Despite the pending Disney buyout of 20th Century Fox, the studio responsible for the X-Men films is moving full-steam ahead with its Marvel movie plans.
Reports suggest that Fox has several "secret" Marvel movie project in various stages of development behind the scenes, including plans for a Silver Surfer movie based on a treatment by Brian K. Vaughan.
But that's just one film. 20th Century Fox is said to be planning to release three X-Men movies a year in 2019 and 2020.
20th Century Fox originally planned to do the same in 2018, with releases set for April, June, and November. Fox apparently did some recalculations and now only has two X-Men movies on the schedule for 2018 - one in May, another still in November - but that hasn't slowed down their plans for putting mutants on the big screen.
"We actually have way more in development and production in Marvel IP than at any other point in the history of the studio," an insider told The Hollywood Reporter in the report. "There's been zero
"We are going 100 miles per hour," another executive said.
This should be exciting news for X-Men fans since Fox has had a string of (mostly) successes over the past few years, beginning with X-Men: Days of Future Past in 2014. Deadpool then blew away expectations in 2016. X-Men: Apocalypse was something of a disappointment compared to these other films, but the 2017 release of Logan brought the X-Men movies a new level critical-acclaim.
It should be no wonder then that Fox is pushing hard to get as many X-Men movies into theaters as possible. In truth, it's quite similar to how Marvel Comics reacted after Uncanny X-Men became its top-selling comic book in the 1980s. The spinoffs couldn't come quickly enough.
So what might be next for the X-Men movies in the years ahead? Here's what may be on the table, based on various reports.
Let's start with what we know. This may, the Merc with a Mouth will return to the big screen in Deadpool 2.
This is the second installment of the superhero movie that set off the R-rated action craze. Ryan Reynolds returns as Wade Wilson, the titular mercenary. This time around he'll be joined by Josh Brolin as Cable and Zazie Beetz as Domino. Brianna Hildabrand's Negasonic Teenage Warhead also returns, as does the X-Man Colossus.
The actual plot of Deadpool 2 remains unclear. Jack Kesy is reportedly playing the film's villain, and that villain is rumored to be Black Tom Cassidy, but Fox has not made an official reveal yet.
Another known upcoming X-Men movie is this November's X-Men: Dark Phoenix.
The film represents the second time the X-Men movies franchise has attempted to adapt the most iconic X-Men story of all time, "The Dark Phoenix Saga."
X-Men: The Last Stand was widely panned for failing to do the story justice. This time, star Sophie Turner says they're creating an entirely new kind of superhero movie.
“We are revolutionizing it, Turner said. "We wanted to create a whole new genre of superhero movie" and further described the film as a "dark, gritty drama.”
The New Mutants was originally scheduled to hit theaters this April but was pushed back until February 2019, making it one of the three X-Men movies Fox is hoping to release next year.
The New Mutants will try to introduce an element of horror into Fox's X-Men movies line. The film was pitched to Fox as the first part of a trilogy of New Mutants films, with each film tapping into a different horror subgenre.
“We brought it to Fox as a trilogy of films, really all based on that long run by [Bill] Sienkiewicz, and kind of incorporates some stuff from later issues in the ’80s,” director Josh Boone previously revealed. “These are all going to be horror movies, and they’re all be their own distinct kind of horror movies. This is certainly the ‘rubber-reality’ supernatural horror movie. The next one will be a completely different kind of horror movie. Our take was just go examine the horror genre through comic book movies and make each one its own distinct sort of horror film. Drawing from the big events that we love in the comics.”
After some early test screenings, the film is reportedly set to undergo reshoots to add an additional character.
Gambit has hit one development snag after another, but the film is still on Fox's schedule. Most recently it was pushed back from a Valentine's Day weekend 2019 release to June of the same year after losing director Gore Verbinski.
Gambit will star Channing Tatum as the Cajun mutant charmer. Rumored plot details suggest that the movie will be a heist film, with Gambit assembling a team of mutants to steal something valuable for a very powerful individual.
Casting rumors suggest that the film will be set during Gambit's early days when he was still involved with the Thieves Guild and their rivals, the Assassins Guild. This would be well before he meets the X-Men.
Now we get into speculative territory. Gambit is the last X-Men film currently on Fox's schedule, but reports suggest that Fox will begin production on the X-Force movie in October, making it the most-likely next X-Men movie release.
The X-Force movie will be written and directed by Drew Goddard, who created Marvel's Daredevil for Netflix. The series will be a spinoff of Deadpool and will star Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool and Josh Brolin as Cable.
X-Force is the name of a paramilitary, proactive mutant strike force that is willing to go to lengths the X-Men are not to further the mutant agenda. This at times has included assassinated would be threats to mutantkind.
And now we get even further into speculative territory since no other film in the X-Men franchise is even known to be entering production any time soon. However, there are several projects being developed.
One is an X-23 movie that would presumably have Logan's breakout star Dafne Keen return to her role as Wolverine's clone daughter.
Logan director James Mangold confirmed that he is working on a script for an X-23 movie.
"Patty [Jenkins]'s success with [Wonder Woman] only solidifies more for studios that there's less to fear with a female protagonist," Mangold says. "The more that keeps getting hit home, that ends up giving me more space turning around and going, 'Well here we are with a female protagonist. That's incredible. And what are we going to do with her?' And that's where we are with that [the Laura script] right now, dreaming."
In November, reports surfaced that James Franco is working on a Multiple Man movie with X-Men producer Simon Kinberg. Allen Heinberg, one of the writers of Wonder Woman, was said to be working on the script.
Franco later confirmed that he was involved in some kind of X-Men movies project, but would not confirm what character he was looking to play.
“What I love about what Simon Kinberg and Fox and the X-Men people have done with Deadpool and Logan — it took a while to get there, maybe 10 years, but they are going to go hard R,” Franco said. “And we're going to take, you know, this superhero thing and really just push it into a new genre. Deadpool's almost like an action romantic comedy. And Logan's like a western, you know?
“So we're working with Simon Kinberg on an X-Men property...It’s in the X-Men universe.”
It recently came to light that Fox has a "secret" X-Men project it is working on codenamed "143." The film is reportedly being worked on by Deadpool director Tim Miller and former X-Men comic book writer Brian Michael Bendis.
"143" was later linked back to the previously rumored Kitty Pryde movie, which Tim Miller was already said to be involved with. The "143" codename remains mysterious.
One theory is that the codename comes from Uncanny X-Men #143, a Kitty-centric X-Men comic book from 1981, not long after Kitty was first introduced. The issue is set on Christmas Eve and finds Kitty alone defending the X-Mansion from attack by demons known as the N'Garai. Perhaps this would be the basis for the story of the Kitty Pryde solo movie.
Looking way into the future and reaching a new level speculative possibilities, we do know that Fox seems to constantly be looking for new X-Men characters or groups.
Two groups that have come up as having film potential are Alpha Flight and the Exiles. Producer Simon Kinberg name-dropped both groups in early 2017.
"We have a sense of where each of all of the existing characters go from Deadpool to New Mutants to the mainland X-Men movies to potentially even X-23," Kinberg said. "Then, there's other characters, like X-Flight [Alpha Flight], like Exiles... There's a lot of characters to mine going forward. We're still sort of in this phase where now we've completed the Wolverine story with Logan and we begin hopefully with New Mutants and eventually Gambit and continue with Deadpool."
The X-Men movies franchise wouldn't be a franchise if it didn't generate sequels.
We saved these for last because, in one sense, sequels are the most likely films to be made, but also we have few ideas on when they'll be released and what they'll be about with letting their predecessors take their turn at the box office first.
Obviously, if the X-Men movies continue, further installments of the main X-Men series will have to continue past X-Men: Dark Phoenix. Whether these movies continue to be period pieces like the past four is unclear.
Both Deadpool and X-Force are known to be R-rated trilogies in the making. New Mutants was also pitched as a trilogy, though the first movie still needs to prove the series' viability.