[WARNING! POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD!]
For a high profile blockbuster superhero movie with a well known director and a huge A-list cast, you have to hand it to 20th Century Fox for managing to keep the plot details of X-Men: Days of Future Past under wraps for so long.
Despite multiple teaser photos from the set - many from director Bryan Singer himself (see his latest one here, of what appears to be a an actor on wires in a very Magneto-esque pose) - the actual plot and character details on the time travel storyline have been largely hinted at ... until now.
Here's what we know so far about the film: the main cast of the previous "present-day" (well, near-future) X-Men films are reprising their roles even as the actors who played their younger counterparts in the prequel X-Men: First Class will also play an integral role in the story.
The popular 1981 comic book story written by Chris Claremont - also called Days of Future Past - serves as the inspiration for this installment, which features time travel and the mutant-hunting giant robots known as Sentinels, which were (sort of) seen very briefly as part of a Danger Room training simulation in X-Men: The Last Stand.
In the comic, Kitty Pryde (played by Ellen Page in the film) has her consciousness sent back in time into her younger self to help the X-Men of the past (most of whom have been hunted to extinction in the future) prevent the assassination of Senator Robert Kelly's (who died in the first X-Men film) and the Sentinel apocalypse to come. In the adaptation from the 1990s animated series, the mutant Bishop was the time traveler.
However, in the forthcoming adaptation - according to Vulture - Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) will be the mutant who gets sent back in time to 1973.
Apparently, Kitty Pryde will use her powers (??) to send Wolverine back, where he meets the young Professor Xavier (James McAvoy), Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence). Kitty suffers some kind of mishap in the process, forcing the mutants in the present to find someone capable of absorbing Kitty's powers and returning Wolverine to the present.
Anyone with a passing knowledge of this universe knows this may be where Anna Paquin's Rogue - and her ability to absorb other mutants' powers - could come into play. Despite the fact that she took the "mutant cure" in The Last Stand, we have reason to infer that the cure's effects are not permanent, evidenced by the way Magneto (Sir Ian McKellen) was able to slightly move a metal chess piece toward the end of the film.
It'll be interesting to see how Kitty Pryde's intangibility powers are capable of sending people back and forth through time. That's definitely a new development.
Vulture has also revealed that Peter Dinklage is indeed playing Bolivar Trask, the inventor of the Sentinels (and owner of an epic 'stache), and that Josh Helman is set to play a young William Stryker. Previously, Stryker was portrayed by Bryan Cox (X2) and Danny Huston (X-Men Origins: Wolverine).
It seems that Trask will play the part of the villain in the present (though Dinklage's handlebar mustache may say something different) while Stryker will be the villain of the past. Considering Stryker from Wolverine and Stryker from Days of Future Past are both from the 1970s and are drastically different in appearance in age, we can probably assume the former film no longer exists in X-Men movie continuity.
Bryan Singer has also confirmed the return of yet another cast member, one he hasn't directed before - Lucas Till will reprise his role as Alex Summers/Havok from First Class as we figured from an unofficial street photo of him on set in Montreal. He tweeted an image of Till on set:
— Bryan Singer (@BryanSinger) July 15, 2013
Could Havok be a soldier in the Vietnam War? It seems pretty likely.
Fox is bringing its upcoming blockbusters to Comic-Con this coming weekend, including Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and The Wolverine, with "a surprise" in store as well. We initially thought that a new Predator project could be announced, but with this sudden flurry of new information, we have to wonder just how many more surprises Bryan Singer and company have in store.
The director has promised that his latest outing will be more than a gimmicky time travel reunion, but just having Singer back in charge of this world - which he helped bring to life in the first place - is exciting for fans. We can't wait to find out what else he has up his sleeve.
Expect more news on the X-Men's latest adventure as 20th Century Fox hosts their panel at Comic-Con 2013 on Saturday, July 20th.
X-Men: Days of Future Past hits theaters July 18th, 2014.
Sources: Bryan Singer, Vulture