WARNING: The article contains minor SPOILERS for the X-Men film franchise. Particularly the more recently released Days of Future Past. So if you haven't seen those films yet then proceed with caution.
Nothing lasts forever. However, some things do tend to go on much longer than they need to. Horror movie franchises drag on and become increasingly ridiculous with how they bring the killer back and their revolving door of expendable new cast members. Similarly, The CW's Supernatural doesn't NEED to be in it's tenth season (especially considering the last five have been fairly disappointing), but it is.
And then there's the X-Men film franchise.
What started off as a fresh and exciting franchise that revitalized the comic book film genre has turned into a chaotic and inconsistent mishmash of good films, valiant efforts and straight up abysmal abominations that would make Ed Wood role over in his grave.
The most recent effort, Bryan Singer's X-Men: Days of Future Past, made a bold attempt at setting things straight with the franchise. It was a fun, entertaining, visually stunning and well directed piece of cinema. It validated some of the more obvious continuity flaws that arose over the course of the series' 14 year run. It even corrected some of the nerd rage moments from other installments by altering the timeline and ensuring that they never happened.
Therein also lies the problem. If a film franchise gets so far away from itself that in order to get things back on course you have to negate the existence of the previous story lines, then you have a serious issue at hand. So with X-Men: Apocalypse set to premiere in 2016 I'm here to tell you [Fox] that it needs to come to an end. Or at least start over.
I know this isn't too likely as, along with Apocalypse, there is also a third Wolverine movie in the works, as well as rumors of a solo Gambit film (Gambit is said to be played by Channing Tatum in Apocalypse) and a spin-off Mystique movie with Jennifer Lawrence. Not to mention the Deadpool movie with Ryan Reynolds (which may or may not still be a spin-off of X-Men Origins: Wolverine) and talk of an X-Factor television series to likely land on the Fox Network.
Fox holds the film rights to the X-Men and Fantastic Four through the original film distribution deal set up before the existence of Marvel Studios (which was later purchased by Disney). Similarly, Sony holds the rights to Spider-Man and Comcast/Universal still has a couple of characters under their belt (for at least a little while) like Namor, the Sub-Mariner. The only way the film rights to those characters can revert to Disney is if the contract expires following a predetermined amount of time sans film production.
With Marvel Studios reacquiring the rights to most of its character library and dominating the box office with its endlessly entertaining and well executed Avengers series, Fox is taking measures to make sure it holds on to its few remaining franchises by any means necessary. That means announcing release dates for various additional films well in advance of production.
Sony took the same approach when it announced release dates for the Amazing Spider-Man series up through a fourth installment in 2018, as well as at least three spin-off films centered around The Sinister Six, Venom and an unnamed female Spider character (most likely Spider-Woman or Black Cat). However, following lukewarm reviews and a less than stellar box office take for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Sony has since modified their plan with a clear endgame still up in the air.
To the contrary, X-Men: Days of Future Past was one of the highest grossing films of 2014 and interest in Apocalypse keeps growing. Success doesn't always mean keep going, though. Back in 1983, M*A*S*H aired its final episode, following an 11 year run, despite still being the highest rated show on television. The producers made the decision to go out on top rather than slip into obscurity. It's like Bob Dylan, Def Lepperd, Kurt Cobain and the Kurgen (Highlander) all said:
It's better to burn out than to fade away.
The X-Men franchise should follow that bold example and know when its time is done.
In conclusion, I'm not necessarily saying that the X-Men films need to go away completely. The series has had a great run and there's still a lot that can be explored. But this particular incarnation has run its course. Hugh Jackman can't play Wolverine forever and his contract is set to expire after Wolverine 3. Sorry...The Wolverine Part 2...because I think it's safe to say that the world is better off believing that X-Men Origins: Wolverine never happened.
Seriously, I haven't seen such a monstrosity of bad film making and continuity problems since Highlander 2: The Quickening (also, ironically, erased from existence as far as fans and producers are concerned). If you haven't seen X-Men Origins (or at least don't remember why it sucked) then I strongly encourage you to check out the Honest Trailers video here.
X-Men can still continue – and it probably should. But Fox needs to release Apocalypse and then give it a few years. If they don't want to lose the rights to Marvel then they need to give it an appropriate deadline. A reboot is necessary but you need to give each version room to breath on its own. A problem that Sony experienced when they launched The Amazing Spider-Man instead of Spider-Man 4.
What Fox needs to do is end the series on an explosive high note (such as Apocalypse) and then retreat to a hole and come up with a new plan. Maybe it's another film franchise a few years from now that starts from scratch. Maybe it's a series on television or instant streaming. I don't know what the perfect plan is, but I do know a horse when it's dead and that you shouldn't keep beating it.
What do you think? Should the X-Men franchise reboot itself after Apocalypse?
Well that's all folks. Feel free to comment below with your thoughts on the matter. You can also follow me on Twitter (@ThisIsJamesT) for any thoughts or musings outside of the material I post here.
And stay tuned for my thoughts on Fox's other Marvel franchise, The Fantastic Four. I have many a thing to say about that, but I'm waiting until they actually release some footage so that I have more to discuss than rumor and hearsay.
And in the fashion of MST3K, here's your stinger: