X-Men: First Class director Matthew Vaughn thinks Apocalypse should've been produced before Days of Future Past. Based on the comic books of the same name, Fox's X-Men franchise started it run off strongly thanks to the original 2000 film and its sequel, X2: X-Men United. Unfortunately, the two movies that followed (2006's The Last Stand and 2009's Origins: Wolverine) misfired with critics and generally left fans grumbling. They were also quite profitable, however, which is why Vaughn was thereafter recruited to reboot the mainline X-Men films with 2011's First Class, a prequel set in the 1960s.
First Class introduced younger versions of several key X-Men characters (led by James McAvoy as Professor Xavier and Michael Fassbender as Magneto), and resuscitated the X-Men franchise's reputation in the process. The movie was thusly followed by a pair of Bryan Singer-directed sequels - the '70s-set Days of Future Past and '80s-set Apocalypse - in 2014 and 2016. Of the pair, Days of Future Past was far better received by critics and, in turn, performed stronger at the global box office. However, if Vaughn had gotten his way, they would've been released a little differently.
Screen Rant recently interviewed Vaughn for the Elton John biopic Rocketman (which he produced), and the conversation eventually turned to his history on the X-Men franchise. As the filmmaker explained to us, he thinks Apocalypse should've been made before Days of Future Past, not vice versa:
I think Apocalypse would have been better being before Days of Future Past, because then it could have carried on with those relationships growing and the characters growing there for a little bit more time and more character development. I think the concept was good of Apocalypse, but it wasn’t as good as Days of Future Past.
In a separate recent interview, Vaughn further explained that he'd written Days of Future Past to serve as the finale to his X-Men prequel trilogy, before Fox decided it wanted to make the film right after First Class, and he stepped away from the franchise. As he emphasized in our interview with him, the writer-director felt Days of Future Past made more sense as a conclusion to the larger story he was telling. Indeed, had Apocalypse served as the second X-Men prequel, it would've fleshed out the relationships between the younger versions of characters like Xavier, Magneto, and Mystique, before they found themselves caught up in the even higher-stakes time travel adventure that was Days of Future Past. Instead, coming after that story, Apocalypse (arguably) ended up feeling somewhat anticlimactic, similar to what Vaughn suggested here.
It's also plausible that, had Apocalypse been the second X-Men prequel, it would've still introduced young versions of future X-Men like Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) and Cyclops (Tye Sheridan). Had that been the case, those characters would've gotten a whole extra movie to flesh them out, before the events of this month's X-Men prequel series conclusion, Dark Phoenix. Of course, it's impossible to say if that would've been enough to prevent Dark Phoenix from becoming one of the worst-reviewed X-Men films ever ahead of its release this weekend... but it certainly couldn't have hurt. Either way, X-Men fans have good reason to wonder what might've been, had Vaughn gotten his way after First Class to begin with.
- X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019) release date: Jun 07, 2019