X-Men: Days of Future Past

Inciting Event: Logan goes into the past to stop the mutant war. Very often in stories that send the protagonist into completely different world (a la portal fantasy, with which this story shares some definite similarities), it will be the Inciting Event, not the First Plot Point, that sends the character to that world. Even though the entry into the foreign world is, comparatively, the biggest moment in the story, it needs to happen earlier than the First Plot Point in order for the story to introduce this all-important setting in the First Act. There’s often a lot of setup involved in stories like this, and holding off until after the First Act would cramp the Second Act too much. Furthermore, when all the best action will be happening in this foreign world, it only makes sense to get to it as quickly as possible.

First Plot Point: Logan finds Charles in the past. This is the First Plot Point because it pulls Charles (not Logan) irrevocably into the conflict. Charles is really the main character of this story, even though it’s framed by Logan’s journey.

First Pinch Point: Logan and Charles free Erik from his prison under the Pentagon. As far as “pinchiness” goes, this isn’t the greatest of Pinch Points, since it’s all about the protagonists conquering the immediate antagonistic force and getting what they want. However, it does get props in that it introduces Erik, who is already known to be an antagonist and who ends up being the main antagonistic in the Climax.

Midpoint: Erik shoots Mystique to keep her from killing Trask and starting the war. The conflict completely changes here. Up to this point, Logan, Charles, and Co. have been focusing on changing future events by stopping Mystique. They accomplish that, but, as in all good time-travel stories, their actions create a new chain of events just as bad as the ones they were trying to avoid.

Second Pinch Point: Trask collects Mystique’s spilled blood to use in building his mutant-killing Sentinel robots. The stakes are blatantly obvious here. Trask, the antagonist, is once again empowered in achieving his ultimate goal of destroying the mutants.

Third Plot Point: Erik takes control of the Sentinels and attacks the White House. Erik turns—as we knew he would—and brings the overarching conflict down to a very personal level. How much less interesting would this final conflict have been had it been between Charles and Trask—who don’t know each other and have no personal stakes in each other’s lives? But when the main antagonist is Charles’s friend, the stakes are not only global but personal.

Climax: Erik takes out Logan and Charles. When a story offers up a gazillion main characters, it can be tough to give them all an important role in the Climax. But this story does a good job of sidelining some of the characters just long enough to shift the focus to others—in this case Mystique.

Climactic Moment: Charles convinces Mystique not to kill Trask. Here, Charles—the main character—gets pulled right back into the conflict, just as he should, to make the important play at the important moment. The story would not have resonated nearly as well if he’d been sidelined for the entirety of the Climax.

Resolution: Logan returns to a peaceful future at the Professor’s school.

Notes: This is an extremely clever script that takes multiple disparate threads and weaves them together into an almost seamless and highly entertaining story. Largely, that is due to how tight its structure is. With the exception of a (insignificantly) weak First Pinch Point, it always knows exactly what it’s about and never makes a misstep.

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