— by CAM SMITH —
Bryan Singer feels very much like a director at a creative crossroads right now. After being launched into the big-time world of blockbuster filmmaking with his back-to-back smash hit Marvel features “X-Men” and “X2,” he has struggled to find proper follow-up projects to imprint with his own unique, sensitive sensibilities and — more importantly — grab hold of audiences’ fickle attentions.
2006’s vastly under-rated “Superman Returns” was admirably ambitious and inventive, but unfortunately failed to cement the Man in Steel’s place in the modern Hollywood paradigm. Similarly, his lower-key “Valkyrie” — a return to the character-driven thrillers of his formative years — was plagued by behind-the-scenes controversies and rumored in-fighting and, while hardly a box-office flop, was his limpest and most forgettable film to date.
So it’s perhaps appropriate that Singer has chosen to return to the “X-Men” universe — a franchise currently mired in its own creative funk — with the prequel spin-off “First Class.”
In a statement to Variety, the director hinted at what fans could expect to see: “This is the formative years of Xavier and Magneto, and the formation of the school and where there relationship took a wrong turn, there is a romantic element, and some of the mutants from ‘X-Men’ will figure into the plot, though I don’t want to say which ones. There will be a lot of new mutants and a great villain.”
Singer — who has recently been busy developing the fairy tale epic “Jack the Giant Killer,” along with remakes of “Excalibur” and the original “Battlestar Galactica” — will be teaming up with the project’s original mastermind Josh Schwartz (creator of “The O.C.,” “Gossip Girl” and “Chuck”) to further flesh out “First Class.” Whether it’ll beat other gestating “X”-flicks “Deadpool,” “Wolverine 2” and “Magneto” to the screen remains to be seen.
Frankly, while I’m sorta excited at the prospect of Singer playing in this particular sandbox again, this whole prequel thing is really beginning to grate on my nerves. Do we really need to see more cinematic backstories for this property? How about picking up where “The Last Stand” petered out and continuing the storyline with fresh new elements and characters as opposed to engaging in creaky, expository prologue efforts? Aren’t two freakin’ “Origins” spin-offs enough, already?
Oh well, at the very least, Singer’s involvement guarantees that “First Class” should be less crap-tastic than “Wolverine.” And I guess that’s SOMETHING …
How do you guys feel about more “X-Men” prequels? And which mutants would you most like to see populate them? Personally, I’m pulling for U-Go Girl. (No, not really.)
Follow Cam Smith on Twitter at http://twitter.com/camspcepisodes.