The X-Men have been at the forefront of popular culture for a very long time. From their comic book debut in 1963 to the latest special effects loaded action movie, the X-Men have made their way into nearly every form of media in the 21st century. For 90’s kids, cramming in episodes of the X-Men Animated Series before school or waking up early on a Saturday to catch the latest adventure was the norm and even to this day it’s hard to listen to the nostalgia-invoking theme song without breaking out the air guitar like some kind of deranged euphoric Joe Perry.
There was something very enthralling about the diverse and many-coloured mutant team that kept us coming back for more. Maybe it was their vast range of powers and abilities, or the way the writers cleverly dealt with a range of social issues or maybe it was just the pleasure of watching iconic stories coming to life before our eyes over multiple episodes. Whatever *it* was, it worked, as it managed to spark a whole generation of X-Men super-fans across the globe.
Fast forward to 2000 and we see our beloved X-Men hit the big screen for the first time to critical acclaim, with Bryan Singer at the helm and a fantastic cast of suited-and-booted mutants taking centre stage. The flick was a huge success, not just because it grossed US$296 million (which was fairly good for those days) but mainly because it was the catalyst that reignited the flame and spawned the re-emergence of superhero movies in the new millennium.
Seven movies and 15 years later and the X-Men are as strong as ever, having grossed over US$3 billion at the box office and shining brightly as one of 20th Century Fox’s principle franchises. However, it’s not been a completely smooth ride for the X-Men franchise, having suffered some serious bumps along the way with inconsistent script quality, directors dropping out in favour of other projects and casting renegotiations. As with any franchise that extends over a decade there have been some big ups (X-Men & X2) and some serious downs (X-Men: The Last Stand & X-Men Origins: Wolverine), but with the critically acclaimed Matthew Vaughn reboot (X-Men: First Class) in 2011 the direction of the franchise was once again back on track.
Building on the success of First Class, the fan-anointed protector of the X-Men universe Bryan Singer returned to direct the sequel, X-Men: Days of Future Past, based loosely on the iconic comic book story arc by Chris Claremont and John Byrne. With the help of Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman and Oscar award winning screenplay writer Simon Kinberg, Singer was able to craft a narrative that not only kept pace with its predecessor, but took Quicksilver sized strides ahead in nearly every way.
With Singer essentially saying “fuck you!” to Brett Ratner’s X-Men: The Last Stand, he was able to not only undo all the mistakes of previous movies and fix the timelines and continuity of the universe as he saw fit, but simultaneously provide the audience with a fresh and exciting X-Men story packed full of new and familiar faces while skilfully organising the pieces into position for his grand finale – X-Men: Apocalypse.
Unfortunately, as with any blockbuster movie that features an ensemble of A-list celebrities frolicking around as superheroes it can be a struggle to give each cast member an equal – or appropriate – amount of screen time while maintaining tight narrative pacing and keeping any semblance of a coherent story (see Avengers). This is not only a financial headache – as sometimes studios will end up paying actors large sums of money for what are essentially glorified cameo roles – but also a creative nightmare, as it’s never easy to have to cut back. In Days of Future Past’s case Singer struggled with these issues and inevitably made the decision to cut Anna Paquin from the theatrical release due to time constraints. However, shortly after the release of Days of Future Past, Singer announced that there would be an alternate cut of the movie released that would add an additional 17 minutes of previously unused footage and bring Rogue’s scenes back into the movie. This would be known as The Rogue Cut.
The 17 minutes of extra footage that The Rogue Cut adds aren’t just extended scenes, but additional subplots that explore a number of different things such as Beast’s relationship with Mystique, Iceman and – more importantly – Rogue’s place in the events that unfold throughout the course of Days of Future Past. While some of these scenes flesh out parts of the story that felt obviously stripped back in the theatrical cut, others are often just an extra line tacked on to the end of a scene.
The Beast/Mystique scenes are interesting as they relate to scenes from First Class about showing their “true face” and expand upon the dynamics of their relationship – which Singer tells us will be important in Apocalypse – and provide explanations for some events that the theatrical cut simply left out. That being said, parts of their scene – in particular a fairly intimate moment – felt abrupt and artificial.
Unfortunately some of the weaker scenes in The Rogue Cut involve the mutation-stealing princess herself. Despite the fact that some of Rogue’s scenes fix some of the issues viewers had with the theatrical cut – such as how Kitty manages to keep the connection with Wolverine stable despite bleeding out like an extra in a John Carpenter movie – some of her scenes tend to feel redundant. Nevertheless, there’s a great scene with Magneto, Iceman and Rogue that gives us some more explosive Sentinel goodness.
All in all the extra content in The Rogue Cut definitely succeeds in filling the gaps in the theatrical cut, adding some extra subplots that die-hard fans will love and improving scenes with extra dialogue. With extra commentary tracks from Bryan Singer and John Ottman, 90 minutes of new special features, a Fantastic Four Sneak Peek and the theatrical version thrown in for good measure, The Rogue Cut is simply a must-have for any X-Men fan and takes the already great Days of Future Past to new heights.
[rating=4] and a half
Samuel Spettigue – follow Samuel on Twitter at @ninjaspag.
Check out an exclusive clip from X-Men: Days of Future Past (Rogue Cut) below: