Last September Fox officially announced that they had hired Marvel Comics legend Mark Millar, creator of Kick-Ass, Wanted and the upcoming Secret Service books, as a consultant for their own Marvel films. He later compared his role to that of Joss Whedon's with Marvel Studios, describing himself as an "overseer" of sorts. With the timing of his recruitment however, it was too late to get involved with The Wolverine and as Bryan Singer began production on X-Men: Days of Future Past, we learned that he had never even met Millar, let alone spoke to him about the film or future of the franchise. Singer even explained that he had is "own thoughts" about the series.
With no imminent plans for crossing over Fox's Marvel properties and Josh Trank therefore working away on his standalone Fantastic Four reboot, what exactly does Mark Millar's role involve? He's helping plan out the future of the franchise beyond that.
Millar explains to Collider that Fox had an interest in him because a lot of his ideas, designs, story elements and themes from his work on the Ultimates (another Marvel universe's version of The Avengers) are being used by Marvel Studios in their film franchise and since he's got "one foot in film, one foot in comics" Fox wanted to use him as an "asset" on their long-term movie plans. And there seems to be a big plan in place that we'll find out about closer to the release of the Fantastic Four reboot in 2015.
"I can't really talk too much about exactly what they've asked me to do because it ties in with a plan that's probably not going to be announced for about two years or something.
Millar explains that he's signed an NDA and is (legally) sworn to secrecy but he does confirm that he and the producers and execs at Fox are indeed planning out a long-term roadmap for their own Marvel Cinematic Universe and, as he and X-Men: Days of Future Past director Bryan Singer said before, are looking to take advantage of the vast array of assets they have in their library of licened Marvel characters. They key to the franchise however, and to avoid repeats of X-Men 3 and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, is bringing in the right people.
"It's building up towards something. You know, I'm working and talking to some people, bringing in some people. I brought in Jeff [Wadlow]. I really wanted Jeff after he did such an amazing job on Kick-Ass 2. I told the Fox guys 'this guy's going to blow up and become massive after Kick-Ass 2... Get in and get him now before people realize how good he is.' So he's been brought in now and there are a few other directors that we're talking to as well. I'm strategizing..."
Jeff Wadlow, who we spoke to over the weekend, is indeed penning the script for X-Force, the next X-Men film after Days of Future Past. We don't know much about it other than there will be five mutant characters prominently featured as the core roster.
Is part of their plan the long-hinted at eventual crossover between the Fantastic Four and the X-Men? Not yet:
"What you've got to do is be smart about it. You've got to grow things organically. We're not talking crossovers and that sorts of stuff yet. I mean the idea is to build everything up quietly, in its own way, and bring in the best possible talent. Marvel sold the X-Men franchise off to Fox back in the '90s when they needed the cash, but you have to remember that they were the crown jewels. The reason they got snapped up is because they were Marvel's biggest selling book for 20 years, so you're sitting on a gold mine there. We're all taking about - very vaguely - lots of possibilities, but I think there's a good 5-10 potential golden franchises there you know."
To continue long-term with the X-Men, some sort of reboot - or thanks to time-travel, a "reset" - will eventually become a necessity. They need the core characters (Cyclops, Rogue, Storm, etc.) from the original trilogy and from Marvel Comics to keep making movies for many years to come and that means recasting younger actors eventually. One theory we have is that they can still continue the current continuity in a way by using time travel to alter the events of the films we know and reset the timeline, or launch a parallel one that would let them restart with a new cast for X-Men 1 and do things differently. Such a plan would allow the studio to change things up and give other characters who didn't get a fair shake the first time around a bigger role to play (see: Cyclops, Rogue, Gambit, etc.).
Franchise poster boy Hugh Jackman can be kept in the fold as well and given something different to do with his character since Singer is sending him back to the '70s in Days of Future Past. Thanks to the wonders of time-travel, he can continue playing Wolverine even if the series is rebooted. With Mark Millar being involved, Jackman could also be playing a version of the popular time-travelling mutant character Cable who in Mark Millar's Ultimate X-Men series, is actually an aged Wolverine as opposed to being the son of X-Men leader Cyclops.
What would you like to see Fox do with the X-Men after X-Force?
Bryan Singer directs X-Men: Days of Future Past with newcomers Peter Dinklage, Omar Sy, Boo Boo Stewart, Fan Bingbing, Evan Peters, Adan Canto, Josh Helman, along with returning stars Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Nicholas Hoult, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman, Anna Paquin, Ellen Page, Shawn Ashmore, Halle Berry, Lucas Till, and Daniel Cudmore. James Marsden may be involved if witness reports are true.
The Wolverine releases July 26, 2013, X-Men: Days of Future Past on May 23, 2014.
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