Taking audiences into the swinging '60s, First Class rebooted the franchise and cast A-list talent including James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Hoult.
While First Class was far from perfect – thanks, January Jones – the reignited interest in a new X-Men timeline was enough to warrant a sequel. Vaughn laid out grand plans for a trilogy of movies covering some of Charles Xavier’s gifted youngsters’ most iconic comic book moments, but instead, 20th Century Fox moved ahead with X-Men: Days of Future Past. Looking back at the scrapped Vaughn-Verse, here’s what we could have won…
A new Wolverine
Speaking to ComingSoon, Vaughn explained how he wanted to direct his own X-Men trilogy to rival the Patrick Stewart/Ian McKellen years.
Fans might remember how Hugh Jackman (briefly) reprised his role of Wolverine in First Class, but if Vaughn had sat back in the director’s chair for a sequel, he’d touted Tom Hardy as the ‘new’ Wolverine.
The Kingsman: The Secret Service director told the site: “When I finished the Days of Future Past script with it ready to go I looked at it and said, ‘I really think it would be fun to cast Tom Hardy or someone as the young Wolverine and then bring it all together at the end.’”
Much like how Days of Future Past put Wolverine at its core, Vaughn’s First Class sequel was going to focus on ol' Pointy Fist. Again like DoFP, the movie would have jumped forward in time and moved to a '70s backdrop. Vaughn also wanted to cover the legendary comic arc 'Days of Future Past', but he planned on holding off until a third and final entry before tackling Chris Claremont, John Byrne, and Terry Austin’s 1981 story.
Even though Vaughn doesn’t go into what he wanted from his young Wolvie movie, he made it clear he didn’t want to cover an Apocalypse story at all. Given the might of combining two X-Men worlds in Days of Future Past, Vaughn understood that it made sense to save his trump card for last.
Seeing McAvoy, Fassbender, Stewart, Jackman, Lawrence, Hoult, Halle Berry, Ellen Page, Evan Peters, Kelsey Grammer, and even Famke Janssen share the screen was something truly magical to behold. X-Men: Days of Future Past netted an impressive $747.9 million at the worldwide box office, making it the highest-grossing mainline X-Men movie behind Deadpool 2 ($785 million) and Deadpool ($783.1 million).
It’s unclear whether a Vaughn movie between First Class and Days of Future Past would have helped or hindered a third outing. It definitely doesn’t look like X-Men: Apocalypse’s divided reception did Dark Phoenix any favours.
Ultimately, Bryan Singer returned to the franchise he kick-started back in 2000 to bring Days of Future Past to life. Vaughn bowed out to focus on Kingsman and handed the reins over to Singer. Elsewhere, a Jackman-less Days of Future Past might have scuppered the studio’s ongoing Wolverine trilogy that rounded off with the lauded Logan in 2017.
Vaughn moved past his idea long ago, but that hasn’t stopped him passing judgement on the convoluted way Fox handled the fan-favourite X-Men. He went on to explain, "Fox read 'Days of Future Past' and went, 'Oh, this is too good! We’re doing it now!'
"And I said, 'Well what do you do next? Trust me, you’ve got nowhere to go.' Then they did Apocalypse and it’s like… If you flip that around even it would have been better. Hollywood doesn’t understand pacing. Their executives are driving 100 miles-per-hour looking in the rear-view mirror and not understanding why they crash."
Vaughn has previously said that he saw First Class as his very own Batman Begins, leading into a Dark Knight-esque movie where he could "just get on with it". Sadly, fans will have to get used to the highs of Days of Future Past being followed by a lacklustre swansong for marvellous mutants at Fox.
Of course, Hardy playing Wolverine isn’t completely out of the question. That being said, he looks pretty settled in the Venom-Verse. As it stands, the X-Men are destined to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe (at some point) and someone new is destined to suit up in Wolverine’s tight-fitting spandex.
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