In the new issue of Empire we spoke to the mutant mastermind himself, Bryan Singer, and asked him all about his return to the beloved X-franchise he helped create with X-Men: Days Of Future Past. Here below is what he had to say...
The X-Men franchise is the most uncanny of things: a series where its storylines are less convoluted than the game of musical chairs played by its directors. Bryan Singer, director of Days Of Future Past, replaced Matthew Vaughn, who himself replaced Singer on the previous X-Men: First Class, having himself been replaced by Brett Ratner on the third X-Men movie, The Last Stand, having first replaced… Bryan Singer.
Yet there’s something fitting about the fact that original X-Men/X2 director Singer is back for the biggest X-Movie yet. “It takes place in the future and the past and then all over the world, from Russia to China, then France, and Washington, New York,” he says. “It’s got scope, but most of the scope is in the breadth of the story.”
That story is inspired by the classic Chris Claremont/John Byrne comic-book arc, which takes place in a possible future where mutantkind has been virtually wiped out by giant robots called Sentinels. A rogue group of X-fugees, led by Wolverine and Storm, try to save the future by changing the past, so they send one of their number back in time to hook up with the early X-Men.
It’s not a straight adaptation, though. “It’s its own story, inspired by Days Of Future Past,” insists Singer. Days Of Future Past, the comic, doesn’t feature Professor X or Magneto, but Days Of Future Past, the movie, operates as a follow-up to X-Men: First Class and the original trilogy. “I’d say it’s not a sequel to one of the others,” says Singer. “It’s an inbetwequel — that’s what I call it, for lack of a better word. It takes place about ten years, give or take, after X-Men 3; and in the past it takes place about ten years after First Class.”
Which means it features two sets of Professor Xs and Magnetos: the Patrick Stewart-plus-Ian McKellen vintage, and the James McAvoy-plus-Michael Fassbender models introduced in First Class. “They’re in a radically different place,” explains Singer of the latter. “Charles is in a very dark hole when we meet him, and Erik has been gathering his power.”
Days Of Future Past boasts a huge ensemble. First Class is also represented by Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, with Nicholas Hoult slaying giants once more as Beast; while the cast from the original includes Halle Berry as Storm, Shawn Ashmore as Iceman and Ellen Page as Shadowcat.
Page’s character is the one who goes back in the comic, but in the movie that changes. “She’s the prime facilitator — it’s her power that enables that to happen,” reveals Singer. “But it’s Wolverine who has the strength and the stamina to be able to go back on this journey.”
Meaning Jackman has spent far more time with Fassbender and McAvoy than his First Class F-bomb cameo allowed. “Watching them on set together is really fun,” Singer says. “There are a few moments of improvisation, when the characters clash, that are really jolting and exciting.”
X-Men: Days Of Future Past is set for a May 22, 2014 release. This month's Empire is out now.