In the time it’s taken to introduce two Superman franchises, two Batman ones, and three separate Spider-Men, 20th Century Fox has somehow managed to maintain one single X-Men continuity for 16 years—albeit one with its own complications. After X-Men: The Last Stand destroyed the goodwill created by X-Men and X2, the franchise found new life with the 1962-set prequel X-Men: First Class. And since that seemed to go over well, the creators decided to stick with the historical conceit for the next two films. So in addition to exploring a dystopian future, X-Men: Days Of Future Past spent a good chunk of time in 1973. And the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse is rooted firmly in the early ’80s.
Unsurprisingly, then, writer/producer Simon Kinberg has revealed that the next X-Men film will be set in the 1990s. In fact, that’s all he revealed, telling ComingSoon at a recent press junket, “The next one is set in the ’90s.” Presumably he was talking about a yet-to-be-announced headlining film in the franchise, although it’s also possible he meant Josh Boone’s New Mutants spin-off, which is still in development and will feature a roster of younger X-Men characters.
While those 10-year time jumps are certainly fun from a costuming point of view, they do raise a lot of questions about how the franchise fits together. The original X-Men film was released in 2000 and set in the “not too distant future.” That means it can’t be too far removed from the ’90s, so at what point does James McAvoy’s Professor X become Patrick Stewart’s Professor X? When will Sophie Turner’s Jean Grey become Famke Janssen’s Jean Grey? And will 26-year-old Nicholas Hoult be asked to play a 50-year-old version of Beast, much as he’s being asked to play a 40-year-old in X-Men: Apocalypse?
In other words, the future of the X-Men series remains a mystery on pretty much all fronts. Hugh Jackman has announced the upcoming Wolverine 3 will be his final appearance in the X-universe, while Apocalypse will be the end of Jennifer Lawrence’s tenure as Mystique. And when speaking about the future of the franchise back in 2014, Kinberg explained:
The thrust of Apocalypse is really to complete the trilogy we began with First Class–to complete the stories of young Raven, young Hank, younger Charles and Erik. And complete this trilogy of four people who began the films sort of disparate and in different worlds…[and who] we’ve followed through the span of decades. So that’ll be the thrust. There will be familiar characters and new characters that we haven’t seen…ever…but it’ll be the completion of what we began in First Class.
That could mean the younger versions of Jean Grey, Cyclops, and Storm introduced in Apocalypse will be at the forefront of this new ’90s-set film. If so, the bigger question is whether they’ll do so in their iconic costumes from the animated TV show: