The prejudice and unsubstantiated yet understandable fear of mutants are themes that have followed through in every X-Men movie to date, but the newest release, X-Men: Days of Future Past, breaks down the standard Hollywood convention of watering down source material in favor of showing a more realistic mosaic of how fear and prejudice often result in the unpredictable atrocities propagated by mankind–and in the case of this movie, mutantkind, too.
Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy) has always been a practitioner of reconciliation and open discussion between humans and mutants. He fully understands that when humans find a new source of fear and loathing, they cling to it; mutants possess abilities that are beyond understanding and, in many cases, absolutely destructive in the hands of an unstable person. Intense prejudice results in certain mutants, especially those who have an obvious physical mutation, such as Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), to feel like second class citizens, which results in intense protective pride bordering on megalomania. Magneto (Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender) is Charles’ foil and he sees humanity as a previous step on the evolutionary map; for him, there is no compromise with mankind because they will never understand, far less learn to accept, mutantkind. The X-Men comics delve into a story that is riveting in its visuals and profound in its sociological exploration.
Ideological differences are at the heart of this film as in any other X-Men film, and Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) finds himself as an unwilling participant yet again in the great human versus mutant question. Most of the films engage the audience by using Wolverine as the vehicle of exploration into this world, and while he is a mutant himself, Wolverine prefers a simpler life, far from Charles’ summits on human and mutant reconciliation and Magneto’s warpath toward mutant liberation. In this film, Wolverine is sent back into the past to prevent the events that result in a future where mutants are rounded up into internment camps and exterminated from the face of the earth. Rather than one primary villain, the movie shows that the main antagonist is fear, and how that fear results in the creation of the Sentinels, hulking robots programmed to wipe out mutants. This newest film ramps up the action and storytelling several folds, resulting in what will surely be an entertaining summer blockbuster with a powerful and unexpected effect of reflection on real world struggles of prejudice and ideological differences.
In preparation for the upcoming release, watch all the previous films and discover their powerful message again. Host a viewing party and dress up as your favorite mutant characters from the film and comic book series. Old favorites like Iceman, Storm, and Rogue will be reprising their appearances in the franchise along with brand new favorites like Quicksilver, Bishop, and Blink. The cast continues to grow and the question of whether mutants and humans could ever live together in peace gets far more intricate to unravel and extraordinary to explore.