EW 13071308 XMEN
Credit: Michael Muller; Nino Munoz

Two time periods. Six countries. More than a dozen stars. Hundreds of killer robots. It’s not hard to see why 20th Century Fox’s $200 million-plus X-Men: Days of Future Past is the priciest and most complicated X-Men film to date. “I think this is the biggest movie Fox has made that James Cameron didn’t direct,” says producer-writer Simon Kinberg (X-Men: First Class). Adds producer Lauren Schuler Donner, who’s worked on every X-Men film, “We have to deliver, and that’s really hard. Plus, we don’t use guns, we use powers. The power is a visual effect. So by its very nature, it’s going to be pricey.”

Adapted from a fan-favorite 1980 comic storyline by Chris Claremont and John Byrne, Past unites the original cast of the X-Men franchise (Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, etc.) with the stars of 2011’s prequel First Class (Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Nicholas Hoult). With the X-Men hunted in the distant future by mutant-killing robots called the Sentinels, Wolverine (Jackman) is sent back in time to his 1973 body to stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from assassinating the inventor of the Sentinels, Bolivar Trask (Game of Thrones‘ Peter Dinklage). Keeping Trask alive prevents a devastating war between mutants and humans — and keeps Mystique among the do-gooding mutants. As Kinberg explains, “A lot of people have an emotional investment in her not going to the dark side.” Speaking of dark sides, Wolverine must also unite frenemies Erik (Fassbender), who’s been (wrongly?) imprisoned for the JFK assassination, and Charles (McAvoy), now a drugged recluse living with Hank, a.k.a. blue-furred Beast (Hoult).

The hope is that this all-star cast, beloved storyline, and returning director Bryan Singer, who helmed the first two X-Men films, will bring even more eyes into the theater. “The hope is that Days of Future Past will broaden the audience for X-Men such that it will motivate potential spin-offs even more,” Kinberg says. The challenge is that legions of non-comic fans are less familiar with the powerful mutants. “Everyone grew up knowing Captain America or the Hulk, but not X-Men characters—I didn’t even know who Wolverine was,” Singer says. “I call X-Men the bastard stepchild of the comic universes.”

For more on X-Men: Days of Future Past as well as 104 other summer movies, including Guardians of the Galaxy, The Fault in Our Stars, and Transfomers: Age of Extinction, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands April 11th.

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