Following the great success of last summer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, 20th Century Fox’s plans for its sequel X-Men: Apocalypse are proceeding, with the most recent announcement being that Rose Byrne is set to reprise her role as CIA agent (and potential love interest for James MacAvoy’s Charles Xavier) Moira MacTaggert. Picking up her story 20 (in-universe) years after her last encounter with the X-Men in X-Men: First Class.
Returning screenwriter Simon Kinberg said in an interview: “She’s a significant character in the movie […] We ended X-Men: First Class with Charles having wiped portions of her memory of her experience with the X-Men. They are, essentially, strangers to her when she meets them […] It’s certainly a rich relationship that we started to dig into in First Class, and would like to mine more in this one.”
Between their clear confidence with the rejuvenated X-Men property, and the first trailer for Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four having been released last week (quieting rumours that the film may have hit production problems) it seems that 20th Century Fox is really stepping up to the mark as the third horse (along with Marvel Studios and DC/Warner Bros.) in the superhero blockbuster race.
Conversely, this now leaves Sony’s Amazing Spider-Man franchise (with all its related spinoffs and sequels) as the studio with the least secure superhero series in the wake of the critically and financially lukewarm reception to last year’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Rumours have been circulating for months about the series’ future (or lack thereof), Andrew Garfield’s apparent reluctance to stay on as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, and the possibility of Sony rebooting the franchise yet again in some way shape or form. And now, the latest rumour to surface about the franchise is the possible return of Spidey-hating Daily Bugle editor J. Jonah Jameson. Furthermore, actor J. K. Simmons (who played the character in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man Trilogy, and who is currently enjoying a great deal of critical accolade due to his performance in Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash) has expressed an interest in reprising the role.
Meanwhile another veteran of the Raimi Spidey films, screenwriter David Koepp, has chipped in with his two cents on how he would handle property, stating that one possible course of action would be (or would have been) to produce several takes on the character concurrently, each aimed at a different demographic: “I’d certainly develop other characters in the Spider-Man universe, which is what they are trying to do, I know. Black Cat deserves her own movie series. As for the superhero genre generally now, I am stunned at its viability, its quality, its longevity, and its ability to grow and deepen. I think they’re great. I was so continually wrong about where superhero movies were going that now I am just an audience member, thrilled to see them continue to improve.”
Whilst Koepp appears hopeful for the franchise, and Simmons’ Jameson was a fan-favourite bit of casting, it cannot be denied that what Sony intend to do with Spidey next is still mostly up in the air, so it may be as well for us not to hold our collective breath for any aspect of Sony’s Spider-verse until we have something more concrete to go on.