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Patrick Stewart

It's been slow-going on the X-Men movie news front lately, largely because "X-Men: Days of Future Past" is still another two years from coming out.

But there may be an interesting nugget that comes courtesy of Bleeding Cool: According to a chance encounter at an Apple store, none other than Patrick Stewart might be returning to the "X-Universe as Professor Xavier.

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James McAvoy

Navigating the space between acceptable and unacceptable continuity changes can quickly turn dicey, as many comic fans are predisposed toward territoriality at all costs.

During one idle afternoon at the comic book store I worked for long ago, I got into a heated argument with a co-worker over whether it was okay for Scott Summers to date Emma Frost in the absence of a Jean. I was for; he was against. Picture this sad, lonely sight: two supposedly grown adults, yelling at each other with the type of boiled-over invective reserved for Gaza Strip negotiations, not the love lives of fictional characters.

Another point of contention from another co-worker: whether or not the reimagining of Commissioner Gordon’s backstory in "Batman Begins" to make him a Gotham native was "ruining the character," as she asserted. And she really believed it! In her head, Gordon’s character was irrevocably changed because he was an insider rather than outsider, and without a proper Gordon, the entire movie may as well have been a reel of white noise.

All that said, I can only imagine how such a conversation about "X-Men: First Class" would’ve gone, were we still co-workers in 2011.

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Bryan Singer

There have been five "X-Men" movies released in the 21st century. While comic fans will disagree until the end of time over the worth of every comic book movie (seriously, one of you commenters claimed the Sam Raimi "Spider-Man" movies were terrible), there’s pretty much a consensus around the X-Movies: "X-Men," "X2" and "X-Men: First Class" = good, "X3" = mediocre, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" = blight on humanity. I’m not a Hollywood insider, so I can only speculate as to why the latter two movies were so disappointing. Too many producers? Weak script? Not enough Ryan Reynolds? Too much Ryan Reynolds?

I could go on and on with the guesswork, but here’s one obvious answer: because Bryan Singer wasn’t involved.

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Wolverine

In addition to last week's discussion about "X-Men: Days of Future Past," my three-part interview with Chris Claremont also touched on "The Wolverine." Though we're still pretty thin on details, "The Wolverine" is expected to lift a number of elements from Claremont's legendary "Wolverine" miniseries, which he wrote along with "Sin City" and "300" artist Frank Miller in 1982.

In that story, Logan finds himself in Japan while trying to court Mariko Yashida, the daughter of a local crime boss. Stuff gets complicated, as you might figure, and the result was a character-defining story that’s long stood out as one of Wolverine’s best adventures even though hundreds — if not thousands — of comics have been written about him in the last 30 years. Just the idea that "The Wolverine" would head in that direction was enough to entice Darren Aronofsky to consider helming the movie before director James Mangold took over. (Hugh Jackman, meanwhile, has been waiting patiently since 2009 after "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" went over like a bad retcon.)

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X-Men: Days of Future Past

Through almost 50 years of stories, the X-Men have had dozens if not hundreds of writers across comic books, movies, books, cartoons, and whatever other mediums you can imagine. Among them all, Chris Claremont looms large. Undoubtedly one of the greatest X-Men writers of all-time, Claremont began a run on the "Uncanny X-Men" flagship title in 1975 that ended up spanning 17 years and hundreds of issues. If you’ve ever watched an X-film, you recognize his creations: elements from seminal stories such as "The Dark Phoenix Saga" and "God Loves, Man Kills" and characters like Kitty Pryde and Rogue have been adapted into the movies, and the upcoming sequel to "X-Men: First Class" will bear the title from one of his most enduring works, "Days of Future Past."

Claremont was kind enough to take some time out for a chat about numerous X-topics — more to come on that in the coming weeks — starting with his work on the comic "Days of Future Past," which was officially unveiled as the newest "X-Men" movie a few weeks ago.

"On one level it’s incredibly flattering," he said. "It’s not just the X-Movies — the secret identity the Black Widow adopts in 'Iron Man 2,' Nancy Rushman, is a character I created for Marvel Team-Up years ago. So, the giggle for me is that my work pops up all over the place, sometimes by accident."

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Wolverine

Acknowledged continuity is one of the more titillating features of the mainstream superhero universes. It’s the thrill of watching a hero you like interacting with another character you like for a story that produces tangible results in both worlds. It doesn’t even need to be that serious, really -- it can just be something as quick as Spider-Man swinging through an alley over the Punisher’s head, or poker games between the saltier characters in the Marvel Universe. On the other hand, ambition is why we keep buying those big summer event projects, year in and year out, no matter how disappointing the return on a War Games or a Secret Wars II.

But it is the best route to take for the comic book movies?

Recently, Hugh Jackman explained that "The Wolverine" will be a standalone film, breaking from what we’ve seen before. "We've deliberately not called it Wolverine 2 because we want it to be placed and feel like a standalone picture," he said. "The approach to character means we won't be overloaded with mutants and teams and the like, so it'll be more character-based. I think in many ways it will feel like a completely different ‘X-Men’ film."

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X-Men

The first sequel is the important one. It’s where a director, having established the rules of the game in the first movie, is given the chance to push outward and explore the world. Connections are followed up on; characterization is deepened; giant plots are put into motion now that the origin story is out of the way. For comic book movies, the first sequel is where classics are defined. It’s no small coincidence that three of the superhero films universally considered to be among the best over the last decade — "The Dark Knight," "Spider-Man 2," and "X2: X-Men United" — were first sequels that vastly outpaced their predecessors.

The "X-Men: First Class" series is about to commit to its first sequel. Last week, producer Bryan Singer announced to some surprise that the subtitle for the follow-up would be "Days of Future Past," referring to the comic arc that's widely considered to be among the best stories ever laid down in the X-pages. The story, for the uninitiated, involves a dystopian future in which mutants have been rounded up into Sentinel-patrolled concentration camps, and a former member of the X-Men who travels to the past to stop things from going wrong.

While Singer was predictably mum on details, writer Simon Kinberg told Collider that "it’s extraordinarily ambitious. It is unlike the other X-Men movies and yet very much a celebration of the X-Men movies."

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X-Men

Welcome to This Mutant Life, a weekly column about the state of the "X-Men" movies. Since the first X-Men movie arguably kicked off Marvel’s movie renaissance back in 2000 (hey, feeling old!), they’ve taken an unconventional path through varying shades of relevance. From solo stories to team projects, just about everything has been discussed for Marvel’s mistrusted mutants — fitting, since their character and thematic diversity is what’s made them fertile territory for so many great stories over the years. There’s always something to be found among the X-Men characters, whether it’s a World War II story, an allegory for modern prejudice, a slambang superhero beat-em-up, or simply, another Wolverine adventure.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll take a look at happenings around the planned slate of X-movies: casting rumors, story direction, big picture thinking, even some interviews with the creators directly or tangentially related to new projects. As a quick intro, I wanted to get caught up with the current list of movies rumored to be coming out in the future, to see where we’re at. After that, it’ll be a freewheeling tour through the mind’s eye to see where we might end up.

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Judge Dredd does not have the most market-friendly reputation in America, in no short thanks to the 1995 Sylvester Stallone film, widely regarded as a disappointment. So it must mean something good that a reboot is set to come out in September — but we'll get to judge for ourselves in just a few short days.

On Thursday, the first trailer for “Dredd” will drop, possibly kickstarting the hype or disappointing fans still waiting for a righteous adaptation. In anticipation, we’ve listed five things we’re excited to see.

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Spider-Man

When “The Amazing Spider-Man” drops in a few weeks, Marc Webb will be announced as one of this generation’s premier mainstream directors. That said, he’s got a long way to go if he ever wants to become as iconic as Stan Lee, whose credentials of course need no introduction.

In an interview for a video series called “Cocktails with Stan,” the Spidey storytellers from past and present came together to discuss the new film, and just what’s made Spider-Man so appealing over the years.

First off, Lee started with something we all know -- that Spider-Man is the most down-to-earth of all the heroes. “The beautiful thing about Peter Parker, aside from having spider abilities, is that he’s a regular guy!” he said. “He could get ingrown toenails or warts.”

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