Good Essay On Righting The Ship: Bryan Singer As Auteur In X-Men: Days OF Future Past
Auteurism, as established by Francois Truffaut and many other writers and contributors for Cahiers du cinema, is a theory of film criticism in which the director is thought to be the ultimate ‘author’ of a film, with the creative thrust of the film being their primary artistic expression. In today’s blockbuster franchise world, that type of authorial control can oversee multiple films in a series. The X-Men superhero film series, headed by original director Bryan Singer, saw great success and a consistent world, before being changed in subsequent films by directors such as Brett Ratner, Gavin Hood, and Matthew Vaughn. By returning to the director’s chair for X-Men: Days of Future Past, Singer reclaimed his status as the 'auteur' of the X-Men franchise by effectively retconning and incorporating the works of the other non-Singer films into a restored, tightly controlled timeline.
The central concept of Days of Future Past is ostensibly meant to combine the original X-Men movie universe (with Hugh Jackman as Wolverine) with the recent prequel X-Men First Class through the use of time travel, using the casts of both eras to tell a story about time travel and the changing of timelines to prevent an apocalyptic future in which robotic Sentinels hunt humans and mutants alike to extinction. By bringing back many of the major characters from the first two X-Men films he directed, Singer’s goal was to return the franchise to its auspices and bring back familiar characters, while still acknowledging the younger, fresher versions of the characters who would become the main characters in future X-Men installments. The film, therefore, flits between two timelines: that of the original X-Men cast, fighting off the Sentinels to protect Wolverine, whose consciousness has transported back to the new First Class era, allowing him to interact with the rebooted cast from the previous film. This links First Class to Singer’s X-Men films, implicitly giving it legitimacy as part of the series and something approved by Singer.
Singer also notably eliminates some of the more egregious elements of the previous films, either ignoring them or making it so they never happened as a result of the shift in the timeline. When Wolverine wakes up after the day is saved in his proper timeline, many of the events from Brett Ratner’s divisive X-Men 3: The Last Stand are reversed – Professor Xavier is still alive and in his own body, Wolverine has his metal claws again, Jean Grey and Cyclops are still alive, Rogue is still a mutant, and so on. By making his return film specifically about fixing these ‘mistakes,’ Singer establishes himself as the ultimate author of the X-Men film franchise, and as such has the ability to reconcile the different timelines and character changes into a new, unified universe from which the franchise can carry on.
Looking at X-Men: Days of Future Past from an auteur perspective, Bryan Singer returns to the director’s chair to re-assert his authorial control over the film series that he began. Using the conceit of time travel to weave his old cast with the returning new cast from other, non-Singer entries, as well as reverse some unpopular decisions that were made with some characters, Bryan Singer’s ultimate statement in Days of Future Past is to correct the mistakes of the interim entries of the series and move forward with his new, fan-approved vision for the X-Men.
Keyes, Rob. “Bryan Singer Talks X-Men 3 & ‘Fixing A Few Things’ With ‘X-Men: Days of
Future Past’”. Screenrant, 2013. <http://screenrant.com/bryan-singer-x-men-3-4-days-of-future-past/>
Singer, Bryan (dir.). X-Men: Days of Future Past. Perf. Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael
Fassbender. 20th Century Fox, 2014. Film.