Following last year’s X-Men: Apocalypse, the future of 20th Century Fox’s X-Men franchise looks to be secure. Deadpool still retains the best opening weekend for an R-rated film, while the R-Rated Logan just debuted with a worldwide take of over $200 million and earned loads of critical acclaim. On top of all this, the critically-acclaimed Legion on FX, is holding fans over on television ahead of a live-action X-Men TV series debuting on FOX later this year, a feature film production based on The New Mutants is in rapid development, and a direct sequel to Apocalypse is slated to begin production in the foreseeable future.
As previously reported, the studio’s follow-up to X-Men: Apocalypse will be a 90s-set story. Writer/producer Simon Kinberg has kept fans guessing on the specifics for some time now, and adding to the confusion have been the project’s now-debunked working titles such as Dark Pheonix and Teen Spirit. It turns out that X-Men: Supernova, which we had recently come to believe would be the movie’s official title, will definitely not be the film’s actual title either.
Confused? That’s the point. It turns out Supernova is another code name for the top-secret project, which as of now still has no official title. Attractive as the title is, Supernova is just another pre-production trick to “throw people off the scent,” as Kinberg informed /Film:
It’s not called Supernova. One of the things we do when we make these X-Men movies, to be totally candid, is — any of these movies, it’s on Star Wars, too — is you come up with fake names to throw people off the scent and when you’re out making the movie, the signs that show you where the locations are say Nova, or whatever the fake title is, and people figure it out, and I don’t even know why we do it anymore.
But at any rate, it’s not called Supernova. That was the code name for it. There’s yet another code name now. What I can tell you is that we’re in early stages of prep on it, and that it’s something that Hutch and I specifically have been talking about, as the producers of it and me as the writer of it, since post-production on Apocalypse, what the story would be and how would do something bold and radical and expand the universe in the same way that Logan feels bold and radical and certainly Deadpool does as well. And that’s where we are with it.
Bogus or not, fans eagerly try to decipher every little clue from these code titles. It’s heavily speculated that the plot will revolve around Jean Grey and her Phoenix abilities, which was hinted at in X-Men: Apocalypse. Actress Sophie Turner is attached to reprise her role as the younger Jean Grey from Apocalypse in the next X-Men installment, which will reportedly begin rolling camera in Montreal this summer, possibly in June. Kinberg himself is reportedly a front-runner to direct the film.
The Jean Grey/Phoenix storyline, though explored in the original X-Men movie trilogy (see X-Men: The Last Stand), is a fan-favorite and a logical, arguably safer, next place to take the newer films. As is the opinion of most fans, Kinberg calls The Last Stand a “Dark Phoenix movie that we didn’t get quite right” and continues to hint that the next X-Men movie will redo the Phoenix story:
I think of maybe a few mistakes we made in that movie — and every movie has mistakes — but the main mistake we made in that movie was taking the Dark Phoenix story, which is such a vast and profound saga, and making it the subplot of the movie as opposed to the main plot of the movie. I think if we were to make a Dark Phoenix movie in the future, it would be a Dark Phoenix movie about her struggle, and really should be the A plot and the primary of the movie.
While it’s intriguing that the production is moving full steam ahead, the middling critical and fan response to Apocalypse is something the new film will need to compensate for. Despite its one-off structure, Logan has raised the bar for quality of the X-Men franchise to a level that will be hard to top.