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Bryan Singer: An 'X-Men: First Class' sequel could be set in Vietnam, or amid the civil rights movement

June 7, 2011 |  8:49 pm

As "X-Men: First Class" completes nearly a week of release, thoughts wander, well, much further ahead, all the way to a sequel.

Though they're not confirming any new development, executives at studio Fox have certainly hoped that the movie's performance warrants a new installment. Like every big Hollywood company these days, Fox craves a franchise, and young actors such as Jennifer Lawrence and James McAvoy were cast at least in part so they can grow with the series.

The plot of Matthew Vaughn's movie -- which tells of the origins of the mutant superhero group against the backdrop of the Cuban Missile Crisis -- does pave the way for a follow-up. [Minor spoiler alert: Please skip ahead to the next paragraph if you'd like to avoid finding out details]. It ends in a time  when the tension between mutants and humans has only just begun, and the franchise's main relationship between Dr. Charles Xavier and Magneto has yet to harden into archrivalry.

But even if "First Class" turns into an international smash, picking up the trail could be tricky. Once you've gone back and shown where a group like the X-Men came from, it's an open question how much mileage you can get from continuing to show where they came from.

Then again, prequels can come in bunches -- "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace" was followed by two more. And "X-Men" does offer some juicy possibilities.

Producer Bryan Singer, at least, has a few ideas about where the franchise could go from here.

In an interview last week, the filmmaker who conceived of the new film told 24 Frames that he sees future installments tracking the evolution of the mutants as they navigate -- or even offer parables about -- 20th century America.

"I don't know if every movie has to be a history lesson. But there's a lot of history to cover. If we sequelized this, it could inhabit a whole world of the 20th century," he said. "When ['First Class'] happened, Kennedy had not been assassinated and the Vietnam War hadn't happened yet."

Nor, he said, would it need to deal just with military matters. "What's really interesting about the '60s setting is the civil rights movement," he said.

The filmmaker noted that the principal "First Class" characters of Magneto and Xavier -- who respectively advocate for armed struggle and peaceful co-existence -- lend themselves to the real-world struggle for racial equality. "What's fascinating about these two characters is that they're really the Malcolm X and Martin Luther King of comic mythology," he said.

Singer is aware of the dangers of overdoing a franchise. Of the third X-Men movie, "X-Men: The Last Stand," which he was involved with only early on, he said, "Some things worked. I'm not sure all of it worked." And he believes the 2009 spinoff "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," with which he was not involved, had its issues. "'Wolverine' told a story, but it didn't always feel like a story that was very essential or interesting."

But he embraced the idea of moving forward with a sixth "X-Men" film, especially if it meant the chance to continue weaving in real-world events. "You don't need to hit people over the head with them in every movie or every scene," he said. "But having them at the core of the conflict is what I think makes it all work."

-- Steven Zeitchik



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Photo: James McAvoy, left, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender and Nicholas Hoult in "X-Men: First Class." Credit: 20th Century Fox


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As a series of novels, it would be fascinating to follow some of Singer's suggestions. The written word is better suited to following the logic of a story. But once you have trapped yourself into a blockbuster movie format, every appearance must have extravagant demonstrations of mutant powers, preferably accompanied by loud explosions. From the outset, Magneto has been the militant wing of the anti-discrimination movement. He could work undercover to bend the firing pins in guns about to be used to shoot demonstrators in some of histories larger protest gatherings except that's never going to be accepted by the fanboys who form the core of the market. It's all probably academic because, with only $125 million worldwide in the first few days of launch, the market may not be there for a sequel to the prequel.

Waaay back in the '80s, when the X-Men series was at it's apex, I read nearly every issue, and every character spinoff comic. The tales illustrated on those now thin pages were often times the very parable mentioned in the article. So many lessons can be learned through the adventures and personal trials of the characters now inhabiting our screens and DVD players, I welcome more. Bring us tales of Ororo (Storm), Nightcrawler, Alpha Flight- just tell the tales well.

Sorry to say, I was totally disappointed with "X-Men: First Class" - and could not believe how, well, sophmoric it was in execution.

First off, the acting was atrocious, except for the two lead male actors who played Professor X and Magneto. Other than that, the remaining cast was totally ill equipped for their roles. They were just plain too young and inexperienced, and the "Glee" cast, they were not.

Unfortunately, and again and again, casting directors consistently fail to cast films and TV shows with inexperienced actors. Instead of pulling from an astounding pool of talent as, say, the thousands of trained young actors all over New York City, young kids who look pretty or at least different are given these massive opportunities for which they simply again, ill-suited. They're just not ready.

But beyond the bad casting, X-Men: First Class, as well as the previous X-Men films, are just not as much FUN as they should be.

The directing is slow. There is WAY too much character development. And where the heck is the pulsating theme music from the animated TV series of the 1990s? And where are the bright costumes and unique costumes for each hero that distinguishes them from the other?

X-Men is about prejudice and celebrating the individual spirit, correct?

I have yet to see any of that truly embraced in any of the X-Men feature films.

I can appreciate the dark, edgy stuff - and that's wonderful.

But the grace, agility and just plain fun of say, the Spider-Man feature films are no where to be found amongst the X-Men movies.

Bryan Singer sunk Superman and you want this clown to make another X:Men dud. No Way should he ever touch another comic movie again.

I understand the need to tell compelling stories, but I don't know whether making ALL the X-Men films into history lessons, albeit with very specific twists/spin, is going to be that interesting in the long run. The concept of the Wolverine film was good (tell specific, or different origin stories, and introduce some new / interesting mutants), but the execution could have been much better. The X-Men offer the most interesting roster of comic book characters for the screen, and rather than focusing on the same few, I think they need to expand and introduce the other major ones, also in a compelling way (I know, a tall order).

However, X-3 is a case study in how NOT to fill the screen with poorly written bunches of X-Men. :/

I trust Bryan Singer with the X-Men franchise. It wasn't a perfect movie, but First Class was pretty damn entertaining and fun, especially if you're an X-Men fan.

Definitely on par with X1 & X2, it demolishes X3 which isn't hard to do. I like the character development they had and the action scenes. The historical backdrop was kool, slightly contrived but still a fun feature.

Magneto & Xavier were badasses too. I just wish they hadn't necessarily ended it the way they did...felt there was still a little more to be opened up

The beauty of the best "X" features is how it touches on racial inequalities without hitting us over the head with it. Introducing the civil rights struggle could really end that delicate approach.

Let me guess the plot for this next one....mutants vs. humans? Just like the previous four movies? No thanks. Call me when Marvel Studios gets the rights back and Bryan Singer gets kicked to the curb like he should have been after X3.

Singer: "'Wolverine' told a story, but it didn't always feel like a story that was very essential or interesting."
I felt the same way about "Superman Returns."

As for Herbie J. Pilato and his comments about the talents of the actors in "X-Men First Class": I'm so GLAD that they weren't the cast of "Glee." This movie required talented individuals, and the film was indeed cast with them. You dismissed an Oscar-nominated actress (Jennifer Lawrence) when you made your comments; did you realize that?

i loved the movie, it was deep, intriguing, interesting and amusing. The Professor X and Magnetoś plot was amazing, so please, do a sequel with the same casting.

As long as there is more Magneto and Xavier in the next movie I'm good, their complicated relationship was the best part of the movie

Yes!!!! More James McAvoy!!!! Love him since 'Shameless'!!! Great ACTOR!!!!!! xoxo from Argentina!!!

Since the last story left off with cold war tensions it only makes sense that the next villain be Omega Red, the dark old school Soviet Patriot. Omega Red could be manipulating some of the Kennedy Assassination as the X Men and even magnetos team work to stop it only in different ways and for different motivations. Xavier wishes to stop the attack out of pure compassion and desire to do what is right while Magneto sees the exposure of mutant involvement as a way to start a full blown mutant human war thus raising an entire mutant army. Meanwhile Omega Red sees the assassination as a way to bring America down and spread the Soviet Kingdom further across Europe and deeper along Caribbean.

New Characters should be a teenage Storm and Cyclops each naive but exceedingly powerful for their ages. A writers effort to show just what a exceedingly good strategist Cyclops is would be a good idea. Perhaps him beating Xavier and Magneto at a game of chess could be a nice way to show that extra talent Cyclops has that places him as field commander in the coming X future.

A heavy role by Wolverine would be a curse as the wolverine character has been thrust in the dominant role throughout the movies versions of the mutant universe. However if a fight were breaking out in an area Wolverine were in a quick skint of claws through a back followed up with Wolverines non-shelant commentary as to why some idiots were fighting as he was trying to have a beer could be comical and keep the wolverine crowd excited. Now if this happens it would be equally important to have the first class cross over some into the Wolverine sequel.


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