Thoughts on, and a place to discuss, the plot details we can’t reveal in our review.
Days Of Future Past evokes comic-book plotting by embracing multiple-timeline loopiness and playing fast and loose with continuity. On the one hand, it’s a partial sequel to Brett Ratner’s X-Men: The Last Stand, with callbacks to Jean Grey’s transformation into Dark Phoenix; on the other, it opens in a future where a resurrected Professor X has allied with Magneto, and where many of the X-Men—including Beast and Rogue—are long dead. There are effectively three continuities at play here: that of the first three X-Men movies, the one established by X-Men: First Class, and a dystopian future continuity, the lead-up to which largely goes unexplained. Surprisingly, the movie finds a way to tie all three together, creating a new, unified continuity; its twisty logic ends up producing something like a stealth reboot, with Wolverine’s trip into the past effectively erasing the events of the little-loved Last Stand.
Sure, it’s fan service—as is much of the movie, which finds every opportunity to work in stuff that fans love (like quotes from the First Class score) while trying to minimize the stuff that they don’t (Halle Berry’s Storm has exactly three lines, the last of which is largely drowned out by crowd noise).
In its best moments, Days Of Future Past tries to elevate fan service into something more resonant, tying audience desires with the characters’ emotions. It manages to turn Logan/Wolverine’s jokey one-line cameo in First Class into a dramatic point. Making Logan, rather than Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page), the time traveler makes sense from an audience-pleasing standpoint, but it also allows him to reverse roles with Professor X, with the older, wiser Logan forced to serve as a mentor to the angry, wayward man who will eventually mentor him.
The ending—with its attendant cameos—is the ultimate fan-service gesture. It’s also fairly poignant, with Logan wandering the halls of the Xavier Institute, running into old friends he had long mourned as dead. They walk by, nodding “Good morning” as they hurry off to their classes.