X-Men: Days of Future Past is out on Friday and represents a unique moment in comic-book movie history. In knitting together the series' original cast, its quasi-reboot cast from First Class and some story threads from the standalone Wolverine movies, Days of Future Past is trying to streamline all these gummy threads into something that makes sense and can have one functional cast moving forwards.
This is tricky business for a 14-year-old franchise, but something comic books do all the time: "retconning" plots and clearing away things fans didn't like through plot devices like time travel. So what's happening in the various X-Men universes that Days of Future Past, directed by Bryan Singer (who made the first two X-Men films), will try to clean up?
In X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), the last film to feature all of the original cast, director Brett Ratner set about ruining everyone's fun by killing off Cyclops (James Marsden) and Professor X (Patrick Stewart), bringing back Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) only to nastily botch her famous "Dark Phoenix" subplot in which she is corrupted with cosmic powers, and de-powering Magneto (Ian McKellen) and Mystique (Rebecca Romijn). It left enough loose threads to suggest that Professor X could be revived and Magneto re-powered, but was so reviled by critics and fans that the franchise then turned to spinoffs and flashbacks rather than attempt to directly follow up this dreck.
In X-Men: First Class (2011), we got a look at the young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) founding his school for mutants in the 1960s alongside Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), who turn to a darker path. Aside from them, it largely stayed away from the original cast, giving just a jokey cameo to Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), no mention of Jean or Storm, and a cute nod to Cyclops in the form of a teenager wearing sunglasses. There was also Nicholas Hoult as a young Beast, who Kelsey Grammer had rather adorably played in The Last Stand.