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There will be ample amounts of spoilerage in this article, so please bookmark it and come on back after you have enjoyed X-Men: Days of Future Past!
Right around this time last year, Bryan Singer confirmed that he’d be including a version of Quicksilver in Days of Future Past. (Coincidentally, a different version of the character will be used in Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, and will be played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson.) Singer’s take on the character imagines him as a rambunctious teen who is recruited by Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and Professor X (James McAvoy) to help spring Magneto (Michael Fassbender) out of a heavily-guarded Pentagon cell.
Quicksilver’s breathtaking prison break is the high point of X-Men: Days of Future Past, a stunning display of the mutant hero’s powers that show him moving around a room much faster than people can comprehend, all set to Jim Croce’s period-specific 1973 hit "Time in a Bottle." It’s exhilarating, funny, and impressive in a season that is characterized by big-ticket action sequences. Twitter’s a virtual love fest for Quicksilver and his breakout action scene today.
Quicksilver, which I thought was going to be a throwaway character, ended up stealing the scenes he was in incl. the best scene in the movie— Wes (@wesisrad) May 23, 2014
Here's the thing: I don't know if Joss Whedon can do a better Quicksilver. #XmenDaysOfFuturePast— Brett White (@brettwhite) May 23, 2014
The Quicksilver scene (you'll know it when you see it) is one of the best sequences I've seen all year. Truly fantastic, hilarious stuff.— Tom Nix (@TheTomNix) May 23, 2014
You can see huge chunks of the Quicksilver scene in this international X-Men: Days of Future Past clip:
But how did they do it?
Back in August 2013, Bryan Singer Tweeted an image from the set of X-Men: Days of Future Past that suggested HOW they’d capture Quicksilver at top speeds. "Brightest set I've ever filmed on. #3600framespersecond #Quicksilver #XMen #DaysOfFuturePast," the social-media-savvy director shared.
By speeding up the frame rate on everything but Evan Peters, you could then film the actor at regular speed, and when combined together, it would make Quicksilver appear as if he’s moving 150-times faster than everything and everyone around him. This allows Singer to let Peters manipulate his surroundings – moving a bullet or shifting a security guard’s arm – without disrupting the scene. It’s a brilliant piece of movie magic… and one that X-Men writer Simon Kinberg was happy to explain.
When I sat across from Kinberg in New York, the Quicksilver scene was all I wanted to discuss. How did they pull it off? He opened up:
What was amazing about the Quicksilver scene is that it’s somewhat visual effects, but it is mostly special effects and camera work. Meaning we had a high-speed camera – a bunch of cameras – that were on rigs that were circling with him. So most of that [scene] was shot in camera. Yeah, because it was shot at super-high speeds. If you go on the Internet and search super-high-speed photography, it’s all of those effects like where he touches the guy’s cheek and it bends. It’s just because the camera has been so sped up. It’s not a visual effect. The only visual effect in that movie is some of the stuff in the air. I mean, some of the stuff that’s flying through the air isn’t real, because we couldn’t control rice particles. But some of the things in the air ARE real. … Bryan had a very clear focus on what he wanted in that sequence. He had been showing us photography tricks online [for a while]. He and [Newton] Tom Sigel, the DP, had such a clear focus from the beginning, which they manifested. And that’s what’s most impressive to me."
And to everyone else, as well. X-Men: Days of Future Past is off to a red-hot start, and Quicksilver is the break-away star of the show (so much so that they’ve already confirmed he’ll get a much bigger part in X-Men: Apocalypse). And now you have a better idea of how they filmed the most eye-popping scene of the summer – and possibly of the year.