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Singer Discusses His ‘X-MEN’ Future, Takes Veiled Jab At Zack Snyder, And Talks The Genre As A Whole

Director Bryan Singer has now made four X-MEN films, dating back to the year 2000. With X-MEN: APOCALYPSE he told his biggest, most large-scale story featuring Marvel’s iconic mutants yet. By all accounts, though, APOCALYPSE may be Singer’s last ride with Xavier and company- at least for now. In a chat with the LA Times, Singer opened up a bit about the comic book genre, how social media has affected his filmmaking process, and his X-MEN future.

Let’s start off with the big question, then work our way around to the other topics covered. That question is: Is X-MEN: APOCALYPSE The End Of The Road For Him With The Franchise?

“For me, this is not only the finale of the trilogy that started with “X-Men: First Class,” it’s the finale of six movies. But I also call it an ‘in-betwee-quel’ — not a sequel or a prequel — because it happens in 1983, before the first “X-Men.” I’ve done something no other franchise has done — not even “Star Wars,” which is bouncing around in time. I’ve actually altered time so it concludes and also sows the seeds for the characters to find pieces of their destiny where we found them in the first three ‘X-Men’ movies.

I recently met Danny Boyle. He was prepping ‘Steve Jobs’ at the time and I was doing this and he said, ‘Are you going to be doing ‘X-Men’ movies forever?’ And I didn’t actually say ‘No.’

The reality is, even though I’m very desperate to jump to something completely different, I’ve spent so many years in this universe and I love this cast and the characters so much, I just don’t see myself abandoning them forever. Perhaps as a consultant, as a producer, even as a director, I could see myself returning in the future. Just right now, once this one is done, I’d like to do something really different.”

This isn’t the first time Singer has said he plans on being connected to the franchise in one form or another in the years to come, but it is noteworthy how open-ended his answer is this time. He leaves open the possibility that he’ll be around forever, and that he’d love to be because of his affinity for the characters and universe that he’s cultivated over the last 16 years. Say what you will about Singer, but you can never accuse him of phoning it in. He loves this stuff.

As for social media, and how it’s taken hold of thepop culture conversation- which wasn’t the case at all when X-MEN came out in 2000- Singer was asked if he lets things like the initial outrage about the design of Apocalypse get to him:

“It never gets in my head. I just look at it as silliness. Someone puts out a picture that has a pink light on all the characters and people go, ‘Is Apocalypse going to be pink?’ I’m like, ‘Come on, people.’ The mistake was made by us in releasing the photo — it’s not the magazine’s fault.

The downside of social media is that everything moves so quickly, and it takes the magic away. The good part is it allows me to correct mistakes that start to catch fire. I can control any misunderstanding that gets out of control.

On ‘Days of Future Past,’ they were like, ‘Oh no, they’re going to do leather costumes again!’ I just took a picture and I wrote, ‘#NoLeatherCostumes,’ and overnight, the fans calmed down. That’s the benefit of social media.” 

So it would appear that Singer has a fine relationship with all of you twitter warriors.

Lastly, I’ll include Singer’s thoughts on the superhero genre as a whole. Let’s not forget that his X-MEN more or less started the superhero boom that has enveloped pop culture. When that film came out in 2000, it was was the first substantial superhero hit not headlined by Batman or Superman, and it came out three years after BATMAN AND ROBIN had turned the genre into a joke (And yes, BLADE gets an honorable mention in this regard, too). He’s seen the genre grow, expand, shrink back down, and then completely overtake the entertainment industry.

What does he think of the current state of the genre, which has had somewhat of a rollercoaster ride this year with the rip-roaring success of DEADPOOL, the disappointment of BATMAN V SUPERMAN, and the reliable dominance of CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR? The question he’s asked specifically name-drops Zack Snyder’s BvS, so keep that in mind as you read his answer:

“I think [filmmakers] have to do what they do with all good movies: They have to take their time with them. You can’t just take a bunch of characters and throw them together and stir them up in a soup and hope that it works. They’ll make a lot of money, perhaps, but they won’t necessarily progress the universe or satisfy.

I always refer tothese as movies that happen to take place in comic book universes, but ultimately, I treat them with the same seriousness that I do ‘The Usual Suspects.’ 

But as far as whether the world can stand more superhero movies? Oh, yes. I mean, the X-Men universe alone is every bit as large as the remaining Marvel universe. It’s enormous. It’s filled with mythology and lore, and it can take you anywhere you want to go through time and space. So, I think there’s a long ways to go.

I just hope not every theater is filled with a … comic book movie because then it doesn’t leave any room for ‘Steve Jobs’ and ‘The Big Short’ and ‘The Revenant’ and other movies that I love.”

Take note of Singer’s initial comments, and how they seem undoubtedly aimed at BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE and Zack Snyder. Remember, Singer knows a thing or two about working on Superman. While many fans detested his foray into DC, Singer’s SUPERMAN RETURNS was a critical darling compared to Snyder’s two Superman efforts so far (76% Fresh vs 56% and 76% Rotten). You could even take it a teeny bit further since his film was attacked for not having enough action, and he’s kind of saying that it’s easy to make a profitable, action-packed turd, but that filmmakers need to work harder if they want to make a film that actually satisfies.

As for the rest of that answer of his, it falls in line with what everyone in the business has been saying. The key to the genre surviving is simple: Keep making good movies. Worry less about the spectacle and more about the characters, the story, and taking audiences on a ride with you. While there’ll always be a place for mindless bubblegum like TRANSFORMERS, people have come to expect more from the superhero genre, and so it’s up to filmmakers to take the movies seriously and pay attention to all of the ingredients they’re putting in.

The irony of Singer’s remarks, of course, is that X-MEN: APOCALYPSE is his worst-reviewed X-film and many of the critique seems to center on it being sort of hollow, overloaded, and more concerned with blowing things up than building on important character arcs. With that in mind, it’s probably very good news that Singer is ready to tackle something different, since it looks like he needs to take a breather from the world he’s worked so hard to create.

What do you think?

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