Bryan Singer saves the Future, Past

I’m going to jump in here and disagree with Scout. I thought Days of future past was not terrible. In fact, I would argue that that should be Bryan Singer’s byline. Bryan Singer: Not Terrible. His whole career could be summed up by those two words. But what interested me is how, despite frequently roaming between shrug-worthy and laughably bad, the X-Men movies have always been about way more than just being X-Men movies. But this most recent movie has somehow become a closed cultural loop. An allegory for nothing but itself. Which I kind of liked.

The first X-Men movie is a product of its age. It was the first superhero movie that didn’t suck. And to all you guys who love Donner’s Superman or Burton’s Batman, I’m sorry, but those movies suck. I’m not going to say X-Men is fabulous. It is simply not shitty. It turns being a mutant into an allegory for being institutionally ostracized.  And it is pleasant. Talented actors bring home the various ways in which we handle our stigmas and there are some not laughable super hero fight scenes. All in all it is a sort of bland film, but a strong statement. This genre does not have to suck. Singer opened a door which other more talented people (Raimi, Favreau, Whedon, Black, the Russo Brothers) eventually walked through.

X2 is what people are talking about when they say “Hollywood’s Gay Agenda,” and I love it for that, and Alan Cumming, who is just too much fun. The movie brings its allegory sailing home with a coming out scene to boot. There are less cringe-worthy one liners than its predecessor, and one ingenious action set-piece for the ages. It is about being gay and it has no interest in beating around the bush.

The X-Men and Wolverine movies went on to continue to use mutant powers as allegories for lots of things and with varying success. But the whole franchise became wildly uneven without Ratner’s intense middle ground directing.

I was interested in what Singer would do when he finally returned to his franchise after so many years apart. Now that we are in a golden age of super hero films (an age he helped create), what would Days of Future Past be about. Because it would sure as shit not be about the characters and plot. Well, weirdly enough, the movie is actually an allegory for itself. It is two hours and ten minutes of Bryan Singer saying “Look, guys. We’ve really fucked this all up. Somewhere in the past we made a mistake and now our once golden franchise is ruined. Let’s go back in time, ditch everyone except Hugh Jackman, and make the whole thing about Jennifer Lawrence. Because people seem to really like Jennifer Lawrence.” This movie is so aware of its own place as a movie in a franchise that it manages to ret-con out, entirely, the Brett Ratner shit show that was X-Men: Last Stand and give all the old stars the happy ending they deserved. It’s a nice sentiment. The stakes have always been the franchise, not any of these people’s actual lives, and in the end, it was not “the day” that was saved. It was the franchise.  

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