Just when things were looking a little brighter for the X-Men film franchise, somebody had to throw a wrench into the mix. After writing a two-part feature about the future of the X-Men based on a large LA Times interview with director Bryan Singer and producer Lauren Shuler Donner, it seems there’s a chance what was discussed about Singer’s involvement in X-Men: First Class may not come to fruition as planned.

In December, Bryan Singer and his own writer were confirmed to take on X-Men: First Class but according to a HitFix exclusive today, 20th Century Fox met with at least two directors last week for the First Class gig, a job that Singer was locked for. The article describes the two potential replacements as “good names, guys who either have real experience in the comic book movie medium or who have heavy credibility with fan audiences.”

While partly confusing, this isn’t shocking news since we knew of the potential hitch with Singer being under contract with Warner Bros. (owner of DC Entertainment) for Jack the Giant Killer which he is also set to direct. In addition to that, he’s got Excalibur and Battlestar Galactica to work on as well.

My question is this; if Fox and Singer worked out a deal for his return to direct X-Men: First Class, how could they not have worked out a time schedule accounting for the other projects he’s already signed for with other studios? If they’re in a hurry (which the are) and he’s not available till 2012 as HitFix suggests, something’s wrong here – especially with the timing of this big interview which comes out on the Sunday Calendar section of the Los Angeles Times tomorrow.

An official schedule or start date has not been set for the X-Men prequel about Professor Xavier’s first students but we know they want to start this year or early next year at the absolute latest. Waiting years in between franchise installments with so much potential is not something Fox is keen on, especially with their newly found spending money courtesy of James Cameron’s blue pet project, Avatar.

If I had to shoot some unsupported guesses out for fun as to who Fox could be looking at to replace Singer if he’s forced out of the job, names like Joss Whedon and Matthew Vaughn come to mind since both have appropriate and relevant experience in film-making and comics. They need some positive fan support and Vaughn has the highly anticipated Kick-Ass coming out soon which has been receiving nothing but praise from all accounts and he was previously attached to direct X-Men 3 before he made the smart decision to leave (he hates what came of X-Men 3 by the way). Joss Whedon on the other hand is loved amongst the geeks and wrote one of the best X-Men comic arcs in recent years with his 25 issue run on Astonishing X-Men (since he left, it’s been bad).

If for whatever strange reason it comes to be that Singer backs out of First Class due to scheduling conflicts, than I have a strong feeling that my initial theory on his return may instead provide the outlet for him to tell another X-Men story. Back in October, two months prior to his signing on for First Class, I predicted that Bryan Singer would come back to direct X-Men 4 due to his other movies in development and from what we’re hearing now, this may just be the case. He’s a busy man and this is something Singer brought up when talking about X-Men 4 and Wolverine 2 after a recent meeting with Hugh Jackman.

What directors would you like to see take on Wolverine 2, X-Men: First Class and X-Men 4?

If you’re a fan, check out our piece on What We Need From X-Men 4 and on What X-Men 3 Could Have Been.

Follow me on Twitter @rob_keyes

Source: HitFix, Cinema Blend