Fox has recently been trying to get their Marvel Comics properties (X-Men and Fantastic Four) in better order, so that the studio can hope to echo the success of Marvel Studios' Avengers universe. That makeover has included bringing in Mark Millar as "godfather" of the Fox Marvel universe; locking down talent like X-Men director Bryan Singer and First Class director Matthew Vaughn; and making the sequel to X-Men: First Class a time-travel, sci-fi story that can (hopefully) fix the convoluted timeline of the X-Men movie franchise.
Well, prepare for the onslaught of fanboy skepticism and anger, because it is now sure to come: word is in that Matthew Vaughn is NOT directing the next X-Men film - X-Men: Days of Future Past - but will producer Bryan Singer be replacing him in the director's chair?
Deadline broke the exclusive that Vaughn has dropped out of directing the project - though the reasons remain unclear for now. The Website is speculating (read: speculating) that Vaughn and Singer could simply switch roles, with Singer directing and Vaughn producing the film (Vaughn also wrote the story treatment for the sequel, which was co-scripted by his longtime collaborator Jane Goldman and X-Men 3 writer Simon Kinberg). In our recent Screen Rant Podcast Marvel Movie Debate, we discussed the situation over at Fox, and how - after many, many, missteps and stumbles - things were finally looking slightly hopeful. That early flicker of hope seems to be dimming now, with this latest development.
Just to recap a few historical events: Vaughn was actually who Fox selected to direct X-Men: The Last Stand, until the fickle director dropped out last-minute due to creative differences with the studio, thereby forcing Brett Ratner to step in at the eleventh hour, which resulted in an X-Men movie that few fans loved (to put it mildly). When Vaughn returned to helm First Class (under Bryan Singer's guidance), it was seen as a second chance; however, a ridiculously short production schedule resulted in a film that wasn't as great as it clearly could've been, had it been given proper time and polishing. When Vaughn opted to return for Days of Future Past, and was given a proper production timeline, fans were much more optimistic about the chances for a great X-Men film to be delivered. And now this...
This isn't the only questionable development on the X-Men movie front: we just learned that the upcoming film The Wolverine is indeed not a sequel to X-Men Origins: Wolverine, as the film will be set after the events of X-Men: The Last Stand, rather than before X-Men 1, as pretty much everyone figured up to this point. That news has only inspired more complaints that the entire X-Men property has devolved into a mess of continuity confusion and missed connections - and Vaughn dropping out of Days of Future Past isn't likely to inspire much confidence. While Singer would be a strong replacement - having crafted two of the most beloved films in the franchise - in my own opinion, I think Vaughn outshines him in terms of crafting quality superhero action sequences.
Deadline speculates that Vaughn could end up helming the adaptation of Mark Millar and Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons' comic book Secret Service (he previously adapted Millar's Kick-Ass into a movie before bowing out of directing Kick-Ass 2 - sensing a pattern?). However, with Singer not yet locked in as a replacement, the future of... er, Days of Future Past is suddenly looking very uncertain.
It should be noted, however: Vaughn dropped out of First Class for a time, before ultimately returning to direct. Is this latest move a true departure, then - or just another round of hardball negotiations with the often-rigid executives over at Fox?
Be sure to stay tuned, as there is sure to be updates coming hard and fast in regards to this story.
The Wolverine releases July 26, 2013 and X-Men: Days of Future Past hits theaters on July 18, 2014.