The third X-Men installment disappointed hardcore fans, but it was still the biggest hit of the franchise, and at least held onto the big action and strong characters that made the series a success. And angry fanboy discussion threads aren't going to slow down the juggernaut. Charles Xavier's mutants are comics royalty, and the resurgence of adaptations that the first X-Men sparked is big business.
A whole line of X-Men movies is set to come out, starting with X-Men Origins: Wolverine in May. Next up: X-Men: The First Class, spinning off a younger set of mutants. Fine, it makes sense to use the huge stable of characters we've already been introduced to in the background of the first movies, like Ice Man, Colossus, and Angel; and fine, maybe there's something to focusing on a younger team. (Marvel did a similar thing in the eighties when they spun off the New Mutants.)
But now Variety has announced that Josh Schwartz, the producer of the CW's big teen "hit" Gossip Girl, is writing the screenplay. And so it begins: the inevitable slide into irrelevance that every franchise seems to go through. (Think Batman and Robin, or late Roger Moore-era James Bond.) Now they'll put out embarrassing spinoffs and sequels for a few years, until they start losing money. Then they'll hibernate for a while, until someone new comes along to start it over again, probably promising a return to "dark" and "edgy." Ah, the circle of life of the new Hollywood.
First of all, Gossip Girl's hit status is kind of an urban legend; if you look at the ratings, it doesn't even do as well as One Tree Hill. But people like to say it's a hit, and the magazine covers love it -- there's a lot more buzz than the actual audience merits. But does the X-Men franchise really need a flashy, trashy, empty-as-candy-corn makeover?
My only hope is that this is an under the radar non-event, outside of the X-Men timeline and leaving the existing story alone, like the straight-to-DVD animated Batman: Gotham Knight. Because I'm a fan, and want them to get back to what the series does best -- big action extravaganzas with a few twists, some moral ambiguity along with the explosions. Not teen crises like puberty and crazy mutant acne. (Wasn't the whole Rogue storyline enough?)
Schwartz also worked on The O.C., another frothy teen soap that ended up not being as popular as it seemed, but hey, at least his action comedy Chuck is more promising. So please, Mr. Scwhartz: stick with the action. Not so much the debutante balls.