Bryan Singer has arguably kick-started the superhero craze we are in today. The 2000 hit movie X-Men, directed by Singer, proved to be a HUGE success for 20th Century Fox. The film was such a major success that it spawned other X-Men films with more on the way. No one in their right frame of mind would have thought that a movie like X-Men would have been possible.
I mean how could you take a bunch of yellow and blue spandex-costumed mutants from the comics and bring them to life on the big screen? Somehow, Singer found a way. Singer has proven time and again that he knows how to craft an excellent X-Men film. His dedication and hard work has certainly paid off, with a lot of his inspiration coming directly from the hit 1990s animated series.
What went wrong?
However it wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows for Singer. After the success of the first two X-Men films, Singer decided it was time to leave the franchise and move onto something different. He still wanted to direct another superhero movie, just not involving the X-Men. Singer had a passion for the character of Clark Kent and knew DC was hoping to build their own universe around the iconic Man of Steel. Thus, Superman Returns was born.
Singer thought that this would be another big opportunity for him to start another franchise. Unfortunately for him and the DC property, Superman Returns was a disappointment. Even though the film made a profit, it wasn’t the big hit the studio was hoping for.
Most of the critics and fans claimed that the film was overly long and boring with Shawn Levy at Oregonian claiming that the film is, ”A dull, muddled and uninspiring film that combines pedestrian acting, lackluster special effects and deadly pace with a pseudo-religious theme that makes The Da Vinci Code seem like it was written by the College of Cardinals.” Ouch.
Singer Out. Ratner In.
Not only did Singer opt out of the third installment, but so did a future X-Men director, Matthew Vaughn. Vaughn would later go on to direct X-Men: First Class and help co-write X-Men: Days of Future Past.
We can’t really put all of the blame on Brett Ratner for the lack of storytelling. After all, he had to go off of many scripts that were turned in and worked on by both Simon Kinberg and Zak Penn. There were just too many storylines crammed into this film including the infamous Dark Phoenix Saga. Also, it was Fox’s decision to kill off James Marsden due to his future unavailability for any more X-Men films.
Even though X-Men: The Last Stand is considered to be one of the worst X-Men films to date, it’s also the second most profitable X-Men movie, raking in nearly $460 million at the box office. X-Men: Days of Future Past nearly doubled this movies’ box office return at $748 million.
Singer would later regret not having directed ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’
With the soon-to-be-released X-Men: Apocalypse, Bryan Singer was asked by Fandango to give his thoughts on why he chose to pass on the third X-Men film. Singer makes it clear that leaving the franchise at such a crucial moment was something he deeply regretted. Here was what Singer had to say:
“I like finishing things. I like finishing this particular iteration. I know X-Men 3 was quite rushed and I didn’t complete it, and I felt a little like it was probably my responsibility to do that as a filmmaker, and I didn’t.”
Singer clearly enjoys finishing what he starts, but given an opportunity of a lifetime to direct a Superman movie proved too big of an opportunity. So, he eventually chose the latter.
Bryan also talked about the decisions that were made by both the studios and the writers of the film, claiming that there were a lot of decisions he himself would not have put in the final product:
“I might not have killed all those characters. But that’s what was so fun about Days of Future Past. We had a joke on set: ‘Hey Brian, you’re not only directing Days of Future Past — you’re actually living it!’ I was going back and making changes in history. [With X-Men: The Last Stand], I don’t fault anyone, including myself. It was just that circumstances didn’t allow for it to happen.”
He was the one who decided to leave the franchise and move on, which put the franchise at a severe disadvantage. It’s sort of like writing a novel three quarters of the way through, then deciding you want to work on another story and eventually handing off your unfinished work to somebody else. That would be a tough task for anyone especially since it was your vision to begin with.
One can argue that had Singer directed X-Men: The Last Stand, he might not have made as good a film as X-Men: Days of Future Past. In fact, that film may never have even existed. X-Men: Days of Future Past was primarily made to "fix" some of the continuity problems following X-Men: The Last Stand. X-Men: Days of Future Past is appropriately my favorite film in the franchise and rightfully so. How he was able to mix in time travel with a compelling story that didn’t feel overly confusing is beyond me. It’s pretty much a perfect film in every sense of the word.
But the past is in the past (no pun intended), and Singer’s latest X-Men film X-Men: Apocalypse will bust into theaters domestically on May 27! It also doesn’t appear that Singer is finished with the franchise after his fourth directed X-Men movie. It’s very likely that he will be the one to direct the upcoming X-Men: The New Mutants film that doesn’t have a release date as of yet.
So those are my thoughts on Singer’s responses to passing on the third X-Men film. What did you think of his responses? Did you feel he should have stayed and directed the third movie? Or did you feel it was the right decision for him to direct Superman Returns instead? I’d like to hear everyone’s thoughts in the comment section below and please share!