What’s Next for the ‘X-Men’ Franchise?

20th Century Fox has a lot of tough decisions ahead of next year. Once reshoots for Logan take place, it’ll be the end for Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. He’s been the studio’s golden boy for a decade and a half, as the X-Men films have centered on him. After Jackman, there’s James McAvoy (Professor X), Michael Fassbender (Magneto), and Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique), who reportedly are not signed on to reprise their roles in anymore X-Men films. These actors have been carrying the franchise since Matthew Vaughn’s James McAvoy, Bryan Singer & Michael Fassbender on set X-Men: ApocalypseFirst Class, and by now we’ve grown accustom to seeing them onscreen. Finally, there’s word that Bryan Singer won’t be returning for the next sequel after this year’s Apocalypse. Whether or not he eventually comes back is unknown at this point.

That’s disturbingly a lot for a studio to handle during what’s being called a “reconfiguration”. For comparison, Marvel Studios wisely signed all their actors for anywhere between 3-9 picture deals, with a universe already mapped out. Their only hiccup was negotiating with Robert Downey Jr. back in 2013 to continue leading it. The term franchise reboot is a familiar one for film buffs, and for 20th Century Fox, this all adds up to a cinematic universe reboot.

So how does 20th Century Fox proceed now that Jackman, Singer, McAvoy, Fassbender, and Lawrence are currently finished? The first thing they did was wisely turn to their longtime writer/producer Simon Kinberg to help plan ahead. He’s currently writing the script for the next unknown X-Men sequel, which will reportedly include the return of McAvoy, Fassbender, and Lawrence. In order for these three busy unsigned actors to consider returning, he’ll have to cook up something much better than Apocalypse. Personally, I think Lawrence should leave this franchise alone. It’s so obvious that she doesn’t want to play the Mystique character anymore, plus I speak for so many when I say that we’re tired of the X-Men films centering on her because of her A-list status in Hollywood.

One question for those who are fans of X-Men: Apocalypse is what becomes of the younger cast members? I’m talking about Tye Sheridan (Cyclops), Sophie Turner (Jean Grey), Evan Peters (Quicksilver), Alexandra Shipp (Storm), Kodi Smit-McPhee (Nightcrawler), and hell why not Lana Condor (Jubliee). Like Fantastic Four, I thought this cast was perfect and definitely not a problem in the movie. Last I heard, Sheridan was signed on for two more movies, which likely means Fox has the remaining cast members signed on as well. If that’s the case, what can we expect from these characters, especially if the next film follows suit from previous films and focuses on The Big Three of McAvoy, Fassbender, and Lawrence? I think it’s time for these movies to deliver something fresh, which possibly makes Singer’s departure X-MEN: APOCALYPSEnecessary, and that’s painful to say. Also let’s not forget about X-Men: New Mutants, which currently has Josh Boone (The Fault in Our Stars) attached as writer and director, and features a roster of entirely new mutants.

On a brighter note, Deadpool 3 is already in the works and will reportedly debut the X-Force. This shows that 20th Century Fox has full confidence in the franchise, and in Reynolds. The Deadpool actor/producer undoubtedly becomes the next golden boy for Fox. Even without a director, music composer, or cast, the return of Reynolds and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Werrick are enough for me to be confident in Deadpool 2. In Reynolds we trust!

Someone who many X-Men fans don’t trust is Channing Tatum, who apparently isn’t favored by the X-Men gods. The long planned, often delayed, Gambit solo film has faced every obstacle imaginable, including rewrites, budget disputes, and several directors departing. The folks over at Fox have every intention on still making this film happen. I’ve defended the casting of Tatum as Gambit numerous times, and still remain optimistic on the idea. Fox has scheduled the production to resume sometime next year. Until then, it might not be a bad idea to feature him in a cameo/small role in either Deadpool 2 or whatever the next X-Men film will be.

I guess you could say it’s exciting times for the X-Men universe with so much in the unknown. There are pieces of this puzzle that I feel need to stay, and pieces that I feel need to go. The one thing I think everyone is hoping with this “reconfiguration” is that it means more continuity for the franchise. Because even after Days of Future Past, I’m still confused about a lot of things.

What would you like to see in the X-Men universe going forward? A more balanced story regarding characters? The return of Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique? Possibly Hugh Jackman considering a cameo in Deadpool 2 or 3? Let us know in the comments!

Sources: The Hollywood ReporterCollider.

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