While “Captain America” may have been, for a while at least, the most tumultuous superhero movie currently in active development, 20th Century Fox seems desperate to swipe that dubious honor away with the ongoing behind-the-scenes drama that is “X-Men: First Class.”
With the whole Bryan Singer will direct/won’t direct business officially out of the way, the past week saw some gossip slipping out of studio sources as to whom would helm the creatively dubious endeavor. For a while, Fox was eagerly buzzing around “Kick-Ass” and “Stardust” mastermind Matthew Vaughn, who had previously been tapped to relieve Singer for “X-Men: The Last Stand” a few years back, before ultimately abandoning the project over creative differences.
Yet, just as quickly as talks had fired up, Vaughn walked, leaving the studio desperately grasping at straws. See, Fox is determined-with-a-capital-D to have “First Class” in theatres for June 2011 (*groan*), and they quickly began chasing after a number of notable candidates, including Louis Leterrier (“Clash of the Titans,” “The Incredible Hulk”), Timur Bekmambetov (“Wanted”), David Slade (“30 Days of Night,” “Twilight Saga: Eclipse”), Daniel Espinosa (“Snabba Cash”) and Carl Erick Rinsch (currently attached to resurrect “Creature From the Black Lagoon”).
However, apparently having had some last minute reconsiderations, Vaughn has re-entered the fold and, according to the Hollywood Reporter’s Heat Vision Blog, has agreed to assist in essentially rushing the picture, at break-neck speed, through production and into cineplexes. Apparently, Singer, who is exec producing, assumed a crucial peacemaker role in convincing Vaughn to take what is shaping up to be a fool’s errand.
So, let’s see: right now “First Class” has a screenplay, written by “Street Kings” co-scribe Jamie Moss, and a director in Vaughn, and a smidgen over a year to assemble a cast and crew, build sets, shoot, edit, and CG-up the film in order to make its desired release-date. Yeesh, and I thought the “Spider-Man” reboot was going to be a runaway train of a production…
Interestingly, though, Hollywood Reporter has also revealed that the film has already begun to comb the various talent pools for potential young X-actors. As has been well-documented, Singer is currently prepping “Jack the Giant Killer” for Warner Bros., and has allegedly been using his casting sessions for that picture to scout out some potential new mutants. Interestingly, there’s been no word whatsoever regarding whether “X-Men Origins: Wolverine’s” Tim Pocock, who portrayed young Cyclops, will be involved. Given the project’s recent youth-friendly direction, he fits the bill at age 25, but perhaps the studio is searching for someone more accomplished. Hmm, maybe they should have thought of that pre-“Wolverine” so we wouldn’t potentially have three different Scott Summers in just over a decade. Whatever.
Also, in a revelation that should make some fanboys’ heads explode in a gory hail of rage and incredulity, CHUD has divulged some gossip that Fox is hoping to have Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine factor into “First Class” in some way or another. I don’t even know what to say about this, other than that it’s a truly terrible idea akin to amnesia bullets. Does Fox have so little faith in the property that they feel they need Wolverine to sell it to mainstream audiences? Shouldn’t they instead try to make “First Class” stand on its own, given the otherwise all-new cast and vibe? Won’t it make Wolvie’s introduction to Xavier and his special school in Singer’s first “X-Men” somewhat confusing to future viewers? If this absurd rumor comes to pass, “First Class” just might end up giving George Lucas’ prequel trilogy a run for its warped-continuity money.
Honestly, all I can say to Matthew Vaughn is good luck. Although I can’t understand why the talented and energetic auteur would want to follow the fun and fresh “Kick-Ass,” which was made completely free of studio constraints, with a floundering Fox franchise feature destined to feature untold amounts of interference and micro-managing is beyond me. Fingers crossed that he’s able to pull off a miracle and craft an “X-Men” feature that recovers some of the spark that was lost with the last two disappointing entries in the series. Because at this point, Fox has wounded this franchise so badly that it’s practically going to need Wolverine’s super-healing powers if it wants to make it into the next decade in anything resembling fighting form.
How do you, dear IJMERs, feel about Matthew Vaughn BAMFing into the director’s chair? Do you think “First Class” sounds like a film you’d want to mark on your must-see list? Slash up our comments section or teleport over to our forums and let us know loud and clear!
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Follow Cam Smith on Twitter at http://twitter.com/camspcepisodes.