The sequel to X-Men: First Class, a film that was initially going to be helmed by Matthew Vaughn before having to hand over the director's chair to Bryan Singer due to scheduling conflicts, was always going to focus on young Charles Xavier. And like its predecessor, be another period piece, but this time set in the '70s.
The first time around, the situation was reversed and Singer was initially tapped to direct the prequel before handing over the reins to Vaughn. Now, the pair alongside writers Simon Kinberg and Jane Goldman, have devised a way to not only deliver a sequel to First Class that meets the studio's desire to include Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart in some capacity, but to circle around to the original X-Men trilogy with a story involving everyone we've met in the franchise so far, while still introducing new faces.
When brainstorming the story for First Class 2, Kinberg pitched to Vaughn an idea based on the '80s X-Men comics mini-series Days of Future Past, a plot that involves Kitty Pryde having to go back in time from a post-apocalyptic future to prevent a political event from occurring in the past which set the world against mutantkind and gave rise to devastating mutant-hunting killer robots known as the Sentinels.
In the film adaptation - at least, according to Uncanny X-Men comics writer Chris Claremeont - the core story remains intact and faithful to the source material but we know there's at least one major difference. In the movie, Hugh Jackman's Wolverine is the mutant that travels back in time instead of Ellen Page's Kitty Pryde. For some comic readers, this deviation is a point of contention in a series that's often deviated from the books, for others, more Hugh Jackman the better. As for the creative team's reasoning, Simon Kinberg explains to Total Film:
"We made the decision for a lot of reasons, some of them obvious and some of them more nuanced, to make it Wolverine who goes back in time. One reason is that he's the protagonist of the franchise, and probably the most beloved character to a mass audience. Probably the bigger reason is that when we started thinking about the logistical realities of Kitty's consciousness being sent back in time, to her younger self, as opposed to her physical body being sent back... it was impossible.
Obviously in the book it's Kitty that's sent back, but because we cast Ellen Page in X-Men: The Last Stand, you're talking about an actress who, in the age of Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy, would have been negative 20 years old. So we started thinking again. The first reflex response to that was a character who doesn't age. Wolverine is the only character who would looks the same in 1973 as he does in the future."
Keeping Jackman in front of the camera as much as possible is logical for the obvious marketing benefits and like Kinberg says, he has mass appeal outside of X-Men fans. His latest mutant adventure in James Mangold's The Wolverine - which hits home video tomorrow - proved to be the second most successful X-Men film at the box office thanks to the boost from 3D ticket prices and a followup is already in the works. Plus, it's hard to deny the onscreen joy of seeing Jackman share the screen with the likes of James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, and Michael Fassbender.
The time travel rules for the X-Men film universe devised by Singer involve a character's consciousness being sent back in time, so putting old Logan into the mind of '70s Logan makes sense by the film logic. The time travel rules, as explained by Singer, mean that changes in the past don't affect the future, or launch an alternate reality, until the character that alters the past (in this case, Logan) returns to the future.
Depending on how Singer and co. use their time travel plot device as a means to "fix" some continuity errors in the series and potentially relaunch it in a new direction, having Jackman involved in the past and present of the X-Men allows Fox to keep him around for other X-Men related projects in development, namely X-Force - a film that Jeff Wadlow (Kick-Ass 2) is writing - and whatever third installment Kinberg and co. potentially write next as a direct followup to Days of Future Past.
Are you excited at seeing more Hugh Jackman and seeing him in the '70s and does it make sense to give him more screen time over Ellen Page?
The Wolverine releases hits home video December 3, 2013, X-Men: Days of Future Past on May 23, 2014. Fantastic Four opens June 19, 2015.
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Source: Total Film (via Scribd)