Days of Future Past’ Could’ve Been

The Big Picture

  • Matthew Vaughn was set to direct
    X-Men: Days of Future Past
    but left due to disagreements with the studio.
  • Multiple mutants, including Juggernaut, were considered for the film, but this changed during script development.
  • The original
    X-Men: Days of Future Past
    would have set up
    X-Men: Apocalypse
    more explicitly.

Next month, Deadpool & Wolverine will bring plenty of foul-mouthed mutant mayhem to the Marvel Cinematic Universe — while also seeing Hugh Jackman donning Wolverine’s adamantium claws once again. But long before Ryan Reynolds’ Merc with a Mouth brought his specific brand of madness to the Marvel multiverse, there was X-Men: Days of Future Past. To this day, it’s often regarded as one of the best live action X-Men films, and for good reason. Days of Future Past features an all-star cast, including Jackman and actors from the original X-Men movie trilogy. It also marked the return of Bryan Singer, who helmed X-Men and X2: X-Men United, to the director’s chair. It even beat Avengers: Endgame to the punch when it comes to “time travel superhero ensemble movies.” However, the road to the silver screen was fraught with plenty of challenges, including a shifting screenplay and a change in directors.

Matthew Vaughn Was Originally Slated To Direct ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’

When X-Men: Days of Future Past was first being pitched, Matthew Vaughn was slated to direct while Singer had a producing role. This direction wasn’t a surprise; Vaughn had directed X-Men: First Class, which was both a critical and commercial success and wound up revitalizing the X-Men movie franchise. Vaughn even had an outline for the beginning of the film, which would reveal that Magneto (Michael Fassbender) was behind the “magic bullet” that killed John F. Kennedy. But Vaughn eventually left Days of Future Past, choosing instead to direct Kingsman: The Secret Service for Fox while Singer took over the director’s reigns.

Vaughn would go deeper into his reasons for leaving Days of Future Past during a interview in 2019. He said that he wanted Days of Future Past to be the closing chapter of his X-Men trilogy:

“That’s one of the reasons I didn’t continue, because they didn’t listen to me. My plan was ‘
First Class
,’ then second film was new young Wolverine in the 70’s to continue those characters, my version of the X-Men. So you’d really get to know all of them, and my finale was gonna be ‘
Days of Future Past
.’ That was gonna be my number three where you bring them all… because what’s bigger than bringing in McKellen and Michael and Stewart and James and bringing them all together? When I finished the ‘
Days of Future Past
‘ script with it ready to go I looked at it and said, ‘I really think it would be fun to cast Tom Hardy or someone as the young Wolverine and then bring it all together at the end.’ Fox read ‘
Days of Future Past’
and went ‘Oh, this is too good! We’re doing it now!'”.

Despite Vaughn not directing Days of Future Past, he still retains a story credit on the final film. His idea of Magneto and the “magic bullet” even came into play, but with a twist, as the Master of Magnetism was trying to save Kennedy — who was secretly a mutant!

Multiple Mutants Were Considered for ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ – Including Juggernaut

Juggernaut (David Leitch) in 'Deadpool 2'
20th Century Fox

Like the classic Chris Claremont/John Byrne storyline that inspired it, X-Men: Days of Future Past takes place in a war-torn future where mutantkind is nearly extinct thanks to the rise of the Sentinels. Wolverine has his consciousness projected by Kitty Pryde (Elliot Page) through time to 1973, where he attempts to convince a young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto to stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from assassinating the head of the Sentinel program, Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage). Given that it would unite the casts of First Class and the original X-Men trilogy, as well as take place in two different time periods, new mutants would definitely pop up. As the screenplay was being written, those mutants changed.

One of the biggest changes involved Wolverine himself. In the comics, it’s an older Kitty who’s sent back through time, but Simon Kinberg eventually went with Wolverine due to his healing factor making him virtually immortal. Kinberg did come extremely close to bringing in a character who played an integral role in Days of Future Past: Rachel Summers, the daughter of Cyclops and Jean Grey. “Rachel was in the first draft of the script of this. In fact, it was Rachel that sent Wolverine back in the first draft of my script,” Kinberg said, while also detailing how he planned for Rachel to form a close bond with Storm.



Fox Fired the ‘X-Men: The Animated Series’ Staff Before They Realized It Was a Hit

“We’ll give you 13 episodes, but that’s it.”

The biggest change involved the mutant who was meant to break Magneto out of prison. Kinberg’s original script features Xavier recruiting the Juggernaut, who is dropped from a helicopter and smashes straight into the White House. Josh Helman once discussed how he was originally slated to play Juggernaut before a rewrite led to him playing William Stryker, the man who gives Wolverine his Adamantium skeleton in X2. “I originally got hired on a different role, which is no longer in the script — it was going to be young Juggernaut,” he told IGN. Instead, Days of Future Past features Quicksilver (Evan Peters) in what became a standout moment for the X-Men movies.

‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ Would Have Led Directly Into ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’

X-Men: Days of Future Past was a smash success, both in terms of box office and audience reception. It’s often regarded as the high point of the X-Men franchise due to how well it balances the emotional moments with the superheroic action — the moment where the younger Xavier comes face to face with his older self (Patrick Stewart) will bring tears to anyone’s eyes. The same can’t be said of its follow-up X-Men: Apocalypse, which is ironic considering the original Days of Future Past directly set up that film. In the original script, Magneto has fled to Egypt when he sees something falling from the sky. That something is Apocalypse, who takes over Magneto’s body. This was changed to a post-credits scene where Apocalypse displays his powers; X-Men: Apocalypse would instead make Magneto one of Apocalypse’s Four Horsemen.

Even if it never took the form that Vaughn, Kinberg, or any other creatives envisioned, X-Men: Days of Future Past still remains a superhero movie worth watching ten years later. With Marvel Studios about to launch its own X-Men reboot, it could look to Days of Future Past for inspiration on how to bring the mighty mutants into a new age of film.

X-Men: Days of Future Past is available to rent or purchase on Prime Video in the U.S.

Rent on Prime Video


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