As far as big screen superhero adventures go, the two biggest names in the business are Marvel Studios, the team behind The Avengers, and Warner Bros., the studio in charge of assembling the Justice League. However, long before Captain America: Civil War and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, before Iron Man, and even before 2002's genre-defining Spider-Man, there was Bryan Singer's X-Men.
Released way back in 2000, X-Men united a team of super-powered individuals in a thought-provoking action blockbuster that was half summer spectacle, and half thought-provoking drama. The result was a franchise that, while it's seen its ups and downs over the years, has endured and survived for seventeen years, and is showing no signs of stopping. The tenth and most recent film in the series, Logan, opened to a spectacular $88 million, and is currently closing in on $200 million domestically and $550 million worldwide.
What's next for Wolverine, Deadpool, Professor X, and the rest of 20th Century Fox's stable of Marvel characters? Let's take a look at Every Fox/Marvel Project Currently In Development.
The X-Men film series has generally skewed towards mostly self-serious, timeliness, with a strong helping of big-budget action/adventure. 2016's Deadpool eschewed all of the internal logic and stoic characterization of the franchise in exchange for broad and raunchy R-rated comedy... And it worked! Deadpool, despite having the smallest budget of any X-Men film at just $58 million, went on to be the highest-grossing film in the series yet - taking in a spectacular $783 million worldwide.
Naturally a sequel was quickly green lit, though the behind-the-scenes talent has been shifted around somewhat. The original Deadpool was helmed by Tim Miller in his directorial debut, and it was expected that he would return for the sequel. However, Miller ultimately parted ways with the project due to creative differences with star and producer Ryan Reynolds. Eventually, David Leitch (John Wick) stepped in to take the reins on Deadpool 2.
While plot details are being kept under wraps, it is known (based on the post-credits stinger of the first film) that Cable will make an appearance. Since then, a number of actors have been rumored for the role, from Pierce Brosnan and Brad Pitt to Stephen Lang and Russell Crowe, it seems like every middle-aged leading man has been considered for the time-traveling cyborg. The current frontrunner appears to be none other than Michael Shannon (Man of Steel). Whatever the case turns out to be, an official announcement is expected soon. In the meantime, Drew Goddard (Netflix's Daredevil, Cabin in the Woods) has been brought in to polish the script for the subversive superhero sequel, which will feature Zazie Beetz (Atlanta) as fan-favorite comic character Domino.
Deadpool 2 has no formal release date yet, but Fox has March 2, 2018 and June 29, 2018 penciled in for their Marvel films, and it's reasonable to expect Deadpool to land on the earlier date, with the second being reserved for New Mutants (but more on that in a bit).
For a time, it was speculated that, after Deadpool 2, Deadpool 3 would ostensibly focus on the X-Force team, with Deadpool himself becoming part of that film's ensemble of mutants. Recently it was confirmed that Deadpool 3 and X-Force are, in fact, two separate movies, both of which are being planned at the same time. Depending on how scheduling ultimately works out, it's possible audiences might get two films starring Deadpool over the course of one calendar year. Deadpool 3 doesn't have a director yet, but Joe Carnahan (Stretch, Narc) is attached to write and possibly direct X-Force.
It's too early to tell what Deadpool 3 might entail, though it's possible it could set the stage for X-Force. In the comics, the X-Force is a top-secret squad of mutants sent on secret black-ops missions (think Stryker's team in X-Men Origins: Wolverine), and the rotating roster of mutants on the team has featured Cable, Deadpool, Wolverine, Psylocke, Domino, and many more, incluing – this is true – Dead Girl. It's currently unknown which, if any, of these mutants will appear in the film, though it's highly unlikely that Wolverine will appear, despite Ryan Reynolds's wishes.
Between Deadpool, Logan, and X-Force, it is obvious that Fox is willing to let the X-Men brand stretch its legs and explore new ideas outside of the franchise's established confines. That trend is set to continue in the upcoming X-Men spin-off, New Mutants. The creative team behind The Fault in our Stars (director Josh Boone, writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber) are leading this X-Men story, which is being described as "John Hughes meets Stephen King."
New Mutants, like seemingly every other big-name blockbuster these days, is being pitched as a trilogy, and will likely feature the iconic Demon Bear from the comics. The cast is currently unknown, but, with filming scheduled to take place in May, formal announcements should be right around the corner.
The film is expected to feature characters such as Cannonball, Wolfsbane, Magik, and Sunspot, all of whom will likely be played by teenage actors. Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones) is strongly rumored for the role of Wolfsbane, and James McAvoy might make an appearance as Professor X. While no release date has yet been announced, expect this one to heat up quickly, as it is expected to enter full-tilt production soon.
Untitled Mainline X-Men Sequel
2016 saw two X-Men films hit theaters. First, Deadpool came and blew away expectations, earning well over ten times its budget in worldwide grosses. It was a bold risk which paid off in spectacular fashion. 2016's other X-Men film, Apocalypse, while by no means a dismal failure, failed to enrapture audiences like Deadpool or 2014's Days of Future Past, bringing in $543 million worldwide on a budget of $178 million. Not a failure, but not much to write home about, either.
Still, the X-Men brand is stronger than a box-office under-achiever here and there, and production on the next chapter of the mainline X-Men saga is currently underway. It was previously rumored that the film would be entitled X-Men: Supernova, but that has since been revealed to be a mere placeholder, and the movie's true title remains under wraps. However, based on that working title, as well as plot threads from Apocalypse, it's likely that the new movie, set in the 1990s, will tell its own version of the Dark Phoenix Saga, which explores the immense power within Jean Grey (Sophie Turner). This story was previously hinted at in X2: X-Men United, and then made into a subplot within 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand. It's currently expected that the upcoming film will give that story the care and attention it deserves.
It's currently unknown which cast members are returning, since the contracts for series leads James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, and Michael Fassbender have all run their course. As for directing duties, Bryan Singer is stepping aside to let someone else take the reins, and the current frontrunner is Simon Kinberg - q longtime writer for the franchise, dating back to The Last Stand.
Gambit's first appearance in the X-Men cinematic universe came in the oft-maligned Origins: Wolverine, in which the card-playing cajun was played by Taylor Kitsch. A Gambit solo film was rumored to follow, but after the tepid critical reception to Origins, it quietly faded away.
The legend goes that, before the character was cut from X-Men: The Last Stand, a young Channing Tatum had auditioned to play the explosively-charged mutant. In recent years, Gambit has emerged as a potential star vehicle for Tatum. For a while, it was expected that Gambit, directed by Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity), would hit theaters in summer 2018, but the movie hit a snag in August 2016 when the director dropped out to join DC's Dark Universe.
As of right now, the plan is for Channing Tatum to return to Gambit after he finishes work on Steven Soderbergh's Logan Lucky, by which point Fox will have found a new director, and – hopefully – a script. Whether this plan ultimately pans out, or if Gambit is met with even more delays, is anyone's guess. Still, considering the fan-favorite status of Louisiana's favorite mutant superhero, it's better to wait a bit longer for a better movie than to be stuck with a sub-par product.
Gifted/Legion Season 2
This year, X-Men expanded into the world of television with Legion, a cerebral and visually enthralling take on mutants and their abilities which feels like a cross between 1960s psychedelia and the films of Nicholas Winding Refn (The Neon Demon, Only God Forgives). At best, it's only tangentially-related to the greater X-Men film series, but that shouldn't be held against the show; after all, this criticism is equally true of Logan and Deadpool. The show has proven to be successful, and David Haller's journey through his own psychosis will continue in a second season, which was recently ordered by FX.
Legion may be a far out trip to the outskirts of the X-Men universe, but a more conventional television project is also in the works; a series with the working title of Gifted has been ordered to series by Fox, and is likely to air this fall on the network. The first episode is being directed by Bryan Singer himself, the man who was at the helm for the original film and three of its sequels. While plot details are mostly being withheld, the show will focus on a group of mutant youths and their parents on the run from the government. It will be set within the greater X-Men universe, though it is unknown if any big-screen actors will be making appearances on the show.
Which of these projects are you most excited for? Do you think there's still hope for a Wolverine/Deadpool teamup film somewhere down the line? Sound off in the comments!
- Deadpool 2 (2018) release date: May 18, 2018