'X-Men: Days of Future Past' screenwriter Simon Kinberg has discussed the reasons why next summer's eagerly-awaited Fox/Marvel movie has deviated from the original comic book by sending Wolverine back in time to save the world.
In the original 1980 comic book story, illustrated by John Byrne and written by Chris Claremont (who says he was briefly brought in to consult on the project), the character sent back to the past is Kitty Pryde (portrayed in the movies by Ellen Page). She was psychically transported back from an apocalyptic future in which most mutants have been killed by the deadly robot Sentinels, with the hopes of changing the timeline to avert this.
Speaking in this month's Total Film magazine, Kinberg addressed this notable change, and admitted that part of the motivation was the popular status of Hugh Jackman's Wolverine as the figurehead of the movie series.
"We made the decision for a lot of reasons, some of them obvious and some of them more nuanced, to make it Wolverine who goes back in time. One reason is that he's the protagonist of the franchise, and probably the most beloved character to a mass audience."
However, there were also practical concerns that made the move more logical, given that the method of time travel utilised is the transportation of a character's consciousness backwards in time into their own body many years in the past.
"…when we started thinking about the logistical realities of Kitty's consciousness being sent back in time, to her younger self, as opposed to her physical body being sent back... it was impossible. Obviously in the book it's Kitty… but you're talking about an actress (Page) who, in the age of Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy, would have been negative 20 years old."
"So we started thinking again, and the first reflex response to that was a character who doesn't age. Wolverine is the only character who would look the same in 1973 as he does in the future."
This was not a concern in the comic books. Where the 'Days of Future Past' movie will be, in part, a period piece set largely in the 1970s, the comic book saw the consciousness of an adult Kitty Pryde (at that point in the comics a newly introduced character) sent back into her 13-year old body in the present day, from the then-unimaginably distant future date of - gasp! - 2013.
From the redesign of the costumes to the reworking of well-loved storylines (most notoriously the botched take on the Dark Phoenix saga in 'X-Men 3'), the X-movies haven't exactly stayed within the parameters of the comic books thus far. This being the case, it's hardly surprising that 'Days of Future Past' would take some liberties with the narrative as written, and not something that I think fans of the comic need to be too concerned about.
Speaking for myself - and I should imagine I'm not alone here - what I'm most eager to see are the new, exciting, dramatic places the movie will take the mighty ensemble cast, bringing together actors from both returning director Bryan Singer's original 'X-Men' films and Matthew Vaughan's prequel 'First Class.' Just how closely it follows the same beats as the comic book is a mere footnote as far as I'm concerned.
'X-Men: Days of Future Past' hits cinemas May 2014.
Do you mind that 'X-Men: Days of Future Past' is taking liberties with the comic? Sound off in the comments below.
Ben Bussey is a freelance writer, comic book movie enthusiast and all-around fanboy stereotype, anxious to see if 'X-Men: DOFP' is going to wind up as amazing and epic as we're being told it will be.
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