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Singer and Donner talk X-Men

BryanSinger.jpgLauren Shuler Donner, the producer of the X-Men films, and Bryan Singer, the man who began them with the excellent first two films, are teaming up once more for X-Men: First Class, a film in the franchise which has the potential to be terrible – turning to young mutants to bring down the salary budget.

However the fact remains that Bryan Singer brought the franchise to life on the big screen so successfully that it would make sense to bring him back and allow him to make another one. Something Donner agrees with.

In an interview with the two we hear some more facts about X-Men: First Class, and perhaps, X-Men IV.

My greatest fear about X-Men: First Class is that the film is going to end up being one of those prequels where they just turn all the roles into a teen soap opera, an excuse to take the budget down, and perhaps a fear of taking the franchise away from the successful films. However that may not be the case here, and from what the producer and director are saying, this could be a real X-Men film.

Remember that introduction to the character of Magneto from the first X-Men film? A young boy begins to show his mutant powers as he was separated from his family by Nazi guards at camp? Lauren Shuler Donner does, and when she talks about it now she uses it to demonstrate why Bryan Singer was the man for the job, and still is:

"The opening, it really was a declaration of intent...It said to the audience this is a serious film, grounded in the realistic and the historic and somewhat dark. It was so smart. And it was all totally Bryan."

If that's the direction and tone of the film to come then perhaps there's a lot of reasons to be excited about X-Men: First Class, and when Bryan Singer starts talking about the film, he reveals something interesting about the story through the L.A. Times interview. He says that the film will...

...find its axis in the relationship between Professor X and Magneto and the point where their friendship soured

Now that's not a direct quote, rather something that is from the article itself, but it is an interesting thought. This film won't be a class of young mutants and lose all reference to the great characters we saw in those first ensemble films, and rather it will take the two main leads from them and take us back in time to when they were just like their pupils.

Not only will it tell of the story of these two and their friendship, but also the beginning of the school itself and the younger characters of the mutants we already know from these first films arrive there and begin their schooling.

The reporter was quick enough to ask if Wolverine would appear and if Hugh Jackman would play him, remembering that he doesn't age as the other characters do. He shrugged his shoulders and said nothing, but then at the beginning of the article he revealed he had been to lunch with Jackman and Donner stopped the interview to chat directly with Singer about the actor. Could it be to gauge his interest? I'll come back to that in a moment.

The article specifically mentions that Cyclops, Jean Grey, the Beast could be returning, all roles that I'm glad will be, I'm just wary of the whole prequel with the younger characters idea that Hollywood is beginning to turn to in order to continue a franchise without the expense. It's happened a few times already. Singer seems confident though.

"Just doing younger mutants is not enough. The story needs to be more than that. I love the relationship between Magneto and Xavier, these two men who have diametrically opposite points of view but still manage to be friends -- to a point. They are the ultimate frenemies."

Okay, I'm beginning to get won over, and I think perhaps there's something in this film now, it's not just going to be a teen version of the X-Men franchise, although that aspect will surely be there, it could be more adult and much better handled than other teen prequels.

However Singer might not be done with the X-Men franchise after that, there could well be more in the form of a fourth instalment in the franchise. We've heard it mentioned before, but this sounds the most promising so far.

Apparently Donner has pitched Singer on a fourth X-Men film, and that lunch that I talked about before was for Singer to see if Jackman would be interested in returning, not for an X-Men: First Class role but for an X-Men IV role.

During that part of the interview Singer turned to Donner and said:

"Hold that one off for just a little, I'm fixated on the other one right now."

She replied with the following, which raises hopes even further:

"I will, I will ... I'm holding it open with high hopes. It's totally different [from 'First Class'] and it will be so interesting for you."

Now that does sound like Donner wants Singer to direct X-Men: First Class and then the fourth X-Men instalment, which could well be a Wolverine film, but as yet no one really knows. Personally I hope it's a return to the first ensemble cast and the Wolverine films are kept separate.

One reason for that comes in Singer's explanation of why he's much more at home with the X-Men universe than with someone like Superman:

"I genuinely like the people, and my personality meshes more with this universe than it does with other universes, I think; I see that now at this point...I feel a connection to the X-Men characters and also the ensemble nature of the films. If you look at Usual Suspects or my last film, Valkyrie, I feel especially comfortable with ensemble juggling. In the space between all the characters you can disguise a central thought that's hidden in all the discourse. I missed that with the singular relationship story of Superman."

Now what I find interesting about that is that it's all about the ensemble, he's suggesting it's the single character that didn't work so well for him, so surely a Wolverine film could turn out to have just the same problems as Superman, unless he filled it with X-Men.

So we could well be looking at two X-Men films from Bryan Singer, and quite possibly three, all of which is superb news, don't you think? Then there's the positive news about what X-Men: First Class will give us, something more than a teen prequel to a strong franchise.



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