The identity crises of 'X-Men: Days of Future Past'
With X-Men: Days of Future Past effectively hitting the reset button on the Fox X-Men franchise, the X-Men universe is clearly suffering from an identity crisis – one that the film explores through Raven/Mystique, Professor Charles Xavier, Magneto and even Wolverine though a good storyteller will recognize that Wolverine’s identity crisis will happen just after the film.
Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t seen X-Men: Days of Future Past, some of the details discussed in the following paragraphs may have spoilers.
The easiest example of the question of identity lies in the mutant persona of Raven or Mystique depending on what side she is on. Raven grew up with Xavier, who by his own admission tried to control her. She left Xavier for Magneto and became Mystique in the process. With one act, her first kill, her path was set for the future. That moment framed who she would become for the rest of her very short life. (We’re going to ignore time paradox for the moment.)
Until that moment, she wavered between the Raven of Xavier and the Mystique of Magneto while still trying to chart her own course in the world and doing the things that she thought was right. When that moment is erased from the history of time, she is left trying to figure out who she is. She starts her new journey by cutting ties with both Xavier and Magneto.
After Charles Xavier loses his legs, and everything else he loves, he turns to drugs to ease the pain and get his ability to walk back. The side effect of the drug is that he loses his powers, which is fine with him until he has to choose between walking and saving friends and all of mutantkind and the pain that the drugs relieved. Will he choose to become the man that Wolverine knew in the future, or would he continue to choose drugs?
A person’s identity is influenced by how people see that person. If a person only sees a race, color, religion or mutant power, the person that is defined by any of those things will be what he or she is defined as. The stories that others tell about us become our stories. In one poignant moment, Xavier asks Raven to make a choice that will change how humans see mutants. She does, and it changes not only her fate, but the fate of the entire world.
A person’s past is a part of his or her identity, even if the person tries to escape from it. The past only has to define someone as much as that person wants it to, but there are certain experiences that will shape a person regardless of how it is viewed. With Wolverine’s past wiped out, or at least different than he remembers, no one knows, least of him, what he will be like in the next movie.
Perhaps the greatest lesson to take form X-men: Days of Future Past is that the future is never set. People can choose who they want to be and who they become – at least until the apocalypse.