When we first heard of the rumor that the film adaptation of pseudo-prequel Marvel title, X-Men: First Class would be written by Josh Schwartz, it certainly created a wave of facepalms across the world. As the creator of things that make fanboys shrug such as The O.C. and Gossip Girl (we'll give him a pass with his work on Chuck, though), Schwartz is far from a name that would come up when one would think of "who should write it?" Apparently, facts continue to validate what was once just rumor.
In a recent interview at the New York Comic Con, Schwartz gave some comments about the upcoming project (albeit while being extremely elusive.) For one thing, clearing up any confusion about the possibility of directing the film, Schwartz responded emphatically, "No, that's not true." Also adding, "(I) would be terrified to have the first thing I direct be a giant franchise movie."
We are still left with a lot of mystery as to exactly what version of the X-Men this film will portray. Will we be seeing a sequel of sorts, with a Saved by the Bell: The New Class kind of vibe? (I never quite bought Screech as Mr. Belding's Assistant Principal.) OR will we be seeing a reboot of the X-Men franchise, as the film would reinvent a version of the early days of original X-Men, Cyclops, Jean Grey (Marvel Girl?), Beast, Angel, and Iceman? It's interesting that the "Dark Phoenix" issue managed to surface in the interview with Schwartz.
"The ‘Dark Phoenix’ storyline is probably the high point of the comics’ storytelling,” said Schwartz when asked about some of his favorite X-Men stories. “But they did that. So we’ll find more fertile soil somewhere else.” I’m not really allowed to say anything,” he added. “They’re watching me as we speak. It’s exciting, it’s a huge honor and we’re just getting started.”
I suppose that should be some measure of relief. Dark Phoenix has been done to death and has become such a cliché among attempts to adapt the X-Men storyline. The fact remains, that the original "Phoenix" incarnation by Chris Claremont and John Byrne had such an impact due to the freedom it had in expansive and complicated storytelling (something that does not lend itself well in the conventional beats of feature films.)
We know what it will NOT be. Frankly, I don't see this film even coming close to working without the signature X-Men characters. It would seem (at least for now) that a reboot might be on the table. Exactly WHAT kind of reboot, is the main question. Moreover, with the Bryan Singer X-Films still alive in some capacity with X-Men Origins: Wolverine hitting theaters in a few months -- as well as a possible Magneto film on the horizon -- where will this film fit?
On a sidenote: Saved by the Bell: The New Class featured Sarah Lancaster, who currently portrays Chuck's sister, Ellie on Chuck, a show co-created by...Josh Schwartz. Six Degrees of Schwartz, anyone?