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It occurred to me while reading the recent Empire article that the X-Men universe will never concede itself to the reboot syndrome simply because of the sheer number of stories that can be told; they can go on indefatigably, one (or more) for each character, as long as audience attention is elastic and unfrayed. If we peer into the near future, there is already scattered across the cinematic milieu X-Men Origins: Wolverine 2, X-Men Origins: Deadpool, X-Men Origins: Magneto, and X-Men First Class (which may or may not officially be X-Men 4). Producer Lauren Shuler Donner, who has been intimately involved with the entire X-Men film franchise, has a broad vision outlined for each of these.
There is far too much information to sum up here, and so the article is the only reprieve. It contains almost a withering amount of information. And yet, in spite of the recent misfires, it’s hard not to be excited by the potential that Donner presents. She discusses, among other things, Wolverine in Japan, Deadpool done right (Donner: “I want to ignore the version of Deadpool that we saw in Wolverine and just start over again”), and First Class that is at once precocious but full of wonder. The most interesting project is, in my opinion, Magneto, but here Donner equivocates, as the film is so far in the distance that the studio hasn’t even committed to a storyline. But the most relevant, of course, is Wolverine 2, since it’s also the most film-ready. Donner discusses it below:
That’s the furthest along of all the X-Men projects on the boil. It’s actually the story we wanted to use for the first Wolverine film, but [Fox head honcho] Tom Rothman preferred to set the character up with an origin story first. This movie will really focus on the relationship between Wolverine and Mariko, the daughter of a Japanese crime lord, and what happens to him in Japan. We’re very fortunate to have a story mostly outlined for us [from the comic book arc co-written by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller]. And we wanted an A+ writer, so we want to Chris McQuarrie (Valkyrie, The Usual Suspects). He came in and has tightened the story and got really immersed in the whole thing – he’s in Japan in his head!
The greatest hope is that Bryan Singer will be involved in one of these projects, if he ever makes up with Fox, but the fate of the franchise does not rest upon his shoulders solely. At least, I’d like to think that it’s rational to get excited about another X-Men film for the very reason that it’s in Fox’s best interest to produce something of real value. Otherwise the franchise is simply eroding in real-time. Nobody benefits from that.