X-Men producer Lauren Shuler Donner has been with the franchise since the start and was the one who originally brought Kevin Feige to the project. At the Television Critics Association, Lauren attended to promote the final season of the X-Men series Legion where our pals at SlashFilm were able to gather some of her quotes from the event concerning the future of the X-Men at Marvel. She talked about the Disney-Fox merger, recasting Wolverine, New Mutants, and even about the fate of the spin-offs which may not be entirely canceled after all.

When it comes to recasting Wolverine, Lauren admits that is likely what will happen as they’ll need a younger actor as Hugh Jackman’s body might not be as willing as it used to be. Simply re-enforcing Jackman’s previous retirement announcements.

“Yes,” she said. “I don’t know what Kevin’s thinking honestly. I don’t even think Kevin knows. I think Kevin’s still dealing with this wealth of characters and trying to make sense of them.”

“Yes, because Hugh, just the physicality of it all, just to bulk up,” she said. “This man worked so hard to bulk up, would get up at four in the morning to bulk and eat protein meals every two hours because his natural state, they used to call him Worm when he was a kid. So his natural state is a very skinny guy. Once you reach a certain age, the body just won’t go anymore. I think he was wise to say, ‘I’m at that point. I can’t do it.’ Now, that doesn’t mean he can’t come back as older Wolverine. You never know. Future Wolverine, you never know.”

Lauren also even made a brief comment via Deadline referring to a recent unconfirmed Twitter rumor floating around that New Mutants could be pulled from theaters and dumped on Hulu.

“They worked hard on it,” said Shuler Donner about the film’s production team, “I want to see it released (theatrically), I’d hate to see it thrown at Hulu.”

This rumor made some traction despite an established theatrical commitment from 20th Century Fox as their website still has it officially listed for an August release and nobody has been able to reaffirm this bizarre Hulu talk that seems to be connected to the faux rumors of Dark Phoenix being pulled as well. I assume because either people want to believe it or that they think anything is possible, even though studio investors are involved and we know 20th Century Fox has never been afraid of a releasing a potential flop.

From our own understanding, Disney is giving Fox a mulligan on their last two projects giving them plenty of breathing room before they end up releasing their version of characters to the big screen. This is mainly why I believe the New Mutants/Hulu chatter is nothing more than a fan-wish.

The biggest thing revealed by Lauren is that the many spin-offs in development including Gambit are apparently now “up to Disney” according to Shuler Donner. Adding that it’s the same case with the fate of Deadpool 3 and X-Force.

“That is up to Disney,” Shuler Donner said about Gambit. “That really is up to Disney. I hope so, but that’s up to them. The problem is you can’t have too many Marvel, X-Men superhero movies out there because we will cancel each other out. Each one has to be distinctive and yet you’ve got The Avengers to follow through. You’ve got so many distinctive story canons to follow through and yet we want new ones, but I don’t think you can have more than four. Four is a lot because people are going to get sick of them so we have to be careful. He has to be careful.”

“Same as everything,” Shuler Donne said. “This is all now in Disney’s playground and they get to decide. At least we know it’s in good hands. Everybody’s worked really hard up to now on the Fox side but now it’s going to be Disney’s call.”

The list of X-Men projects in development at the time of the merger (expected to close by June according to Disney an a recent SEC filing) include James Mangold’s X-23 film (a spin-off of Logan), Brian Michael Bendis/Tim Miller’s Kitty Pryde movie aka 143 (Bendis confirmed the other day he’s still writing the script), Channing Tatum/Reid Carolin’s Gambit solo film, and a Multiple Man movie that seemingly never jumped to the scripting phase.

Some of these could make the jump if Feige wants them to such as Gambit and Pryde as they were seemingly reboots of the previous on-screen versions which would mean they could be spared the guillotine. Retrofitting those scripts to fit the Marvel Cinematic Universe would likely be less messy or a headache than the Singerverse, which has so many continuity issues that it brings to the table.

We already know that Deadpool 3 and X-Force are expected to survive as Disney CEO Bob Iger has suggested they are interested in pursuing Deadpool sequels and are openminded to releasing R-rated Marvel movies if the audiences are made aware of them (branding a mature arm of Marvel Studios could fix that).

Speaking of Gambit, our friends over at ThePlaylist have added a nifty little tidbit to the “Channing Tatum wants to direct Gambit story” as they report that Tatum wanted to co-direct with producing/writing partner Reid Carolin (Magic Mike), who had been rewriting the script over the last year or so. Also, that they had approached Steven Soderbergh multiple times to direct but turned them down repeatedly.

I can confirm I’ve heard that’s true and that Tatum was hoping to co-direct the film with his friend and producer, director and screenwriter Reid Carolin, who wrote “Magic Mike,” “Magic Mike XXL” and has developed many projects with Tatum ever since. Tatum and Carolin, who have worked closely with Steven Soderbergh since “Magic Mike” (Carolin also produced “Logan Lucky”), tried in vain over the last year-plus to coax the “Sex, Lies, and Videotape” and “Out Of Sight” filmmaker to helm “Gambit” many times, but superhero films are just not his bag and he turned his friend down politely every time. Reid and Carolin had hoped to direct “Gambit” and tried in vain to get it off the ground, but with Marvel/Disney approaching, that plan is likely going to fade away if it hasn’t already.

Soderbergh was someone I had been suggesting and championing from the start to direct Gambit, but I guess you can’t make people take projects if they don’t want to do them.

However, the fate of Gambit along with the other non-Singerverse projects are now in the hands of Kevin Feige and the team over at Marvel Studios. I’m not terribly sure that Marvel/Disney is going to be as relaxed about letting a first-time director tackle a massive movie as Fox has with say a Simon Kinberg on Dark Phoenix.

Ultimately, the ruling hand here is Kevin Feige and it doesn’t sound like he’s about to blab about his plans too early, unless Bob Iger dishes in their earnings call later today.


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