Matthew Vaughn To Direct X-Men: First Class

Director Matthew Vaughn
Director Matthew Vaughn

According to The Hollywood Reporter Matthew Vaughn (KICK-ASS, STARDUST) has finally, after lots of back-and-forth, signed on to direct superhero origins tale, X-MEN: FIRST CLASS. Vaughn has been rumoured to be circling the project for the last couple of weeks but has now sealed the deal with the studio, who are hoping to get the film out by June 3, 2011.

The date is shockingly close for a film of this scale, a blockbuster film loaded with special effects, but the studio are feeling confident since reading a rewrite of the script by Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz (THOR, TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES) and securing Vaughn as director. According to Fox FIRST CLASS will,

“Chart the epic beginning of the X-Men saga. Before Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr took the names Professor X and Magneto, they were two young men discovering their powers for the first time. Before they were archenemies, they were the closest of friends, working together, with other Mutants (some familiar, some new), to stop the greatest threat the world has ever known. In the process, a rift between them opened, which began the eternal war between Magneto’s Brotherhood and Professor X’s X-Men.”

Almost everything about this project sounds dodgy. First off, do we really need another X-MEN film? LAST STAND and WOLVERINE were both pretty poor and I’d rather see them leave the franchise alone. Secondly, the plot sounds a lot like the terrible cartoon series, X-MEN: EVOLUTION, and seems like another excuse for Hollywood to carry on the teen-centric trend which is currently plaguing our screens. Thirdly, a year to cast, shoot and edit the thing? Really Fox? That’s just pushing it.
Fourthly, (yes, fourthly) while Vaughn isn’t a bad director, he’s certainly not remarkable and I’d much rather Bryan Singer (who directed the first two X-MEN films, conceived the story for FIRST CLASS and was originally going to direct the film before leaving it for JACK THE GIANT KILLER) come back to the franchise if it’s to carry on at all. Also, how is Vaughn going to fit in the newly announced KICK-ASS: BALLS TO THE WALL, which is meant to hit cinemas in 2012?
Whatever your view on the film, X-MEN: FIRST CLASS is due to hit cinemas on the 3rd of June, 2011.

McQuarrie Re-Writing Jack The Giant Killer

Christopher McQuarrie
Christopher McQuarrie

Bryan Singer (X-MEN, SUPERMAN RETURNS) has been planning his re-working of classic fairytale Jack and the Beanstalk for a while now but, according to The Hollywood Reporter, he has now asked long-time collaborator Chris McQuarrie (THE USUAL SUSPECTS, VALKYRIE) to re-write the script.

Singer’s interpretation of the story will follow a young farmer being charged with the mission of leading a group of men into the giants’ kingdom to stage a dangerous rescue. Sounds like quite a departure from the original fairytale and there’s no mention of magic beans or cows called Daisy but an unique twist on things rather than a literal transition of the story is probably exactly what this adaptation needs.
Singer has been back on the project ever since he rejected the offer to direct X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, the new X-MEN film which focuses on a younger group of mutants being trained at Xavier’s institute. The script for JACK THE GIANT KILLER has been already been attempted by both Mark Bomback and Darren Lemke but now that McQuarrie is on the case it seems like things are finally heating up.
Casting for the film is set to start soon as Singer is planning to shoot JACK THE GIANT KILLER in England this summer.

Jack the Giant Killer starts in July

Jack the Giant Killer (1962)
The 1961 version of JACK THE GIANT KILLER points us to a report that director Bryan Singer (X-MEN) will start filming JACK THE GIANT KILLER in July, with shooting planned to take place in London and Iceland, for a planned 2011 release.
Singer’s involvement with JACK THE GIANT KILLER could prevent him from rejoining the X-MEN franchise, despite recent overtures from producer Lauren Shuler Donner, asking him to consider X-MEN: FIRST CLASS and/or X-MEN 4.
The original JACK THE GIANT KILLER (1962) is basically a rip-off of THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD, with director (Nathan Juran), leading man (Kerwin Matthews), and villain (Torin Thatcher) reprising their respective duties in a fairy-tale fantasy. The missing ingredient is the special effects magic of Ray Harryhausen (who later went on to craft the 1981 version of CLASH OF THE TITANS, also the subject of a recent remake).

Bryan Singer returning to X-Men universe?

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.