Bryan Singer, and the Days of Future Past conundrum

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Following allegations made against director Bryan Singer, one writer doesn’t know if he can face Days of Future Past.

For superhero fans and fans of the big-budget blockbuster extravaganza, the trailer for X-Men: Days of Future Past is enough to get you fired up and ready to go get in line for the first showing. The sequel to 2011’s fantastic X-Men: First Class promises not only top-of-the-line thrills, but a complex and challenging narrative where past and future meet. Back are the new stars, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, as well as the original Professor Xavier and Magneto, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen. And let’s not forget Hugh Jackman returning as Wolverine, as well as all your favourite mutants in some capacity or another. Days of Future Past has the potential to be a smash hit, not to mention a great sequel. Or…did it HAVE that potential?

The allegations are detailed and disturbing beyond words, hateful and aggressive and telling of a disgusting abuse of power

Recent developments revolving around the private life of director Bryan Singer have certainly changed things for Days of Future Past. Singer, who made his name directing the first two X-Men pictures, has been recently accused of drugging and raping a young man several times over in unseemly pool parties in California and Hawaii that, as described, would make even Bret Easton Ellis cringe. The victim’s attorney released statements last week describing the multiple occasions where his client was “forcibly sodomised” over the years.

The allegations are detailed and disturbing beyond words, hateful and aggressive and telling of a disgusting abuse of power. These allegations could not have come at a worse time for Singer, his film, and Fox Studios. This changes the game for their promotional campaign, but unfortunately the trailer for Days of Future Past was already released when these accusations hit the web. And right there, in the middle of the trailer, there is a title card with Singer’s name larger than life.

Another opinion on movie-watching ethics: The ethics of a film fan

days of future past chess

And of course Fox would have wanted to promote the fact that Singer was back behind the camera, returning after several years away from the franchise. The original X-Men and X:2 are considered the best in the franchise, and to have Singer at the helm once again should be nothing but positive. Now, however, the sight of Singer’s name does not invoke excitement, but some impure feeling. I hadn’t watched the trailer for Days of Future Past prior to the allegations against Singer. But this weekend I did see it on the big screen, and the experience was strange to say the least.

This situation is nothing new, but the size and scope of Singer’s Days of Future Past places Fox in an extremely tough situation

While the film in front of me looked fantastic, there was a creeping, festering thought in my mind. While Fassbender was showing off as Magneto and McAvoy met his older self in Patrick Stewart, I could not get the press release out of my head, and I could not stop thinking about the director and what awful things he allegedly had done to this poor boy. It was a sinking feeling when the only thing I should have felt was exhilaration. The title card announcing “From Director Bryan Singer” left a sour taste. While Beast was roaring, the widely reported words “sexual predator” clouded my enjoyment.

Things would have been much easier had the trailer been a big mess and the film looked like garbage. It would have been easy to avoid the film on both moral and creative grounds. Here is a fantastic-looking picture that should – it should – make audiences salivate. This is not an entirely new set of circumstances when it comes to filmmakers and their shady sexual history. Roman Polanski’s accusations have been historically documented, and Woody Allen’s alleged sexual advances against a child of Mia Farrow’s have recently blown up, not to mention his scandalous marriage to Soon-Yi Previn. Sexual abuse is a terrible offensive regardless of the filmmaker or the situation, but there are different factors at play here – the size and scope of this film places Fox in an extremely tough situation.

Will I see X-Men: Days of Future Past? I don’t think so. Not because I don’t think the film itself is well done; it looks fantastic, and probably is. It’s because these allegations are harsh, and I couldn’t get past them even if they were halfway true. The way I see it, X-Men: Days of Futre Past is, in the grand scheme of things, just another movie. There will be plenty of fans and audiences around the globe who won’t know about Singer’s recent troubles and will fill the theatres. Or perhaps they won’t care. But I simply cannot, in good faith, pay money to see Days of Future Past.

 

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Featured image: PDD (via Wikimedia Commons)

Inset images: 20th Century Fox

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