The X-Men movies have always had a questionable continuity, but divergent timelines became a part of the official canon when X-Men: Days of Future Past used time travel as the cornerstone of tis plot.
Things are about to get more complicated, as X-Men: Apocalypse will introduce young versions of several of the characters from the original X-Men film trilogy, including Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), and Storm (Alexandra Shipp). Set in 1983, Apocalypse also brings the prequels closer the era that the original X-Men movies took place in.
X-Men: Apocalypse director Bryan Singer and writer Simon Kinberg tried to explain the X-Men’s timeline (a favorite pastime among fans of X-Men comics) and how they’re trying to play with the very concept of a prequel.
“It’s not leading necessarily toward exactly where we found Patrick Stewart and the X-Men at the beginning of X-Men 1,” Kinberg said. “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.”
“What happens when you use Days of Future Past to erase movies like X1, 2 and 3, yes you can erase those events that occurred, but I also was very adamant about having what we call ‘The Tivo Scene,’” Singer explained. “The scene in that room with all the video cameras in Days of Future Past, I call it the Tivo scene. ‘I developed this piece of technology that records television;’ the point is time’s immutability. The idea that time is like a river. You can splash it and mess it up and throw rocks in it and shatter it but it eventually kind of coalesces and this is, again, quantum physics theory. It’s all based in quantum physics.
“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,” Singer continued. “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 fuck we want because we erased those three movies.”
Coincidentally, these are themes that are currently being explored in the comic book series All-New X-Men, which used time travel to bring the original X-Men into the present day. But what about that scene at the end of X-Men: Days of Future Past, where Wolverine wakes up and everything seemed to be pretty perfect.
“All these movies now exist in the same timeline and certainly the intention at the end of Days of Future Past was that final future we saw was the destination for the characters,” Kinberg says. “So, barring another time travel or something else that would upset the timeline, that would be the fate of those characters.”
But Singer seemed less sure of the X-Men’s future.
“Time can always be fucked with, we’ve now learned that,” Singer cautioned. “We’ve now learned that once you alter time that could be the future, but I don’t believe if you look at all the X-Men movies and Days of Future Past, I don’t believe that’s definitive.”
In other words, don’t feel too confident in the safety of your favorite characters.
“I’ll kill any of those characters any day I want,” Singer made clear, revealing yet another similarity between the X-Men and Game of Thrones. “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.”