'X-Men: Days of Future Past': What You Need to Remember About the Major Characters
Although it ultimately serves as a slate-clearing quasi-reboot for the X-Men franchise, X-Men: Days of Future Past has to wade through a whole lot of backstory to get there. In the film, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is sent back to 1973 to try to head off an act of violence that would, through the butterfly effect, eventually spell doom for all mutants; the time jump serves as a bridge between the modern-day timeline of the first three X-Men movies and the prequel, X-Men: First Class, which was set in 1962. The film assumes the viewer has strong recall of the franchise’s earlier entries, and so a quick refresher will serve you well to catch all the historical X-references and in-jokes that pop up. Here’s all you need to remember about the various characters (past and present) to get the most out of the film, which opens today.
LOGAN / WOLVERINE: The fast-healing, cigar-chomping fan favorite who’s become the X-Men franchise’s signal character. (He was given the main role in Days of Future Past even though in the original comic book, the action is driven by Kitty Pryde.) He has always had his near-immortality, strength, claws and healing abilities, but it wasn’t until X-Men Origins: Wolverine (which takes place in 1979) that he got his adamantium skeleton, grafted onto his bones (and claws) by the maniacal Major Stryker (previously played by Brian Cox and Danny Huston). He is still haunted by having killed his unrequited love, Jean Grey (who was married to Scott “Cyclops” Summers), in order to prevent her all-powerful alter ego, Phoenix, from destroying the world in X-Men: The Last Stand (this after she had already slain Cyclops). Wolverine is also the only character to appear in all of the extended X-Men films — though his part in First Class was a cameo, dismissing Professor X’s attempts to recruit him to the new team with a brisk, “F--- off.”
CHARLES XAVIER / PROFESSOR X: Paralyzed by a stray bullet at the end of First Class, the X-Men leader — a telepath who can mentally locate anyone, and speak to them inside their own head — is a principled defender of the idea that humans and mutants can coexist peacefully. Xavier was allied with Magneto in their younger days (when played by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender), and then they split along MLK/Malcolm X diplomatic/violent lines in First Class and were enemies throughout the three modern-day films. Using a cavernous psychic amplifier called Cerebro, Xavier is able to expand his powers to seek out undiscovered mutants around the globe and take them under his wing at his School for Gifted Youngsters.