The Los Angeles Times has posted a lengthy sit down interview with director Bryan Singer and producer Lauren Shuler Donner, in which they discuss the possibility of Singer’s return to the X-MEN film franchise. Singer directed X-MEN and X-MEN 2, which helped jump-start the current wave of comic-book-to-film adaptations and established Marvel Comics characters (Spider-Man, Iron Man) as worthy big-screen rivals to their more famous rivals at DC Comics (Batman, Superman). In his X-MEN movies, Singer also established a relatively serious tone that was a welcome relief after the campy BATMAN sequels directed by Joel Schumacher in the ’90s (BATMAN FOREVER, BATMAN AND ROBIN).
The Los Angeles Times interview is supposed to be an opportunity to examine the impact of X-MEN (2000), but the conversation quickly turns to talk of the future, with producer Donner offering Singer two upcoming X-MEN projects. The first is X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, which would be a prequel. The second is a more nebulous X-MEN 4, which would continue the present day storyline from where it left off with X-MEN 3. Of X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, which will be based on the 2006 comic book series written by Jeff Parker and drawn by Roger Cruz, Singer has this to say:
Singer says the film will find its axis in the relationship between Professor X and Magneto and the point where their friendship soured. It will also detail the beginning of the school for mutants and have younger incarnations of some characters with new actors in roles of Cyclops, Jean Grey, the Beast, etc. (He only shrugged when asked if Hugh Jackman might appear as Wolverine, the one character who doesn’t age at the same rate as humans.)
The premise has compelling elements to it, Singer said. “Just doing younger mutants is not enough. The story needs to be more than that. I love the relationship between Magneto and Xavier, these two men who have diametrically opposite points of view but still manage to be friends — to a point. They are the ultimate frenemies.”
Less is said about X-MEN 4 except that Singer had lunch with Hugh Jackman (Wolverine), who is trying to talk Singer into directing the film, which is supposedly to be set in Japan, with a 2011 release date planned.
Singer turned to Shuler Donner and said of “X-Men 4”: “Hold that one off for just a little, I’m fixated on the other one right now.” She nodded and answered, “I will, I will … I’m holding it open with high hopes. It’s totally different [from ‘First Class’] and it will be so interesting for you.”
If Singer takes on either or both of these for 20th Century Fox (he will have to wait until finishing JACK THE GIANT KILLER for Warner Brothers), it will be a welcome relief after the disappointment of X-MEN 3 and X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE.