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Is the Future Set? Making Sense of X-Men Movie Timeline

Written by Kevin Harkins

One of the most hotly debated subjects of the X-Men film series is the timeline. Statements and actions in one movie seem to contradict statements and actions in another. Adding to this is X-Men: Days of Future Past which introduced time travel into the series which always causes a heap of problems when it comes to continuity and timelines. In this article I will take a look at the timeline of the X-Men films and hopefully help it make sense to people who are confused.

Let me start by stating what my preffered order is to watch the films. I start with First Class and then watch Origins, X-Men, X2, The Last Stand, The Wolverine, Days of Future Past, Apocalypse, Deadpool, and after it comes out Logan will be last. The most important thing to remember is the past scenes of Days of Future Past take place in 1973. So while the timeline is altered during this film anything set before 1973 happened in both timelines. Thus First Class is the first film chronologically no matter what. Then we go through the events of the original timeline with Origins, X-Men, X2, The Last Stand, and The Wolverine. These films take place before the future of 2023 in Days of Future Past and thus in a way show the events leading up to the dark future depicted in that film.

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After that we get to the most important film in terms of the timeline, Days of Future Past. All the scenes in the film set in 2023, besides the very last one, take place in this original timeline seen in the original X-Men trilogy and the first two Wolverine movies. Wolverine is then sent back in time to 1973 and this begins the new alternate timeline. At the end of the film when they succeed in keeping Mystique from killing Trask and setting the dark future into motion the events of the original trilogy and the first two Wolverine films, except for any flashback scenes set before 1973, are erased from the timeline and we are now in a new alternate timeline. Apocalypse shows us this alternate world ten years later in 1983, Deadpool depicts the present and Logan will show the future of this new timeline in 2029. This is why I think the order I suggest above is the best way to watch the movies if you are worried about watching them in chronological order.

Now that being said there are still inconsistencies within the films. In X-Men Professor X mentions that Magneto helped him build Cerebro but in First Class it is Beast who built it. Also First Class shows Professor X getting paralyzed in 1962 but scenes in Origins and Last Stand that take place years later show him walking fine. Now in Days of Future Past it is shown a special serum was made that allows him to walk but it takes away his powers. Thus this actually can not be the explanation of why he walks in these scenes since he is seen using his powers in them. There is also the fact Moria MacTaggert is shown in Last Stand as a doctor in Scotland but is a CIA Agent in First Class and looks just about a decade younger instead of the decades younger she should be. There are also other issues with the film series as a whole that keeps everything from matching up perfectly even within the original timeline.

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So how do we make sense of all this? In the end it doesn’t matter to me personally that much. I know there is a certain demand and need for everything to match up perfectly and have nothing that contradicts each other. But I think it is important to the filmmakers of the X-Men movies that they make the best films possible and not worry about everything matching up. Would you give up First Class to get a movie that matches up better with what was stated in the original three films? For me the answer is no. First Class is amazing and I am willing to overlook the fact that Xavier’s paralysis and how Magneto and him met, among other things, is contradicted by statements and scenes in the other films because the relationship between the two of them is so strong in First Class and the movie is better for it. I think the filmmakers have made the best choices possible most of the time and I applaud them for putting the quality of the individual movies first before anything else. While not every X-Men movie is perfect I think the series as a whole is better for it and I hope they continue this practice into the future.

So what is your opinion of the X-Men movie timeline?  What order do you watch the films in and does the contradictions bother you? Let us know in the comments and/or on twitter.

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Kevin Harkins

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