If you head out to see “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” you may want to brush up on your “X-Men” knowledge.
The film includes a lot of little references to the previous five films. In no way is it necessary to watch a full-out “X-Men” marathon, but it is helpful, and for those who catch up you’ll be rewarded little nods and one liners that make the film even more satisfying.
If you’re going to watch any films, we recommend watching director Bryan Singer’s first two installments, “X-Men” (2000) and “X2: X-Men United” (2003).
If you don’t have time to catch up, here are a few handy things to know going in.
1. Magneto is a Holocaust survivor
If you’ve never seen “X-Men” or aren’t a fan of the comics, you probably aren’t aware the Holocaust has a lot of influence in the series. In the opening scene to the 2000 film we’re introduced to a young boy ripped away from his family during the Holocaust. This boy grows up to be Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto (Ian McKellen/Michael Fassbender) who has the power to manipulate metal.
Many of the stories in the “X-Men” universe involve humans who want to exterminate any “mutants” with special powers who may present a danger to society.
In the beginning of “Days of Future Past,” we see a scene that directly parallels the opening to the first film along with “X-Men: First Class” in which mutants are being shepherded in groups to their death. Mutants are also walking around branded with the letter “M” on their heads.
You can watch the scene here.
2. If there’s one person you need to know going into this film, it’s William Styrker.
This is probably the singularly most important piece of information you need going into the film.
Stryker is referenced multiple times as he comes into contact with both Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). If you’ve recently watched “X2,” you’ll immediately recognise him as the main villain for the film. If not, you’re probably a little fuzzy until you start seeing some flashbacks mid-movie.
Who is he?
Stryker leads an anti-mutant group within the Government. He’s the man responsible for turning Logan into Wolverine by fusing both his skeleton and bone claws with a fictitious and indestructible metal alloy adamantium.
You probably recognise him like this in “X2”:
or like this from “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”:
That brings us to our next point.
3. Wolverine’s bone claws
When Wolverine travels back to the past, you’ll notice he doesn’t have the use of his metal claws. Instead, he has these weak bone claws. What gives?
Since it’s 1973, this is a long time before Wolverine received an infusion of adamantium so it would be impossible for him to have his claws.
4. Forget everything you know about “X-Men: The Last Stand.”
Well, almost everything. Directed by Brett Ratner, the movie upset a lot of comic fans when it took liberties with “The Dark Phoenix Saga” storyline in which Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) returns as a dark alter ego after being assumed dead in “X2.”
All you need to know from here is that Grey ends up killing her former boyfriend Cyclops and Professor Xavier. Wolverine was then forced to kill Grey, the love of his life. That death has haunted him in a series of flashbacks in all ensuing films.
The one thing that may bother “X-Men” fans is that “Days of Future Past” (DoFP) never really explains how Xavier comes back to life. In the end credits for “The Last Stand” it was suggested he was still alive; however, Slashfilm points out that Ratner revealed on the film’s commentary the man in the credits is Xavier’s twin brother.
It appears Director Byran Singer has taken some liberties to wipe the existence of the third film clean because fans will also recall Magneto lost his powers in the third film but appears to have them fully restored in DoFP. Though at the end of “Last Stand” it is suggested Magneto was starting to regain his powers so it’s not a complete stretch.
5. There’s a serum which can control the X-Men.
This isn’t TOO important to know, but in “X2,” we see Magneto brainwashed by a chemical given to him by Colonel William Stryker (more on him in a bit). The chemical is administered through the back of the neck, leaving a small circular imprint. It temporarily allows the mutant to be under someone else’s power.
At the start of DoFP we briefly see mutants with small contraptions strapped to the back of their necks. It appears they’re being administered a similar drug forcing them to walk to their death.
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