By Edward Davis | The Playlist June 9, 2011 at 3:32AM
(For Real This Time)
Maybe Bryan Singer should be directing these films? Perhaps one of the biggest beefs, we, and other discerning audiences had with Mathew Vaughn's "X-Men: First Class," was all this talk about the film being set in the heart of the civil rights era and Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr (Magneto, played by Michael Fassbender) being surrogate figures for Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.
If the metaphors and correlations were there, they were thin and buried at best and the only African American character in the movie was like, "I can adapt to anyt---" BLAM and was killed off before he uttered another line (Atlantic columnist Ta-Nehisi Coates addresses the issue further in his recent op-ed for the New York Times). While 'First Class' isn't exactly burning up the box-office yet (thought there is arguably still time for it to be successful, it's only been one week for pete's sake), almost everyone on the creative team has talked sequels to some degree.
Vaughn has discussed making JFK's assassination a key moment in the sequel, and screenwriters Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz (who aren't even guaranteed an invite back for a sequel -- Vaughn didn't seem to like their drafts much), have already begun talking about some of the characters they'd like to see in the next one.
Meanwhile, the L.A. Times caught up with executive producer Bryan Singer who conceived of the 'First Class' take and received a "story-by" credit, and he too has his own thoughts.
"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," Singer said of all the possibilities in front of them. "When ['First Class'] happened, Kennedy had not been assassinated and the Vietnam War hadn't happened yet."
"What's really interesting about the '60s setting is the civil rights movement," Singer said, addressing the thread that he initially talked-up before 'First Class' was made, but was never actually picked up on. "You don't need to hit people over the head with [a history lesson] in every movie or every scene," he said. "But having them at the core of the conflict is what I think makes it all work."
We agree, now just make those themes a bit more meaty, please. The "X-Men" and "X2" director also spoke about the last two "X-Men" franchise films he was not involved in. "I'm not sure all of it worked," he said of Brett Ratner's "X-Men: The Last Stand." About the 2009 spin-off solo film "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," he said the film, "told a story, but it didn't always feel like a story that was very essential or interesting."
How is 'First Class' doing? Hard to tell since it hasn't had a 2nd week in release and weekday ticket sales are always slow, but domestic sales so far look somewhat sluggish. The film has grossed $65 million so far in the U.S. and the percentage drop off of week two could make or break the picture's chances at a sequel. Unless like "Salt," or "Knight And Day," it has unexpectedly long lasting legs (both those films were considered as disappointing but eeked out decent worldwide grosses).
"X-Men: First Class" has pocketed $129 million so far worldwide, but even in its first week of international release, it could not top "Pirates Of The Caribbean 4."
Meanwhile, screenwriters Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz are seemingly on the hunt for their next gig. They say they're interested in the "Fantastic Four" reboot, seem confused as to why WB hasn't been able to get "Wonder Woman" off the ground, plus sing the virtues of mutant Marvel characters Dazzler and Cable. Is Hollywood listening?