Your mutant primer: The X-MEN Cheat Sheet (no spoilers!)

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We agents of the BookTrib Nerd Squad may be grown adults with grown adult lives, but we’ve been trembling like bunny rabbits in anticipation of X-Men Days of Future Past ever since plans for the movie were announced.

Like Marvel’s The Avengers, this movie will assemble for the first time casts of different movies from a franchise that features comic book heroes whose adventures we followed in print throughout our formative years (in fact, one member of the Nerd Squad grew up just a stone’s throw from the X-Men’s fictitious base of operations!). The new film also will tell one of the team’s greatest stories, in which the future of all the world’s humans and mutants are at stake.

Wait—mutants?

Yes, you read correctly. But the Nerd Squad recognizes that many of you might not be up-to-date on all things X-Men. For you, we’ve created this handy X-Men: Days of Future Past cheat sheet. You’re welcome!

What are X-Men?

The X-Men are a team of mutants—people born with a special gene that gives them a unique power or ability. Shunned by humanity, they’re sworn to protect a world that hates and fears them.

What’s the premise of X-Men: Days of Future Past?

OK, stay with me here. The first three X-Men films followed the adventures of the team, whose members live in a “School for Gifted Youngsters” in Salem Center, New York (The school, of course, is secretly full of young mutants, who are not only getting an education, but also are learning to deal with their powers). X-Men: First Class (2011) was a prequel set in the early 1960s. It told the story of how the group was formed, and how the school was founded. Days of Future Past is set in a dark future, in which a war waged on mutants has ravaged the world. In this film, a member of the modern team is sent back in time to work with the original X-Men in order to prevent the war from ever starting.

So who are the X-Men?

Good question! Among most prominent X-Men are:

Professor Charles Xavier: Also known as Professor X, he’s the wheelchair-bound founder of the X-Men and the school in which they live. The world’s most powerful telepath, Xavier can read and control people’s minds. His goal is a world in which humanity and mutantkind can live in peace. Xavier of the past is played by James McAvoy, while present-day Xavier is portrayed by Sir Patrick Stewart (Captain Picard of Star Trek: The Next Generation).

Magneto: The master of magnetism, Magneto is a Holocaust survivor who, having seen genocide up close, has vowed to prevent the same fate from befalling his mutant brothers and sisters. Often portrayed as the X-Men’s nemesis, Magneto was once Xavier’s best friend, and originally worked at Professor X’s side to protect mutantkind. Michael Fassbender plays Magneto of the 1960s and 70s, and Magneto of the present is played by Sir Ian McKellen (Gandalf the wizard of the Lord of the Rings films).

Wolverine: The grim, gritty mutant with a heart of gold, Wolverine’s mutant power is heightened senses and the ability to heal from any wound, no matter how lethal. He has the quick temper of his namesake, and he possesses a set of claws that you wouldn’t want to see from the wrong side. Wolverine is played by mega-star Hugh Jackman.

Mystique: A blue-skinned, red-haired changeling, Mystique can take the exact appearance of anyone she meets. Originally an ally of Professor X’s, she has since become a follower of Magneto. Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence plays Mystique.

Beast: Furry, blue, and fanged, the X-Man Beast has the strength, speed, and agility of a wild animal, and the intellect of a genius. Beast is played by up-and-comer Nicholas Hoult of Warm Bodies.

Kitty Pryde: She’s the X-Man who can pass through solid matter, and is portrayed by noted young actress Ellen Page.

This is but a small sample of the band of merry mutants who will bound across the screen in X-Men: Days of Future Past. So grab you friends (both human and mutant), get your geek on, and enjoy your trip through time!

The Nerd Squad consists of the stalwart agents known only by their secret code names: Tech Nerd, Word Nerd, Her Awesomeness, the Bald Avenger, Sarcasm Slayer, the Fighting Foodie, the Scarlet Pencil and T.I. Benz. Together they patrol the farthest reaches of the galaxy looking for tempting geeky morsels and making the universe safe for Nerdkind. Thumbnail: Justice League #34 by Dale Eaglesham

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