X-Men: Days of Future Past isn't even in theaters yet, but the team over at Fox's X-Men movie division have been talking up some ambitious future plans. With people like Bryan Singer (X-Men), Simon Kinberg (X-Men: First Class), X-Men movie producer Lauren Shuler Donner and comic book creator Mark Millar (Kick-Ass) all acting as Marvel-style shepherds, the plans for Fox's X-Men movie universe include more franchise sequels (X-Men: Apocalypse and Wolverine 3), big team-up films (X-Force), and of course, another crack at solo character spinoffs (still waiting on you, Deadpool...).
In a new report, Kinberg and Donner are opening up about some of the goals they have in mind - particularly for the solo film spinoffs. Deadpool has been the biggest name fans have been clamouring for, but recently we've heard that a Gambit movie with Channing Tatum starring could be in the design. Today we can add another character being discussed for a solo project: Jennifer Lawrence's Mystique. Said Kinberg: “I love what Jen Lawrence has done with her, and I feel like because she is in such a crowded ensemble, there’s so much more opportunity if you were to follow her solo.”
In X-Men: First Class, the backstory of shape-shifting mutant Mystique was given way more depth and importance to the X-Men franchise. In Singer's first two films, the blue-skinned vixen (played by beige-skinned vixen Rebecca Romijn) was little more than Magneto's henchwoman (and implied concubine). She had some impressive espionage and combat sequences, but there was little of the complex character from X-Men comics to be found. First Class admittedly bucked comic book canon in order to position Mystique as a surrogate sister to Charles Xavier - a girl whose own identity issues formed one of the better character arcs of that film. In Days of Future Past, it seems that Mystique has stepped out of the shadows of both Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender), in order to carry out a mutant agenda of her own - one that could forever alter the course of the future, leading to the extinction of mutantkind.
While we have little idea where the events of Days of Future Past will ultimately leave Mystique, based on early speculation about the nature of this new X-Men movie universe, the filmmakers could in fact position the character for an interesting solo film.
In the comics, Mystique's origin revolves around her lover Destiny (Irene Adler), a mutant with the ability to see the future. Mystique and Destiny's mission for most of the 20th century was deciphering the vague prophecies in Destiny's diary while attempting to prevent those futures that would be the most devastating to mutantkind or the world in general. From what we've seen of Days of Future Past, JLaw's Mystique is on a mission whose dire ramifications she is seemingly oblivious to. Maybe by the end of the movie her motivations haven't changed - only her method of approach? With the simple introduction of the Destiny character, there's definitely room for a Mystique movie to explore an interesting sci-fi hook like trying to shape the future (see: recent examples like Looper or the upcoming Edge of Tomorrow). Add in mutant powers and some key appearances from other X-Men universe characters, and you have even more clay from which to mold a compelling solo movie.
Furthermore, Mystique has led her own teams in the comics, including The Brotherhood of Mutants and Freedom Force. She's also been a member of the government's X-Factor mutant squad, discovered and raised Rogue, and has run covert missions for Charles Xavier - all in addition to furthering her own future-pruning ends. Any one of those story threads would be ripe enough to sustain a solo film - let alone a combination of several of them.
Even though an EW poll shows that Mystique is one of the top characters fans would like to see in a solo film - after Deadpool, Gambit, Storm and X-Force - it's safe to say that the hardcore fanbase hasn't exactly been fighting for this project tooth and nail. It stands to reason that it is Fox that needs some kind of incentive to lock down Oscar-winner and Hunger Games franchise icon Jennifer Lawrence in their X-Men universe - because supporting roles in these crowded ensemble films are not likely to lure her back many more times. So, while the incentive could be motivated by offscreen politics, the opportunity is nonetheless there to embrace the source material and offer a compelling Mystique movie to fans.
Of course, to hear Lauren Shuler Donner tell it, new creative opportunities are the studio's only focus in this new era:
“There was a regime [at the studio] that didn’t see the worth in [spin-offs], and the current people who run Fox understand, embrace it, and we’re going to do right by it. I’d like to do Gambit. I’d like to do Deadpool. We’ll see. There’s a lot of really great characters.”
While this all sounds interesting (and potentially fun), we can't escape the nagging reality that X-Men: Days of Future Past still has a big hill to climb before ANY of these plans for the X-Men cinematic universe move forward. DoFP is arguably one of the most expensive superhero movies ever made, and the X-Men brand is not nearly as strong at the box office as competitors like Marvel Studios or Sony's Spider-Man franchise. The Days of Future Past trailers have been okay, but tie-in marketing has not done much to inspire the hardcore fanbase, and even casual viewers have been put off by the sight of hokey promotional campaigns like these:
...So maybe we should wait and see how Days of Future Past fares before we get too far ahead of ourselves, yes?
X-Men: Days of Future Past will be in theaters on May 23, 2014.