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How to Use Time Travel to Extend Your Blockbuster Franchise

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Apr 10, 2014 | 5:15pm EDT

Hugh Jackman, X-Men Days of Future Past20th Century Fox Film

In the current Hollywood industry it seems movie studios will do just about anything to keep a big budget blockbuster franchise going. In an age of wildly successful superheroes and popular moneymaking sci-fi tentpoles, one method of extension is time travel.

In the next year, both X-Men: Days of Future Past and the upcoming Terminator reboot, Terminator Genesis, are attempting to use time travel in order to extend their franchises. It makes sense for both series — Terminator Salvation already showed the future war with Skynet, and the X-Men reboot was bound to catch up to its original trilogy. However, there are plenty of problems that time travel can pose to continuity and believability, as any Doctor Who fan will tell you.

3 Theories of Time Travel

There are three separate theories of time travel: fixed timeline, multiverse, and dynamic timeline, and multiverse. In a fixed timeline, it’s impossible to change the course of events by going back in time, as seen in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Multiverse is the theory that going back in time creates alternate timelines and parallel universes, as seen in Star Trek (2009). The dynamic timeline theory explains that traveling back in time directly impacts the future. For example, Back to the Future, in which Marty McFly's visit to 1955 changes the course of his parents' lives forever thereafter.

So what does that mean for movie franchises?

Well, depending on which theory Days of Future Past and Terminator Genesis follow, it could definitely work. For instance, if Wolverine creates a new timeline — the multiverse theory — by going back in time in Days of Future Past, it will clear the way for as many sequels as possible. The film will most likely this path as its director, Bryan Singer, has hinted Days of Future Past will “repair” certain aspects of X-Men: The Last Stand that fans were unhappy with. 

As for Terminator Genesis, plot rumors suggest a fixed timeline will be used, showing another side to the story previously established in Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day. However, Genesis will be tasked with staying true to that original story. If they don’t, there are sure to be fans screaming about inaccuracies.

Time travel is tricky because moviemakers need to pay attention to even the smallest details. However, if done right, it certainly could open up a lot more possibilities for future X-Men and Terminator films. But, we’ll have to wait for Days of Future Past and Terminator Genesis to premiere first. 

(Unless anyone has a time machine so we can travel to the future!)

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