Tag: opinion

Why replacing Kitty Pryde with Wolverine in Days of Future Past was the right thing to do

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May 23, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT

WARNING: SPOILERS for X-Men: Days of Future Past follow

X-Men: Days of Future Past was, for me, an excellent superheroic adventure, filled with "everything is at stake" drama, "so cold it burns" betrayal and "shirtless Hugh Jackman" action. But it bears only a passing resemblance to the "Days of Future Past" saga from X-Men #141 and #142, the comic books on which the movie is based. Yes, it's about sending an X-Man back in time to stop Mystique from assassinating a political figure, thus rewriting the future. But there are several changes that have occurred in translation, not the least of which is the story's main character: Instead of Kitty going back to warn the X-Men, as she did in the comic book, the task is given to Wolverine on film.

Obviously, the decision was made based on box-office appeal. Hugh Jackman, who plays the mutant we love to love, is a proven success -- as is the character, who got himself two stand-alone movies, both of which did good numbers -- X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Wolverine earned $373 million earned $414 million, respectively, at the box office.

But it's not just about star power. Bryan Singer may have had a special motive to give Wolverine a seat on the time-traveler slab.

At the time of "Days of Future Past," Kitty, who was introduced in issue #129, was relatively new to the X-Men and even vanished for several issues when the plot diverted toward the Phoenix saga. But it was clear that Kitty was shy and scared, and only in "Days of Future Past," when we meet her future self, Kate, do we get to meet the superhero that she was meant to be.

Meanwhile, Wolverine already was that superhero, and as a man with a long lifespan, he's already an adult in the past. If you think about the trials and tribulations of a 13-year-old girl trying to convince the X-Men of her veracity -- and that was, in fact, a hurdle in the comic book -- it slows the plot. Wolverine can, and does, hit the ground (and anyone in his way) running.

Not that he doesn't stumble. Being persuasive isn't Wolverine's strong suit, and the film takes full dramatic advantage. It also opens up some excellent opportunities for character development and dialogue that could not have happened with Kitty, as when the younger Xavier recognizes Wolverine from his (very brief) cameo in X-Men: First Class.

Although it would have been wonderful to see Kitty turn from timid to capable in an instant -- and actress Ellen Page absolutely has the chops to pull it off -- this isn't that movie. In fact, the movie isn't even Wolverine's. It's Charles Xavier's.

It's Professor X's struggles with his powers and his mobility that are at the heart of this film, and Wolverine is just the lens through which we see his world … which is exactly the way we see things in director Bryan Singer's 2000 movie, X-Men.

By making Wolverine, and not Kitty, a focal character, Singer has brought his story full circle.