OK… so by now you and pretty much everyone else has seen the trailer for Hugh Jackman’s X-Men swansong, Logan. We’ve marvelled at the sight of a silver-foxed Wolverine, scarred, bloody and bruised. Gasped at the sight of an elderly and enfeebled Professor X and allowed our heartstrings to be tugged by a heavily edited version of the Johnny Cash cover of Hurt. It’s been a very long time since I was excited for a Wolverine movie but I think this time Fox have cracked it, and on March 3rd 2017 I’ll be sat at the cinema for a teary eyed goodbye to the longest reigning superhero in movie history.
With that in mind I wanted to look ahead at the giant question mark that is the future of the FoX-Men Universe as unlike Marvel Studios and DC, we’ve not had any major grandstanding events to showcase the future of this 16-year-old cinematic universe.
Deadpool 2 and X-Force
One thing is for certain. Fox had no idea that this year’s Deadpool movie would become such a huge success. I mean, how could they? Filmed on a miniscule budget by a first time director, Deadpool was salvaged from development hell after test footage was “accidentally” leaked online. It became the most successful R-rated movie of all time and helped break the cycle of awful comic book adaptations starring Ryan Reynolds (Blade Trinity, X-Men Oranges Wolverine, Green Lantern, R.I.P.D… yikes).
A sequel was green lit prior to the launch of Deadpool’s Valentine’s Day release and we’re likely to see the Merc with the Mouth teaming up with the time-hopping bad-ass Cable in early 2018. Unfortunately, it looks as though director Tim Miller has been jettisoned due to “creative differences”, which is a shame. With X-Men colon Apocalypse underperforming and Deadpool exceeding expectations it’s small wonder that this sequel is now under much closer scrutiny.
Jeff Wadlow (writer/ director of Kick-Ass 2) and FoX-Men writer/ producer Simon Kinberg have written drafts for Deadpool’s natural progression with an X-Force movie which will follow on from the sequel. For those not “in the know”, X-Force is a crack team of mutants that are more military based and brutal than we’ve seen before. If the X-Men are the Beatles, these guys are The Rolling Stones. Expect plenty of violence and swears of an R-rated nature when they eventually roll onto the screens in a few years’ time.
After the X-Men relaunched with First Class and practically rebooted with Days of Future Past it was a terrible shame that colon Apocalypse felt as though the franchise was treading water. It was originally intended as the closing part of a trilogy but there were definitely key plot threads left dangling for a future instalment. Since the movie’s release Simon Kinberg has stated that this sequel will be set in the 90s, continuing the decade jumps between movies. There’s always the possibility that Byan Singer will return to direct his own version of The Dark Phoenix saga, which Matthew Vaughn and Brett Ratner managed to balls up so spectacularly in X-Men: The Last Stand.
Seeing an X-Men team actually being led by Cyclops, with Jean Grey, Night Crawler and Storm will be a refreshing change of pace from the previous, Wolverine’centric features and could fall in line more with the excellent First Class movie. At any rate, we’re likely to see this 4th prequel sequel in 2018 at the earliest, but with Bryan Singer working on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea for Disney we’re more likely to catch up with the team in 2019.
Now, if only we can find a way to jettison Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique we can focus on a new generation of X-Men and a team that fits more in line with the 90s cartoon, which many would still argue is the best iteration of the property to date.
As with Deadpool, this is a character who’s had a bit of a bum rap. Both ended up with a “guilt by association” stigma by appearing in the first Wolverine spin-off, but as far as I’m concerned, Taylor Kitsch did a decent job in the role. It’s a shame then that we jump forward five years and it’s announced that Channing Potato-head will be taking over as the Cajun card-smith.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of Tatum, but between his sticky contract renegotiations and both Rupert Wyatt and Doug Liman walking briskly away from the director’s chair it’s safe to say this spin-off has faltered, fumbled and tripped its way into development hell.
The New Mutants
Written and to be directed by Josh Boone (The Fault in Our Stars), this teen’centric spin-off has been on the back-burner for a while in the same way Marvel Studios has been harbouring The Runaways. With a tentative production slate for early 2017 there isn’t much information about what to expect here but there are rumours that some incarnation of Professor X will appear.
Following Tim Story’s two noughties efforts and the absolute disaster that was Josh Trank’s reboot last year, Marvel’s oldest superhero family are in a precarious predicament. There’s a great deal of speculation over an agreement between Marvel Studios and Fox, with a potential inclusion in the MCU for Phase 4 but this is currently just here-say.
This IP rights issue has long plagued Marvel Studios as while Fox retains the rights to the Fantastic Four, they also have ownership of a menagerie of other heroes, villains and species first introduced in the Fantastic Four comics over the previous 5 decades including Silver Surfer and Galactus (last seen in FF: Rise of the Silver Surfer) and the alien race known as the Skrulls.
Having smashed it out of the park with Days of Future Past, the future looked bright for the longest standing continual comic book franchise but a toxic cocktail of heightened expectations, poor box office and middling reviews marred X-Men: Apocalypse. Deadpool was a success as it was evident that the stakes for the studio were lower, and that often equates to less meddling and intervention from the big-wigs. An R-Rated comic book movie that stayed relatively true to the source material without award winning actors in disingenuous and artificially inflated roles. Who’d have thunk it?
Best case scenario for Fox beyond Logan next March would see the following timeline of movies:
2018 Deadpool 2
The New Mutants
2019 X-Men: 90s
…Fantastic Four (MCU reboot?)
However, with both Gambit and Deadpool haemorrhaging directors and Bryan Singer’s wings burned with colon Apocalypse there’s every possibility these dates will slip considerably. I’m sure there are a few heads being scratched at Fox and the next couple of releases will either set them on a course correct with bold choices and innovative storytelling, or we’ll see the same rinse/ repeat trend without learning from their mistakes.
All this aside… that Wolverine 3 trailer is pretty boss isn’t it?
Logan launches March 3rd 2017.
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