[UPDATE: Check out Part Two of this feature where Bryan Singer talks possible Wolverine 2 involvement and directing X-Men 4!]

While the media world has been heating up along with the production of several films for both Disney’s Marvel Studios and Warner Bros.’ DC Entertainment, it’s been a little cold on the X-Men news front for Fox Studios. This changes today as the LA Times Blog posted a segment of their lengthy editorial on the X-Men, featuring an interview with Bryan Singer and X-Men franchise producer Lauren Shuler Donner. The full version will appear in the Sunday Calendar section of the Los Angeles Times.

The article focuses on the history of the X-Men film franchise and how Bryan Singer’s risky (at the time) take on the superhero genre helped re-define what comic book movies could bring to moviegoers, setting the stage for the major franchises we see lighting up the box office today. It’s a definite must-read for any X-Men fan, but we’ll discuss the most interesting bits here – namely, the hints of what we may see from the future of the franchise and Bryan Singer’s possible involvement with X-Men 4 and Wolverine 2, in addition to his helming of the prequel X-Men: First Class.

It’s been no secret that Singer and Donner have a strong working relationship and for quite some time prior to Singer signing back up to direct the First Class prequel, there was no holding back from either side on their desires to work together again for another X-Men movie. Back in October, I said that he would likely be back and if he did, he may direct X-Men 4 which Donner hinted at as one of the projects she really wants to develop. The good news is that from this LA Times post, that may actually happen – more on that later.

For obvious reasons, Singer’s return is beneficial to all parties involved; Fox has a chance to bring back the quality expected from the franchise after the well-received first two installments and redeem themselves for the critical disappointments in X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine – in the interview, it’s made clear that Donner realizes this (as we’ve seen before) and on Singer’s side of things, he realizes that he’s better suited for the X-Men and their team dynamics as opposed to the solo hero we saw in Superman Returns – here’s his explanation:

“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…”

Presently, we know Singer is signed to helm X-Men: First Class and that Josh Schwartz, who was picked up to do the script, finished a draft, but is no longer in the picture since Singer came on board with a new writer and his own story ideas. While it’s being kept secret as to what Schwartz was going for with his story, I am very confident with Singer having creative control to bring his own story for the project going forward.

Continue to Page 2: The Schedule and Story for X-Men: First Class…

So, When Can We Expect First Class?

Fox wants to get moving on their next projects as soon as possible as they’re guaranteed profit makers and they want to continue the momentum with more frequent franchise installments. The hold up for Singer and First Class is his contract with Warner Bros. (they own Marvel’s competitor, DC, remember) for Jack the Giant Killer which he is also set to direct.

The other two films we know are happening are Wolverine 2 and Deadpool but the leads for both of those flicks are busy shooting other projects at the moment while the scripts are being worked on. So, out of these three X-Men titles, we’re likely to see Hugh Jackman’s solo sequel first on his adventures in Japan – This is where it gets interesting. From the interview, we know that Donner has pitched the X-Men 4 idea to Bryan Singer as well, and on top of that, Jackman sat down with the director to entice him on to another project which may just be the Wolverine sequel (or X-Men 4).

“I wish I could be four people… I could make everybody happy.”

The only thing which will hinder all these things happening for Singer is his schedule and he wishes he was able to do them all. My guess is that Singer will focus on First Class only while someone else takes on Wolverine 2 and after that (and his other duties with Battlestar Galactica, Excalibur, etc.) he will work on bringing back the original cast for the fourth installment to the main X-Men series.

The article also states that Wolverine 2 could be out next year, in the summer of the superhero. We initially thought Wolverine 2 would be a 2012 release so this would mean it has to film later this year so it can compete with Thor, Captain America and Green Lantern for the summer of 2011.

The Story of the First Class

Since the start of rumors about Singer possibly coming back to take on X-Men: First Class and that it would include Magneto as one of the characters, I figured the story would be about him and Xavier working together to build the school, teach the first group of mutants and build cerebro. The story could then follow how their views on the future of mutantkind part ways and the event(s) that turned them against each other could unfold, leading to how we know them as in Singer’s first X-Men.

According to the LA Times piece,  Singer’s response confirms at least some of that we expect to happen. He explains his affinity for the dynamic between the two leaders and how they are able to keep that bond despite having opposite extremes in their views.

“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.”

Singer’s ideas for including more back story for the characters of Magneto and Charles Xavier further confirm my theory on why X-Men Origins: Magneto is unlikely to happen and why it less important (read: unneeded) when compared to all of the other projects in development at Fox.

As for the characters to be included in the First Class roster, I imagine that whoever they end up choosing, it will not sit right with a lot of fans due to the continuity differences between the series and the comics and their respective timelines.

We can say for sure that Cyclops, Jean Grey and Beast will be involved and we’ve also heard they’ll be making up new characters for the flick. I don’t understand why’d they do the latter but we’ll have to wait and see. Singer shrugged at the question of a Hugh Jackman appearance but for obvious reasons that wouldn’t make sense. Save him for X-Men 4.

Check out Part Two of this feature where Bryan Singer talks Wolverine 2 & X-Men 4!

Follow me on Twitter @rob_keyes

Source: LA Times