There is word circulating that 20th Century Fox has reached out to the MPAA to secure a title for the studio's forthcoming sequel to X-Men: First Class - and if reported accurately, that title is going to send a tidal wave of geek freak-outs across the Interwebs. The title in question is "Days of Future Past" - which remains one of the most famous and celebrated X-Men storylines of all time.
More interestingly, however: "Days of Future Past" was also a X-Men story that dealt with time travel and multiple timelines - meaning that director Matthew Vaughn and Fox could be (finally) trying to organize the convoluted continuity of the X-Men film franchise, using a tactic similar to what J.J. Abrams did with his Star Trek reboot.
Here is the quote from AICN reporter "The Kidd," which first kicked off this rumor:
One of my little birds Weapon X recently dropped me some information that 20th Century Fox had recently registered the title DAYS OF FUTURE PAST with the MPAA Title Registration Bureau. The Bureau exists for studios and productions companies to stake their claims on certain titles that they intend to release and distribute, so that others can stray from using a similar title.
The title "Days of Future Past" is taken from the two-issue Uncanny X-Men comic book storyline written in 1981 by legendary X-Men writer/artist team Chris Claremont and John Byrne. In the story, the X-Men are trying to stop the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (led by Mystique) from killing an anti-mutant political figure named Senator Robert Kelly. This pivotal event creates a separate timeline in which the X-Men fail to stop the Kelly assassination, and as a result, mutants are hunted, imprisoned and exterminated by humanity. One X-Man from that future dystopia manages to travel back in time and warn the present day X-Men, who ultimately stop the assassination (though the two timelines both remain in existence).
Given where X-Men: First Class left things, it's easy to see how "Days of Future Past" could be reconfigured to focus on Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and his Brotherhood going after a key political figure, and the X-Men team being visited by a dimension-hopping mutant to be forewarned of what happens if they don't stop the assassins. "Days of Future Past" also had the mutant-killing Sentinel robots, an older version of Wolverine, etc. - all of which would be awesome to see onscreen (not to mention a Terminator-style future dystopia). A "DoFP" plot could also open the door for the franchise to introduce time-hopping X-Men like Bishop or Cable to the mix.
In terms of the movies: "Days of Future Past" would give Vaughn and company a way to end all this continuity madness once and for all. If time travel and alternate timelines are successfully introduced into the X-Men movie universe, then that would be a perfect explanation for why the original X-Men trilogy (and Wolverine) have plot points that contradict First Class, while allowing all of the films to remain valid (unlike the 'forget the past' approach of the Spider-Man movie reboot).
"Days of Future Past" is an awesome story on its own - and I for one would welcome anything that could straighten out the movie continuity in satisfactory fashion. First Class was tormented all through development for not being a clear prequel OR reboot, but instead some weird amalgamation of both. I think a lot of X-Men fans would agree with the sentiment that it's time to clean house. J.J. Abrams successfully cleared away decades of Star Trek continuity when he spun-off a new timeline for his 2009 reboot, which allowed him the freedom to tell his own stories using familiar characters.
Finally, introducing alternate timelines would give Fox many new options for how they approach their other upcoming X-Men films: including already-in-production sequel The Wolverine, and the already-planned X-Men 4. In fact, "First Class Continuity (FCC)" and/or "Original Trilogy Continuity (OTC)" could be terms we all start throwing around pretty soon. Comic book geekery at its best.
X-Men: Days of Future Past - if that is indeed the title - will be in theaters on July 18th, 2014.
Header Image by Deviant Art User "Wobblyone".