The X-Men Movie Manifesto

With Marvel Entertainment and Sony stealing much of the attention with their Avengers and Spider-Man related projects, it seems like 20th Century Fox’s X-Men films have gotten forgotten in the mix. X-Men movie producer Lauren Shuler Donner recently spilled the beans on three X-Men related projects that are in production to remind fans that the merry mutants are very much still alive and kicking.

Empire Magazinehas all the details, here are some keynotes…

302019-deadpool5iy_largeDeadpool: “I want to ignore the version of Deadpool that we saw in Wolverine and just start over again. Reboot it. Because this guy talks, obviously, and to muzzle him would be insane.” Donner promises it will be a “dark, snarky, very funny movie.”

“It’s going to be a dark, snarky, very funny movie. It’s the hardest story to tell, I think. There’s no clear cut villain – though you do have great baddies from the comic-books like Black Tom, Slayback, Blind Al and the Weasel. Blind Al is this blind woman in his house, who he abuses and mocks… it’s terrible. But you find out that she was a convict who did something terrible and he saved her from execution. So he lets her live in his house and she looks after him, but they both torture each other. Anyway, there are good stories and we’re figuring out which ones to incorporate.

“We’re right in the thick of talking to writers right now, and hopefully by November we’ll have decided who’s going to do it. We need someone really imaginative because we want to do some really innovative, ambitious stuff. Ryan’s mentioned this in an interview already but there are parts where he’s going to break the fourth wall and talk directly to the audience in the cinema. We have to work out how to do that. I don’t know that Fox will agree with all our decisions, but we’ll see!”

One of the most popular characters in modern comics, Deadpool could work wonders for 20th Century Fox if he is properly adapted into the film world. Just think of the Punisher crossed with Spider-Man and Wolverine and you may come close to the level of appeal that this wise-cracking mercenary has. With the ability to heal from any wound, kill anyone he is paid to and break the fourth wall at any time, Deadpool is one of those characters that either works for you or he doesn’t.

Everyone has their favorites, but personally, I think that Daniel Way and Victor Gischler are doing a bang-up job right now and their comics (Deadpool and Merc with a Mouth respectively) should serve as a barometer on this project.

x-men #1X-Men: First Class: Still in the scripting stage, this film featuring a young Cyclops amongst a group of new students at Professor X’s school looks to be Harry Potter meets X-Men. While that may sound terrible to some it must sound like a sure bet to the studio. Properly done, it can work. Another major problem here is that I don’t think that Patrick Stewart is involved and how do you recast Professor X?

“Harry Potter is a bit of a role model for us, absolutely. But we want it to be like the recent, darker Potters. It should not be a kiddie movie – we’re in the X-Men world so you can’t suddenly change the tone. The First Class comics are really fun – they’re funnier than any other comics I’ve read. Basically in each one the kids are fighting strange villains, sometimes it’s aliens, sometimes it’s monsters. I want to get a flavour of that world. Occasionally the kids will be in class, but more often they’ll be off on adventures. Which Professor X isn’t too happy about! There’s nothing more interesting than a bad kid, and this is full of naughty children. Cyclops, for example – he’s a tough kid that bobbed from foster home to foster home, until he ends up at the school and becomes the leader. There’s also still an element of friction between the mutants and the outside world. Remember that this will be set way back before anyone knew mutants existed.

“Right now the script is not done -we’re not where we want to be yet. We have to be careful that we don’t tread on familiar territory, that people don’t say, “Oh, I’ve seen that, been there.” But (screenwriter) Josh Schwartz has a great young pulse and he’s doing an amazing job bringing the characters to life. We want to make this a franchise, following these kids at the school, so the casting of the child actors will be all-important.”

Wolverine by Frank MillerWolverine 2:“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!

“We want to make it authentic so I think it’s very likely we’ll be shooting in Japan. Also, by the way, we are looking to have the Japanese Fox executives involved in helping and counselling us, because it’s a different culture and we don’t want to portray the way they speak, dress and act in an inaccurate way. I think it’s likely the characters will speak English rather than Japanese with subtitles.”

Rumor has it that the studio pushed the Origins plot out the door and that Wolverine 2 (based on the Claremont/Miller mini-series) is the film that Donner has wanted to release all along.

X-Men 4 is apparently in early stages as Bryan Singer is interested in returning to the franchise much to the delight of many comic book fans. Most agree that X3 was a disaster due to the lack of Singer’s involvement which I find a bit harsh on __ who, all things considered, did a capable job. It’s not up to par with X2, but it’s serviceable in my opinion. Singer ditched 20th Century Fox’s X-Men franchise in favor of helming the Superman relaunch which is certainly understandable. It’s just a pity that Superman Returns wasn’t that great either.

Hopefully Singer can get the X-Men franchise back on track and remind moviegoers why he was once regarded in the same saintly light that John Favreau enjoys today.

Magneto by Mike DeodatoX-Men Origins: Magneto is also in some kind of early development but far outside the realm of going into pre-production at this time. The concept of a ‘young Magneto’ movie is almost as old as the first X-Men movie. Director Bryan Singer, screenwriter David Goyer and actor Ian McKellen breathed the kind of life that the character of Magneto deserves, I can only hope that a film centering on the supervillain can even come close to touching that level of excellence. With Goyer on board to develop the script, the chances are good.

As a young reader of X-Men comics I remember rolling my eyes that Magneto was involved in so many of the Lee/Kirby issues. It took until Chris Claremont issues that I recognized the real potential that the character had and the gravity of the villain’s role in the X-Universe.

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All of these projects are a long way off, but expect to hear movement on the Wolverine 2 and X-Men: First Class films which Fox is no doubt anxious to get started on.

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