When Matthew Vaughn gave the X-Men movie saga a shakeup with the prequel First Class, he had a grand plan to usher in a new trilogy of young X-heroes. Then Kingsman blew up, and he chose to guide Eggsy and his friends over Charles Xaviers’ merry mutants. But what could’ve been? Something that sounds a lot more intriguing than what we got.
Speaking to Coming Soon about his decision to go with Kingsman and its sequel The Golden Circle (and its upcoming prequel) instead of staying on with the X-Men franchise after First Class, Vaughn revealed that his plan for the mutants would’ve gone in a very different direction than jumping head-first into the iconic, time-travelling comic saga of Days of Future Past.
While that particular storyline formed part of Vaughn’s plan, originally, he intended to carry on from First Class with another movie that allowed audiences to get to know these younger incarnations of Professor X, Magneto, Mystique and more a little better.
He also wanted to bring in a new star to take on the role of a younger Wolverine, something the director has discussed before:
My plan was First Class, then second film was new young Wolverine in the 70’s to continue those characters, my version of the X-Men. So you’d really get to know all of them, and my finale was gonna be Days of Future Past. That was gonna be my number three where you bring them all… because what’s bigger than bringing in McKellen and Michael and Stewart and James and bringing them all together? When I finished the Days of Future Past script with it ready to go I looked at it and said, “I really think it would be fun to cast Tom Hardy or someone as the young Wolverine and then bring it all together at the end.
But part of Vaughn’s decision to leave X-Men behind wasn’t just because of Kingsman’s success — but because Fox decided that his plan for Days of Future Past was so intriguing, they’d start work on it immediately, becoming the second film in the new X-Men timeline... despite the fact it primarily revolves around a future set after Bryan Singer’s original X-Men trilogy.
Fox read Days of Future Past and went “Oh, this is too good! We’re doing it now!” And I said, “Well what do you do next? Trust me you’ve got nowhere to go.” Then they did Apocalypse and it’s like… If you flip that ’round even it would have been better. Hollywood doesn’t understand pacing. Their executives are driving 100 miles-per-hour looking in the rear-view mirror and not understanding why they crash.
Vaughn’s right — not just because Apocalypse was a dull-as-dishwater movie, but because it feels like a strange place to go with these characters after being confronted with their future selves in Days.
So quickly barrelling into a storyline like that without the time to get to know this younger version of the team leads to what we have now, coming into a fourth X-Men movie where it feels like we still barely know wildly important characters such as Jean Grey and Scott Summers.
Not like it matters now that Disney, in a Galactus-level move, has consumed Fox, regained the rights to the X-Men, and is now fully prepared to reboot the X-Men to eventually entangle them in the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe canon.
But still, when we look at where we’ve arrived with X-Men: Dark Phoenix, it’s hard not to think that Vaughn’s plans for an X-Trilogy make a lot more sense than what we’ve had without him.