The X-Men Movies: One Busted Timeline

Greetings, ladies and gentlemen!

A couple weeks ago, Mashable released a video that attempted to break down the complete timeline of the X-Men film franchise. I thought it would be interesting to see how they pieced everything together and what insights they would have. I went into the video with few, if any, expectations, and ended the video feeling confused and disappointed. Now, I don’t put the blame on Mashable for my confusion because they made a decent attempt at organizing FOX’s busted timeline. I am disappointed with Mashable because they missed an important detail from X-Men: Days of Future Past that seriously screws up their timeline, and the timeline of the X-Men film franchise as a whole.

The Mashable Timeline

Before I get into the detail that derailed the Mashable timeline for me, it would probably help if you watched the video for yourself (assuming you haven’t already seen it). Will you be able to find where the Mashable timeline lost me?

Now that you’ve had a chance to watch the video, did you spot the detail that kept the Mashable timeline from working? If you guessed the moment at the one-minute mark, then you’d not only be right, but oddly psychic.

Once it was suggested the assassination of Trask led to a timeline that included the original X-Men trilogy and The Wolverine, I knew Mashable’s timeline would stop making sense. The important detail that I had hoped they would catch involved the reason Wolverine/Logan was sent to the 70s in the first place. Before being sent back, we learn Mystique was captured after assassinating Bolivar Trask and her DNA was harvested by the remainder of Trask’s company. This is what led to the creation of the “super sentinels” seen in the (“shitty”) future introduced in the beginning of X-Men: Days of Future Past. If Mystique was captured in the 70s, the events of the original X-Men trilogy couldn’t have happened exactly as they did because she wouldn’t have been around to influence those events.

The issue here isn’t just that Mystique was captured in the 70s, nearly 30 years before the events of the first X-Men film. She is notably absent during the events that transpire in the “shitty” future of X-Men: Days of Future Past, implying she neither escaped nor survived captivity. Do take note that Mystique is clearly alive, albeit powerless, at the end of X-Men: The Last Stand. However, in the “shitty” future, Professor X is alive and well, and Magneto has full control of his powers, as if X-Men: The Last Stand had never taken place. Lastly, Wolverine has a full set of adamantium claws in the “shitty” future, but didn’t he lose them at the end of The Wolverine?

The point I am raising is X-Men: Days of Future Past appears to be functioning within its own timeline, and it is not bound by the stories that came before it; except for X-Men: First Class. This is a theory I will explore further in the next section.

The War Fist Timeline

To support my theory, I felt it would be necessary to provide a visual aid. So, I have created a timeline for the X-Men film franchise that includes all films released since 2000, and any upcoming or related films. Check it out.

X-Men Timeline

X-Men: First Class (1962)

At the top of the timeline is X-Men: First Class, the film that rebooted the X-Men franchise. It reintroduced several characters from previously released films, including Professor X and Magneto, and gave characters like Beast and Mystique more integral roles in the narrative. Prior to First Class, Beast had only appeared in the widely reviled X-Men: The Last Stand. While Mystique had been present throughout the entire original trilogy, she was nothing more than one of Magneto’s lackeys who stirred up a lot of trouble but spoke very little. X-Men: First Class’ place in the timeline is not in dispute, but it aids X-Men: Days of Future Past in making the timeline busted.

The Mystique introduced in First Class is not the same character as the one we see in the original X-Men trilogy. Apart from being a more important character to the story, the new Mystique is roughly the same age as Professor X, and has a personal connection to him. The original Mystique is clearly much younger (by 20-ish years), and has no prior personal connection to Xavier. If this had been taken into account during the creation of First Class, the new Mystique would be a very different character. Then again, this was when FOX was rebooting their franchise, and they were still figuring out what continuity meant.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

The first detour on the timeline is held by 20th Century FOX’s viciously abandoned dumpster baby, X-Men Origins: Wolverine. After its poor reception, Wolverine’s first solo outing was excommunicated, and as the years have gone by its existence has been denied by everyone it scorned.  The only detail from X-Men Origins: Wolverine that remains intact is Logan’s possession of bone claws. This film’s place on the timeline should initially fall somewhere between First Class and Days of Future Past, and then end up at some point between Days of Future Past and the first X-Men film (or, technically, X-Men: Apocalypse). However, you’ll notice X-Men Origins: Wolverine sits alone in the emptiness barely tethered to the official timeline by a brittle, reddish, dotted line which exists only to show where it would fit in if its existence mattered to FOX and the fans.

X-Men: Days of Future Past (1973)

As mentioned before, X-Men: Days of Future Past screws the timeline from the moment it starts. You’ll notice it is at this point the timeline diverges, leading to two possible futures. The first, “shitty” future is a dark and hopeless point in time that is the result of events that took place in the 70s, i.e. the assassination of Bolivar Trask and Mystique’s capture. The second, “happy” future is the result of Wolverine influencing the past, Professor X convincing Mystique that killing Trask is not the correct course of action to take, and Mystique, ultimately, not killing Trask. By the end of X-Men: Days of Future Past, the “shitty” future ceases to be relevant as the actions that brought it to life were prevented.

At no point does the original X-Men trilogy, or The Wolverine, have relevance or a connection to X-Men: Days of Future Past, as the Mashable timeline suggests. However, the end of Days of Future Past does make a call back to the past movies, to some extent, when portraying the “happy” future. We know Jean and Scott died in X-Men: The Last Stand, and we are told Beast doesn’t survive the “shitty” future, but we see all three of them (including Kelsey Grammer’s Beast) living out their lives. Though, when Wolverine/Logan is shocked to see Jean alive, it is hard to tell if he is remembering the death we witnessed in X-Men: The Last Stand, or recalling the moment she died before the events of the “shitty” future portrayed in X-Men: Days of Future Past. My theory suggests the latter because the former makes little sense given the origins of the “shitty” future, and the numerous other details from the original X-Men trilogy that go ignored.

The Continuity Void

The continuity void consists of any film that is no longer a part of the active timeline. This includes the original X-Men trilogy, The Wolverine, and other related films like Deadpool and Wolverine 3. Technically, X-Men: Origins Wolverine should reside in the continuity void as well, but it would likely sit in the deepest, darkest corner never to be heard from or seen again. Additionally, the original X-Men trilogy and The Wolverine reside in their own timeline apart from the films of the rebooted franchise. However, the only reason The Wolverine doesn’t have a connection to the new timeline is because X-Men: Days of Future Past doesn’t take it into account when building its narrative.

Deadpool is a very special case because it technically falls into the continuity void due the Colossus portrayed in that film not matching the one portrayed in Days of Future Past. However, Deadpool/Wade Wilson could easily be brought into newer films, that take place in modern day, despite this fact. He’s already commented on the timelines in his own film, and I believe it would be funny for him to bring it up in an X-Men movie. If FOX wanted to put Deadpool in a movie with the newer X-Men cast, the writers could simply use time travel as a plot device. Since Cable is set to appear in the anticipated Deadpool sequel, time travel doesn’t seem like it would be out of the realm of possibilities, and I’m not talking about that weird consciousness transference stuff from X-Men: Days of Future Past.

At this point, there’s no way of telling where Wolverine 3 will fall in the timeline. As much as people hated X-Men: The Last Stand, The Wolverine clearly acknowledges its existence, but X-Men: Days of Future Past doesn’t recognize either of those films. Wolverine 3 could either maintain a solidified connection to The Wolverine, which would place it in the continuity void with the original timeline, or it could attempt to connect with the active timeline by taking place after the “happy” future. Wherever Wolverine 3 ends up, I’m sure it will be as good as its predecessor. Though, I do hope the X-Men movies don’t end up making Wolverine 3 irrelevant to the main timeline like they did with The Wolverine when X-Men: Days of Future Past was released.

X-Men: Apocalypse (1983)

X-Men: Apocalypse is the newest film added to the active timeline, and it was just released to theaters a couple days ago. Its place in the timeline is quite definitive as it is set 10 years after the events of Days of Future Past. The only iffy connection X-Men: Apocalypse has is to the “happy” future. Since the “happy” future negates the existence of the “shitty” future, and already had no connection to the films from the original timeline, it seems pretty clear the “happy” future would fall nicely within the active timeline. Unfortunately, the X-Men film franchise is still run by FOX, and when it comes to keeping their films in an orderly fashion FOX seems to follow the thought process illustrated by the phrase Mashable uses here (honestly, my favorite part of the video).

Update After Seeing The Film (Possible Spoilers)*

After seeing X-Men: Apocalypse for myself, I can conclude the newest X-Men films remain separate from the original trilogy. While there are story points from X2 and X-Men: The Last Stand that are reintroduced in this film, such as Alkali Lake and Jean’s Pheonix powers, these are merely new takes on those ideas as they have no real connection to the stories originally told. If the writers were actually trying to connect the new films to the original ones, they would be doing an awful job because they continue to ignore key plot points from the past films. For instance, by the end of X-Men: Apocalypse, Nightcrawler becomes an official member of the X-Men. While the new Nightcrawler shares several traits with the original Nightcrawler, a problem arises when you recall the X-Men didn’t meet Nightcrawler until X2 in the original timeline (and he was discovered by both Jean and Storm who meet him in Apocalypse). Of course, this is assuming the writers are actually trying to connect the new with the old which I doubt they are.

In Conclusion…

Despite FOX’s attempts to reboot the X-Men franchise and create a cohesive universe, the whole thing is still a jumbled mess. One can only hope X-Men: Apocalypse, as well as any future sequels, will not continue the trend of ignoring narrative details from previous films. The X-Men film franchise has been running for too long for FOX to continue to ignore all of the people (like myself) who constantly point out their lack of attention to detail. I’d also like to point out this is not about the quality of many of the films; the good films are still going to be good despite the disorganization of the franchise as a whole. My intention with this post is to point out the details that have gone unnoticed.

What are you thoughts on this subject? Do you agree with the points I made? Are there any details I have shared that you had not considered before? What detail do you think I missed? Have you seen X-Men: Apocalypse yet? How many blue people does it take to stop the apocalypse? Join the discussion below.

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Thanks for reading to the end. I hope you’ll be back for the next one.

War Fist out.

6/6/2016: added the “Update After Seeing The Film” section to X-Men: Apocalypse.*

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