The X-Men franchise has always played things a bit loose when it comes to continuity, and the start of the First Class era only made things even murkier. But, all of that changed with Days of Future Past.
The twisty, time traveling tale tasked Wolverine with averting an apocalyptic future where pretty much everyone is extinct and Sentinels roam the Earth, which apparently represented the endgame for the universe established in the original X-Men trilogy. But, with the future fundamentally changed, that freed Singer to bring all the disparate stories into one unified continuity, now that the original trilogy (and the atrocious X-Men Origins: Wolverine) has been rewritten.
So, how does it all work? Not surprisingly, it’s kind of complicated. Here’s how Singer tried to break it down in a recent chat with Collider:
“It’s not leading necessarily toward exactly where we found Patrick Stewart and the X-Men at the beginning of X-Men 1. There are some things that lead in that general direction, that was part of the philosophy we had at the end of Days of Future Past is that you can’t fully change the course or current of the river, but you can just divert it a little bit, and we diverted it a little bit. So some things will be surprises; people could die that were alive in X-Men 1, 2 and 3, or people could survive that died during 1, 2 and 3.
So what I’m doing with these in-betweenqueels is playing with time’s immutability and the prequel concept, meaning that yes we erased those storylines and anything can happen. That means the audience goes into the movie thinking that anything can happen. I mean anything, anyone could die. Any possibility could occur, but characters are still moving towards their immutable place. Jean and Scott, are they meant to be together? Is Scott, this guy who hates schools and hates authority, destined to become a leader? You don’t know. Is Jean ever going to discover the full potential of her power? You don’t know, but we move in those directions character-wise but then we have the freedom story-wise to do whatever the f*** we want because we erased those three movies.”
So, does that mean we’ll eventually end up in the future Wolverine woke up to find in Days of Future Past, with all his friends alive and the world an (essentially) hunky-dory place? Yes, and no. Singer said he views that happy ending the “intention” for where all these characters will end up, but that doesn’t mean they won’t decide to kill someone along the way, or even screw around in the time stream again (now that we’ve seen it happen).
Check out that piece of the interview below:
“The prequel, you don’t know where it’s going and yet you do kind of know where you want it to go, where you want to see those characters end up, and that’s the beauty of it, of Days of Future Past, of what it did for me. That’s why I fought so hard to make sure we have Hank McCoy talk about the theory of time’s immutability, because that defines what I’m doing with this universe and with these prequels to X1, 2 and 3, which are erased—or are they not?
I’ll kill any of those characters any day I want. They’re all fair game. Anything can happen. When two things are happening simultaneously in quantum physics it’s what’s called the Super Position and when the Observer finally observes the outcome that’s called the ‘Collapsing of the Super Position’ which is what happened when Wolverine woke up and saw all the happiness. So yes that is the outcome we hope for, that is the outcome we aspire to, and that’s the outcome we are moving towards, but we saw in Days of Future Past another dark world. What says that can’t happen again? What says the awakening of a being that has such power and can acquire the power to destabilize that? So anything is possible. That’s what we’d like to think happens, that’s what Simon would like to think is a good outcome, but to me it’s fair game.”
So...yeah. Basically, Singer have given himself a free pass to do just about anything, while still (technically) staying within more than a decade of established continuity. Fairly impressive, really, if you think about it.