X-Men: Days of Future Past did a lot of things successfully. From a business standpoint, the return of Original X-Men 1 & 2 helmsman Bryan Singer to the director's chair helped the long-running superhero series get back on the right track, and the result was not only record-breaking box office results for the franchise, but a hit among fans and critics.
Confirmed earlier this week, Singer will return to direct the followup, X-Men: Apocalypse, which begins shooting in April for a May 2016 release. And somehow, even with the massive size of the cast of X-Men: Days of Future Past, Apocalypse is being touted as being "bigger" and it might need to be since it will serve as an end of sorts for this younger core team and their story set in the past.
As we've known for some time, X-Men: Apocalypse skips forward another decade and will take place in the '80s. We're led to believe it won't involve time-travel but its titular villain, the greatest threat the mutants will have faced in the series, makes his debut as a result of the meddling with time in Days of Future Past. Time-travel not only helped Singer and writer Simon Kinberg (partially) rectify the broken continuity of the movies to date, but it's also giving them a plot device to introduce Apocalypse where they're currently working in the timeline. That being said, given the ending of Days of Future Past, we already know who must make it out alive when it's all said and done, but there's plenty of room for new character debuts and a conclusion of sorts to the story of what was initially setup in X-Men: First Class.
Speaking with Yahoo!, writer and producer Simon Kinberg spoke about what X-Men: Apocalypse represents for the franchise:
"The thrust of 'Apocalypse' is really to complete the trilogy we began with First Class - to complete the stories of young Raven, young Hank, younger Charles and Erik. And complete this trilogy of four people who began the films sort of disparate and in different worlds… [and who] we've followed through the span of decades. So that'll be the thrust. There will be familiar characters and new characters that we haven’t seen… ever… but it'll be the completion of what we began in First Class."
Even if X-Men: Apocalypse is an "end" of sorts, it really isn't. It could be the end of X-Men movies set in the past, allowing for followups to continue in the present or near future timeline. Such a leap could see the series potentially bringing back the original cast (something talked about frequently by the producers) and/or mixing them with fresh faces we met in the future portion of Days of Future Past or newcomers introduced in Apocalypse. It could also be an end of sorts from a business standpoint, since contracts on many of the talent and creatives involved end with Apocalypse. As far as we know, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender and Nicholas Hoult only signed for three movies each, and Kingberg/Singer aren't locked in for another picture after the next one either. But that can all change pending the success of Apocalyspe, and more X-Men films are coming, even if the First Class crew is done.
And who knows, maybe we could get a new X-Men 4 now that we can pretend X-Men 3 (The Last Stand) didn't happen. Kinberg's interested:
"I’m entirely focused on Apocalypse and hopefully the best film in the franchise [but] it would be lovely to work with the original actors again. Perhaps, but right now its all Apocalypse.”
The more interesting topic when it comes to X-Men: Apocalypse however is the characters it will feature.We've heard the hints and ideas of Singer and Kinberg potentially including younger versions of original X-Men Cyclops, Jean Grey and Storm, but he's also namedropped Gambit and Nightcrawler as characters of interest. We know Channing Tatum is all but confirmed to be playing Gambit down the road and it's possible he's first introduced in Apocalypse, and as for Nightcrawler, we may finally see his origin played out since in Marvel Comics, he's the son of Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence).
"All I will say is that ten years transpired between 'First Class' and 'DOFP', so anything is possible. She's a young woman in her 20s going on 30s… and I will leave it at that!"
As for other new characters, we may finally get proper introductions for key X-Men from the books, including Psylocke, the telepathic ninja who happens to be of interest to Kinberg and who almost made it into X-Men: Days of Future Past.
"She's a fan favorite, and also a favorite of mine. We have a small part that she plays in 'Last Stand', and we talked about including her in 'DOFP' quite seriously actually. There was a version of the script she was in and we even auditioned some actors in Montreal. But we didn't feel there was enough of a part she would play in a movie that was already full of many, many mutants.
"She has a cool power. I know Bryan thinks she’s a neat character so there's certainly a chance she’ll be in an X-Men movie some day. Hopefully there'll be a lot of X-Men movies and there’s lot of mutants we’re yet to fully explore onscreen, even if they've had cameos before. Now we're making more films there's a chance to dig deeper."
Believe it or not, the time-travelling mutant Cable, son of Cyclops, almost made it into X-Men: Days of Future Past as well.
"We also talked about including him in 'DOFP'. I will say, we love the character, we'd love to find a place for him in these movies, but I cannot confirm or deny which characters will actually be in 'Apocalypse' until I read some spoilers!"
Given the time-travel reasoning behind Apocalypse finally appearing in the movies now and the high likelihood of a young Cyclops being introduced in X-Men: Apocalypse, we have a good feeling that Cable may finally earn his big screen introduction as well. There's no better time than now given the character's role in Apocalypse storylines in the comics and the exciting recent news that Fox is also going to be shooting the long-awaited Deadpool spinoff next year. Cable and Deadpool share many stories and comics together, and were introduced around the same time by the same creators in the comics. It's too good of an opportunity to toss up, having Deadpool and X-Men: Apocalypse shooting around the same time and both arriving in theaters in 2016.
Then again, all bets are off when it comes to knowing for certain if all supporting characters will show up in the final product. Even if Psylocke was confirmed this week for instance, she could end up being cut or being replaced before, during or - like Anna Paquin's Rogue in Days of Future Past - be cut from the theatrical version after shooting the scenes and promoting the movie.
Deadpool is scheduled to hit theaters on February 12, 2016, followed by X-Men: Apocalypse on May 27, 2016, Wolverine 3 (not the official title) on March 3, 2017, and some as-yet unspecified X-Men film on July 13, 2018. In other Fox/Marvel film news, Fantastic Four opens August 7, 2015, followed by Fantastic Four 2 on July 14, 2017.
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