Welcome to This Mutant Life, a weekly column about the state of the “X-Men” movies. Since the first X-Men movie arguably kicked off Marvel’s movie renaissance back in 2000 (hey, feeling old!), they’ve taken an unconventional path through varying shades of relevance. From solo stories to team projects, just about everything has been discussed for Marvel’s mistrusted mutants — fitting, since their character and thematic diversity is what’s made them fertile territory for so many great stories over the years. There’s always something to be found among the X-Men characters, whether it’s a World War II story, an allegory for modern prejudice, a slambang superhero beat-em-up, or simply, another Wolverine adventure.
Over the coming weeks, I’ll take a look at happenings around the planned slate of X-movies: casting rumors, story direction, big picture thinking, even some interviews with the creators directly or tangentially related to new projects. As a quick intro, I wanted to get caught up with the current list of movies rumored to be coming out in the future, to see where we’re at. After that, it’ll be a freewheeling tour through the mind’s eye to see where we might end up.
“First Class” Sequel
This is the big one. It’s not scheduled to begin filming until next year because of a dispute regarding Jennifer Lawrence’s availability, as she’s the star of another franchise you may have heard of. What is it about? Well, a lot of things, and we’ll absolutely get to them in an upcoming installment of this column. Right now, all you need to know is that it’s moving forward, with a targeted release of 2014. Oh, and by the way? Bryan Singer just announced that the subtitle will be “Days of Future Past,” which, take as you will. We’ve previously tackled what this could mean, but as we cross from rumor to official statement, you’d better believe we’ll revisit it.
This one is really happening. Filming is underway in Australia, and a release date has been announced for July 26, 2013. That said, keep your fingers crossed. Production has been up and down as the years have gone on, with a directorial dream pick in Darren Aronofsky eventually replaced by the solid-but-less-inspiring James Mangold. Jessica Biel was rumored to be playing the villainous Viper, but she was recently replaced by the lesser-known Svetlana Khodchenkova. Hugh Jackman’s been patiently waiting for a while, as he’s wont to do, but the turmoil might unpleasantly suggest that the script material hasn’t been strong enough to warrant immediate moving on the property. Because let’s face it: if a disappointer like “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” could gross a few hundred million, a better film would do gangbusters. Unless they do something goofy like turn the Silver Samurai into the Chrome Samurai, or something unnecessarily non-canonical. (Laser-eyed Deadpool, we’re looking at you.)
Speaking of which, don’t hold your breath on this one. Rumors regarding its happening or non-happening date back to 2004, back when Ryan Reynolds was just a burgeoning star instead of the sort-of star he is now. (We can’t forget how hard “Green Lantern” flopped.) “Sin City” director Robert Rodriguez was once rumored to be negotiating for the director’s chair, but those talks have since fallen through. “VFX expert” Tim Miller was attached to direct, but that announcement came more than a year ago. There may or may not be an indeterminate amount of test footage in existence, but it seems like one of those mythical unicorn projects that won’t actually come to fruition, considering the economic realities: a faithful “Deadpool” movie probably needs an R-rating, and Reynolds didn’t exactly put bodies in seats as Green Lantern, a more established property than the Merc with the Mouth. Plus, is the world really clamoring for another snarky action hero? (Well, probably.) They can just keep making new “Transporter” movies to scratch that itch from now until eternity. Put this one in the “I’ll believe it the day before release” category.
Will a sequel to the storylines so dismally left behind at the end of “X-Men: The Last Stand” ever come to fruition? Maybe! Technically speaking, it’s not impossible. Last year, Empire Magazine reported that treatments for “X-Men 4″ and “X-Men 5″ had been taken to Fox, meaning something could very well be in the works. I’d bet against it, though, for a few reasons. First of all, I feel like it would be tricky to market two movies in the same franchise taking place at different points in time, especially when neither of them would be loaded with recognizable faces. (Most of the actors weren’t re-signed to new deals following “The Last Stand.”) Second, “First Class” built up enough critical goodwill following the cluttered “Last Stand” that it seems dubious that Fox would move on an “X-Men 4″ unless it was a really knockout, fantastic pitch. Third, it’s been six years since “The Last Stand” was released — and how often do fourth sequels come out nearly a decade after the third, Sylvester Stallone franchises notwithstanding? Let’s let this one sleep.
“X-Men Origins: Magneto”
It’s dead. Sorry, guys.
What do you think of the current “X-Men” film landscape? Sound off in the comments below or on Twitter!