Despite the fact that director Bryan Singer is basically tweeting daily updates from the set, next year’s superhero prequel-sequel X-Men: Days of Future Past is still shrouded in mystery. We know it mixes together cast members from the original-trilogy X-Men present with the First Class-era past; we know it’s based on an iconic time-travel dystopian story arc from the early ’80s; we know beloved Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage is playing someone, presumably someone cool, because he’s Peter Dinklage. But actual plot specifics have been hard to come by.
That will probably change this week: Rumors persist that Singer will be bringing some cast members and maybe some footage from Future Past to Comic-Con. (It seems crazy that the X-Men movie wouldn’t be at Comic-Con, since San Diego will provide the buzziest showcase before the film’s planned May 2014 release.) But the identities of the film’s villains are coming into focus. Vulture reports that Dinklage is essaying the part of Bolivar Trask, the military scientist who created the mutant-hunting Sentinel robots. (Theories about Trask have been popular ever since Dinklage was photographed on the set a couple months ago looking like someone who was either Trask or the evil alternate-universe clone of Ron Burgundy.) Vulture also reports that actor Josh Helman (Animal Kingdom) will be playing a younger version of William Stryker, the character originally played by Brian Cox 10 years ago in X2.
20th Century Fox wouldn’t confirm the characters’ identities, but both make sense given what we know about the movie. The original “Days of Future Past” story arc focused on a future wherein mutants are hunted by Sentinels. And although Stryker was a very minor villain in X-Men comics lore, he has loomed large in the onscreen X franchise: He was referenced in First Class and was actually the villain in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, a movie that unfortunately did happen and wasn’t just a bad dream you had during a bout of food poisoning.
Of course, the first Wolverine movie was vaguely set in the late ’70s and early ’80s, and in that movie, Stryker was played by a middle-aged Danny Huston; Days of Future Past is supposedly set in the early ’70s, and Helman sure ain’t middle-aged. Likewise, in X-Men: The Last Stand, there was a character named “Trask” who was played by Bill Duke — who doesn’t look much like Peter Dinklage. (Duke’s Trask was, admittely, a throwaway character, much like how The Last Stand was a throwaway movie.) If the Vulture report is accurate, Days of Future Past will constitute a serious deep dive into X-Men lore; they claim that the film’s plot involves Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine traveling back in time, although it’s unclear if that time-travel event occurs before or after The Wolverine, which is set after The Last Stand.
It could be that Days of Future Past will fix some of the franchise’s continuity problems. Or maybe Singer will just forget about all the movies between X2 and First Class, like the rest of us.