Superhero Rights: Tales of an X-Franchise (Part 2)

Though Origins:Wolverine was a flop, a sequel had already been greenlit and hit our screens in 2013. The Wolverine follows our titular hero as he travels to Japan to assist an old acquaintance, while struggling with a disappearance of his powers and The Yakuza. Not only does it act as a sequel to Origins: Wolverine but also as a sequel to X-Men 3: The Last stand, as Logan copes with Jean Grey’s death. This leads to cameos by her actress in visions that torment Logan, but these are not the only cameos. Both Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian Mackellan return to inform Logan of a new threat to mutant-kind thus teasing the following film. Positive reviews for The Wolverine mainly focused on Hugh Jackman’s performance and the accuracy to its source material.

The following year X-Men Days of Future Past was released. It serves as a sequel to The Wolverine and a semi-sequel to First Class, as Logan travels into the past to save the future. This film would mark the final appearances for many of the original X-Men characters in a passing-of-the-baton to their younger counterparts, making this, in effect, X-Men 4. It also tries to serve as a retcon so that both the original trilogy’s timeline and First Class timeline can exist as the same timeline. Reviews were positive with the film’s dedication to the source material garnering praise, while the complexity of the timeline as well as the amount of subplots were criticised. Rogue was to play a part in this film, but her role was cut from the theatrical release, leading to a lengthier version titled The Rogue Cut also being released on DVD. It clocks in at 2hours 48minutes, 17 minutes longer than the theatrical version.

In 2016, the young mutants would return for X-Men: Apocalypse, the official sequel to First Class, which featured the titular villain attempting to wipe out mankind and claim the world as his own. Despite being the main antagonist, Apocalypse’s lack of character and poor CG effects were heavily criticised, though the film itself was moderately well received. The character of Quicksilver was especially praised for his slow motion scenes and well written attitude. A different actor had played the role of Quicksilver in Avengers: Age of Ultron the previous year due to a deal between Disney and 20th Century Fox. Quicksilver could appear as part of the Avengers but only if there was no mention of mutants or the X-Men, leading to him being referred to as an Enhanced.

The original run of X-Men films would officially come to an end with 2017’s Logan. The story follows him as he cares for an elderly Professor X and escaped mutant child X-23 while also fighting off a group known as The Reavers. The comic inspiration- Old Man Logan- was high in gore, leading to concern from fans that the film would be toned down for a 12 rating. This turned out not to be the case and Logan was rated R (15 here in the UK) which allowed for more violence, a decision that was met with praise from fans and critics. They were also pleased with the CGI and the performances, especially those of Hugh Jackman and Sir Patrick Stewart, who finally retired their respective characters. The film drew heavy inspiration from western films and to honour this, a black and white version of the film titled Logan: Noir was released. It has been hailed by many as one of the greatest comic book movies of all time.

In December that year, Walt Disney Company would buy 20th Century Fox and all its subsidiaries for around $52.4 million, meaning that almost all the Marvel properties were once again under one roof . At the time, there were still two films to be released- X-Men: Dark Phoenix, and The New Mutants. After months of re-writes and re-shoots, Dark Phoenix was finally released in spring of 2019 to relatively small applause. Meanwhile, The New Mutants was due to be released in 2018 but went through more issues in production than Dark Phoenix, which has led to its current release date of February 2020. Given the acquisition by Disney and the box office failure of Dark Phoenix it is unclear if New Mutants will ever be released, and if it is, how much of an audience it will actually get.

Now, here we stand, almost 2 decades and 10 films later. There have been highs and lows for Fox’s X-Men franchise, but one thing is certain- it’s over. This incarnation of the characters will not return, and someday soon we will most likely see them in a new form in the MCU.

The Story Continues…

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