It was reported this week that Twentieth Century Fox is looking to go back to the drawing board with their X-Men franchise, with news seemingly confirming a reboot is coming. This means Bryan Singer, who produced five X-Men films and directed four, is out. It remains unknown if current series stars Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy and Nichols Hoult are coming back, but considering that their contracts ended with X-Men: Apocalypse, and both Lawrence and Fassbender are much bigger stars now than when they started this series, the odds of them all coming back are slim. It seems more likely a full-on "hard reboot" is coming.
And with Hugh Jackman ending his long stint as Wolverine next year with Logan, it may be time to pull the plug on this version of the X-Men and give us something totally different. I wouldn't extend this to the Deadpool movies, mind you, which are just getting started. But based on their version of Colossus, who doesn't correspond with any version of Colossus we've seen in previous X-Men films, it's safe to say Deadpool could live in his own little pocket X-verse.
Nevertheless, the question remains--after 17 years and nine films, how do you get fans excited for yet another version of the X-Men? Actually, if you do it right....it might not be as hard as you think.
Bring the X-Men Into the Marvel Cinematic Multiverse
This is the most obvious, the most wanted by the fans, and sadly, probably the least likely to happen. Now, when I say "have the X-Men join the Marvel Cinematic Universe," I am fully aware that Fox will never, ever let go of the X-Men franchise and give it back to Disney/Marvel. Just not going to happen folks.
However, a deal much like Sony's recent Spider-Man deal, where the studio keeps the films rights to Spidey, but has Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios produce the film for them, and have a provision which allows Spidey to appear in Marvel films (and Marvel heroes to appear in Spider-Man films), should be worked out. It's a win-win situation for everyone.
True, despite owning the characters, Marvel Studios wouldn't make any money from the X-Men films themselves, which is a bitter pill to swallow for them, to be sure. But they'd now be allowed to have, say, Wolverine or Cyclops show up in an Avengers movie, which would makes fans lose their minds, and would only increase their box office (see: Captain America: Civil War).
After the"soft reboot" of X-Men:First Class and its subsequent sequels, I think the only way to really get fans excited for yet another iteration of the team would be to tie them into the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. It's the best possible outcome, and both Disney and Fox need to get over themselves and do what's best for the franchise and for the fans.
As to how the X-Men would fit into the current Marvel Cinematic Universe, one in which 14 films and several TV shows has never mentioned mutants at all, I'd say use the idea that Doctor Strange just introduced -- the notion of the Marvel Multiverse. The X-Men characters could exist on their own separate Earth, but be allowed to crossover if/when the need arises.
Go full comic-book on us
The Singer X-Men films were great for their day, and as a hardcore comics fan, I never rejected them, because from the get-go, I could tell the premise of these films was very much "what if these characters lived in our real world." This is similar to the approach Christopher Nolan would later use for his Dark Knight trilogy. In that way, the films totally worked.
But now, we live in the era of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and we can go full comic-book. X-Men: Apocalypse flirted with this idea, but it's time to go for broke. That means colorful costumes and being superheros, and not just at the end of the movie either. This also means giant Sentinels that talk, that means aliens, that means the Savage Land, and that means Asteroid M. Although, speaking of Asteroid M...
No Magneto (at least for movie #1)
Save Magneto as the villain for movie #2. Ian McKellen and later, Michael Fassbender, and his philosophical conflict with Xavier was at the center of the six main X-Men films. While I get that the core of the X-Men comics are always going to be the "good mutants" vs the "bad mutants," after six films it's time to focus on something else to start. Personally, I think it should be the Sentinels vs the X-Men, as they represent humanity's hatred of mutants better than any other villain. Keep Magneto waiting in the wings for the second film.
Recast and re-imagine everyone
The one constant that has tied all nine mutant films together--the three original X-Men films, the Wolverine movies and the First Class trilogy--is none other than Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. Despite all the crazy continuity mix-ups in the film series, Jackman was the linchpin that has held this series together for some seventeen years. And so if you're going to recast Wolverine, which now you have to, you might as well go whole hog and recast everyone.
Yes, I realize that young Storm, Cyclops, etc. just got a recast in Apocalypse, but even that film was using the original X-Men films as a template (hence, Alexandra Shipp evokes a young Halle Berry, etc.) Lets get new interpretations of everyone, and set this set of films apart.
Spread the love to the whole cast, and not just the same characters again
The original X-films all focused on certain core characters: Wolverine, Charles Xavier, Magneto, Rogue, and in the latter trilogy, Mystique. That led the rest of the X-Men to essentially be relatively minor characters in the movies that bore their name. It makes sense on a certain level, since movies are much shorter in running time than comics or TV series, and can't focus on too many members. Until you realize, if done right, yes they can. Take Captain America: Civil War for example, which somehow managed to juggle 12 superheroes, and give everyone something to do, and at least one "moment." That movie proves it indeed can be done. Which leads me to the next entry...
Feature an iconic team line-up
None of the X-Men films to date have ever given us all the greats together in one movie. And then both First Class and Days of Future Past focused on a lot of the second tier X-Men like Havok and Bishop and Sunspot. It was totally cool to see these characters, don't get me wrong, but first...can I please have a movie where Professor X thinks "to me, my X-Men!", and running out of the X-Mansion comes Cyclops, Jean Grey, Beast, Angel, Iceman, Wolverine, Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Rogue, and Kitty Pryde? (okay, and maybe Gambit for you '90s babies.)
That line-up right there--that is still THE X-Men people think of when they think of the X-Men. Let's see them all together in a movie finally. And for those of you who say "that's too many heroes for one movie!" I once again point to Captain America: Civil War. It can be done.
Bring on the Danger Room
One of the staples of the X-Men comics from the very first Stan Lee/Jack Kirby issue back in 1963 is the Danger Room. And yet, we only ever got one half-ass version of it in X-Men: The Last Stand, and a tease for it at the end of X-Men: Apocalypse. C'mon Fox, give us X-Men fans a full on, detailed and well choreographed Danger Room sequence!
For starters, it's a great way to introduce a big cast, not only what they can do, but who they are as characters. In one decent Danger Room sequence, everyone's personalities and powers can be established more quickly and efficiently than in long protracted flashback sequences or through clunky exposition. It's the biggest no-brainer.
Hire Joss Whedon to write/direct
Okay, this one is a longshot too. After comments made right after making Avengers: Age of Ultron, it seems the last thing Joss Whedon wants to do it make another big budget Marvel superhero movie. But if anything can lure him back, it would be the X-Men. Not only were they his favorite comic book series growing up (he has admitted that he based Buffy the Vampire Slayer very much on teenaged Kitty Pryde), but he also wrote one of the greatest X-Men comic book runs ever with Astonishing X-Men.
The potential lure of writing/directing his favorite characters might be too much too resist. This scenario is one I could only imagine if Marvel Studios were to produce these films for Fox, as he has a good relationship with Kevin Feige, and has had an iffy one at best with Fox over the year (see: Firefly, Dollhouse). But man, it sure would be awesome.
What do you want to see in an X-Men movie reboot? Let us know down below in the comments.
Images: Marvel Comics / Twentieth Century Fox
Here's how this reboot talk got started: