As if next summer's release of X-Men: Days of Future Past wasn't enough to get X-Men fans in Fresno into a tizzy, director Bryan Singer dropped a massive bomb on his Twitter page yesterday that has fans going crazy with anticipation.
According to him, the eighth film in the blockbuster film franchise, titled X-Men: Apocalypse, will be released in 2016, later revealed in full to be a May 27, 2016 release date, which puts it up against Walt Disney Pictures' Alice in Wonderland 2.
For those who do not know, Apocalypse, as outlined by SuperHeroHype.Com, is a character created by Louise and Walter Simonson who his debut in "X-Factor #6." His true name is En Sabah Nur (translation: "The First One") and is is considered the first ever mutant in the X-Men universe. He was born in Egypt around 3,000 BC and used advanced technology to make himself an eternal conqueror, believing whole heatedly in survival of the fittest.
The character has appeared in many popular storylines since his creation, the most popular of which is 1995's "The Age of Apocalypse." The story is set in a parallel reality formed by interference to the series' main timeline that saw Professor Charles Xavier murdered before he could ever form the X-Men. Instead, a very different incarnation of the team was founded by Magneto, who lead them through a post-apocalyptic America ruled by mutants, which of course had Apocalypse as supreme monarch.
Fans are already theorizing how Apocalypse, namely this storyline, could come about in the wake of what we what has come and is about to come in the film series. Since Days of Future Past will be a time travel story, it is not out of the realm of possibility that the character's interference with the timeline would somehow result in yet another alternate timeline similar to the one seen in "Age of Apocalypse." What is known is that ComingSoon.net has learned that domains like AgeofApocalypsemovie.com have been registered by the studio for years, and that Days of Future Past will introduce some key "Age of Apocalypse" characters like Bishop (played by Omar Sy) and Blink (played by Bingbing Fan).
All of this further proof of 20th Century Fox's efforts to expand their X-Men franchise into a broader, more layered universe akin to Marvel Studios. Recently, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter, the studio has hired screenwriter and producer Simon Kinberg to craft not only their future X-Men projects, but also the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot, which is set to take place within the same continuity. As Kinberg told the Reporter:
"I have a lot of ideas on how to built those brands and do what everybody is thinking of these days: Be like Marvel. I want to be able to build stories over multiple movies."
In other X-Men related news, the franchise's most prolific star, Hugh Jackman, has come out in an interview with Vanity Fair about the possibility of reprising his role yet again for a third Wolverine solo film. With the controversial reception of the original X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and the far superior response to this year's The Wolverine, Jackman has said that he is still on the fence about the idea of a "Wolverine 3":
"I don’t know whether or not I will do this next movie. I am really proud of (The Wolverine) and I am excited to develop something with Jim Mangold from the beginning because that is a great ride. That’s exciting, to see what we come up with but I have a very high expectation of what it would need to be [for me to star in it] and if it doesn't reach those, I won’t be doing it."
At this time, Jackman is not committed to any further X-Men films after Days of Future Past, but who knows whether further developments might persuade him to change his mind.
It should be noted, however, that after thirteen years and six films, with the upcoming seventh installment involving time travel, the X-Men film series has developed a very complicated and contradictory continuity. As it turns out, even actor Ian McKellen, who will be reprising his role as the old Magneto in Days of Future Past, also has difficulty making sense of some of the plot of the films, as he said in an interview with EW:
“I don’t always understand the plots of these films until I actually see them with an audience." Although, McKellen did offer up what things does understand about the plot of the film. “It’s all about going into the past, basically. And so I don’t get to go into the past. I don’t think I’m spoiling it by saying that. But we are there in the beginning when the plot is hatched.”
Amusingly, McKellen also offered EW a comparison between his Magneto and other most notable role, Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films. “The odd thing about a Gandalf is that he’s good through and through. Magneto is a bit of both. He’s well-intentioned, but he perhaps politically is not very sound, and I’m not sure that I quite agree with his tactics.”
This is all big news for X-Men fans f digest, so we will have to wait and see how it all pans out. X-Men: Days of Future Past is slated t hit theaters on May 23, 2014.