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Singer swaps X-Men for Superman

Story by: Jack Foley

FANS of the X-Men cinema franchise will be biting their Wolverine-claws with trepidation, following news that director, Bryan Singer, has jumped ship, in order to tackle the new film version of Superman.

News of Singer’s departure was announced by Warner Brothers on Monday (July 19, 2004), throwing a massive doubt over the future of the X-Men franchise, owned by rival distributors, Twentieth Century Fox.

The Superman movie will mark a dream come true for Singer, given that the central character is said to have inspired his work on X-Men.

In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, he is quoted as saying: "I feel that Superman has been late in his return and it is time for him to fly again."

Singer will replace Charlie’s Angels director, McG, who reportedly parted company with the project following a dispute over the film’s budget.

But given the troubled history of the Superman project - during which several directors and stars have been attached - Warner Bros will be delighted to have secured the talents of Singer, who delivered the X-Men franchise with such spellbinding effect.

Of the previous names to have been linked to Superman, directors Tim Burton (Batman) and Brett Ratner (Rush Hour/Red Dragon) had been touted, while stars such as Nicolas Cage, Jude Law and Josh Hartnett have all been tipped to play the super-hero.

Director McG - real name, Joseph McGinty Nicol - is reported to have fallen out with Warners over the choice of casting, location and budget. It is believed the studio wanted to shoot in Australia, while McG favoured New York.

But while Singer’s arrival onto the Superman project is likely to delight fans of the DC hero, it is likely to leave Marvel’s X-Men followers in despair.

Plans for the third film in the series had been looking good, based on the success of the second film, but Singer’s absence could open the floodgate for the departure of several of the franchise’s key players.

Hugh Jackman and Sir Ian McKellen are reportedly only contracted for two films, and may now pause to see what happens before committing to a third, while pay demands of stars such as Halle Berry could also mean that the producers cut names in order to contain the budget.

Jackman’s friendship with Singer has also led to speculation that he could walk straight into the Superman franchise, especially since Van Helsing failed to turn into the money-spinner that it had initially planned to become.

Fox, though, will be keen to ensure that the X-Men franchise is not abandoned completely, even though the initial release date for the third film may have to be put back while suitable replacements (if any) are found.

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