From the X-Men: Apocalypse Set

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The ending of X-Men: Days of Future Past in essence hit the reset button on the franchise, erasing some of the films that fans were less enthusiastic about and bringing back to life several previously-deceased characters. This allows the filmmakers a certain freedom for the franchise moving forward and no longer ties them down to an end point of the first film, now 17 years old itself.

“There are some things that lead in that general direction,” Simon Kinberg says. “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.”

Bryan Singer added on to the aquatic metaphor and mentioned why it’s a good thing for the franchise moving forward.

“The idea is 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… 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. That means the audience goes into the movie thinking that anything can happen. I mean anything.”

Kinberg went on to say that the future seen at the end of Days of Future Past was intended, at the time, to be the final version of the future for the characters.

“Certainly the intention at the end of Days of Future Past was that final future we saw was the destination for the characters. So barring another time travel or something else that would upset the timeline, that would be the fate of those characters. And not everybody lives because you didn’t see everybody at the end of Days of Future Past.”

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Singer however was a little more colorful in teasing potential changes to the future of characters and refuting the finality of that scene, saying:

“I’ll kill any of those characters any day I want. They’re all fair game. Anything can happen… Time can always be f***ed with, we’ve now learned that. 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.”

Where does that leave the future though? Once you’ve brought about the Apocalypse, what stories do you continue to tell? I asked Singer if he felt that the success of something like Guardians of the Galaxy, which brought some of the more outlandish elements of comic books to the big screen, could allow the X-Men franchise to finally tap into its own weirdness. At first he seemed dismissive of the idea.

“That tonally automatically sets you up for a farce. You’ve got a raccoon with a machine gun. You’ve got a guy that’s like ‘Nothing gets over my head!’ You have a tone of that movie that is a tone, once you’ve got that tone you can do all kinds of stuff like that… Here, this universe is taken quite seriously so yeah we have our fun, we have side jokes, and we take the edge of certain scenes to lighten them up a bit but we certainly, I can’t alter the tone of the movie because a movie like that is successful.”

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Later in our conversation, however, Singer was discussing how he, Simon Kinberg, and Jason Taylor (president of Singer’s Bad Hat Harry Productions) conceived of the idea of X-Men: Days of Future Past. It began as just trying to figure out a way to get the casts of both films into one piece, and Singer threw out the idea of time travel, a central tenant in the X-Men lore. While recounting this story to us, that’s when we could see the wheels beginning to turn within Singer’s head about what the future might hold for the X-Men.

“(Days of Future Past) began with that conversation where I just threw out (Time Travel) as a tenant, and you’re right, Aliens are a tenant. I could take X-Men to space… I could find myself on a giant space station. With the M’Kraan Crystal and the whole f***ing thing with mutants.”

The director paused and then added, “By the way that sounds like something I’m going to circle back to in about six years.”

Singer went on to address that having director Matthew Vaughn come in to direct X-Men: First Class allowed for a nice recharge and break before he stepped back in, a process he said could happen again in the future before he returns.

“The Matthew Vaughn separation was helpful because I got to step back and see him take on this universe with this new cast and that kind of helped me, because he was doing it and I was on set some of the time… It was good to step away and it would be interesting. So to answer what you were saying, about letting someone else take over X-Men, if they took it over in a certain way and didn’t bury it like can happen but actually take it to different levels and different places… I could see myself coming back around and finding myself in space with a bunch of mutants on a mission, in that environment. Perhaps not the same tonal quality of James Gunn, but doing something outside of what I’ve done before that somebody else helped me lay the groundwork for. So I might be returning to X-Men but it might be a whole different thing, and that could be appealing.”

X-Men: Apocalypse will debut in theaters on May 22.