In December, after months of speculation, it was confirmed that Bryan Singer would be returning to the film franchise he launched by taking the helms of X-Men: First Class, a prequel to the first two films that he directed (the good ones) and the one Brett Rater did (the not so).
Singer and franchise producer Lauren Shuler Donner sat down with the LA Times' Geoff Boucher to reminisce about the conception and reception of the X-Men films they worked on together, and opened up about their plans for the future with First Class, and the possibility of Singer directing more films in the mutant world!
Singer may not have had the comic forte of say, a Sam Raimi, but his love of Richard Donner's 1978 Superman, made it no surprise that he jumped at the chance to work with Donner's wife on X-Men and then jumped ship after two films -- with the blessing of both Donners -- to helm Superman Returns.
Even though Shuler Donner, produced two X-films without Singer, the Brett Ratner-directed X-Men: The Last Stand in 2006 and the Gavin Hood-directed X-Men Origins: Wolverine in 2009, the first of which is the highest grossing X-Men film to date ($459 million worldwide), it wasn't just the fans who wished Singer was at the helm of those films instead.
Shuler Donner, choosing her words carefully, explained: "[Bryan] has an authorship, I feel, and I love all of my directors but with Bryan I would send him e-mails saying 'Where are you? You should be here.'"
Even Singer, in hindsight, feels he's better equipped for the Marvel Universe of mutants, than DC's Man of Steel. Singer said: "I genuinely like the people, and my personality meshes more with this universe than it does with other universes, I think; I see that now at this point. I feel a connection to the X-Men characters and also the ensemble nature of the films. If you look at Usual Suspects or my last film, Valkyrie, I feel especially comfortable with ensemble juggling. In the space between all the characters you can disguise a central thought that's hidden in all the discourse. I missed that with the singular relationship story of Superman. And, well, it always gives you something to cut to..."
Following the period of, and sharing the same name with the eight-issue comics series that began in 2006, written by Jeff Parker with art by Roger Cruz, X-Men: First Class is being scripted by Jamie Moss (Street Kings), who has been brought in to write the script from Singer's treatment and an original draft which was done by Josh Schwartz (OC and Gossip Girl creator).
As we previously reported, Singer said, X-Men: First Class will focus on "the formative years of Xavier and Magneto, and the formation of the school and where there relationship took a wrong turn." And will feature younger incarnations of some characters with new actors in roles of Cyclops, Jean Grey, the Beast, etc.
But Singer points out: "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."
The Magneto and Xavier storyllines were definitely some of the most interesting moments of the X-Men films, and the gravitas and recognition of Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart in their respective roles definitely helped.
Even though Singer won't be having McKellen and Stewart reprise their roles in First Class, barring the expensive and odd looking CG de-aging of Last Stand, with the possibility of an appearance in First Class, Singer could possibly be directing Hugh Jackman as Wolverine (who doesn't age at the same rate as humans), in possibly 3 projects.
Shuler Donner has pitched Singer on doing a fourth installment of the previously established X-Men franchise. In the interview, Singer revealed, "I had lunch with Hugh Jackman today." Although the details of the meeting weren't disclosed, it is known that Jackman had that lunch with Singer to coax him into a project as well, which may or may not be a the Japan-set sequel to X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
It would be great, but highly unlikely that Singer would be able to logistically direct First Class, X-Men 4, and Wolverine 2, especially since he's still contractually committed to direct Jack the Giant Killer for Warner Bros.
Singer said with a moan: "I wish I could be four people. I could make everybody happy."
Referring to X-Men 4, Singer turned to Shuler Donner and said, "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."
Although I'd certainly rather see Singer take the reins on X-Men 4, I feel Ratner killed off too many of the main characters, leaving it nearly impossible for anyone to move continue that story with a real sense of continuity. But I'd love too see him direct the Wolverine Sequel.
The reverence to the source material and fans, the more serious tone, and the reality based world that Singer established with X-Men in 2000 -- coming off of the campy Comic films of the 90's -- definitely helped pave the way for Nolan's Batman films, Iron Man, Spider-Man and Hellboy films that would come after. But Singer insists:
"I don't know if people followed in our footsteps or maybe we were just the first of a group going down the same path together... I just think we made some good movies. And now we're going to make more."
To read the full interview, Click Here.
What do you think of Singer's plans for X-MEN: FIRST CLASS? Would you like to see him direct X-MEN 4 or the WOLVERINE sequel?