[Update: Millar’s claims may not be totally accurate – See Pg. 2 for details]

For fans of the X-Men movies, there seems to be a lot to look forward to over the next few years. In the last few weeks alone, there’ s been a lot of talk about X-Men: First Class, Wolverine 2 and X-Men 4, relating to director Bryan Singer’s possible involvement with these films.

As we know, Singer agreed to come back and work with Fox on directing a prequel to the franchise about the first school of mutants with X-Men: First Class but he was recently forced out due to a previous commitment with Warner Bros. to helm Jack the Giant Killer. Now he’ll only be producing First Class, but Fox and producer Lauren Shuler Donner would like to have him helm another film. From a recent LA Times interview with the two of them, he really wants to tackle that project and we can expect that he will likely helm X-Men 4 once his schedule clears up.

Singer coming back to direct X-Men 4 is something I’ve been saying for quite some time, even before he was signed to do X-Men: First Class. It makes the most sense and it will allow him to utilized his ideas he wanted to explore for X-Men 3 before he jumped ship to take on Superman Returns (again, for Warner Bros.).

For a long time we’ve heard rumblings of a desire from producer Lauren Shuler Donner and Fox showing interest in bringing back the original cast to do an X-Men 4. Everything we’ve heard of late seems to point to this being something that could actually happen, especially with news breaking today that Mark Millar apparently turned down the job of penning the X-Men 4 script. Up until now, the project has only been an idea and there’s no one officially attached to the project.

The following message was sent from Mark Millar regarding the project:

Fox just offered me X-Men 4… but I turned it down.

Why? I love the X-Men movies. The exec at Fox also seemed like a really smart guy who knows exactly what worked and didn’t work about the earlier trilogy. He has an abiding love for the comics and knew my work better than I did. I have no doubt he’s going to put together an amazing movie here because the people he’s talking about behind the camera are all friends and heroes of mine. He also offered me massive scope with the story and I have an idea I really like, something that takes the franchise in a really fresh direction.

But you know what?

I’m having so much fun creating my own characters and enjoying the control this gives you over the comic-books and the movies that handling an established franchise seems odd to me now. It’s tempting, SO tempting for a guy who’s been a fanboy as long as he can remember, but I need to stick to my guns. I want to create the NEXT generation of superheroes over the next few years and going back would, I think, be a mistake.

Vaughn is being offered everything you can imagine too in the wake of Kick-Ass, but we both agreed that keeping complete control is what made Kick-Ass such an amazing experience for both of us. Six big producers have now come forward for Nemesis (I’ve always said I’m holding off until April 17th before I let CAA take this out) and Vaughn and I already have our next movie planned out, based on a book I’m doing with Leinil Francis Yu in September.

But it’s still the friggin’ X-Men, guys. Have I gone mad? Was it nuts to turn this down?

Continue to page 2 for more on X-Men 4, potential directors for the franchise and my thoughts…

Firstly, we have to be careful on jumping the gun on the validity of this. Millar is famous for making statements about comics and comic book movies that sometimes prove untrue. That’s not to say this isn’t the real deal here and if we can take anything from it, it means that Fox is serious about moving forward with X-Men 4, which I think is a great thing for the franchise (they’re not rebooting it, so stop hoping for that).

Update: So ok, now we’re hearing that Millar indeed may have been…let’s say “exaggerating” a bit with his claims about turning down X-Men 4. Comic book website Bleeding Cool did some digging, and discovered that while Millar did indeed meet with executives over at Fox, the X4 script was never offered to him.

From Rich Johnston over at Bleeding Cool:

“…I’ve spoken by phone and e-mail to those who Mark Millar spoke to at Fox – and they claim that yes, they did speak to him. And that while they conducted a conversation at a high level concerning the X-Men characters and the X-Universe that Fox is mapping out with future films, Mark was not offered a role. Well not yet anyway. They also say that there is no X-Men 4 project being worked on right now – which is also why he was not offered the job of writing on it. And that Jamie Moss is lined up to write the next project, X-Men: First Class.

However, the Fox people told me that they really do want to work with Mark in the future.

So, yes according to Fox, Mark Millar got it wrong…No one is working on X-Men 4 right now. And that’s from the top.”

Johnston also notes that Fox could be blowing smoke to keep X4 under wraps. So, as often is the case with Hollyweird, it’s hard to know EXACTLY where the truth lies regarding Millar and the X4 script.

However, it’s interesting that Millar name-drops director Matthew Vaughn, who of course helmed the adaptation of Millar’s Kick-Ass and that film is poised to do well amongst the fans from all of the insanely positive early buzz. Vaughn was supposed to direct X3 after Singer left but chose to drop out due to constraints – he’s made it public how bad he thought the movie was and firmly believes he would of done better than Brett Ratner. With Kick-Ass coming out, I’ve no doubt that he’s at least being considered as a candidate to take on the director’s chair for X-Men: First Class.

From what Millar says, he seems to hint at there being too much studio interference or restriction on the job for X-Men 4 and that’s why he turned it down and why he and Vaughn wouldn’t enjoy doing such a project. As we know, Fox  meddling in the X-Men franchise has become almost expected and is a big problem for the hardcore fans (and now critics after the last two franchise films).

The hope with Singer coming back is that the franchise can return to the quality we saw in the first two X-Men films and with that, we can expect Fox to choose a director for each of their upcoming movies who fans can get behind. They can’t afford to have another critical failure if they hope fans to stick around with their long-term plans, especially with Marvel Studios and DC Entertainment launching massive comic book film franchises of their own.

This is why they had an Oscar-winning writer pen Wolverine 2, why they brought the Zombieland writers in for Deadpool and why they brought Singer back for First Class with his own writer and story treatment.

The last thing I want to touch on is the reference to the large scope of X4. Millar is famous for his work on starting the Ultimate X-Men comic series which featured a rather large cast of X-Men characters in a more realistic take on the X-Universe (leather costumes included). Could we see some major villains not yet introduced to the series? Could we finally see the introduction of the time-traveling son of Cyclops, Cable, make his introduction? Cable is a hot topic behind-the-scenes at Fox and could be used to tie-together both prequels and sequels for a major storyline involving certain villains who I’m sure fans can speculate on.

What do you want from 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: Bleeding Cool