The Avengers are back in the spotlight this week with its home video release on Tuesday, aiming to break records just as it did in theaters worldwide. Proving that comic book movies are not only still the golden ticket in Hollywood, Marvel Studios demonstrated that just like in the comics, separate stories and characters can be brought together in a shared, interconnected cinematic universe.
The Avengers was both risky and ambitious, but it paid off and now Joss Whedon is overseeing the entire Phase Two of the Marvel cinematic universe to keep the growing universe organized and within the same continuity. Twentieth Century Fox plans to do the same with the X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises and they've hired Mark Millar to be their very own Joss Whedon-esque mastermind.
When doing the press rounds for his YouTube series H+, Bryan Singer couldn't avoid questions about his next X-Men project, a followup to last year's X-Men: First Class directed by Matthew Vaughn. He wasn't shy about confirming that the film will be based on X-Men: Days of Future Past, a time travel story from Marvel Comics, and he explained that it will attempt to bridge together all of the films so far, to make sense of the continuity and do something larger and grander with the universe just like Marvel Studios has done with the characters they own film licenses to.
"I think there’s a strong desire to broaden out the universe. I mean, the X-Men universe is every bit on its own as big as the Marvel universe and I think it’s time to reach out and explore it and perhaps even bring some connectivity between the films,as Marvel’s done so well. You may see some of that, I don’t know (laughs)."
We absolutely will see some of this and the man behind The Ultimates and Marvel's successful Civil War crossover event will help guide the future X-Men movies along with Josh Trank's Fantastic Four reboot. As the official press release reads, Mark Millar has been hired as "creative consultant on the studio’s upcoming projects based on Marvel Comics properties." The Marvel Comics properties of course, do not include Daredevil which the studio is dropping after passing on Joe Carnahan's reboot pitch due to time restrictions.
Millar's official statement on the new gig (full press release here on page 2):
"As someone who has spent his entire life obsessed with both comic-books and movies, this is essentially my dream gig as it's a unique combination of both. I spent ten years working at Marvel and am really happy with the work I did on the comic side of things so the idea of working with these characters now in a brand new medium is enormously exciting for me. I really like the Fox team, love this bold new direction they have for their franchises and am proud to be working alongside some of modern cinema's biggest talents. James Mangold is incredible, Matthew Vaughn's one of my closest pals and Josh Trank gave us, in my opinion, one of the greatest superhero movies of the last decade with Chronicle. The invitation to join this crew was maybe the coolest phone-call I've ever had."
Millar not only has experience crafting major story arcs and superhero team-ups in the books but it was his Kick-Ass books that brought him close to Matthew Vaughn, who of course, is now intimately involved with the X-Men franchise. With Singer, Vaughn, Millar, Mangold and Trank all potentially working together, Fox has assembled a creative team with strong potential.
Coincidentally, Joe Carnahan is working on adapting Mark Millar's Nemesis (also a Fox movie) and it all comes full circle. What's really odd about this, is that writer Zak Penn (who wrote the first draft of The Avengers) also wanted to include cameos from the Fantastic Four back when he was writing the X-Men films but Fox wouldn't let that happen at the time. Now, that's exactly what they're doing. Poor guy had his entire script rewritten by Joss Whedon too. Give this guy some credit!
There's no release date set for Fantastic Four but it's safe to assume there will now be some crossover between those characters and the X-Men, at least in reference. There are now officially two Marvel cinematic universes. Your move, Warner Bros./DC Entertainment.
The Wolverine hits theaters July 26, 2013. X-Men: Days of Future Past hits theaters on July 18th, 2014.
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X-Men/Fantastic Four cover art by Pat Lee.