According to a new report from Entertainment Weekly, producer Simon Kinberg and Lauren Shuler Donner expressed interest in future X-Men movie spin-offs, including one starring Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence playing the younger iteration of Raven Darkholme, also known as the shape-shifting mutant Mystique. However, despite the expressed desires of the producers, until the regime at Fox is ready to get behind the idea of spin-offs, these X-Men movie spin-off rumors are much ado about nothing.
Now granted, this talk comes from the people who work on the films. However, it is one thing for a writer or producer to say they would like to do a spin-off for a character such as Mystique, and it is another for a studio such as Fox to get behind it.
One perfect example of why the X-Men spin-off franchise rumors are much ado about nothing is Deadpool. For years, fans have avidly awaited a spin-off based around the fan-favorite character known as Deadpool. After a disappointing re-imagining of the character in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (played by Ryan Reynolds), there has been constant talk and discussion about a Deadpool movie and very little in the way of actual results. Screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick wrote a version of the character for the big screen that would be R-rated. Now, despite the success and interest in big screen adaptations of edgier comics onscreen that were R-rated, such as 300, 300: Rise of an Empire and Kick-Ass, the powers that be at Fox have been continually hesitant on giving the green light to Deadpool. At the Amazing Arizona Comic-Con, Deadpool creator Rob Liefeld talked about the Deadpool film project getting as far the test footage stage. He described some of the test footage’s edgier content, and basically stated that the movie would be R-rated because of its adult-oriented script.
In attempting to champion the content of the product, Rheese and Wernick believed the film could be made for a cheaper budget of about $50 million. That is a far cry away from the $225 million or more that is being spent on X-Men: Days of Future Past. So while Deadpool might be a riskier type of project in terms of content, it would still have a lower risk in terms of budget. Evoking the name of Deadpool yet again, Lauren Shuler Donner, longtime producer of the franchise, discussed: “There was a regime [at the studio] that didn’t see the worth in [spin-offs], and the current people who run Fox understand, embrace it, and we’re going to do right by it. I’d like to do Gambit. I’d like to do Deadpool. We’ll see. There’s a lot of really great characters.”
Unfortunately, this seems to the be the same perpetual state of flux that the idea of X-Men solo franchise spin-offs has been in for almost a decade. Gambit’s cameo was cut from X-Men 2: X-Men United. His character was in the script for X-Men 3: The Last Stand, but he didn’t make it into the movie. Gambit finally made an appearance in the prequel, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, played by Taylor Kitsch. However, since Kitsch’s career fell over a proverbial cliff after that movie and Origins was poorly received, he has been effectively talked out of the role. Most recently, Donner told Empire she wants Channing Tatum to play Gambit now, despite both actors being less than a year apart in age. If the current regime at Fox embraces the ideas of spin-offs, one might wonder why Fox is not embracing and giving the go ahead for Deadpool or Gambit.
To date, the only character to really anchor an X-Men franchise spin-off was Wolverine with the much-maligned X-Men Origins: Wolverine and the better-received sequel The Wolverine in 2013. However, speaking on a Mystique solo-film, writer and producer Simon Kinberg stated, “I love what Jen Lawrence has done with her, and I feel like because she is in such a crowded ensemble, there’s so much more opportunity if you were to follow her solo.” In fact, Kinberg is only speaking hypothetically here. Of all the characters Fox might actually green light a spin-off film now, a solo film for Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique might just be one of them. Lawrence has become a huge star in a very short time, and she won an Academy Award before she even turned 25. But if you look closely at Kinberg’s words, there is nothing to indicate a serious commitment for the studio to make a solo film for Mystique. Plus, with Lawrence already committed to The Hunger Games franchise and the next X-Men sequel, X-Men: Apocalypse, it is not a movie we would see until around 2018 or 2019 at the earliest.
The thoughts and ideas of making X-Men spin-off movies are nice. However, until Fox and the necessary parties are ready to put those ideas into action, the current talk and rumors about X-Men franchise spin-off rumors are much ado about nothing. Currently, the next X-Men movie that will hit theaters is X-Men: Apocalypse in 2016. A third Wolverine film is likely set for a 2017 release. An X-Force film is also being developed, but it will be interesting to see how far that project goes, especially without an appearance by everyone’s favorite loner, sharp-clawed mutant.
Opinion by Jeffrey Harris