Subtext in the ending of Days of Future Past

For those who were really upset with the fact that Days of Future Past ended with another nearly silent parting of ways between Erik and Charles, and Erik’s subsequent absence from the “altered future” when Logan awakens in the school, take comfort in this (well, eventually, when I decide to share it openly…)–

It’s my prediction that the end of X-Men Apocalypse will see Erik and Charles officially together. Here’s why:

Pay attention to Hank and Raven in this scene, and compare them to Erik and Charles. This is after Raven knocks Erik out cold so she can shoot Trask, and Charles persuades her not to do it. This is also after she removes Erik’s helmet and says “He’s all yours, Charles.” (Oh?) Charles gets inside of Erik’s mind (besides his dramatic announcement earlier in the film that he’d “never get inside of that head again”) and makes Erik lift the metal scaffolding under which Charles is pinned. And then…he lets Erik go. When Erik comes to, he realizes this, gives Charles a questioning look, and Charles gives back a look of anger and resentment. (Like all of their freaking conversations, they take place either in silence or telepathically, neither of which the audience is privy to, so we have to glean what was said from elsewhere):

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Then follows this dialogue:

Erik: “If you let them have me, I’m as good as dead. You know that.”

Charles: “I know.”

(So, wait a minute, Erik is basically telling Charles to keep him out of the authority’s hands, and Charles is basically agreeing to do just that? Kinda strange for two people who supposedly “hate” one another.) Then we get this look from Erik to Charles. I mean, there’s all kinds of emotion underneath this, not to mention the camera lingers on this for as long as possible.

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Erik: “Goodbye, old friend.”

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Charles: “Goodbye, Erik.” (Charles is an.gry. But…it’s not just anger there, is it? There’s something else. Hurt. Betrayal. Resentment. And… Love. Serious love.)

I’ll prove it.

From First Class on, Raven and Hank were set up immediately as subtext for Charles and Erik. Whatever emotional/relationship dialogue between them that couldn’t be covered up with silent looks or telepathic conversations happens between Hank and Raven.  (I’ve since confirmed this- in the director’s commentary for First Class, it’s stated that Hank and Raven are the B-side to Charles and Erik.)

As an example, here is my favorite example of the two couples mirroring one another from First Class. These two scenes immediately follow one another. First we get Hank and Raven, sitting in chairs across from one another, in front of a lit fire. Hank is telling Raven he’s finally invented the serum that can make them both “normal,” and that it won’t “change abilities, just appearance.” (hmm.) Raven responds with a very Erik thing to say: “Should we have to hide?” Hank tells her in a very Charles way: “We already do. You’re hiding right now just as I have my entire life.” (Hmmmm.) Hank tells Raven: “We need this cure.”

This scene, right here, is where the “split” happens between both couples. It’s not coincidental. They’re made to mirror one another for a reason, as illustrated here (Raven/Erik on the right, Charles/Hank on the left. Similar room layout, pretty obvious.)

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When the scene switches to Erik and Charles, it’s noticeable right away that they’re in the middle of a chess game, and in the middle of a conversation- and there’s a significant amount of tension in the room. Why? Because Charles just put an end to their physical relationship. Why? It’s been stated from the beginning of the film that Charles doesn’t like mutations that aren’t normal or “pretty.” Homosexuality in the 60s would definitely fall under that category. And, so, it’s only fitting that Erik and Charles’ relationship conversation would take place in “hiding,” or in the Raven/Hank scene.

So, here we are, in the middle of the game and the conversation, but we’re privy only to the second half, which demonstrates their split in ideology- Charles wants integration, Erik wants a mutant brotherhood. The old standby argument. They’ve just split up- physically and ideologically. (I’ll go way into this in a later post because I LOVE how Hank’s “cure” works into Charles’ “cure.”)

Hank and Raven are made to be paid attention to because they ARE Erik and Charles’ hidden relationship. (Cool, huh?)

And that one example leads me into the ending of Days of Future Past. If you, like me, wondered what the hell kind of goodbye that was between the two men after yet another battle between the two– seriously, Charles is gonna help Erik stay a fugitive after *everything* that’s gone on between them in both films?? The hell, why would he do that??– just pay attention to Hank and Raven.

Look, here are Erik and Charles’ goodbye gazes at one another:

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See Hank’s expression? Now, look at this:

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After Erik and Charles exchange their looks, Erik looks at Raven. She looks back. Erik looks back at Charles, then back to Raven. He opens his arms to raise up and leave, keeping his eyes on Raven. As soon as Erik looks away, she turns to look at Charles. Charles and Hank have the *exact* same look on their face as when they were both looking at Erik. Then Raven looks at Hank alone- and we get those two bottom pictures, those two looks of obvious love between them.

Those are Erik and Charles, that’s the underlying emotions fueling the both of them in this scene. That’s what they couldn’t/didn’t show, so they hid it in Hank and Raven.

And the dialogue that comes right after this?

Hank to Charles: “Are you sure you should let them go?”

Charles: “Yes. I have hope for them. There’s going to be a time, Hank, when we are all together.”

(boy, that word “together” is used quite a lot for Charles and Erik in this film… I’ll detail that in a later post.)

Point? Erik and Charles, despite everything, are still in love. Charles just promised Erik in so few words that he’d do what he could to keep Erik away from the authorities, and Erik leaves without his trademark helmet- the helmet he uses to keep Charles out of his head. They want to be together, they just don’t know how to be– yet. We’ve still got one more decade to go, Apocalypse takes places in the 80s– and, well, this on par (and hilarious at times) analysis of the Charles and Erik storyline should sum it up:

http://ishtar79.dreamwidth.org/tag/erik+and+charles+in+canon

All this dialogue, all these scenes were done to these exact specifications. The subtext is not only intentional, it’s becoming more textual, and I’m hoping this last film will go where I believe this is leading. Moira is gone, Raven left Erik, the only obstacles left between Erik and Charles now are their inability to compromise with one another. They find a way to do that, I guarantee they’ll live happily ever after. (Yes, I know Moira’s character is in the last film and I’m praying to GOD she is there to bring the two men together, not as a heteronormative out. Should that be the case, that Moira will be there as a friend, not as Charles’ canon lover, then that’ll be yet another similarity to Sherlock and how they’re using Irene Adler…)

Like I said before, I have zero faith in the American film industry, so I don’t expect the ending we *desperately* need, I expect Hollywood to cave. I expect to see the heterosexual norm. But I hope…I hope against everything that I’ll walk out of the theater in 2016 with a proud heart. I hope my prediction of where the X-Men subtext is headed is right. I hope that we definitely will see them all “together.” Charles and Erik deserve nothing less, *we* deserve nothing less.

Come on, Hollywood.

We need this cure:

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~ by hln351 on April 5, 2015.

4 Responses to “Subtext in the ending of Days of Future Past”

  1. Reblogged this on charlesanderik2016.

  2. Okay, that’s it! I really have to go back and watch X-Men First Class now. I tried three times to watch this movie and lost interest about 30minutes in. I obviously need to pay much closer attention, so I’m going to get the DVD commentary too.

    Erik’s and Charles’ relationship was something I took especial note of in X-Men 2. It was just the way they spoke to one another. There was so much love and hurt and history in it, that it made me very curious about the nature of their relationship.

    They really do behave like old lovers in XM2 and I loved that subtext juxtaposed with the mutant/homophobia comparison.

    • Lol, you sound like me. When I first started seeing all this craziness, I was like…Ok, I need to review everything because things just aren’t adding up. I am like the last person ever to buy into conspiracy theories, but these films just have WAY too much going on for me to pass them off. Lol. And that’s what started my entire blog. They really are lovers- there’s just too much there between them for me to see any differently. And I definitely agree with you about X2…definitely agree there. Things are just WEIRD in these films. Too much going on…too much.

  3. […] in this post, you’ll see how the unspoken emotions between Charles and Erik in this goodbye scene play out […]

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