While Marvel Studios may still be the most prolific producer of big-budget comic book movies, with two new releases every year alongside tie-in TV series, Twentieth Century Fox is steadily starting to catch up. With new movies based on Marvel comics planned through to 2018, many fans are clamoring to see their own personal favorite mutant character or team realized on the big screen.
Fox's current plans are to release Fantastic Four in 2015, X-Men: Apocalypse in 2016, Wolverine 3 and Fantastic Four 2 in 2017, and a mystery title in 2018. With three movies - Deadpool, X-Force and Gambit - all potential fits for the 2018 slot, it's still unclear which of these titles (if any) already have release dates planned, or whether they're going to get made at all.
X-Force was originally announced last summer with Kick-Ass 2 director Jeff Wadlow attached to write the script and potentially direct the movie as well. In early December, X-Force creator Rob Liefeld said that he had read a completed draft of the script and that it was "beyond impressive." Just a couple of days later, X-Men: Days of Future Past director Bryan Singer revealed that X-Men: Apocalypse was in the works and would arrive in 2016. Since then things have been very quiet on the X-Force front, and a recent tweet from Liefeld suggests that the two things are connected.
— robertliefeld (@robertliefeld) June 2, 2014
Although there is no doubt that an X-Force movie is in development, Liefeld seems to be implying that the announcement of X-Men: Apocalypse caused other projects - including X-Force, Deadpool and the standalone Gambit movie - to be pushed further down Fox's list of priorities. Though his original tweet was ambiguous, he later clarified that he now considers it a "coin toss" as to whether the X-Force movie will even get made at all. Responding to an article questioning whether X-Force has now been shelved, Liefeld added, "I questioned it, not definitive. but..."
This certainly tallies with some of the vibes that we've been getting from X-Men franchise producer Lauren Shuler Donner, has been pushing to get the aforementioned titles onto the big screen. Speaking to Collider in February, Donner cautioned that there's a limit to how often Fox can release a new comic book movie:
"I think we have to figure out how many films a summer can handle without getting into X-Men fatigue... There’s a summer, there’s a year, say 2014, 2015, how many can you put out? Take into consideration there are also Marvel movies coming out then. At a certain point people want to see other movies besides comic book movies so you have to be really careful what you’re going to pick, and how many are going to be released within a year."
Another major question is whether Cable - one of the principal X-Force members - will end up being introduced in X-Men: Apocalypse instead. In the original comics, Cable was originally created in order to be sent back through time to stop Apocalypse, so it would be fitting for him to make his first appearance alongside the new antagonist. Liefeld said that while he has no idea whether or not Cable will be in X-Men: Apocalypse, "[It's] hard to believe he won't."
Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick's script for Deadpool has been sitting around waiting patiently for a green light, with Ryan Reynolds enthusiastic about playing the character again and Tim Miller ready to direct, but Fox has been hesitant about giving go-ahead to an R-rated comic book movie. Shuler has also said that the budget for Deadpool would be around $50 million regardless of its rating, since it's a standalone character movie, but speaking to HeyUGuys last month she admitted that the hold-up has been caused by a combination of the ratings issue and Fox's crowded schedule.
"We so want to make it. We’re getting there. I think it will, but one thing now is the rating. If we make it a smaller budget movie, we can go for the R-Rating. If not, then we push the boundaries of PG-13 which is alright too. We just don’t want to saturate the market to the point where it’s just not special anymore."
Of the three potential Marvel movies on Fox's development slate, Gambit is probably the most likely candidate to get made first. Donner recently confirmed that Channing Tatum will play Remy LeBeau on the big screen, though she didn't specify whether he'll be introduced in a team-up or a standalone movie. Gambit would certainly be a logical pick for Fox to test the waters with a smaller-budget, PG-13 standalone X-Men character movie, before taking a bigger risk like Deadpool.
Tell us in the comments which X-Men movie you're hoping to see in theaters first: Deadpool, Gambit, or X-Force?
Fantastic Four arrives in theaters on June 19th, 2015, followed by X-Men: Apocalypse on May 27th, 2016, The Wolverine 3 (not the official title) on March 3rd, 2017, Fantastic Four 2 on July 14th, 2017, and an unspecified Marvel film on July 13th, 2018.