X-Men: Days of Future Past was a big movie in the X-Men franchise not only because it brought together both the original and new cast, and not only because it marked X-Men and X2 director Bryan Singer’s return to the series, but also because, well, it reset the entire timeline and erased the events of X-Men, X2, and X-Men: The Last Stand from existence. This offered Singer and writer/producer Simon Kinberg the opportunity to continue making more X-Men movies set in the past while keeping the fate of the characters up in the air. So while X-Men: Apocalypse takes place in 1983, the story and characters aren’t necessarily moving towards the end-goal of where the characters are in 2000’s X-Men. But that’s not to say they can’t end up in the same place as before.
Confused? Indeed, any time you’re dealing with time-travel, complicated hypotheticals ensue, but the X-Men franchise is doubly tricky given the sheer amount of characters and history involved with the series. So when I visited the set of X-Men: Apocalypse last summer along with a small group of reporters, we asked Singer and Kinberg to clarify the timeline of the franchise going forward. Kinberg kicked things off by explaining exactly how Days of Future Past alters the events of X-Men, X2, and X-Men: The Last Stand:
“It’s not leading necessarily toward exactly where we found Patrick Stewart and the X-Men at the beginning of X-Men 1. There are some things that lead in that general direction, that was part of the philosophy we had at the end of Days of Future Past is that you can’t fully change the course or current of the river, but you can just divert it a little bit, and we diverted it a little bit. So some things will be surprises; people could die that were alive in X-Men 1, 2 and 3, or people could survive that died during 1, 2 and 3.”
The river metaphor is something Singer is enthusiastic about, and is essentially the entire reason “the Tivo scene” exists in Days of Future Past:
“What happens when you use Days of Future Past to erase movies like X1, 2 and 3, yes you can erase those events that occurred, but I also was very adamant about having what we call ‘The Tivo Scene.’ The scene in that room with all the video cameras in Days of Future Past, I call it the Tivo scene. ‘I developed this piece of technology that records television;’ the point is time’s immutability. The idea that time is like a river. You can splash it and mess it up and throw rocks in it and shatter it but it eventually kind of coalesces and this is, again, quantum physics theory. It’s all based in quantum physics.”
The filmmaker continued by explaining the uncertainty that surrounds young versions of older characters:
“So what I’m doing with these in-betweenqueels is playing with time’s immutability and the prequel concept, meaning that yes we erased those storylines and anything can happen. That means the audience goes into the movie thinking that anything can happen. I mean anything, anyone could die. Any possibility could occur, but characters are still moving towards their immutable place. Jean and Scott, are they meant to be together? Is Scott, this guy who hates schools and hates authority, destined to become a leader? You don’t know. Is Jean ever going to discover the full potential of her power? You don’t know, but we move in those directions character-wise but then we have the freedom story-wise to do whatever the fuck we want because we erased those three movies.”
Singer added that with X-Men: Apocalypse, he aims to twist up the “prequel” concept as a whole:
“The prequel, you don’t know where it’s going and yet you do kind of know where you want it to go, where you want to see those characters end up, and that’s the beauty of it, of Days of Future Past, of what it did for me. That’s why I fought so hard to make sure we have Hank McCoy talk about the theory of time’s immutability, because that defines what I’m doing with this universe and with these prequels to X1, 2 and 3, which are erased—or are they not?”
Kinberg argues that while the timeline has been reset, it’s now all moving towards the “New Future” that Wolverine woke up in at the end of Days of Future Past, in which Scott, Jean, Hank, Rogue, etc. are all alive:
“All these movies now exist in the same timeline and certainly the intention at the end of Days of Future Past was that final future we saw was the destination for the characters. So barring another time travel or something else that would upset the timeline, that would be the fate of those characters.”
However, Singer isn’t so quick to say the “New Future” is the definite endpoint, arguing that while the characters are on the “river” towards that position, divergences could still occur:
“Time can always be fucked with, we’ve now learned that. We’ve now learned that once you alter time that could be the future, but I don’t believe if you look at all the X-Men movies and Days of Future Past, I don’t believe that’s definitive.”
The filmmaker went further to add that the fate of the characters in the “New Future” scene aren’t set in stone:
“I’ll kill any of those characters any day I want. They’re all fair game. Anything can happen. When two things are happening simultaneously in quantum physics it’s what’s called the Super Position and when the Observer finally observes the outcome that’s called the ‘Collapsing of the Super Position’ which is what happened when Wolverine woke up and saw all the happiness. So yes that is the outcome we hope for, that is the outcome we aspire to, and that’s the outcome we are moving towards, but we saw in Days of Future Past another dark world. What says that can’t happen again? What says the awakening of a being that has such power and can acquire the power to destabilize that? So anything is possible. That’s what we’d like to think happens, that’s what Simon would like to think is a good outcome, but to me it’s fair game.”
So, in summation, the “New Future” scene at the end of Days of Future Past is where all the X-Men characters will probably end up, but it’s not a guarantee, and Singer reserves the right to shake things up even further.
It’s exciting to see that conversations about the fate and future of the characters of the X-Men universe are still ongoing with the filmmakers involved in bringing these stories to the screen. If we’ve learned anything from this franchise, we know that the future is not set. Meaning that while X-Men: Apocalypse introduces young iterations of fan-favorites like Cyclops and Jean Grey, we don’t know exactly what kind of adult characters they’ll grow into. Essentially, Singer is rebooting his own franchise in a way that maintains uncertainty and gives him a semi-clean slate to re-interpret iconic characters without forsaking what came before. That’s kind of brilliant.
For more of our X-Men: Apocalypse set visit coverage, peruse the links below:
- ‘X-Men: Apocalypse': Over 75 Things to Know about the Epic Superhero Sequel
- ‘X-Men: Apocalypse': Bryan Singer on the Villain’s Powers, Costume, and Casting Oscar Isaac
- ‘X-Men: Apocalypse': How Did They Decide Which Mutants to Include?
- ‘X-Men: Apocalypse': Michael Fassbender on Working with Oscar Isaac, Becoming a Horseman