With X-Men: Days of Future Past finally in theaters around the world, fans can finally understand what director Bryan Singer and writer-producer Simon Kinberg have been working on and talking about for the last two years. They promised to lay the groundwork for broadening out the X-Men film universe (read: take advantage of the big Marvel Comics stories), while introducing time-travel to “fix” a few things that went awry in previous franchise installments. And they succeeded, continuity issues aside.

Days of Future Past earned over $90 million domestically and over $260 million worldwide in its three-day opening, and better yet, it’s earning positive reviews among critics and fans – something the franchise and studio (Fox) very much needed after spending big bucks to use this movie to help relaunch the series, in a matter of speaking. Not only did X-Men: DOFP need to earn big money to stand up to rival comic book franchises, but it needed to bring back the positive buzz to justify the set of followups already scheduled and in development, namely X-Men: Apocalypse which already has a release date set for summer 2016.

*Warning: Spoilers ahead for X-Men: Days of Future Past and its post-credits scene*

As the title implies, the overwhelmingly powerful villain Apocalypse is set to finally make his debut in 2016 in what Kinberg describes as a “disaster” movie, a project we’ve already been told by him is even bigger than X-Men: Days of Future Past. Just like DOFP takes place 10 years after First Class, X-Men: Apocalypse skips ahead another decade and is set in the ’80s.

So, we know the bad guy, we know Singer wants to bring back Gambit and Nightcrawler, alongside younger versions of Cyclops, Jean Grey and Storm, and we know newcomer Quicksilver (a scene-stealer in Days of Future Past) is set to return with the core cast of X-Men: First Class, but there’s potentially many more familiar faces too. Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine is all but officially confirmed to return as well, as the 45 year-old poster boy expresses his hopes that X-Men: Apocalypse and the still untitled Wolverine 3 will shoot back-to-back to ease the burden on his workout regiment.

Speaking to The Daily Beast, Simon Kinberg confirms that it won’t just be the younger crew in the ’80s taking part however, hinting that we may see the original cast – or a least a segment of it – again after seeing most of the original trilogy crew return in the redefined future at the end of X-Men: Days of Future Past.

“It will focus primarily on the First Class cast, but it will certainly have some of the original cast involved, too.”

Who?! With Apocalypse stories, time travel is typically involved, as are time-travelling characters such as Bishop (played by Omar Sy in Days of Future Past) and Cable (the son of Cyclops – who now is alive again in the future). If the “old” cast is involved, that’s the most logical way of still including them and it plays into the how and why behind Apocalypse surfacing in the ’80s.

Speaking with Vulture, Kinberg adds that the plan all along for X-Men: Days of Future Past was to create a new future (another timeline) where the major characters are alive and well, namely Jean Grey and Cyclops. It’s in part to make amends for the mishandling of the all-important Dark Phoenix Saga comics in X-Men: The Last Stand.

“In that original outline, the characters that come back at the end of this movie came back. For me, the fun of this movie from when I said, ‘We should do Days of Future Past,’ was literally the scene of changing the future and Jean is going to come back and Jean and Wolverine are going to have a reunion. Mainly because I carry such guilt over X-Men: [The Last Stand]. The way we killed Jean in X3 haunts me because I love the Dark Phoenix saga so much.”

As for how Days of Future Past ends, we’ve already touched on the new future which could be used for other films down the road (X-ForceX-Men 4?) but as for what happens post-1973 in this altered universe, we see Mystique recover Wolverine’s body at the film’s conclusion too, and that’ll play into X-Men: Apocalypse.

“…But the last moment in the movie with the Mystique reveal … there’s for sure more to that. As we follow the characters in to X-Men: Apocalypse, we have to address that and make it a real thing.”

With Magneto and Mystique seemingly on their own, could we see Charles starting his school and the X-Men, Magneto starting the Brotherhood and Mystique forming her own team? What could she possibly be doing with a confused Wolverine who has no recollection of the events that took place in Days of Future Past? Will Wolverine still undergo the Weapon X procedure to get his adamantium skeleton and claws?

Lastly, Kinberg also touched on the idea of Channing Tatum playing X-Men antihero Gambit. He’s still not signed on yet but a deal is in the works and we expect him to be introduced in X-Men: Apocalypse, leading to his own spinoff. The idea here is that the studio needs new poster characters to lead and promote the series going forward after Hugh Jackman steps aside or takes more of a supporting role.

“Gambit is still in-motion and being figured out. Channing made it known that it was a character that he loved and would love to play, and all the people who work on the X-Men movies are huge fans of his, so the notion of him playing it is exciting. I’m more fascinated by anti-heroes, and Gambit is one of those. I don’t know why he wasn’t explored in the original X-Men movies. Maybe the reason why was because they wanted to focus on Rogue/Bobby or the platonic Rogue/Wolverine relationship, and maybe there were too many similarities between Wolverine and Gambit, so in order to make it a Wolverine-centric franchise they had to cut him loose.”

Going back to the days of the original trilogy when some fans clamored for the introduction of Remy LeBeau aka Gambit aka the Ragin’ Cajun, some of the creatives behind the franchise pointed towards the character being too similar to a a cross between Wolverine and Cyclops and that they didn’t have room for such a strong personality. With Wolverine potentially taking a backseat (Jackman hinting that he may or may not be done with the series after Wolverine 3) and the stakes (and seemingly, the X-Men roster size) getting larger, it’s time for Gambit to get in the spotlight.

What’s the ideal X-Men roster you’d like to see in X-Men: Apocalypse? Let us know in the comments!

More: Hugh Jackman Wants Another Stab At Wolverine Fighting Deadpool

Bryan Singer directs X-Men: Days of Future Past with newcomers Peter Dinklage, Omar Sy, Boo Boo Stewart, Fan Bingbing, Evan Peters, Adan Canto, Josh Helman, Evan Jonigkeit along with returning stars Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Nicholas Hoult, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman, Anna Paquin, Ellen Page, Shawn Ashmore, Halle Berry, Lucas Till, and Daniel Cudmore.

X-Men: Days of Future Past arrives in U.S. theaters on May 23rd, 2014, followed by Fantastic Four on June 19th, 2015, X-Men: Apocalypse on May 27th, 2016, The Wolverine 3 (not the official title) on March 3rd, 2017, Fantastic Four 2 on July 14th, 2017, and an unspecified Marvel film on July 13th, 2018.

Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes for your X-Men comics and movie news!

Sources: The Daily Beast, Vulture

X-Men team pin-up by rkw0021.