20th Century Fox is looking to increase the output for its X-Men movie crop and fast, starting with X-Men: Days of Future Past arriving this May. This next X-Men installment is a sequel to X-Men: First Class that brings back the X-Men present-day trilogy cast through a time-travel storyline; also returning behind the scenes is Bryan Singer, who hasn't called the shots on an X-Men film since X2 released in 2003.
Singer is currently helping to develop the next chapter in the Marvel superhero franchise, X-Men: Apocalypse, while also finishing the last months of a whirlwind promotional tour for Days of Future Past (in addition to overseeing any last-minute post-production tweaks to the film). So far, the director has confirmed that Apocalypse will be a direct followup to Days of Future Past - rounding out the First Class trilogy in the process - and that it will be another period piece, this time set in the 1980s instead of the '70s (like Days of Future Past) or '60s (First Class).
EW has a new interview where Singer reiterates a few Apocalypse details that he's mentioned before, like how the film will address "ancient mutancy" - by looking at how ancient civilizations might've perceived mutants with super-powers - and that he wants to include fan-favorites like Gambit and Nightcrawler, who failed to make the roster in Days of Future Past, along the returning team of young Professor X (James McAvoy), Magneto (Michael Fassbender), Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), and Beast (Nicholas Hoult).
The director also expanded on his previous comments about Days of Future Past's connection to Apocalypse, like when he said "What happens in this movie brings about what’ll happen in [X-Men: Apocalypse].” Here is what Singer offered during said EW interview, with regard to how Days of Future Past leads into Apocalypse:
“You won’t feel at the end of the movie that it set up Apocalypse. What it does is it sets up possibilities. But what we’ll discover in Apocalypse is that events in this movie made that happen. Apocalypse deals with ancient mutancy. What would humans have thought mutants were? What would mutants think humans were? You’re dealing with gods and things like that. And what if one survived and what if that found its way into our world?”
Hopefully, if we're reading between the lines correctly, what Singer is saying is that Days of Future Past is satisfying as a standalone viewing experience, in addition to - but not despite it - serving as the next chapter in an ongoing saga. After all, Marvel Studios releases have a bait habit of feeling more like incomplete serial installments than movies connected as a franchise (see the Screen Rant Underground Podcast's crew's Captain America: The Winter Soldier discussion, where they touch on this issue), while there've been concerns that this May's Amazing Spider-Man 2 may be better at setting up additional sequels/spinoffs that standing on its own two feet.
Which is to say: we hope Days of Future Past feels like more than just a necessary link in the chain to get to better things. The acclaimed comic book source material from Chris Claremont (whose other comic writing also inspired X2 and The Wolverine) has been adapted by screenwriter Simon Kinberg (Sherlock Holmes) into a movie that features a lot of elements that have great potential - Sentinels, connections to real historical events, Mystique's continued evolution as a character - so it would be a shame if the ball gets dropped here, as far as this X-Men movie being good on its own terms. (To say nothing about Fox's hopes that the film will successfully open the floodgates to a larger Marvel/X-Men cinematic universe.)
Indeed, if things are handled well in Days of Future Past, it could pave the way for an equally top-notch story to be explored in Apocalypse. Singer told EW that the latter film's narrative, which X2 screenwriters Dan Harris and Mike Dougherty are helping to put together, will be "somewhat" based on the famous 1990s Age of Apocalypse comic book storyline. Nonetheless, both Singer and Kinberg emphasized that there will be key differences between the two:
"[The 'Apocalypse' movie] won’t necessarily create an alternate universe [like the comic], but there may be some swapping things that I’m playing with,” admits Singer. Adds Kinberg, “From a visual standpoint it actually may be a bigger movie than Days of Future Past because there’ll be disaster movie imagery, like the title would imply.”
The claim that Apocalypse will be, in some sense, "bigger" than Days of Future Past is a significant one, given the latter is reported to be one of the (if not the) most expensive superhero blockbusters produced to date. Similarly, thanks to trailer footage, we know that Days of Future Past will proffer a far-reaching vision of a dystopian future, where mutants have been hunted to the brink of extinction and global human civilization has been heavily damaged in the process. Not to mention, franchise star Hugh Jackman previously described Days of Future Past as being so immense in scale, it's like three movies in one.
So, yeah - X-Men: Apocalypse being "bigger" than that, even in terms of just "disaster movie imagery," would be a pretty impressive feat to pull off. We'll see about that one.
X-Men: Days of Future Past opens in U.S. theaters on May 23rd, 2014. X-Men: Apocalypse is scheduled to follow suit on May 27th, 2016.