The recent confirmation of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen's involvement in the upcoming film X-Men: Days of Future Past has got me thinking. Previously, we had only considered the film to be a sequel to X-Man: First Class, much like how we thought The Wolverine would be a direct sequel to X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which it isn't. Simply put, what if that isn't the case?

It's a relatively well-known fact that X-Men: First Class has many continuity issues that put it at odds with the previous films in the franchise. Among these are the characters of Emma Frost and Sebastian Shaw (who were in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and X2 respectively), Professor X being paralyzed at the end of the film when he's seen standing at the end of Origins, etc. In fact, there are so many continuity issues in this film that many can't determine if it is intended to be a prequel or a reboot.

I theorize that X-Men: First Class is neither a prequel or a reboot, but an entirely different timeline. Specifically, what will stand in for the "Present" timeline in Days of Future Past, while the original series of films will serve as the apocalyptic, Sentinel-dominated future.

My reasoning for this is as follows:

  1. Some Events - One of the events where Earth-811 diverged from Earth-616 involved Jean Grey as Dark Phoenix, particularly involving a scene at her house. A pivotal scene in The Last Stand involved Grey, as Dark Phoenix, returning to her childhood home. Granted, in the original timeline in the comics, this resulted in her death while the divergent timeline had her survive and have a daughter with Cyclops, while this scene in The Last Stand resulted in her killing Prof. X and joining with Magneto (which eventually led to her death), but it's something to take note of.

  2. The Continuity Issues - First Class was intended to serve as a prequel to the main series, as well as kick-off a spin-off series that would focus primarily on the young Professor X and his students, much like how Origins was a prequel as well as the start of a Wolverine-focused (as if the main trilogy wasn't already) spin-off franchise. Unlike First Class, however, Origins is not filled with countless continuity issues that makes the timeline of these films difficult to follow. By establishing the events of First Class as an alternate timeline to that of the main trilogy and Wolverine-centric spin-offs, these continuity issues don't matter, and some of them could perhaps be made into events where the two timelines diverge (i.e., in the timeline of the main series of films, Magneto lets Shaw live as opposed to his rather grisly fate in First Class).

  3. Retroactive Reboot - Transforming the events of First Class into an alternate timeline is the perfect opportunity for Fox to retroactively reboot the X-Men film franchise. For one, Fox hasn't had the best of luck rebooting its superhero licenses. The rights to Daredevil just returned to Marvel at the beginning of October, and their plans on rebooting the Fantastic Four have only just recently got off the ground. Secondly, it's a way to quickly reboot the franchise while avoiding the problems The Amazing Spider-Man faced. Although a 73% RT score and over $250 million at the box office are nothing to be ashamed of, The Amazing Spider-Man performed much weaker than the other films in the franchise (raking in despite 3D-inflated tickets about $50 million less and only having an RT score higher than Spider-Man 3) primarily due to the cynicism over the franchise being rebooted so quickly. By retroactively transforming First Class into a reboot, Fox can avoid a similar problem. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the main cast of the original series of films is getting old. By the time Days of Future Past is released, the original film will be 14 years old. Hugh Jackman cannot continue playing the ageless Wolverine for much longer, as he is aging just like everyone else. Furthermore, Fox will essentially be promoting this and any future X-Men film to a group of people who are going to be made up by and large by the children of the original film's target audience. Aside from Hugh Jackman, who will probably always be most recognized for his part in the franchise, the main cast of the original films mostly feels like a relic, a view into the past. Halle Berry is no longer a box office draw, Famke Janssen is the old woman from Taken, Anna Paquin is the $%@& from True Blood, most young audiences probably don't even know who Captain Picard is, etc. The X-Men film franchise's days are numbered, so Fox should look to rebooting the franchise rebooting the franchise in a way that won't happen before the license expires nor abuse the title like with The Amazing Spider-Man.

Also, what better excuse does one have for rebooting a franchise than fixing the mistakes of the past to save the future?

One more thing: this would be pretty damn similar to what J.J. Abrams did with Star Trek.

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