World-Building The ‘X-MEN’ Cinematic Universe: PART ONE

Mar 29, 2015

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All this talk of cinematic universes and we’ve seemingly overlooked the huge potential that Fox’s X-Men franchise holds. People keep talking about a crossover with Fantastic Four, but that seems such shortsighted compared to how big the X-Men character catalog actually is. We’ve only seen a glimpse of the scale the studio could go with the future films, and I have some ideas where they could go.

Some might be under the impression that Mark Millar is the brain-trust for the Fox’s Marvel franchises which is complete misinformation created by Millar. Mark is known to embellish for press attention and usually happens when he’s ready to release/or pitch comics to studios.

In this case, his self-appointed status as creative consultant isn’t entirely false it just doesn’t extend to the X-Men films. As he would have earned a executive producer or creative consultant credit on the films he claims he helped work on. Currently, the only film he’s unofficially credited for is Fantastic Four. He’s way too busy self-promoting and creating comics to sell as movie pitches to really help creatively. This doesn’t mean he won’t have a bigger role in the future, but as it stands he’s not involved with X-Men.

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The the real mastermind behind the X-Men films is producer and franchise writer Simon Kinberg. He’s been involved ever since X-Men: The Last Stand, even though that film is regarded as the worst of the trilogy. I give full credit for it’s blunders to Tom Rothman and visionless director Brett Ratner, messing with the original vision for the project.

Kinberg is responsible for the development of X-Men First Class, Days of Future Past and X-Men Apocalypse which have seemingly put the franchise back on the right path. He’s also a producer on both Deadpool and Gambit films, revealing his new involvement with the solo films. I have to assume that his fingerprints will be on any new X-Men project the studio hopes to develop into feature films or television projects.

Simon already has key role in world-building the new canon of Star Wars with his series Rebels. This has been expanded to the films as he’s a producer of the standalone/spin-offs and is apart of trust with writer Larry Kasdan, co-writing one of the untitled standalone films with Kasdan. If Lucasfilm trusts him enough with overseeing new material for their Star Wars universe, having Kinberg develop an X-Men cinematic universe isn’t a huge leap to make.


 

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Fox has been adapting a bulk of the Chris Claremont material for the new films starting with James Mangold’s The Wolverine. His work on the solo Wolverine comics with Frank Miller heavily influencing it.

Claremont revealed to Hashtag Show he was originally a consultant when Darren Aronofsky was attached to direct The Wolverine. Being allowed to read Christopher McQuarrie‘s script and give his notes. Once James Mangold replaced Darren as director his involvement on the project stopped. It’s interesting to learn he would have contributed to Aronofsky’s version.

“My involvement with the film The Wolverine was in it’s initial iteration. I was contacted by Darren Aronofsky’s people who were just opening their office in Williamsburg and they wanted me to read Chris McQuarrie’s script which I did. I couldn’t leave their office, oddly enough it was snowing so I stat down there for a day and read it. I had notes, I was looking forward to meeting with Aronofsky and his guys, talking over it more and perhaps helping-out with the rewrites. But he [Aronofsky] went off to the Oscars and he won for Black Swan and when the dust settled he wasn’t directing The Wolverine anymore. At the time they settled on the new director [James Mangold], the new director had a new vision which departed somewhat extensively it seems from Chris’ original iteration. And he [Mangold] was working with Hugh and working in L.A., there was neither opportunity nor I gather interest with me being involved.”

When asked if he would have written it.

“I’m always available that goes without saying especially when it comes to projects like this again directors have their own visions. Bryan had his own vision of how he wanted Days of Future Past done. He was working with his own people, I had nothing to do with it other than my acting in the film and that’s the way of the beast.”

Chris is the grand-daddy of the X-Men and with the help of artist Jim Lee created some of the most popular Marvel comics ever released. The next Claremont comic they would adapt would Days of Future Past and it became the most successful X-Men film to date, the expectation is that they’ll be attempting to adapt more Claremont runs.

He also confirms earlier trade reports he’s penned treatments for the Gambit film and could easily help the studio navigate further film options, possibly becoming the actual creative consultant for the franchise.

“On the other hand hopefully Gambit will be a different experience… I wrote the treatments.. I’m told by representatives at Fox my check is in the mail and I’m looking forward to seeing it… I’m very much looking forward to seeing Channing Tatum bring him to life and I think, I hope, fingers-crossed, it’ll be a whole heck a lot of fun.”

I wouldn’t be shocked to see some future collaborations between Claremont and Kinberg.


 

Here is a rundown of the official projects that are all in different stages of development.

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DEADPOOL (February 12th, 2016) :

The greatest thing about Deadpool is that it will sort of open the door to the criminal-side to the X-Men universe starting with the world of assassins and mercenaries. It’s hard to figure-out what is being kept from the original script and what was changed with the rewrites prior to production. We actually know very little about the film at this point but once we start getting solid up-to-date information expect to get informed.

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The few details include Gina Carano playing Morlock bruiser Angel Dust and T.J. Miller is most likely playing Deadpool pal/arms-dealer Weasel.

Production is currently underway in Vancouver.


 

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X-MEN APOCALYPSE (May 27th, 2016) : 

Apocalypse is said to be taking cues from the popular run of the comics while set in 1983, and it was revealed that fan-favorites Jubilee and possibly Psylocke will be in the film amping-up the amount of female characters in the film. There’s been chatter the film could include the classic colorful costumes from the comics, which in a post-Avengers world makes sense it might work.

Jennifer Lawrence has mentioned that Apocalypse is likely her last outing as Mystique and Fox needs to invest in franchise leading female characters. Psylocke and Domino are two mutant characters that could help move things forward but would need well established actresses to fill the roles, unlike an unknown like Lana Condor who will be playing Jubilee.

At the moment we have no idea who will be Apocalypse’s Four Hosemen since Wolverine and Gambit are said to only have cameos. This adds to the speculation that Ben Hardy might be playing a version of Archangel in the film.

It’s been suggested that Halle Berry‘s Storm could be cameoing in the film and if this is true it could mean another vision of the future, or Singer might be exploring another time-travelling plot. They’ve already used Kitty’s ability to send someone back, but there is another way besides that.

Cable is likely going to be the character to takeover the role that would have originally gone to Wolverine or Gambit, those two are said to only have cameos. It’s hard to imagine that Tye Sheridan’s Cyclops be taking that guff role vacated by Jackman. Nathan Summers is actually created by Mister Sinister as someone capable to defeat his rival Apocalypse, so not having him in the film would seem odd as this would be the best way to introduce him.

Intuitive genius Forge builds a working time-machine for the mutant resistance which has Bishop and Cable using it to go back in time to stop an even worse future from happening, the two get caught-up in an assassination plot to kill Charles Xavier. Forge could easily be the person behind the creation of the Danger Room as he is the one who makes the upgrades to the X-Mansion in the comics. The character has also been romantically involved with both Storm and Mystique.

Production is expected to being this April in Montreal.


 

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GAMBIT (October 7th, 2016) :

It’s sort of up-in-the-air if we’ll be seeing more of a straight-up origin story focusing on his time in the Thieves Guild which are in direct conflict with the Assassin’s Guild, two warring criminal mutant factions from Louisiana. There’s been talk that the film could be more a heist/crime focused feature. This might mean that we won’t be seeing him join Mister Sinister‘s evil Marauders who slaughter the sewer-dwelling Morlocks.

Robocop and Boston Strong screenwriter Josh Zetumer was hired to turn Claremont’s treatments into a script. Fox has yet to announce the project’s director.

There’s an assumption it will begin production this fall.


 

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WOLVERINE 3 (March 3rd, 2017) :

It’s assumed by most that the film could be highly influenced by Old Man Logan, but some might only know it’s concept rather than what’s actually in the comic. The whole thing is problematic due to the rights issues Fox would come-up against trying to adapt it, the bulk of characters are owned by Marvel Studios including major ones like The Hulks and Hawkeye. Not to mention the graphic nature of the comic would obviously lose a PG-13 rating due to the sexual and hyper-violent content.

An Old Man Logan movie would need extensive rewrites and might need to gobble-up other Wolverine stories to fill the gaps. It’s possible that Patrick Stewart’s Professor Xavier could take-on the role meant for Hawkeye as Logan’s wasteland partner, as the actor has revealed a possible team-up with Wolverine which likely mean this film.

My own hope has been that Omega Red could take the big baddie role.

Despite Hugh Jackman hinting to retiring the character after Wolverine 3 there is chance he could reconsider, since there was an expectation that Days of Future Past could be his last outing. Matthew Vaughn recently revealed he was considering a recast when his was attached as director, but that of course didn’t happen and Jackman took the lead role. Hugh could be truly done with the character or it might be another contract tactic to drum-up a better offer from Fox.

Director James Mangold confirmed that it will start shooting early 2016.


 

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X-FORCE (TBA) :

 Kick-Ass 2‘s Jeff Wadlow wrote a script for X-Force but seemingly might get pulled away from directing it. The project stalled when Singer announced plans to make X-Men Apocalypse putting Wadlow’s script on hold. He would eventually go-off and take a writing assignment with Sony overhauling their Masters of The Universe remake. He’s recently confirmed his aspirations to direct the film which producers have hinted happen soon. It’s possible Jeff could stick-around to make X-Force but I would assume Masters would be a franchise deal and would knock him out of making the X-Men spin-off.

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If Fox does end-up using Jeff’s script he’s been hinting that there will be five members on the team, but I’m sure they might want to expand that number. Possibly two of those spots were seemingly given to Deadpool and Cable as mentioned by Rob Liefield. Psylocke is rumored to be apart of Apocalypse and could help setup the film and she is the contemporary team leader, so it would make sense to add her. Other characters apart of the more modern lineup include X-23, Warpath, Archangel, Nightcrawler, Domino, and Fantomex.

It’s also possible that an X-Force film could be the best spot to place a new actor playing Wolverine.

Production start is currently unknown but could happen once Wolverine 3 wraps.


 

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THE NEW MUTANTS (TBA) : 

Producer Lauren Shuler Donner has been talking about a New Mutants movie since 2009, and very well could be the Cable movie people have been championing for years. Cable being one of the few male leading X-Men characters yet to be used, he’s very much a crossover character not unlike Wolverine who could show-up in multiple X-Men films.

It could also take the place of an X-Men 4, since Jackman is talking about retiring Wolverine and it wouldn’t make much sense to make X4 without him.

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We’ve already seen three members of the team cinematically with Blink, Sunspot, and Warpath appearing in Days of Future Past. I’ve already suggested this could have be purposely used to slowly setup the new team for audiences. It wouldn’t hurt to give audiences a more diverse cast for an X-Men team, that might include a the first gay superhero character via Shatterstar.

The rest of the lineup could be a mixture of New Mutant/X-Force members that include Boom-Boom, Cannonball, Feral, Domino, Shatterstar, Rictor, Siryn, and Colossus’ younger sister Magik. Cable was been the leader for both New Mutants and the classic X-Force team, since the lineups eventually became interchangeable.

Unlike X-Force, this project seemingly doesn’t have a script or a creative team currently working on it. However, we’ve seen Fox quickly greenlight films in the past as a Gambit movie has been talked about just as long and out of the blue was given a release date. It would likely depend on who they get to play Cable and if that actor is big enough to anchor a new franchise. This could end-up being the X-Men franchise that explores the future plots.

Fox has slated an untitled Marvel film for July 13th, 2018 having grabbed this date early for X-Force or New Mutants would make sense.


 

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X-FACTOR TV SERIES? (TBA) : 

After months of speculation it was confirmed by Fox’s Gary Newman to Inside TV that the network is indeed developing an X-Men series for television. Bleeding Cool was the first outlet to catch-wind of the project.

“It’s in negotiations,” Newman confirms. “We’re cautiously optimistic, we had a good meeting with them. That will not be on a fast track creatively. This is just the deal, now we have to find the creative.”

Apparently, they’re currently still seeking approval from Marvel who would have to sign-off on the project, so nothing is set in stone at the moment. Marvel still holds the right to reject these projects which is said to be one of the reasons it took so long for Deadpool to get greenlit. I’m sure they’ll need reassurances that the show won’t be running against programs like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. or future Marvel Studios network series.

The Hollywood Report added that those creatives would be screenwriters Patrick McKay and J.D. Payne who recently did a draft for Star Trek 3. Along with 24 producers Evan Katz and Manny Coto would being involved.

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Details aren’t being confirmed but it’s rumored it could be an adaptation of sorts of the X-Factor team and could be very similar to Fringe, likely taking cues from the more recent X-Factor Investigations run. This could see Jamie Madrox as the lead character of the show, also known as Multiple Man last seen played by Eric Dane in The Last Stand. 

Other X-Factor members include Strong Guy, Wolfsbane, Longshot, invention genius Forge, and Magneto’s daughter Polaris. Evan Peter’s Quicksilver was also a free-flowing member but considering the timelines it could be harder to add him to the lineup, depending when the show will actually be set. Film Divider has suggested Quicksilver could indeed be apart of the series along with Madrox.

The title could be a bit of a problem due to X-Factor already being used for a major television series, they could easily just call it Madrox. Considering Fox’s previously working relationship with Bad Robot working on their shows and the nod to Fringe there is some hope on my part they could get involved with the series since the amount of special effects that will be involved.


 

In part two I’ll be talking about what could be happening in the future, along with my own ideas of where Fox could go with the franchise and what they could do to develop a greater cinematic universe.

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