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‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ risked disappointing its fans. But it’s no letdown.

Michael Fassbender is Magneto in "X-Men: Days of Future Past. (Warner Bros. Pictures) Michael Fassbender is Magneto in “X-Men: Days of Future Past. (Warner Bros. Pictures)

It’s so easy to be cynical about superhero movies, because they can so easily go wrong in so many ways. For every “The Avengers,” which succeeds as comic canon as a well-crafted film all on its own, there’s a “Man of Steel,” which collapses on both fronts. You’ve got “Batman Begins” on one hand and “Iron Man 2” on the other — one explores the struggle inherent in the self-sacrificing nature of heroism, the other blows stuff up a lot.

And now that we almost unwillingly see dribs and drabs of the films before they even reach trailer stage, like with the recent image of Ben Affleck as Batman gloomily looking at the floor next to his Batmobile, it’s easy to start complaining and hard to remember that “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” doesn’t come out for nearly two years and maybe we should wait until we have something more to discuss than leather-clad abs. Not that there’s anything wrong with leather-clad abs or the discussion thereof.

I lost interest in the “X-Men” franchise immediately after “X-Men: First Class.” While I liked James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, the rest of the movie left me cold (especially January Jones as Emma Frost SEE WHAT I DID THERE?). It’s a shame, because I really did enjoy the first two X-Men films, but I wasn’t enthused about seeing “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” which opens Friday.

My friend, though, was. A hard-core fan (he sported a well-worn X-Men shirt to the press screening), he not only wanted the film to be great, he expected that it would be. It’s a dangerous way to live, since he could have been very disappointed. Good thing he wasn’t.

“Days of Future Past” is, hands down, the best X-Men movie yet and one of the best of the modern superhero movies. (I’d put it third, behind “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “The Avengers.”)

I can’t help but wish I had put my 3-D glasses on with the same attitude my friend had, with a mind open to awesomeness. That attitude requires taking a chance, because you’re risking real disappointment, whereas someone who walks in ready for a movie to suck can only be pleasantly surprised.

And while pleasant surprises are, well, pleasant, expecting success and then seeing it is a much better feeling, one that I should probably open myself up to more often.

“Days of Future Past” takes a big jump without a net. And, boy, does it fly.

Kristen Page-Kirby covers film, arts and events for Express.
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