EDIT: Be sure to sit through the credits to see a teaser for the next movie.
While Stan Lee wasn't in this movie, Chris Claremond and Len Wein were. Claremont wrote the comic book version of Days of Future Past while Wein created Wolverine as well as several other mutants.
It's tempting to compare this latest X-Men movie to The Avengers. After all, both are borne from a string of other movie series that all come together in this one. Both would be considered bold new moves in movie creation. But when the first X-Men movie came out back in 2000 they were not deliberately building to the movie that came out this weekend. The Avengers was part of the plan when The Incredible Hulk came out in 2008. And in both cases, they managed to make a pretty damn good movie.
So let me catch you up so that you may properly enjoy X-Men: Days of Future Past.
The series so far:
X-Men (2000) directed by Brian Singer
X-Men 2 (2003) directed by Brian Singer
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) directed by Brett Ratner
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) directed by Gavin Hood
The Wolverine (2013) directed by James Mangold
X-Men: First Class (2011) directed by Matthew Vaughn
The first two movies were pretty good. Patrick Stewart was the obvious choice for Professor X and Hugh Jackman got his big break as the perfect casting for Wolverine. The movies showed the establishment of the school for mutants and fighting off an anti-mutant attack led by William Stryker. We also saw flashes of Wolverine's forgotten past by Professor X digging around in his memories.
But X-Men 3 is generally accepted to have been a disaster. They killed off a lot of main characters including Professor X, Cyclops, and made Wolverine kill Jean Grey, the woman he loved. They changed the personality of Magneto from someone working for the betterment of mutant-kind to someone willing to throw hundreds of mutants at the enemy to die needlessly. So you can understand there was some excitement when Brian Singer returned to direct Days of Future Past. And, in the end, this movie pretty much erases X-Men 3.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine shows his history running through several major wars and involvement with a Canadian special ops program led by William Stryker. It shows how his claws went from being bone to being metal. And then he lost his memory after surviving being shot in the head.
The Wolverine was a so-so movie that really contributed little. It did hint that Wolverine and Jean Grey may have had a more physical relationship than shown in the
X-Men: First Class was thought to be a reboot to the series. It took place in the 60s and climaxed during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It introduced the young Professor X, Magneto, and Mystique as well as many of the characters we see dead and dissected in that we see in Days of Future Past. And it ends with the accident that should put Professor X in a wheelchair.
Days of Future Past does an OK job of keeping someone new to this world informed. It has to. The world being in ruins because of a war with these advanced Sentinels is new to this movie. There's flashbacks to the other movies, but it does more to refresh the memory of people who have already seen them than to really explain things to newcomers. If you haven't seen any of the original trilogy then the sudden influx of characters at the very end doesn't mean much. Wolverine's freakout when meeting Stryker is briefly explained, but it's not really sufficient for newcomers to the series.
I wouldn't take my parents to see this movie. Mom knows enough to know that Patrick Stewart was brilliantly cast, but didn't know why I called my brother Logan when he grew muttonchops. And they haven't seen any of the movies. This movie relies on fans of earlier movies coming to see it while The Avengers can be walked into cold. Both movies are better if you've seen the background material to catch the references, but X-Men: Days of Future Past has parts that are just puzzling without certain earlier movies. Much like how the first Hobbit movie is just bizarre if you haven't seen the Lord of the Rings movies.
I will get this movie on DVD and will probably get a few others on DVD, too. My copy of X-Men (2000) is on VHS in full screen. That needs to be fixed.