It’s OK to still be excited for X-Men: Days of Future Past.
I know it doesn’t feel that way right now. Comments on social media and posts on various message boards suggest that the accusations being lobbed at X-Men director Bryan Singer are coloring people’s opinions of 20th Century Fox’s upcoming sequel. Our own Mike Reyes touched on the internal conflict fans currently wrestle with in his report that Singer planned to skip this weekend’s X-Men: Days of Future Past panel at WonderCon in Anaheim, California.
The hesitancy to embrace Singer’s movie, at the moment, is totally understandable. It’s an unfortunate consequence of the uncomfortable accusations. But I also believe it is an unnecessary reaction, and one that’s only affecting you, personally. The movie won’t change regardless of the outcome of the allegations raised against Singer. And if you were ecstatic over the prospect of finally seeing Chris Claremont’s classic time-travel story unfolding on the big screen, I don’t believe that you should feel bad about fanning that film-geek flame because of a personal discretion on behalf of a film’s director that may or may not have happened 15 years ago.
When, and how, should a work of art be separated from the artist? It’s a complicated question, and one that film audiences – unfortunately – have been asking themselves for years.
I’ll give you two personal examples I’ve wrestled with recently. John McTiernan’s Die Hard remains my all-time favorite film. From a position of "film pedigree," there are more deserving features, of course. But McTiernan’s action masterpiece struck a chord with me right as I was forming my own film personality. It’s one of the films that helped define me, for lack of a better term.
Do I feel any differently about Die Hard knowing that McTiernan recently served a 12-month jail sentence for lying to the FBI and misrepresenting the number of times he hired infamous wiretapper Anthony Pellicano. Nope. McTiernan’s criminal record never crosses my mind as I prepare to watch the resilient John McClane (Bruce Willis) wrap a fire hose around his waist and leap from the top of the Nakatomi Plaza before Hans Gruber blows the roof.
McTiernan’s crimes weren’t quite as severe as those executed by Roman Polanski. The director’s rape of a 13-year-old girl – and subsequent flight to avoid prosecution – has been well documented. The public opinion of Polanski has fuelled countless books, essays and even a documentary.
But do Polanski’s actions on a tragic afternoon in 1977 change the fact that Chinatown is a masterpiece? Should I feel terrible for placing Chinatown on a personal pedastal as one of the greatest films ever made?
I’m not implying that X-Men: Days of Future Past will be Chinatown or Die Hard. But they are just two examples of artworks I have been able to separate from their artists, to appreciate them as films without letting the actions of the filmmaker spoil my enjoyment. And I truly hope that X-Men fans are able to reach similar levels of acceptance with next month’s X-Men: Days of Future Past. Because the conversation prior to these allegations were through-the-roof positive, with the most recent trailer convincing the millions of X-Men out there (myself included) that this was going to be the most epic, mind-blowing installment in the generally spectacular mutant movie franchise.
Singer might have made some questionable personal decisions. Yet, while he was the man making most of the creative decisions on X-Men: Days of Future Past, the blockbuster is a collaborative effort shared by hundreds, and they – plus the million of fans awaiting the movie’s release – shouldn’t be penalized by association. X-Men enthusiasts still should be able to anticipate what looks like a massively entertaining chapter in the X-Men saga. Hopefully by May 23, X-Men fans will be able to gather in a theater and celebrate the heroes they’ve cheered on in the past, present and still-bright future.