In 2006 when X3: The Last Stand came out, a case study in how NOT to end a trilogy was born. Some call it the Godfather 3 syndrome. When a trilogy starts, the first two are usually good with the second one being a big improvement. Then the third movie comes out and it flat out sucks in a way that makes fans of the first two want to go back in time, strangle themselves, and make sure they stay in a coma for the duration of the movie's existence.
The X-men franchise didn't follow this trend exactly. The first X-men movie was revolutionary for it's time, but not well-praised by critics and fans. It wasn't terrible though. It did tell an interesting story and it did set a new tone for superhero movies. Then X2: X-men United came along and the bar was raised. This is one of the few times when both critics and fans were on the same page. This was a movie that finished where the first one fell short. It told a compelling story while doing justice to the characters and giving some much needed depth both emotionally and plot-wise. In a sense this may have been a bad thing because it made expectations for X3 so high. Then someone dropped a bomb.
Bryan Singer, the director who brought the X-men movies to life, left the project to do Superman. Who got the job instead? A guy named Brett Ratner, whose very name now evokes a nauseous feeling that induces more suicidal thoughts than the come-down from a hit of ecstasy. This guy was the anti-Singer. He had about as much subtlety as a kick in the balls. Where Singer provided both plot depth and character depth, Ratner was all about the shock-and-awe. It was all about big wars, big fights, and big moments like the death of some beloved characters and a script tailor made to satisfy Halle Berry and Hugh Jackman's publicist. This would have been fine if the characters were actually shown the least bit of respect and if the plot was remotely engaging.
X3 was a travesty. You don't kill off Charles Xavier, Cyclops, and Jean Grey while thoroughly disrespecting the Phoenix Saga (also known as the best X-men story EVER) and make fans happy. Maybe this was an alien concept to Ratner, but people don't like seeing characters they love being casually killed off. What made the death of Jean Grey so powerful in X2 was that it was built up and given an emotionally powerful story that was in many ways tied to her first death in the comics. I don't know what comics Ratner was reading, but he must have got them from the ass of some schizophrenic hobo hanging outside a comic shop in Tijuana. That's the only possible explanation that could make any sense of his bullshit.
Since X3 ended, nobody seems interested in making a sequel (who can blame them?), but that didn't stop Fox from making a Wolverine movie. While nowhere near the travesty that was X3, it certainly didn't wow fans back onto the movie bandwagon. Many simply cannot forgive the stupidity that is "Barakapool." Never-the-less, it still made money and that's all Fox needs to keep making these movies.
So when X-men First Class was announced, fans returned to the world of hope. When Laura Donner, the producer of the X-men films, announced it as an origins story that told of Magneto and Xavier's original split, the appeal was self-evident. Fans were even more giddy when they heard Bryan Singer was coming back to direct. It seemed if anyone can recapture the magic, it would be him. Turns out, however, that excitement was premature.
Fused Film: Bryan Singer will only Produce X-men First Class
That's right. Singer, already contracted to do "Jack the Giant Killer," won't be returning to X-men in the same capacity. He'll only be producing, leaving yet another director gap. Since Brett Ratner was tarred and feathered and banished from the X-men Universe, someone new will have to take his place. Will they make the same mistake Ratner did or will Singer's involvement be enough? Only time will tell, but there is one aspect fans are not going to forget.
If this is a prequel then it really doesn't matter what the hell the movie does because everybody will know how it ends. Any character development with Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Xavier will be completely moot because they're just going to die in X3 anyways. So who cares? That makes fans of the franchise a little iffy about enjoying it. Perhaps it would be best if X-men did the same thing Spider-Man has done and reboot the whole franchise. It would give the studios a clean slate to work with. Of course, that may make too much sense. X3 has permanently tainted the current movie series and if Marvel and Fox want any hope of capturing the same excitement they did with X2, then they need to get back to basics. Spider-Man is doing it. Superman is doing it. Why can't the X-men do it?