We all know that X-Men: The Last Stand was one of the worst films ever made. Brett Ratner took a hugely successful film franchise and utterly destroyed it. Important characters were killed off left, right and centre, seemingly at random, no respect was given to the characters that the fans love (you know a film is in trouble when the most quoted line is “I’m the Juggernaut bitch”), having Magneto lose his powers in the end was an utter cop out, an overall the film was a complete and utter mess.
Combined with being a terrible film, The Last Stand destroyed the position that the series was in storywise. Are all the mutants going to lose their powers? Is the cure temporary? Did Professor X survive? Is Wolverine reduced from being the savage anti-hero that we know and love to kicking people in the balls and saying “grow those back”?
Ratner, who (unsurprisingly) started off as a music video director, had no idea how to steer a superhero franchise in the right direction. If only Bryan Singer had stuck with X-Men instead of going off to make the equally terrible Superman Returns. Why can’t people just stick with what they’re good at? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
So at last, with Bryan Singer having returned to direct X-Men: Days of Future Past, we can wash the sour taste of The Last Stand away and accept the apology to the fans that Singer offers.
A huge flaw in The Last Stand is how it resolves the issues its heroes face. The good guys winning by taking away the powers of the villain is quite simply one of the worst and most uninspired ways to end. It’s what made the ending of Superman II so anti-climatic, and evidently is the result of the writers running out of ideas. So when Magneto, who wants to use his powers not for evil but to change the world for the better, making him a character who instead of hating we actually sympathise with and feel intrigued as to what his next move will be, becomes a mere human, you feel that they clearly never understood what makes the character so appealing in the first place.
And the whole business with the cure is utter nonsense. It takes away mutants’ powers. So they should use those stupid plastic guns to fire the cure into all mutants, and then the franchise ends. Great going, writers Simon Kinberg and Zak Penn, you were deliberately trying to end the franchise, right?
So in Days of Future Past, you never question how Magneto got his powers back or what happened to the cure, because Singer clearly realised that it was best to retcon the whole thing and pretend it never happened.
Without wishing to enter into the debate of whether First Class was a reboot or prequel, the X-Men series has lasted for so long without a true reboot because they got the formula right for so many years. However, at the end of The Last Stand, Brett Ratner had killed off so many characters and caused so many events to happen that it looked like the series had nowhere else to go.
Thankfully, the time travel elements in Days of Future Past allowed a soft reboot to occur, in which Wolverine finds himself in a new timeline where, well, many events, including those of The Last Stand, seem to have no longer taken place, literally writing it out of existence.
So in some ways, Days of Future Past is kind of like a soft reboot of the series, because it provides it with a new beginning which it can use as a jumping off point to tell countless other stories, starting with X-Men: Apocalypse in 2016.
So if Days of Future Past can be considered as the first in a new series, then Apocalypse should hopefully continue the common superhero second instalment trend of building upon and improving upon the original. Let’s just hope that whatever comes next doesn’t go in the direction that superhero threequels are known for…