By Christopher Campbell
This list was originally posted to Spout Blog on April 30, 2009 and has been republished for its relevance to “X-Men: First Class”
As long as “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” is a success this weekend (and despite all its “bad luck,” it should do very well), Fox will follow it with another “X-Men” spin-off, this one detailing the back story of Magneto. Outside of that project, which has been in the works just as long as the Wolverine film, there’s interest in solo movies for Gambit, Deadpool and Emma Frost (White Queen), as well as a spin-off about the original X-Men team as students.
Recently, in another list, we called for an “Origins” film focused on the shape-shifting villain Mystique, for which we even suggested Brian DePalma to direct. That spin-off is still our first choice, but since there are so many great mutant characters in the Marvel Universe, we’d like to pitch ten more X-Men origin movies to Hollywood (not just to Fox). To go along with the studio’s idea of hiring an unqualified filmmaker (Gavin Hood) for the job, we also recommend a barely appropriate director for each film.
If Magneto gets his own film, it’s only fair to give one to Charles Xavier, too. While it’s true that he’s enough of a centerpiece in the first three films of the franchise, and he will certainly be prominent in the planned “X-Men: First Class” movie, we’d love to see the genius telepath’s pre-X-Men days. The film should deal with Xavier’s early encounters with characters who exemplify the negative aspects of the mutant evolution, beginning with his jealous non-mutant half-brother, Marko (Juggernaut), continuing with the evil Shadow King, at least slightly touching on the birth of his insane mutant son, Legion, and ending with his failed relationship with Amelia Voght, who believes that mutants should remain underground and anonymous, when he decides to found the X-Men. “Zapped!” director Robert J. Rosenthal should return to the director’s chair to helm this, at least as a nod to Patrick Stewart’s Extras appearance, if not also to have a young Xavier using his psychic powers to render girls topless.
A spin-off of both the “X-Men” trilogy and the Professor X movie, in which a young pickpocket Ororo Munroe should make a cameo, Storm’s origin film could also lead-in to, or at least link up with, the Black Panther adaptation Marvel Studios is planning. The story would begin with her childhood in Egypt, when a jet crashes into her home, killing her parents and burying her beneath rubble. For a while, she’s a thieving orphan on the streets of Cairo before she ventures south and meets and falls in love with a young T’Challa (Black Panther) in the Serengeti. They part ways, her weather-controlling powers manifest and she ends up living among an African tribe who worships her as a rain goddess before she’s recruited to join the X-Men. The film could be bookended with a post-“X-Men” trilogy-set wedding between Storm and T’Challa. Continuing the trend of documentarians becoming narrative filmmakers, Rob Fricke (“Baraka”) should direct.
Alan Cumming’s portrayal of Nightcrawler was one of the best parts of “X2: X-Men United,” and it was unfortunate that the character did not return for the third “X-Men” movie. To make amends for the exclusion, Fox should give the blue mutant his own film, which could also be linked to a Mystique film, whether or not the connection is made that she is Nightcrawler’s mother. Set first in a Bavarian circus, where the young, demonic-looking Kurt Wagner stars as an acrobat, then in a Florida freak show, where his agility is wasted, the movie would conclude after the teleporting character returns to Germany and battles his child-killing foster brother, Stefan, and then an angry mob who accuse Wagner of being the murderer. Wim Wenders (“Wings of Desire”) should direct.
The outcast group known in the comics as the Morlocks, which includes Callisto, briefly shows up in “X-Men: The Last Stand” (as The Omegas), but they deserve an entire movie of their own, which would place them in the tunnels of Manhattan and further examine the plight of these ugly mutants who aren’t as able to assimilate into society as are the X-Men. The plot could potentially include Callisto’s kidnapping of Angel (who also shows up in the third “X-Men” film) to make him her mate, as well as her battle with Storm for leadership of the subterranean group. The film should be directed by Marc Singer, who made the documentary “Dark Days.” Or by Marc Singer, the “Beastmaster” actor who is also the cousin of “X-Men” director Bryan Singer.
Angel’s solo outing should directly follow the Callisto/Morlocks movie, in which his wings could be accidentally amputated during the struggle for his freedom. Therefore, this movie would get right into his transformation by the villain Apocalypse into his new incarnation as “Death,” and subsequently “Archangel.” To make it an actual solo film and not just another “X-Men” sequel, his and the other Horsemen’s attack on New York City should not be stopped by the entire team. Maybe he should only battle Iceman, or no X-Men at all. It could be a more internal struggle for him to break from the control of Apocalypse and then turn on and defeat his master. Nick Castle (“The Boy Who Could Fly”) should get the gig as director.
The character kind of appears in “X-Men: The Last Stand” (see her with the purple hair in the Callisto and Omegas photo above), but we can forget that minor detail since she’s not that recognizable. In her own movie, Psylocke would begin as English telepath Betsy Braddock, twin-sister of UK superhero Captain Britain. Without acknowledging her early membership in the X-Men nor most of her other comic book chronology, by some newly written circumstance she is kidnapped by the Hand’s Matsu’o Tsurayaba, her mind is swapped with the man’s lover, Kwannon, and she becomes a deadly assassin. Mark Waters, who has experience with mind-swap movies (“Freaky Friday”) should direct.
Most of Cannonball’s origin film would just be about him growing up on a Kentucky farm and later working in a coal mine. We’ll get to meet his younger sister, Paige, who is also a mutant, but of course we never see her revealed as such. This won’t be that packed with action, but it will have some neat special effects as Sam Guthrie discovers and develops his flying abilities after they manifest in an accident at the mine. Towards the end of the film, he’s found out and recruited to join the Hellfire Club, which would link this to the White Queen film that David O. Russell wants to make. David Gordon Green (“All the Real Girls”) would helm this beautiful-looking and poetic comic book adaptation.
The explosive teenage mutant who has gone by the names Timebomb, Boom Boom, Boomer and other aliases, should get her own film over similar candidates like Rogue, Kitty Pryde and Jubilee, because her bomb-creating powers make her more blockbuster-friendly. Especially if the movie involves her early bond with fellow suicidal teen Rictor, who causes earthquakes. Her story begins after she escapes from her abusive father, and the film is set mostly on the streets, where she encounters other runaways (possibly even Jubilee, who she famously clashed with in the comics for being so similar). Michael Bay would be appropriate as director, but he should merely produce while Martin Bell (“Streetwise”) takes the helm.
It’s about time we get an openly gay superhero movie, and there’s no better character to star in such a thing than the former Alpha Flight member whose homosexuality was a major news story in the early 90s, when Marvel officially outed him. Like most of the characters on this list, Northstar too would be shown first as a bad guy, joining a terrorist group fighting for the independence of Quebec. By the film’s end, though, he would join the Canadian team Alpha Flight, through which he reunites with his twin sister, Aurora, and they would go into battle against Wolverine, for any narrative reason at all (the real reason is that a Wolverine appearance will guarantee a bigger audience, anyway). Bryan Singer, who did a great job directing the first two “X-Men” films, and who deserves a gay-themed movie now that there’s no need for him to make his planned Harvey Milk biopic, would be a great pick to helm this, but we’re going to suggest Brett Ratner (“X-Men: The Last Stand”), just because.
There aren’t enough musical action films, but that could all change after someone makes a Dazzler movie and the thing becomes a huge hit. Put Miley Cyrus in the lead, and the success is guaranteed. But the appeal of a rock-opera superhero movie isn’t the only reason Dazzler should get her own spin-off. There’s also the likelihood that such a movie would include scenes set in the Mojoverse and costar Dazzler’s lucky (in more ways than one) boyfriend, Longshot. Ideally, a fantastically visionary filmmaker like Terry Gilliam or Jean-Pierre Jeunet should be hired for this thing, but it’s more probable that Kenny Ortega (“High School Musical”) would get it.