My Thoughts On: “X-Men: Days of Future Past”

Posted: 2014/06/18 in Indie Games

Not directly game related, but I wanted to add my thoughts on the film “X-Men: Days of Future Past”.

Firstly, game players may find a familiar theme in [spoilers ahead!] the early moments of the film where our heroes in the far dystopian future escape the wrath of the Sentinels by, effectively, reloading a save point. I kid you not. Any time the Sentinel robots that are hunting down all the mutants get the upper hand, they send the consciousness of one of their member back in time, warn themselves that they’re about to get caught, and simply go on a different path.

Looking past that to the themes of the film, we see a variety of themes, some familiar to fans, some new.

– MAGNETO IS A HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR, AND IS RAPIDLY BECOMING A FASCIST HIMSELF. It’s the classic story of someone becoming what they hate. He was persecuted as a child because of the community he was born into, and now he feels persecuted as a mutant. As a response, he’s now prepared to take extreme measures right back at them. He’d subjugate, or even eliminate, all humans if he could. Doesn’t get much more fascist than that, and it’s heart-wrenching to see.

– WOMEN IN THE FUTURE ARE EQUAL PLAYERS. Female mutants fight and bleed and die along with their male counterparts, and aren’t expected to do any less of the figurative “heavy lifting” in the fight to survive. It’s interesting to see utopian elements show up in the future dystopia. In the scenes set in the 1970s, however, women are decidedly less equal, as seen by how a North Vietnamese representative to the Paris Peace Conference treats Raven/Mystique.

– PETER DINKLAGE IS JUST ANOTHER SCIENTIST/WAR CRIMINAL. Peter Dinklage plays Bolivar Trask, a scientist who wants to kill all mutants not because he hates them but because he admires them. He recognises them as superior, and that humanity’s only way to rise up to their level is to learn how to destroy them. The “Shadows” in “Baylon 5” would approve. But what’s potentially more interesting thematically is that, despite his extremely short stature, he’s treated as just another person in the film. No one expresses surprise at his height, nor does anyone seem to underestimate his gifts because of his stature. Again, another utopian element slipping into the dystopia.

– SPEAKING OF HOW RAVEN/MYSTIQUE IS TREATED. Both Raven and Beast struggle with how they appear in their natural mutant forms. It’s an interesting metaphor for how differently people can be treated based on their appearance. Anyone who’s got braces, or gone from not needing glasses to wearing glasses, knows that small changes can affect how people treat you. The more dramatic changes Raven and Beast go through exaggerate it, but demonstrate the point all the same. Raven drives the point home by asking how the aforementioned North Vietnamese representative likes her once she’s turned blue and gained scales.

– NO FATE BUT WHAT WE MAKE. As Sarah Connor famously stated in the Terminator films, the only kind of defeat you can suffer before you start is self-defeat. Watching Charles Xavier suffer through addiction, DTs as he conquers addiction, and self-loathing due to his past failures, are experiences that many people can relate to. Charles’ demons are ostensibly related to his mutant powers, but the scene where he struggles with whether to inject himself with something that will silence the voices in his head is more about heroin than super-powers, it seems to me.

The X-Men films are at their best when they’re about big ideas, and this film this does that as well as most. And it also has a lot of the intimate character-driven moments that help drive the narrative forward through those ideas. It’s the best X-Men film yet IMO, and one of the best-ever super hero films if you ask me.

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