The X-Men franchise’s quality comes in waves. Back in 2000 and 2003, they kickstarted the series with the great X-Men and X-2: X-Men United films. Those two films, along with Spider-Man, helped to set a whole new benchmark against which all other superhero films would be judged.
However, with X-Men: The Last Stand, the film series took a turn for the worse. For the first time, it showed its vulnerability, and proved that yes, even the X-Men movies can end up bad when handled poorly. This trend continued with X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and after films like Iron Man, audiences were becoming less and less tolerant of subpar comic book movies.
It almost seemed as though the X-Men series had run its course. However, with X-Men: First Class, Fox hired director Matthew Vaughn, and allowed him to perform a soft reboot of the series, setting the film decades in the past. The film went on to revitalize the dying franchise. However, when the next movie, X-Men: Days of Future Past, went into production, Vaughn was conspicuously absent from the director’s chair.
Speaking with Uproxx, Vaughn revealed why he left the project:
“…the reason I bailed out of [X-Men: Days of Future Past] is two things: First, I respect Bryan Singer hugely and X-Men is Bryan’s world and I feel he let me play in his sandbox. I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t my sandbox. I wanted my own sandbox. And, second, I didn’t want to do Days of Future Past next. I felt that one should be in a trilogy and Days of Future Past should be the finale of that story. I would have done a film in-between where you meet the young Wolverine and a new character, and then Days of Future Past became the young Wolverine and the old Wolverine and just really blow it out.”
Looking back on the series as a whole, I have to agree with him. X-Men: Days of Future Past felt like it should have been the capper to a trilogy of films rather than the second film in a second trilogy. Had we had one more film to see James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender in their roles as Xavier and Magneto, it would have made the cross-cutting between them and the older cast much more impactful.
Of course, this is us looking back on something in hindsight. At this point, it’s easy for us to see this as a fact, but following Days of Future Past, capping things off with the one and only Apocalypse seemed quite fitting. At the end of the day, this does very much remind me how amazing of a storyteller Matthew Vaughn is, and how much he really brought to the table for the X-Men franchise.
We’ll have to wait and see if Simon Kinberg is able to help raise up the franchise once again after the disappointing X-Men: Apocalypse.
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