So apparently Matthew Vaughn, who directed the excellent and fun superhero movie Kick-Ass (check out my review here) has signed on to direct the prequel X-Men: First Class for Fox. This is sort of odd news for a couple of reasons, one being that Vaughn was attached to direct X-Men: The Last Stand for the studio for months before bailing, apparently because he wasn’t comfortable with Fox’s budgetary and time restrictions. (Fox has a reputation for less-than-respectful treatment of genre properties like comic book movies, often rushing them into production on unrealistic schedules, and the result is crap like The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.) And here, again, Fox is rushing First Class into theaters for next summer, despite not having a cast lined up. So it looks like Vaughn has just agreed to the exact scenario he bolted from just a few years ago.
Now, I loved Kick-Ass (see the aforementioned semi-fawning review), and as a lifelong comic book nerd, no property is closer to my heart than the X-Men franchise, so this should be good news. But given that Fox’s filmed mutants peaked with the brilliant 2003’s X2: X-Men United, the two films released since then with the X brand were each worse than the last. I’m confident (hopeful?) that Vaughn has a plan and will bring his considerable game to Marvel’s beloved mutants, but there’s no trend in genre movies right now that annoys me more than prequels, and that’s the other major strike against X-Men: First Class. I, an avid X-Men fan, have absolutely zero interest in a movie about the X-Men in their teen years (especially if, as rumored, Wolverine is involved, which messes up the continuity of the movies; that’s just a cynical money-grab if I’ve ever heard of one), and as dramatically rich as the Professor X/Magento relationship is, I’m nowhere near as fascinated with it as original X-Men and X2 director and First Class producer Bryan Singer seems to be. (Has someone told him that people want to see X-Men movies about the X-Men, as opposed to X-Men movies about two old guys who used to be friends but aren’t anymore?) I don’t need to see an entire movie about how Charles Xavier and Magneto’s friendship fell apart while a bunch of little plastic people from the CW run around in the background pretending to be the X-Men.
I try not to prejudge movies, but really, I should be excited about another X-Men movie, especially one directed by the guy who made an awesome superhero movie that I believe will go down as a major cult classic. But I’m not. Instead I’m getting a rushed prequel (I’m seriously so filled with vitriol about Hollywood’s obsession with prequels that I’ll have to revisit in for a future column) featuring a story that no X-Men fan that I know feels needs to be told in a movie.
More on X-Men: First Class as it develops. If for nothing other than spite.
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One last thing for the day, just so I don’t end it on an angry rant. Here’s the trailer for The American, which stars George Clooney as a withdrawn hitman who crafts his own weapons and takes the infamous One Last Job in a small Italian town. But it’s neither Clooney nor the hitman premise that has me so interested to see this movie, but rather director Anton Corbijn, a brilliant photographer and music video director who made his feature-film debut with 2007’s Control, an excellent biopic about late Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis (check out my review here). That movie was incredible, and showcased Corbijn’s considerable filmmaking talents, so him tackling an intriguing movie like The American, especially with an actor as great as Clooney in the lead, adds up to one movie I am very much looking forward to seeing.