As if The Wolverine and 2015's X-Force weren't enough of a clue, it looks like 20th Century Fox has plans to turn its rights to Marvel's X-Men franchise into a multiple-series franchise not unlike Marvel Studios' own superheroic juggernaut. If you're asking yourself just how many movie series can come from what is, at heart, one comic book series, Fox consultant (as well as former Marvel Comics writer and Kick-Ass creator) Mark Millar has a surprisingly high estimate.
In an interview with Collider's Steve Weintraub, Millar talked up the value of the X-Men franchise to both Marvel as a publishing entity and Fox as a cinematic property. "Marvel sold the X-Men franchises off to Fox back in the '90s when they had the cash, but you have to remember that they were the crown jewels," he said. "The reason they got snapped up is because they were Marvel's biggest selling books, really, for twenty years. So you're sitting on a gold mine there."
How much of a goldmine? Well, according to Millar -- who went to great pains to make the tentative, vague nature of current discussions very clear -- "I think there's a good five to ten golden franchises in there."
Five to ten? Well, we know of three: The core X-Men, the spin-off Wolverine and upcoming X-Force. But what of the others? In the comic, there have been multiple different teams using the X brand, the longest lived of which is X-Factor, but the list also includes X-Terminators, X-Statix and X-Nation, as well as non-alliterative teams such as Excalibur, New Mutants and Alpha Flight.
And let's not forget the potential solo characters who have, at various points, been mooted for movie stardom; Deadpool and Magneto projects have reportedly made it to the screenplay stage, and it'd be hard to believe that a Storm or even Phoenix movie hasn't been considered at some point.
Whether or not the audience is ready for this many X-movies remains to be seen -- The Wolverine's performance doesn't seem to point in any particular direction on that one, after all -- but at least Millar sounds as if he and Fox are being smart about the need to build the brand up slowly.
"I think at the moment, what you've got to do is you've got to be smart about it," he told Weintraub. "You've got to grow things organically. We're not talking crossovers or that kind of stuff yet, you know. I mean, the idea is just to sort of build everything up quietly, in its own way and bring in the best possible talent."
X-Men: Days of Future Past is scheduled for a May 2014 release.