X-Men: First Class hasn’t been in theaters for a week yet, but it’s already raked in over $60 million dollars in ticket sales. In a day and age where studios are desperate for franchises, it’s surprising that Fox hasn’t already come out and announced a sequel to the origin story of one Marvel Comics’ most popular titles. The lack of a major announcement hasn’t stopped producer Bryan Singer from speculating on where the story of Charles Xavier and Magneto might go, however. The filmmaker recently shared his thoughts on the subject with The LA Times’ 24 Frames blog.
First Class takes place against the backdrop of the Cuban Missile Crisis, a rich historical setting that serves as something of a foil to the main story of Xavier and Magneto’s evolving relationship. It’s an interesting juxtaposition, this mingling of superhero aesthetics with real-world history and Singer sees that as a potential jumping off point for future installments.
“I don't know if every movie has to be a history lesson. But there's a lot of history to cover. If we sequelized this, it could inhabit a whole world of the 20th century," he said. "When [First Class] happened, Kennedy had not been assassinated and the Vietnam War hadn't happened yet."
Those are intriguing ideas, but Singer is quick to point out that not every future X-Men prequel would have to involve military action. The whole of the late 20th century is filled with flash points that could serve as parallels to the onscreen drama – most notably, the civil rights movement of the 1960s, something the X-Men comics have always drawn from. There’s even a perfect correlation between Xavier (who’s a pacifist) and Magneto (who urges armed uprising) to historical figures. “What's fascinating about these two characters is that they're really the Malcolm X and Martin Luther King of comic mythology," Singer tells 24 Frames.
The producer is well aware of the potential pitfalls in turning what was thought to be a one-off origin prequel into a series – there’s the possibility of oversaturating the market, plus the risk messing up the established continuity of the three main X-Men films, but he feels the rewards outweigh the challenges. There’s a great deal of history to explore – not only with these characters, but in how they interact with the real world around them. This makes X-Men feel different than Nolan’s Batman films, for example, which take place in a self-contained and completely fictional Gotham City.
The danger is going too far with historical tie-ins – audiences go to superhero movies for action and special effects, not a history lesson. Singer acknowledges as much, while pointing out that “You don't need to hit people over the head with them [real world parallels] in every movie or every scene, but having them at the core of the conflict is what I think makes it all work."
What do you think? Are you up for more First Class? Do you mind the history intermingled with the superhero action or would you rather your comic book movies exist purely in the realm of fantasy? Share your thoughts in the comment section.