‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ may be the most important superhero movie ever

‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ may be the most important superhero movie of all time. I don’t say that lightly. Those whose blood pressure is starting to rise should take note: I didn’t say it was the “most fun” or “action packed” movie of all time — I said it may be the most important film ever.

Right out of the gates director Bryan Singer lets the audience know he’s created a movie about big ideas. When the first thing a director asks is “Does free will exist?” he’s given himself a tall order to fulfill:

Charles Xavier: The future…a dark desolate world. A world at war. Suffering and loss on both sides. Mutants and the humans who dared to help them fighting an enemy we can not defeat. Are we destined down this path, destined to destroy ourselves like so many species before us? Or can we evolve fast enough to change ourselves, change our fate? Is the future truly set?

Everything from the visuals and the narration to the music by John Ottman says: “This movie has gravity. Leave now if you just want a mindless popcorn flick.”

Charles Xavier

How many of us yearn to be able to go back in time and visit our younger selves — to talk some sense into them? What price would you pay for a single attempt to impart wisdom and knowledge on your reckless youthful counterpart — who wouldn’t listen to anyone — because maybe, just maybe, he’d listen to you? What if you could go back in time and convey something to your younger consciousness that would save all sorts of pain and suffering that you — although you wouldn’t ever admit it publicly — caused friends and loved ones? What if you’ve created a “dark desolate world” for yourself, but you knew there was a moment in time that could set things on a very different path? Would you risk ripping your consciousness into a million pieces for a chance to travel through space and time to set things right?

These are all very deep questions, and the actors tasked with making it all real to the audience do a magnificent job. James McAvoy, Hugh Jackman, Peter Dinklage, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Evan Peters and basically the entire cast all do a commendable job. Everyone who was required to provide emotional weight to movie comes through in the clutch, and the end result is a movie worth watching many times.

Charles Xavier Young Old XMen

In addition to the covering free will, ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ covers redemption. The turning point in the film (major spoilers ahead — you have been warned) comes when young Charles finally comes face-to-face with his older self.

Young Charles: So this what becomes of us. Eric was right. Humanity does this to us.

Old Charles: Not if we show them a better past.

Young Charles: You still believe?

Old Charles: Just because someone stumbles and loses their way, it doesn’t mean they’re lost forever. Sometimes we need a little help.

Young Charles: I’m not the man I was. I open my mind and it almost overwhelms me.

Old Charles: You’re afraid, and Cerebro knows it.

Young Charles: In all those voices…so much pain.

Old Charles: It’s not their pain you’re afraid of — it’s yours. And frightening as it can be their pain will make you stronger if you allow yourself to feel it. Embrace it. It will make you more powerful than you ever imagined. It’s the greatest gift we have that can bear pain without breaking, and it’s born from the most human power: Hope. Please Charles, we need you to hope again.

Can you forgive yourself for all the mistakes you’ve made? Can you forgive your friends and loved ones for the pain they’ve inflicted upon you? Can you forgive humanity for all the injustices it’s inflicted upon itself? Can you find strength in pain and then use that strength to make the world a better place? These are all questions asked by Singer, and the end result is a movie that aims — and largely succeeds — at affecting those who are willing to let it do so on the deepest of philosophical levels.

Charles Xavier Days of Future Past

In short, the evolution of Charles Xavier over the course of the film from a broken man and into the hero who would lead the X-Men to a better tomorrow is nearly flawless. Along the way you might even forget that you’re watching “just” a superhero movie and find yourself welling up inside. For much of the movie you don’t know how it’s going to turn out. Yes, fans “know” how it’s going to end (another movie is on the way, of course) but the writing, acting and directing are so good that it’s easy to get lost in it all and say, “Wow, they might not pull this out.”

Luckily, Professor Xavier regains his hope at a pivotal point in the film.

Hank McCoy: There’s a theory in quantum physics that time is immutable. It’s like a river — you can throw a pebble in and create a ripple, but the current always corrects itself. No matter what you do the river just keeps flowing in the same direction.

Wolverine: What are you trying to say?

Beast: What I’m saying is, what if the war is inevitable? What if she’s meant to kill Trask? What if this is simply who she is?

Charles Xavier: Just because someone stumbles and loses their way it doesn’t mean they’re lost forever. No, I don’t believe that theory Hank, and I can not believe that is who she is. Ready the plane. We’re going to Washington.

If you get a chance to see ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ in theaters, I would highly suggest making the trip. It’s rare for a movie to work on so many levels, and the fact that it’s an X-Men film makes this longtime Marvel fan very happy.

Editor’s Note for regular readers: I know I mentioned not being able to pay to see this movie, given the storm clouds hanging over the director’s head. I went to the movie theater with every intention of paying for Godzilla and then walking into X-Men: Days of Future Past, but the theater turned out to be about the size of my bedroom. There was no way I could pull it off without creating an awkward scene, so I allowed a friend to pay for me. I still don’t feel right about it, so if Mr. Singer’s legal issues do not turn out in his favor I will make a donation that would in all likelihood meet his accuser’s approval.

‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’: I can’t buy a ticket with Bryan Singer accused of rape

Bryan Singer

‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ will be out May 23, but now that director Bryan Singer has been accused of rape, what’s a movie watcher to do?

The Associated Press reported:

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A man who claims he was sexually abused by “X-Men” franchise director Bryan Singer said Thursday that he reported the molestation to authorities at the time, and he does not know why charges were never pursued.

With his voice occasionally wavering, Michael Egan III described abuse he said began when he was 15 years old at the hands of Singer and others. He told of being plied with drugs and promises of Hollywood fame while also enduring threats and sexual abuse in Hawaii and Los Angeles over several years.

“You were a piece of meat,” Egan said of how he and other teenage boys were viewed at the home where he claims Singer abused him.

Signer’s attorney Marty Singer wrote in a statement after Egan’s remarks that the accusations were “completely fabricated.”

But are they? That’s the big question. In terms of the pool parties Mr. Egan says he attended, it doesn’t appear as though anyone is a.) disputing that they existed, or b.) that “Hollywood power broker” Mark Rector-Collins (who was jailed in 2004 for sex abuse of minors) also attended them. Bryan Singer’s attorney called the accusations “completely without merit” — and that may be true — but there seems to be enough there to warrant a serious investigation.

The Daily Mail reported:

I wouldn’t say it was a relationship [with Singer], you were a piece of meat,’ Egan said of how he was treated at the parties at Rector Collins’ home that he allegedly began attending when he was just 14 or 15.

He said: ‘Certain situations like at the house where the rules were no swimsuits by the pool areas. I was in the hot tub with Singer and other individuals, they grope you, shove your head under water, orally molest you, then they’d rape you by the side of hot tub. You were a piece of meat.’

He claimed the men regularly threatened to ruin his acting dreams if he didn’t comply with their demands.

‘We were told that we had to keep the members happy – “We control Hollywood and we will eliminate you” – there was threat after threat,’ Egan told reporters.

I was really excited about going to see the new X-Men movie, but now I’m conflicted. Do I want to spend money on a director’s project while he’s battling allegations that, if true, would further vindicate everything said about Hollywood’s evil little secret by Corey Feldman? It may be wrong, but I keep thinking of inappropriate wise-cracks like “X-Men: Days of Future Past … Molestation.” When Patrick Stewart asks if we are “destined to destroy ourselves” in the trailer, I now wonder if Bryan Singer destroyed a young boy’s life.

How could I sit through a movie when the entire time I’m wondering if Bryan Singer is just a new version of Roman Polanski? Will Whoopi Goldberg one day say that Bryan Singer didn’t “rape-rape Mr. Egan? Again, Mr. Singer is innocent until proven guilty, but I can’t stop my mind from wandering to such places. That doesn’t bode will for my decision to see his latest offering.

Michael Egan

Right about now some of my regular readers are probably thinking that it’s incredibly rich for the Catholic guy to be asking these questions. Well no, not really. I was distanced from the Catholic Church in many ways for years because of the priest scandals and cover-ups. I didn’t donate any money to the Catholic Church for a long time because I didn’t want what little income I had going to defend the indefensible. It took a very, very long time for me to find my way back to the Church (and guys like Pope Francis make it a heck of a lot easier).

Regardless, the New York Daily News seems to think I’m in the minority:

Industry insiders say they think few movie-goers will associate the scandal with one of the biggest popcorn flicks of the summer when it’s time to buy tickets.

“In the end, the question becomes how much of the American public is ‘auteur-ist’ enough to associate a movie with its director,” says Prof. Robert Thompson, director of Syracuse University’s Bleier Center of Television & Popular Culture.

“Is the alleged bad behavior enough to keep them from seeing the next installment of ‘X-Men’? And I think for most people that’s very much not the case.”

I’m not “auteur-ist,” New York Daily News staff, I’m just a guy who actually has a working moral compass. I would think that anyone who believes in right and wrong would be turning these sorts of issues around in their head before coughing up cash. I’m not saying they have to pull their hair out in the process, but it’s hard not to look into the details that have already been presented and wonder what the heck is going on in Hollywood.

Take the pool parties, for instance. Is a Bryan Singer pool party like something from the Playboy Bunny Ranch, except for gay men? (A friend of mine retorted: “You mean like the Gayboy Bunny Ranch”?) Drugs, booze, nudity and music all night long — what could go wrong?

I think that I would be less inclined to stay away from the movie if I felt as though Hollywood actually had a working moral compass. Hollywood embraces hedonism, so when murky issues like this come up it seems as though it’s best to err on the side of caution.

While all of us have our moral failings, at least your Average Joe knows right from wrong. Hollywood doesn’t care what you do — as long as it feels good and you don’t get caught. Sadly, sometimes getting caught can even make you more famous…

 

Bryan Singer Pool Party

As much as I wanted to see ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past,’ I just don’t know I can do so with such a massive storm cloud hanging over the director’s head (no pun intended). The only way I could possibly see it now would be if I bought a ticket to ‘Amazing Spider-Man 2’ or another movie and then walked into a theater playing X-Men.

What about you? Will you be seeing Bryan Singer’s latest when it hits theaters May 23? I’d like to hear what you think.

Editor’s Note: I will swiftly hit the delete button and ban anyone who is out of line in the comments section. If you aren’t sure if what you’re about to say will get you banned, don’t say it. Rule of thumb: If you worked for a major newspaper and your editor would blow a gasket at the comment, then don’t post it here.