role to play.
When it’s all said and done, you can thank X-Men for the superhero blockbuster revival.
(Images 20th Century Fox, Deviant Art, Marvel)