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In adapting the classic 1981 X-Men comics arc “Days of Future Past,” the new mega-grossing movie used its time-travel plot as an ingenious way to stitch together the flashback X-Men of 2010’s First Class with Hugh Jackman and Co.’s core crew from the original trilogy (while also conveniently erasing the troubles caused by a less-popular entry in the series). However, many changes had to be made from the source material, as certain facts didn’t jibe with liberties taken with the mythology in earlier films, and other complicating factors. Here are the significant ways the movie diverged from the original comic. (And obviously, major spoilers lie ahead for those who haven’t seen the film yet.)
1. Wolverine steals the show
In the comic, it’s Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page in the film), not Wolverine, whose consciousness is transported back in time: She goes back to her 13-year-old body, to a time just weeks after she joined the X-Men. But that wouldn’t work for the film, as Kitty wouldn’t have been born yet in 1973 according to the films’ timeline, which has her as a teenager in 2006’s The Last Stand. Instead, the movie has Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) go back because he’s the only one who can survive the trauma of such a big leap in time — or so they say. We all know the real reason is because since the first film fourteen years ago, Wolverine has been the linchpin of the series and Jackman its biggest star. Plus, Logan doesn’t age, so you only need one actor for the part.
2. Kitty gets a consolation prize
It’s like Musical X-Chairs: Wolverine took Kitty’s starring role, so Kitty moved over one seat and bumped another character right out of the movie. In the comic, it’s future-dwelling telepath — and eventual wielder of the Phoenix force — Rachel Summers who has the power to transport people’s consciousness back in time, but she hasn’t been introduced in the cinematic universe. Kitty doesn’t have this ability in the comics — her skill is to phase through walls — but in the movie she suddenly has been granted Rachel’s power. They don’t really bother explaining when or how she gained this secondary skill, though, but then there’s a lot of story to get to. And maybe now that Cyclops (James Marsden) and Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) are back in the picture, there’s hope for little Rachel to pop up in this series after all.
3. Further Future, earlier Past
Up until First Class, the X-Men films had been fairly coy about specific dates, with the first few taking place in “the not too distant future.” But the latest installment’s framing battle with the Sentinels can be pinned down to around 2023, as when Wolverine jumps back in time, the difference is regularly referred to as “50 years.” That puts the two sections of the story further apart than in the comic, when grown-up Kitty Pryde jumped from 2013 back to 1980. So why the ’70s? To better align with the fact that First Class was set in the early sixties — and so they didn’t have to worry about why James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender aren’t further along on their transformations into Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen.
4. Souped-up Sentinels
In the comic, the Sentinels are three-story-tall, flying pink-and-purple hulks that shoot photons and can track down mutants based on their DNA alone. That kind of murderous simplicity won’t fly in the movies, apparently. Bryan Singer gave the giant mutant-killing robots an upgrade; the pilfered Mystique DNA gives them the ability to adapt to and mimic mutant powers, a talent they’ve never had before. However, the original basic Sentinels were given a brief moment in the spotlight, shown as the models Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) introduces just before the film’s climax.
5. Moving target
In the comic, the time-travel mission is stopping Mystique from killing vociferously anti-mutant Senator Robert Kelly, whose assassination prompts the implementation of the Sentinel program that leads to the dystopian future the X-Men are looking to change. But Sen. Kelly already existed in the first X-Men film, played by Bruce Davison — until the character turned into a jellyfish and exploded. In the film, Kelly is swapped out for Sentinel architect Boliver Trask (Peter Dinklage), who is one of the biggest villains in the comics and possibly more anti-mutant than Kelly ever was. In the film, mention is made of Trask being responsible for the death of a host of unseen First Class characters, including Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones), Angel (Zoe Kravitz) and Emma Frost (January Jones). And of course, pay no attention to the man named Trask played by Bill Duke in The Last Stand. It’s unclear if he was supposed to be a different take on the same Sentinel-designing character, but it doesn’t really matter since that’s all been wiped from the timeline anyway.
6. The reason all should be forgiven
When the comic was published in 1981, Kitty Pryde was jumping back to what was essentially the readers’ present, with the future serving as more of a cautionary tale. But in the film, the dystopian future (and the X-Men struggling to survive it) are closer to the viewers’ now than McAvoy and Fassbender’s groovy ’70s setting. And the point of the comic seemed to be to both introduce time travel and a nightmare future full of mutant persecution that would factor in a lot in future issues as well as give readers more time with eventual fan favorite Kitty. The prime directive of the movie, however, seems to be to streamline the two X-Men franchises while undoing the damage done by Brett Ratner. A noble cause, to be sure.