The Uncertain Future of the X-MEN Franchise

As X-MEN: FIRST CLASS hits home video, producer Lauren Shuler Donner is unable to provide many solid hints at the survival of the franchise.

There was a press day for X-Men: First Class’ home video release this week, and while your lowly badasses weren’t invited many others were, and they reported back with quotes and stuff about the future of the X-franchise. Almost all of it useless.

This isn’t a dig on the reportage of the folks at the event, it’s a simple reflection of the unsure state of the X-Men franchise right now. And a reflection of the fact that Lauren Shuler Donner, the producer behind the franchise, is one of the best in the business at giving out enticing non-answers.

Last week I wrote a Devin’s Advocate asking if Fox would franchise out X-Men: First Class and Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but the press day gave no solid answers on the X-Men front. ‘We’re talking about it, you know, we’re seriously talking about it,’ Shuler Donner told Hitfix when asked about a First Class sequel. That’s not a reassuring bit of vagueness, especially at an event designed to hype the home video release of the modestly underperforming film.

Also up in the air: When The Wolverine will shoot. Shuler Donner says ‘maybe summer 2012,’ which is also vague in this world of movies rushing to meet pre-set opening dates. The hold up, she says, is Hugh Jackman’s schedule, although sources tell me that the production was unhappy with the action quotient of Chris McQuarrie’s script, which is why it’s being rewritten.

And Deadpool? Again, a vague ‘we’re working on it.’ She assures that Ryan Reynolds is still attached to play Deadpool, but beyond that there doesn’t seem to be much going on, as the project remains in development hell.

There you have the state of the X-Men movie franchise: a reboot that may never be sequelized, a solo adventure that is being delayed and another solo adventure that is nowhere near getting off the ground. I wonder if this is the future of the brand, with Fox developing things in drips and drabs so as to not let the character rights revert back to Marvel. I can’t hold this against them, as they made, in my opinion, the best X-Men movie yet this summer, but I suspect that the time of the mutants could be largely behind us.