Magneto days of future past

X-Men comic writer on unraveling the team's tangled time travel history

Contributed by
Dec 27, 2017

The X-Men have historically had one of the most flexible timelines in comics, with incarnations of the original five hopping back and forth across the ocean of time with a general sense of disrespect for consequences. Days of Future Past and Cable’s introduction in Deadpool 2 translate this theme to cinema audiences, but the comics are where it thrives. Now, one of its writers has dished about how he’ll handle time travel in the series moving forward (backward?).

In an interview with Marvel, X-Men Blue writer Cullen Bunn talks about how the OG five (Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, and Jean Grey) will deal with their friend/foe Magneto upon their return to their present. In the "future" where much of their adventure takes place, these five are allies of Magento, but in the past, it’s a different story. However, “I think they might be reluctant to fight Magneto, knowing that they will someday be allies,” Bunn says.

“Now, if you’re talking about will traveling to the future and living with the modern X-Men make them reluctant to battle Magneto if and when they return home…well…we’re addressing that a bit in this arc,” Bunn continued. “A key point of this arc is that if the Original Five do anything different in the past, it will upset the present. With that in mind, they MUST fight Magneto, just as they did in the past.” Taking the philosophical time travel stance of determinism, Bunn extrapolates a logic that depends on the past always creating the same future.

In fact, as Bunn teases, perhaps “the Original Five in the past fought Magneto in their earliest encounters BECAUSE they know how he’ll end up in the future and they need to guide him to that moment.” That’s self-consistency, which says that actions taken by time travelers must have always taken place, which makes any effects inherently caused by this circular causation.

It’s pretty heady stuff, but the core idea of Magneto’s shifting allegiances and goals is as strong as ever. If it takes jumping back and forth along the time stream to drive it home, those are just more delicious complications for fans to unpack.