This will be the first in a series of posts I will be doing to better explain my displeasure with what Fox, Bryan Singer, Lauren Shuler Donner and company have done with my favorite super hero team of all time… The X-Men.
This week we will be taking a pretty extensive look at the timeline that the X-Men movies have put forth thus far.
FoX-Men movie apologists like to talk about how messed up X-Men comic book continuity has been for years (and years and years). To them I say, we are only 6 (almost 7) movies deep. It shouldn’t be THAT hard to keep this stuff straight.
Others would ask us to simply sit back and enjoy each movie on its own accord, ignoring any previously established storylines, timelines and continuity. I’d like to be able to do this but my comic book upbringing has trained me to pay attention to things that have happened in the past. I also don’t believe that this is how the writers and directors have intended us to watch the movies. So, that means that they simply haven’t done a very good job of researching the previous movies or that they simply don’t care.
On the positive side, it is pretty cool to even have the kind of backstory that these movies are trying to provide. By interweaving this alternate reality into our own U.S. history, Fox has created something that no other comic book movie universe has, a history. This history is, to me, the best thing the Fox X-Men universe has going for it.
We will first take a look at the timeline as it sits currently, speculating as little as possible. This timeline will include information gleaned from X-Men, X2: X-Men United, X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men: First Class, The Wolverine and the information that has been released thus far from X-Men: Days of Future Past. I have NOT included any events which have happened in companion books, comic books or video games. I’m sure these books, comics and games are fun in their own right but my guess is they will only further complicate this already confusing timeline. I’d have a hard time holding the filmmakers responsible for the potentially half-assed homework of the writers and game developers.
After reviewing the timeline we will dig deeper into the inconsistencies and enigmas that show up once it is laid out in this way.
And now, finally, on to the timeline…
James Howlett / Wolverine is Born in Canada
James Howlett / Wolverine’s Power First Manifests
A sick and bedridden 13-year-old James see’s his “father” shot by Thomas Logan, the father of his friend Victor (Sabretooth). James attacks Thomas and kills him with his newly discovered claws. Victor and James run away from home.
April 12, 1861 – May 10, 1865
Wolverine and Sabretooth Fight in the American Civil War
James Howlett (Wolverine) and Victor Creed (Sabretooth) fight for the Union in the American Civil War.
August 3, 1914 – November 11, 1918
Wolverine and Sabretooth Fight in World War I
James Howlett (Wolverine) and Victor Creed (Sabretooth) fight for the Americans on the Western Front in World War I.
Erik Lehnsherr (Magneto) is Born
This is an approximate date based on the age of young Erik in the concentration camp scenes.
Charles Xavier is Born
This is an approximate date based on the age of young Charles when shown in his parents’ mansion.
Raven Darkholme (Mystique) is Born
This is an approximate date based on the age of young Raven when shown in Charles Xavier’s parents’ mansion.
Charles Xavier Meets Raven Darkholme
12-year-old Charles Xavier meets a 10-year-old Raven Darkholme (Mystique), who had broken into his family’s mansion and was scrounging for food. Both have already had their powers manifest. Overjoyed to meet someone else “different” like him, he invited her to live with his family. She is soon adopted and becomes Charles’ foster sister.
Erik Lehnsherr’s (Magneto) Powers Manifest
A young Erik Lensherr (Magneto) is separated from his parents by Nazi soldiers in German-occupied Poland. Under this stress, Lehnsherr’s powers began to manifest and in his panic, twisted open the metal fence separating him from his parents before being knocked unconscious. After seeing Erik’s powers, Sebastian Shaw, using the name Dr. Klaus Schmidt while working for the Germans, kills Erik’s mother attempting to get Erik to repeat the show of power.
June 6, 1944
James Howlett and Victor Creed Participate In D-Day
James Howlett (Wolverine) and Victor Creed (Sabretooth) are a part of the U.S. forces storming the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.
August 9, 1945
James Howlett Saves Ichiro Yashida From the Nagasaki Bombing
James Howlett (Wolverine) saves the life of Ichiro Yashida while imprisoned in a Japanese POW camp during World War II.
Bolivar Trask Hypothesizes Link Between Higher-Order Brain Function and Genetic Mutations
A young Bolivar Trask hypothesizes the link between traceable higher-order brain function and certain genetic mutations.
The Events of X-Men: First Class
Charles Xavier and Erik Leehnsherr join the government run Division X, form a mutant team and stop Sebastian Shaw from causing World War III during the Cuban Missile Crisis. At the end of the battle Charles Xavier is shot in the spine and paralyzed.
November 22, 1963
Magneto is Suspected in JFK Assassination
Magneto is suspected and ultimately convicted for the assassination of JFK. Between 1963 and 1971 Magneto destroyed three of his cells before Trask Industries was commissioned to build a facility to properly hold him.
James Howlett and Victor Creed Fight in the Vietnam War
James Howlett (Wolverine) and Victor Creed (Sabretooth) fight for the U.S. Army in the Vietnam war.
Charles Xavier Opens The School For Gifted Youngsters
Xavier opens a private boarding school with a hidden agenda: to ensure young mutants have a safe haven to study and safely develop their powers.
Bolivar Trask Founds Trask Industries
Trask Industries Develops Artificial Limbs
Bolivar Trask revolutionizes the world of prosthetics through DNA-generated artificial limbs.
James Howlett and Victor Creed Executed
Victor Creed kills a commanding officer in Vietnam and James Howlett defends him from retaliating soldiers. Both are arrested and executed by firing squad. Both survive and are imprisoned.
Colonel William Stryker Gets James Howlett and Victor Creed Out of Prison to Join Team X.
James Howlett and Victor Creed join Stryker’s Team X unit consisting of Agent Zero, Wade Wilson (Deadpool), Fred Dukes (The Blob), Chris Bradley (Bolt) and John Wraith (Kestrel).
James Howlett Leaves Team X
After disagreeing with the team on the execution of innocent civilians on a mission in Lagos, Nigeria, James Howlett leaves Team X.
Prolonged Silence On Nixon White House Tapes Points To Scandal
Congressional investigators seeking evidence of an improper relationship between Trask Industries and the Nixon White House are stymied when they discover that 18½ minutes of a meeting between Bolivar Trask and President Nixon have been completely erased.
Trask Industries introduced Sentinel Mark I
Trask Industries introduced the first Sentinel production model, the Mark I. Through a defense contract with the Nixon administration, Trask Industries begins production and deployment of the Sentinel Mark I. While the heavily funded project raised the level of national security capabilities, it also resulted in America moving away from the Gold Standard.
The Past Events of X-Men: Days of Future Past
Trask Produces Sentinels For Governments World Wide
Between 1973 and 1996, Trask produced 8732 Sentinel Mark Is for the governments of the United States, China, Russia, Israel, Saudi Arabia, France, India and the United Kingdom, partnering with domestic and international governments since the Nixon administration
May 8, 1974
Congress passes the Homeland Containment Act
Congress passes the HCA (Homeland Containment Act), deploying Sentinels to the top 5 most densely populated cities in the U.S.
Xavier Goes To Washington
Charles Xavier appears before the U.S. House of Representatives in a private closed session, asking for mutant freedoms including integration and privacy.
World Record Scandal
Athletics officials adopt a genetic testing policy in partnership with Trask Industries in which no athletes carrying the mutant X-gene can compete in professional sporting events. This occurs following the investigation of Pietro Maximoff, Quicksilver, who broke 8 world records in track and field events.
1977 – March 28, 1979
The Events of X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Victor Creed begins hunting down members of the former Team X. Wolverine undergoes the procedure to fuse adamantium to his skeleton to defeat him. Wolverine encounters Remy LeBeau / Gambit and a teenage Scott Summers / Cyclops in his travels. In the finale Wolverine and Sabretooth battle Weapon XI / Deadpool / Wade Wilson on top of a cooling tower on Three Mile Island. After the battle Wolverine is shot in the head with an adamantium bullet causing him to lose his memory.
Minister Dubs Mutants “God’s Curse”
Popular televangelist minister, Bob Bell, and his organization, “The Human Majority,” champion a strong anti-mutant movement. Among their principles is the belief that disease is God’s curse for mutant integration.
Charles Xavier and Magneto Meet Jean Grey
Charles Xavier and Magneto first meet with Jean’s parents and convince them to allow Jean to join the Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. Next they meet Jean and see a demonstration of her powers.
Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster
The Chernobyl nuclear power plant melts down, causing a spike in premature mutant expressions for generations.
Berlin Wall Protests
A few renegade mutants knock down a mile-long section of the Berlin wall in an act of protest, killing 23 people and injuring over 200. The protest alarmed citizens of West Germany, sparking anti-mutant policies. The Berlin Wall stands today and East Germany has been designated as a mutant zone.
In partnership with Trask Industries, the FBI unveils a method of using DNA evidence at crime scenes to identify criminals. Off the record, Trask Industries also begins building a private Mutant Registry from this database of DNA, with plans to sell the information to wealthy world governments.
South African Reform
As the global conversation on mutant-human relations grows, South Africa proudly declares their country a unified and united refuge for all.
Zapatistas Ally With Mutant Supporters
The Zapatista resistance, aided by mutant freedom fighters, engages in armed conflict against the Mexican government in Southern Mexico.
Warren Worthington III’s Powers Manifest
Warren Worthington III (Angel) is shown ripping feathers from his back in a bathroom.
Mad Cow Disease Outbreak
An early attempt at the cure for the x-gene fails when animal testing goes awry, causing widespread sickness commonly referred to as Mad Cow Disease.
The Events of the first X-Men movie.
Wolverine joins the X-Men. Rogue joins Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. Magneto attempts to turn a large gathering of New York dignitaries into mutants. The X-Men battle Magneto and his Brotherhood atop the Statue of Liberty.
Guantanamo Bay Mutant Detention Center
The U.S. Government contracts Trask Industries to build Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The Camp is a detention center for mutants dangerous enough to be deemed national security threats.
The Events of X2: X-Men United
William Stryker kidnaps Charles Xavier, Cyclops and a number of the young students in a plot to kill all of the world’s mutants. Magneto joins the remaining X-Men and the new recruit Nightcrawler to track Stryker to Alkali Lake and stop him. In the finale Wolverine battles a brainwashed Lady Deathstryke and Jean Grey sacrifices herself to allow the X-Men to escape a failing dam.
The Events of X-Men: The Last Stand
Worthington Labs announces a cure to mutants. Jean Grey is found alive but The Phoenix (an inner strength) has taken over. She kills Cyclops and Professor Xavier, then joins Magneto who then recruits Juggernaut, Multiple Man and the Morlocks. Mystique is depowered. Hank McCoy / Beast, the United States’ Secretary of Mutant Affairs, rejoins the X-Men in the final battle between the X-Men and Magneto’s new Brotherhood. Magneto is depowered (temporarily) and Jean Grey is killed by Wolverine. It is later revealed that Rogue took the cure, Magneto wasn’t actually depowered and Professor X had transferred his consciousness into the body of his twin brother.
U.S. Erects Wall To Strengthen Border
The U.S. erects a 2,000 mile long wall along the Mexican border. Politicians maintain that the structure is a necessary measure for the prevention of illegal immigration. Others contend that the wall is a last-ditch effort to contain Mexico’s growing population of mutant rebels.
Mutant Inhibitor Collar
After a string of breakouts from Camp X-Ray by high-powered mutants, Trask Industries develops a collar to inhibit mutant abilities.
Trask Industries Acquires Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters
Xavier’s School for Gifted youngsters closes. Trask Industries renovates the mansion into a research facility.
March On X-Mansion
To protest the billion dollar “mutant cure” arms race led by Trask industries, Yashida Corp and other multinational pharmaceutical companies, Occupy Wall Street marches from the X-Mansion to Zuccotti Park. Sentinels attack the peaceful mutant demonstration. In the ensuing chaos, Warren Worthington III, the mutant known as “Angel,” is killed.
Mutants Escape Trask Prison Camps
Clarice Ferguson, Blink, is instrumental in smuggling 30 detained mutants out of Trask prison camps.
The Events of The Wolverine
After killing Jean Grey, Wolverine has put himself into exile. He is drawn to Japan to see Ichiro Yashida, the man he had saved in 1945. Wolverine is made mortal by Viper. He meets and falls in love with Yashida’s daughter, Mariko. Wolverine fights Silver Samurai, who turns out to be Ichiro Yashida (not dead), and gets his adamantium claws cut off by Silver Samurai’s hot adamantium blade. Wolverine defeats Silver Samurai and returns to America. Upon his arrival he is met by a fully repowered Magneto and a fully alive Professor Xavier. He is told that there is a new enemy that threatens to wipe out the entire mutant population.
Trask Laboratories Unveils Hybrid Gene
Trask Laboratories unveils groundbreaking ability to create a hybrid gene with mutant DNA.
Trask Announces Mark X
Responding to the rise of mutant rebels, Trask Laboratories unveils the next generation in its Sentinel line — the Sentinel Mark X. Among the new model’s many upgrades is its ability to shape shift and physically adapt to environments.
Death Of Hank McCoy
Hank McCoy is dragged from his home and murdered by an angry mob of Human Majority protesters outside his home in upstate New York.
Dr. Gregory D. Burnett revolutionizes a method of growing synthetic stem cells
Bishop Forms The Free Mutants
Bishop, a Camp X-Ray escapee, builds a global network of mutant resistance dubbed the “Free Mutants.”
2020 Trask Industries announces Sentinel Mark X program
The Future Events of X-Men: Days of Future Past
I have indicated which dates are approximations. If someone has a real question as to why I assigned a specific date to any given event please feel free to write in the comments. I have my reasons…
Bryan Singer has stated that X-Men: Days of Future Past looks to fix the problems with the current timeline. I have to wonder if he is even aware of how many problems there really are. I get the feeling that he thinks that the only errors come from The Last Stand and Origins. Not so, Singer… Not so.
First off, while it’s really cool that this universe has some history, it is also disappointing to know that we are likely to never be able to see Banshee and Colossus on the same X-Team like they were originally intended. But, at the same time, we have a problem in comic books where heroes never age and rarely die (permanently) so it makes it really hard to make this make sense in a “real” timeline.
Let’s start off with some of the REALLY obvious timeline problems.
So… Moira MacTaggert. She is shown in The Last Stand, which I place at about 2007, at approximately 38 years old. We next see her over 40 years earlier in First Class at approximately 32 years old. You don’t need my fancy shmancy timeline (isn’t it though) to figure this stuff out. This is very basic stuff. Plus she’s a British or possibly a Scotish Doctor in The Last Stand and in First Class she is an American CIA Agent.
Next up is Beast. This article isn’t about bad makeup work so we will leave that for another time. An arguably bigger problem than his Dr. Seuss makeup in First Class is his age. He is probably around the 18-21 age range in First Class. In The Last Stand he would have been around 65 years old. Nowhere near anyone’s fighting shape. Even the great Ric Flair had called it quits (for now…) by that age. In future installments in the franchise this could easily be explained away by simply saying that his mutation or his attempted “cure” has slowed his aging process. They used this to explain Mystique’s age. But in order for that to be used… they need to use it.
Speaking of age… by the time the future events of Days of Future Past roll around Magneto and Xavier should be in their 90s, if not dead. Maybe all mutants live extra long…
With Days of Future Past soon coming we have our first look at non-Danger Room sentinels which leads us to ask WHERE HAVE THE SENTINELS BEEN ALL THIS TIME!?! Magneto tries to turn a bunch of socialites into mutants in the first X-Men. Shouldn’t a sentinel have been there in minutes to try to stop him?
Then there’s the little things. Like how in X-Men Xavier mentions that he first met Magneto when he was 17. Then in X-Men: First Class they both meet at roughly 30 years old.
Xavier also mentions in X-Men that he and Magneto invented Cerebro. Then in X-Men: First Class we are shown that Beast, in fact, invented it.
Xavier is also shown to not understand why he can’t find Magneto using Cerebro. He should have known about the effects of Magneto’s helmet for the last 40 or so years.
Magneto also takes credit for inventing his helmet to prevent Xavier from reading his thoughts but, again in First Class, we find out that Magneto simply stole the helmet from Sebastian Shaw.
Xavier is paralyzed in 1962 in X-Men: First Class. He is then shown walking in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and in the young Jean Grey flashback in The Last Stand. He has also been shown walking around in the trailers and clips from Days of Future Past. Some of these could be explained away as him using his powers of astral projection but, then again, why would his astral projection need to ride around in the car with Magneto to get to the Grey household?
Speaking of the young Jean Grey flashback. Why in the world would Xavier and Magneto be working together in 1986 to bring young Miss Grey to Xavier’s school?
William Stryker is played by four different actors with a wide range of different ages throughout X2, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, First Class and Days of Future Past. DOFP has the youngest fella playing the part, which makes no chronological sense… but then I didn’t need to tell you that.
Beast is transformed into his furry blue form in X-Men: First Class in the 1960s. X2 shows him on TV back in his human form and then The Last Stand has him back in blue. This could easily be explained away by Beast having some sort of cloaking device which makes him appear human which would make some sense since Beast is a genius but in order for this to make sense it needs to be stated.
Speaking of that brief scene… Hank McCoy is shown debating a Dr. Shaw on the TV in the bar. It was long believed, and probably intended to be Sebastian Shaw. With Shaw now dead in First Class it can easily be explained away as being Shaw’s son, Shinobi Shaw.
There are even smaller things like Mystique growing up as essentially the adopted sister of Charles Xavier and yet come 2001, when X-Men takes place, they don’t even seem to know each other.
Magneto’s name, Erik Lehnsherr, is misspelled through many of the X-Men movies, forgetting the H and calling him Erik Lensherr. Brett Ratner, of all people, is the one who actually got it right.
When Xavier uses Cerebro for the first time in First Class he seems to see a young Cyclops and Storm. These could, of course, be some other random mutants that just happen to look an awful lot like the two prominent X-Men members or they could actually be Cyclops and Storm. But that would make absolutely ZERO chronological sense.
Last but not least we have the ending to The Wolverine. Wolverine meets up with Xavier and Magneto, sees a commercial for Trask Industries and is told that there is a new great threat. It is assumed that the threat that is being talked about is the Days of Future Past goings on but Wolverine isn’t sent back in time until the year 2023. Apparently Xavier and Magneto had pinpointed this new great threat in the year 2013ish and then waited 14 years to actually act on it and send Wolverine back to stop that future from ever happening.
I’d really like to be able to simply ignore all of these issues and happily skip into the movie theater on May 23rd but I can’t. I just can’t. I would love to love all of these X-Men movies but I love the real X-Men far too much. And the messed up timeline is only the tip of the iceberg.
Stay tuned to Action Movie Fanatix for future installments of “What Is So Wrong With The X-Men Movies Anyway?” And as always, let us know what you think in the comments below.
You can check out other installments in the What’s So Wrong With The X-Men Movies Anyway? series here: