01 June 2005

No Layer Cake For The X-Men...

Hey guys, it's Donnie...and oh what a morning it's been.

The Bad News: Matthew Vaughn, director of Layer Cake, who has been totally amped up and running full steam ahead on X3, has now officially left the project. Avi Arad, aka THE MAN at Marvel, has said that Vaughn's departure is not due to the dreaded "creative differences" but instead due to the hectic production schedule inherent in a movie that starts shooting in 9 weeks and is due to hit theaters Memorial Day 2006, exactly one year from this past monday. Vaughn was hoping to commute back and forth from LA to Vancouver to his home in London. When it became clear that he'd have to move to the states for the next year in order to get the job done, he opted not to uproot his family and has instead dropped out as the director.

The Good News: Unlike the many permutations of Superman in the last decade, Vaughn's departure has not stalled the project. In fact, it hasn't changed the project in any way. The script (which was apparantly churned out in six days and has the actors chomping at the mutated bit) has not been scrapped, the recent casting announcements (Vinnie Jones as Juggernaut, Kelsey Grammar as Beast) have not been rescinded, hell, they haven't even pushed back shooting. Avi Arad says that the casting for Angel, another pivotal character, will be announced soon and that a new director is close to being brought on board, and apparantly it's a director that almost got the job in the first place.

The whisperings say Joss Whedon, which makes a certain amount of sense. He's just finishing up Serenity, and he's writing and developing Wonder Woman, although that project is a little far out on the horizon. Besides, Bryan Singer had X3 and Logan's Run in the pipeline when he jumped ship to do Superman Returns, so it's not totally implausible to think of Joss as Vaughn's replacement, and I'm sure he would do an excellent job. However, from what I understand, one of the reasons he didn't come on board in the first place was that he wanted more control over the script, and he's certainly not gonna get it in this situation. Besides, he seems far more excited about Wonder Woman than he ever was about X3.

That being said, I'd love to see him tackle X3 as his next project, if only because, as fantastic as it looks, I have some doubts as to the "box office viability" of Serenity, aka I think it's going to be just as underappreciated as Firefly was. And, honestly, Wonder Woman was always a second tier superhero that managed to finagle her way onto the starting line up and just sort stayed there by default. If Joss really wants Wonder Woman to be the powerhouse he dreams about, and if the X3 script really is everything it's cracked up to be, then taking over the reins on X3 before settling down with the Amazonian Princess seems to be a no-brainer.

Then again, apparantly Warner Bros is looking to resurrect Supergirl shortly after Superman, so maybe Joss should grab the invisible lasso and get crackin. Either way, we should hear some developments within the next week or two and you can expect to get my reaction as soon as I hear more. I leave you with this quote from Avi Arad, and if you've ever read an interview with him, you know this isn't producer bullshit to hype his own project. This guys really understands the properties he's working with and if he gets excited, it's usually for good reason...

“This is the most controversial, classic X-MEN story we may ever tell, and I can’t wait until people hear the big idea that holds this all together."

Here's hoping...


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