Things are going according to plan for the future of the X-Men film universe... at least according to my thoughts on what we'd see from Fox Studios going forward. As expected, Bryan Singer is back in the fold and will be directing the prequel X-Men: First Class, and X-Men Origins: Magneto is seemingly even less likely to happen than before.
While some X-Men fans were hopeful of the second X-Men Origins film following the history of the master of magnetism, to me it was the least likely of the projects in development to happen. Not only would such a project require a re-cast of the title character, which would never please the full fanbase, but it would therefore be less bankable since the actors would be new to the franchise. Magneto was cool for the X-Men trilogy but would moviegoers buy into him as the lead with Sir Ian McKellen not playing him?
A Magneto origins feature would have been about a his younger self meeting a young Professor X (also re-cast) and their developing relationship before the formulation of the X-Men. While it may have been a great story on paper, we know that there would of course be an infusion of mutant characters who don't belong into the film to make it a flashy blockbuster affair and we don't need that.
David Goyer was signed last summer to write and possibly direct the Magneto spinoff but since then, plans for said film have been put on hold. Goyer's original idea for the story of the Magneto film was as follows:
“The storyline will heavily involve Professor X, the wheelchair-using X-Men leader. That character was a soldier in the allied force that liberated the concentration camps. The professor meets Magneto after the war and while they bond over the realization that they are alike in their special powers, their differences soon turn them into enemies.”
Since X-Men Origins: Wolverine debuted to big box office numbers (though we can't say the same for its critical reception), a growing number of X-Men films have been pushed into development. Skip forward to the Blu-ray release of the Wolverine origin movie, and producer Lauren Shuler Donner discussed the main four X-projects in development: Wolverine 2, X-Men: First Class, X-Men Origins: Magneto and Deadpool. First Class and Magneto were already being written by Josh Schwartz and Goyer respectively and a Deadpool spinoff was dependent on the reception of Ryan Reynolds' cameo in the Wolverine movie.
At the time, Donner said that Magneto was low on the priority list:
“David Goyer has written a brilliant script. It starts in the concentration camps and has Magneto coming out of there. But you know, I’m not sure that film is going to be made. The studio has a wealth of potential stories, and they have to stand back and decide which ones to make. And Magneto, I think, is at the back of the queue. Maybe it’ll get made in five years – who knows? I can tell you that Ian McKellen won’t be playing the character the whole way through. We used Lola technology in X-Men 3 to de-age Ian and Patrick for one scene, but it’s very expensive. To do that for a two-hour movie would be prohibitive financially. And to find a younger actor to fill Ian’s shoes, that’s pretty daunting. It’s not easy.”
As we know, Deadpool was greenlit and they're bringing in writers (possibly the writers behind Zombieland) to handle that film; Wolverine 2 was pushed ahead and is being written by Oscar-winner Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects), and the most recent development of course was the confirmation of Bryan Singer taking the helm of First Class and writer Jamie Moss brought on board to pen the script. Add to that the fact that Donner is in the early stages of also planning a possible X-Men 4 and New Mutants movies and there's no room for Magneto anytime soon with all of these fresh new projects introducing new characters, large casts and plenty of cross-over opportunity.
There's only so many resources to go around and from Fox's perspective, which have more potential to not only bank the most coin, but spawn new franchises?