X-Men

"X-Men: The Last Stand," while decently entertaining, isn’t really held up as one of the better comic book movies, mostly because of its patchwork plot and fan service instincts in the wake of Bryan Singer’s unexpected departure. Brett Ratner, who replaced Singer on the movie, went for the crowd-pleasing move every time without wondering about how it might affect the franchise’s direction—though, to be fair, there wasn’t much of a franchise future blocked out ahead of time.

Still, Singer will get a chance to correct some of the movie’s more egregious transgressions in "X-Men: Days of Future Past," as he revealed in an interview with IGN. "There’s going to be a little of that, a few things I can repair," he said when asked about whether he’d be addressing the continuity.

Here are a few suggestions for what he might do.

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X-Men

In the irony of all ironies, Comic-Con isn’t really about comics anymore. The annual zenith of nerddom has become more dedicated to the rhythm and release of the movie industry over the last few years, a place where enterprising producers can tease details about their new projects, where movie stars can hope to get more attention than a Stan Lee walkthrough (probably not, though), where privately screened trailers are hastily bootlegged on YouTube for breathlessly devoted online watchdogs to come through before being taken down within minutes.

This year, fans paying attention to "X-Men: Days of Future Past" will have something to look for, as director Bryan Singer offered the simplest tease of content to follow at the July convention. That could mean a lot of things, most of them fan servicey, though if Singer’s looking to build buzz then there’s really no better time or place to do it. Here are some of the things his tease might mean:

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Peter Dinklage

Strange as this may sound, I wasn’t really convinced of the scope of "X-Men: Days of Future Past" until Wednesday’s news that "Game of Thrones" star Peter Dinklage has been cast in an unconfirmed role, per director Bryan Singer’s Twitter. Speculation immediately abounded over whom the diminutive Dinklage could be playing, whether the obvious (Alpha Flight mutant Puck), unconventional (maniacal madman Arcade), or just plain obscure (Bantum, the sidekick to Trevor Fitzroy who... oh, I’ve already lost the thread).

It’s a solid move, obviously, because anyone who’s seen "Game of Thrones" or "The Station Agent" knows the dramatic chops that Dinklage is capable of bringing. But it’s inspiring in another way, because Dinklage represents the first significant actor brought onto the project who hasn’t been previously affiliated with the X-Men.

Stars like Hugh Jackman, Anna Paquin, Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart are great and all, but it’s one thing to bring the band back together — and another to add more keyboardists without mucking things up.

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X-Men

This week, we found out that "X-Men: Days of Future Past" will take place in 1973, a full decade after the end of “X-Men: First Class."

Previously, Matthew Vaughn had announced his intention to further integrate mutants into American history, such as showing that Magneto was the one behind the bullet that killed President Kennedy. Just because he’s no longer on the project doesn’t mean his idea can’t be aped by Singer for a pre-movie credit sequence showing all the ways in which mutants have covertly influenced the way of things. It’s an easy device to make the audience go “Aha!" at the opening of a movie, depending on how well it’s used. (It was the best part of “Watchmen," sadly.)

Here are some of the events that occurred in 1973 that could be attributed to the X-Men, should Singer do what’s right.

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January Jones

It’s typically a given that most of a superhero movie’s regulars will return for the sequel, in order to maintain continuity, build on previous characterization, and basically keep the ride going. When a noticeable character is noticeably left out — Alan Cummings as Nightcrawler snubbed for the third "X-Men" movie, for instance — it's rare enough to mull on whatever might have gone wrong.

Which leads us to this little nugget to mull on: January Jones has revealed that she isn’t a lock to return as Emma Frost in "X-Men: Days of Future Past."

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X-Men

You won't be surprised by this, but there's an ebb and flow to the pre-movie hype cycle. For every trailer and press photo released, there's a week or two of dead air in which nothing more is massaged out of a project — especially one like "X-Men: Days of Future Past," which is at least a year and a half away from being released and hasn't started filming.

But, there was some burn in the regular X-Men comics world, which announced the launch of a new title simply titled "X-Men" that will solely feature the adventures of an all-female X-team, of which there are plenty. It got me thinking about the roster of the team — Storm, Psylocke, Kitty Pryde, Rachel Grey and Jubilee — and whether they would function if introduced into the X-filmverse, and whether we might be able to expect their eventual coming. If you’ll indulge me in a little thought exercise...

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The Wolverine

Expectations are a terrible thing to have, because they inevitably end up disappointing the person idealistic enough to imagine that anything might be good, ever. I'm being a little sardonic, but it's triply true for the foolish of us paying attention to comic book movies before they come out, when the primordial soup of possibility allows our inner fanboy to foresee wild, desperate highs of creative adaptation and post-Nolan brilliance.

Obviously, this never happens. Expect Terry Gilliam's "Watchmen," and end up with Zack Snyder scoring slo-mo sex with "Hallelujah"; expect Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool, and end up with a mute, fleshy surgery victim in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine." Expect Darren Aronofsky's take on Logan's lonely sojourn to Japan, and end up with the director of "Kate and Leopold."

But there's tangible proof for optimism to rear its head, rather than remaining a dreamy projection of what could be. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, "The Wolverine" director James Mangold said just about all the right things in building confidence for Logan's second solo movies, which is set to come out this summer. Some of the things Mangold revealed to get my blood going:

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The Wolverine

Remember when Darren Aronofsky was supposed to direct "The Wolverine"? Yeah, that was a pretty exciting time in my life, too. The idea of the Oscar-nominated auteur slapping a heady, cerebral take on Wolverine seemed implausible from the moment it was rumored, but everything was seemingly a go until he quit for what could’ve been a number of secret reasons behind the announced one of wanting to spend more time with his family.

Whatever the reason, Aronofsky's departure was enough to torpedo the movie’s momentum and make it seem like it would always be a rumored production, floating around the blogosphere like a lazy, unwanted balloon. That we’re still here, many years and directors later, is a testament to the fact that someone apparently wants this thing to get made, because it’s not like we’re still in the franchise’s peak marketable years.

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Magneto Gandalf

The first time I watched a movie on a high-definition television, I thought I was going insane. The run time was the same, but everything seemed to be moving quicker and more unnaturally than the normal DVD and VHS speeds I was accustomed to. But when I pointed it out to a friend, he said he didn’t notice anything, leaving me alone with my conspiracy.

As it turns out, I wasn’t going blind. The pace I noticed was a result of higher frame rate, which has gained some mainstream attention now that "The Hobbit," filmed at 48 frames per second over the typical 24, has been released. Peter Jackson’s decision to up the technology for the trilogy has been controversial, inasmuch as reviews have been mixed and you can still see the regular frame rate at most theaters. (It continues to make a lot of money, though.)

What’s notable to us is that Bryan Singer, director of "X-Men: Days of Future Past," is apparently a big fan of the technique. At the "Hobbit" premiere, he Tweeted: "Just saw #Hobbit. Having some serious frame rate envy. Amazing and involving. Loved it!"

Which would seem to beg the question of whether Singer will ape the technique for when "Days of Future Past" begins filming, now that Jackson’s broken the ice for other directors.

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X-Men

Bear with me for a paragraph as I talk about something completely unrelated to X-Men... but was anyone else a little bummed out by the first lengthy trailer released for “Man of Steel”?

Excessive slo-mo, platitude-stuffed voiceover, a color palette ripped from a goth portfolio, very obvious aspirations to be Serious. We should all blame Christopher Nolan, it seems, because the success he had with creating a dark, insular vision for Batman has so obviously influenced where DC wants to go with Superman, and not simply because he’s an executive producer on the film. In their search for a filmmaker to adapt one of the most beloved American icons, Warner Bros. went with Zack Snyder, who once scored a slo-motion sex scene to Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah.” Yeah, this is going to turn out great!

It got me thinking: Why, for the most part, have the Marvel movies been able to avoid the pressure of such tonal dourness?

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Cover Artist

Splash Page welcomes Ed Tadem to our cover artist family (our custom-designed theme up top). Currently working on the forthcoming "Avengers" animated series, Tadem's work can also be seen in the "Jackie Karma" issues of Image's "'76," and in "Pop Gun, Volume 1." Ed Tadem can be found online at EdTadem.com.
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