As X-Men: Apocalypse prepares to sweep into theaters on May 27 and function as a climax for all six X-Men movies we’ve seen to date, many fans now look to the future and wonder where the big-screen X-Men universe will go next. Will the next one be set in the ‘90s and follow a similar path to the three previous films, each set in the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s, respectively? Or will we see the X-Men travel to places beyond our planet and explore storylines we haven’t seen on-screen yet?
Or maybe a bit of both?
When Fandango sat down with X-Men: Apocalypse director Bryan Singer, he gave us a big hint as far as the direction this franchise is heading – and thanks to the success of films like Guardians of the Galaxy, not to mention Star Wars and Star Trek, it would appear Fox is now interested in exploring X-Men stories that veer in a more intergalactic direction.
For starters, yes, it will be set in the ‘90s.
“That was something Simon [Kinberg] and I discussed a long time ago, all the way back to when I first pitched the studio on First Class -- that they do each movie in 10-year increments,” Singer explains when asked about the ‘90s setting. “It’s a nice way for the audience to kind of keep track of the timeline, and it’s fun to play in these different eras. So that’s a good starting point.”
He continues, “But we’ve also introduced the tenets of time travel, which already exists in the comic book. Also I imagine – and this is the first time I’ve actually answered the question this way – but another thing that’s been introduced in the comics is a big alien, interstellar tenant within the X-Men universe that hasn’t been explored. And to me, that might be kind of fun because I’m a huge Star Wars and Star Trek fan, and exploring the X-Men universe and being able to utilize that would be exciting, visually. “
In terms of what Singer might be alluding to, we have a hunch they’ll be using Sophie Turner’s Jean Grey appearance in Apocalypse as a launching-off point for the famous “Dark Phoenix” storyline from the comics.
We went to our own Marvel expert John Gholson for more insight. “I suspect Singer is eyeing the Shi'ar Empire, which is not only a huge part of X-Men lore but a huge part of the Dark Phoenix storyline in particular,” he told us. “Jean Grey as Phoenix exiles herself to space to protect the X-Men, but the galactic trip expends her energy. She pulls the energy from a star that ends up destroying a planet, thus drawing the ire of the Shi'ar and embroiling her in a battle between her teammates and Shi'ar justice. “
While Apocalypse doesn’t go out of its way to set this up, there are moments towards the end of the film involving Grey that definitely point in this direction, and the “Dark Phoenix” storyline is one fans are eager to see come to fruition.
Singer says that if he’s going to be deeply involved in another X-Men movie and return as director, this is the direction he’s most interested in exploring.
“Like Apocalypse – like some of the imagery and characters and stakes [in that movie] – it’s something we haven’t seen before,” he says. “If I’m going to be involved in a significant way, it has to be something different. Visually different and aesthetically different.”
Singer continues, “So the ‘90s is a good jumping-off point, but as we established in Days of Future Past and now with the formation of the X-Men – some characters in Apocalypse move towards their destinies. The characters who we knew from X-Men 1, 2 and 3. Meanwhile, some characters move in opposite directions. So it’s somewhat limitless.”
Of course the success of Marvel’s Avengers and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is not to be ignored, and Singer admits that all of this will eventually lead to a crossover movie that includes multiple characters from different Marvel properties.
“Once it’s ready in the right way, you can bring in other franchises or characters that are established, if you can do them separately. The way Deadpool was very successful at it; hopefully Gambit will be as successful. Then you bring them all together, somewhat in the way Marvel does, but in our own way.”
We specifically asked Singer if he could see this building towards a crossover event movie featuring the X-Men, X-Force and New Mutants (pictured below).
“Yes, absolutely. But it has to be done right. Anytime you throw all these characters together to hit a start date, it can make a lot of money, but it can also be a clusterf**k. To me, it has to be done with a lot of care. These things can get overwhelming, and if a character doesn’t belong in a movie, don’t use him. If the tone can still maintain itself, I’m all for it. What I’m not for is throwing a bunch of characters together and hoping it works.”
One character we haven’t mentioned yet is Wolverine, who is arguably the most critical player in the X-Men cinematic universe so far. Hugh Jackman reprises the character for a fun cameo in X-Men: Apocalypse and he’ll be back for one more go-round in a third solo movie set to hit theaters on March 3, 2017.
But what happens to the character after that? We spoke to Singer about that, and his answer may surprise you.
X-Men: Apocalypse hits theaters on May 27, and tickets are now on sale right here.