Weekly Ketchup: X-Men: First Class characters confirmed

Plus a full slate of remakes, sequels and adaptations this week.

This week's Ketchup has news about sequels to Nanny McPhee, remakes of Piranha and Little Shop of Horrors, a movie version of Father Knows Best and new movies for Kristen Bell, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Megan Fox.


X-Men franchise producer Laura Shuler-Donner clarified this week one of the big mysteries and confusions about the upcoming X-Men: First Class project, although given the title and source material, it shouldn't have been a mystery at all. The confusion started when Variety a while back speculated that the movie would focus on the young mutants from the previous movies, like Kitty Pryde, Rogue, Iceman, etc. However, the actual X-Men: First Class comic specifically focuses on the five canon characters who were actually Charles Xavier's first students: Cyclops, Marvel Girl (Jean Grey), Beast, Iceman and Angel. Anyway, Ms. Shuler-Donner said, "It is the first class of Xavier's school, way back when, so it's young Scott, young Jean, young Beast, and that'll be really fun." Given that we know from the many commercials that Cyclops is a character in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, it appears that X-Men: First Class could be designed to stay within in the existing franchise's continuity, since what Laura Shuler-Donner did not say is that Angel or Iceman will be appearing in the movie (since they were retconned into being much younger in the movies). So, the question I would have now as a fan is whether X-Men: First Class will just focus on those three characters, or might other mutants be brought in as Xavier's earliest students? Some possibilities that I might suggest are Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch (who would tie in nicely to the upcoming X-Men Origins: Magneto), Mimic (the first character added to the team after the original five) and perhaps some of the 1970s X-Men who haven't yet appeared in the movies, like Banshee, Sunfire and Thunderbird.


Although the graphic novel it's based on isn't even out yet, a monster movie called I, Frankenstein is in development, setting classic monsters like Frankenstein's Monster, Dracula, Quasimodo and the Invisible Man in a modern film-noir setting (think Sin City). I, Frankenstein (both the graphic novel and the movie) was written by Kevin Grievoux, cocreator of the Underworld franchise, and Patrick Tatopoulos (Underworld: Rise of the Lycans) is on board to direct. Ryan Turek, AKA Ryan Rotten of ShockTilYouDrop.com is producing, along with Death Ray Films, the company behind War Monkeys. In I, Frankenstein, the classic monsters are reimagined, with Frankenstein's Monster being a private detective, Count Dracula being a criminal mastermind, and the Invisible Man being a secret agent.


Although it's seemed over the last few years that the once prolific practice of Hollywood adapting old TV shows into movies had abated a bit, it looks like 20th Century Fox may not have gotten the memo, as the studio is developing a movie version of Father Knows Best, the 1954-1960 show starring Robert Young. What makes this remake seem particularly odd is that the premise doesn't seem to be based on Father Knows Best at all, as it focuses on a father whose own father moves in with the family, and the two men's parenting styles conflict, comedically no doubt. The problem there is that from what I remember of Father Knows Best, there was no grandfather character, and so that really wasn't the point of the show at all. Anyway, the script is being worked on by Chad and Dara Creasey, who previously wrote episodes of Pushing Daisies and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. It's also worth noting that the idea of a Father Knows Best has been around since the mid-1990s, when Universal hired the writers of Brokeback Mountain to work on a script (consulted by Robert Young himself), and then in 2003, Paramount and Nickelodeon were developing a movie that would have starred Tim Allen.


Although it's doubtful that there are many Nanny McPhee fanboys, the 2005 Mary Poppins-ish fantasy film starring Emma Thompson actually did quite well internationally, so pre-production is underway on Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang, which moves the story ahead a hundred years (her being all magical-like) to World War II England. In addition to Emma Thompson reprising the role, Maggie Gyllenhaal will also be starring in this sequel, which focuses on the conflict between war evacuee children from the city and from the country, as their cultures and backgrounds clash, and the magical nanny no doubt steps in to settle things. Emma Thompson wrote the screenplay for this sequel, but it's unknown who will be directing. Also, Rhys Ifans and Ralph Fiennes are rumored to be costarring as well, but that hasn't been confirmed yet. Filming is scheduled to start in May, 2009 at Shepperton Studios in England.


Michael Chabon's Pulitzer Prize-winning superhero deconstructionist novel, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, is still stuck in nearly a decade of development, but the author has found a new job: he's been hired by Disney to work on their big budget movie version of Edgar Rice Burrough's John Carter of Mars. Chabon actually wrote a script in 1995 called The Martian Agent, as a reaction to his lifelong desire to write something inspired by Burrough's Barsoom saga, so this appears to be a perfect fit for all involved. John Carter of Mars will be a 2-hour, FX-filled action movie that will mark the live-action debut of Pixar director Andrew Stanton (WALL-E, Finding Nemo). As someone who grew up devouring the John Carter books (I think I read each one faster than possibly any other book at the time, I was so engrossed in his adventures), the idea of Barsoom being brought to the movies by people who "get it" has always been near the top of my cinematic wish list. At one point, Robert Rodriguez was working on a John Carter of Mars project, but Andrew Stanton's Pixar work is top notch, so he will definitely do.


A few years back, the drug smuggling drama Maria Full of Grace was a big Sundance hit, and now Megan Fox has signed to star in a similar thriller, as a woman forced to become a drug smuggler to save her husband's life in Screen Gems' The Crossing. Megan Fox has been lining up lots of roles lately, starring with Mickey Rourke as an angel in Passion Plays, playing the female lead in Jonah Hex, playing the Aqua-Girl lead in the comic book adaptation Fathom, starring in the Diablo Cody-written Jennifer's Body, and of course returning for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. The Crossing doesn't yet have a director, but filming is expected to start in July, 2009. The Crossing was written by Philip de Blasi and Byron Willinger, who is also working on the movie version of Milton's classic Paradise Lost, about Adam and Eve's fall from grace.


Kristen Bell, star of Forgetting Sarah Marshall and TV's Veronica Mars and Heroes, will star in the Disney comedy You Again, about a woman who finds out her brother is engaged to the girl who made her life miserable in high school. You Again is the next project for director Andy Fickman, who is coming off two Dwayne Johnson-starring family comedies for Disney that both did quite well at the box office for the studio: The Game Plan and Race to Witch Mountain. You Again is also Kristen Bell's second comedy for Disney, following this August's When in Rome, costarring Josh Duhamel. It's good to see Bell signing on for lots of comedic roles, because although her TV work wasn't really specifically "comedic", I've been really impressed by Kristen Bell's natural comedic flair, which I think is what made Forgetting Sarah Marshall as good as it was. Filming is scheduled to start this summer, 2009.


Elizabeth Shue, costar of such movies as Hollow Man and the two Back to the Future sequels, is in negotiations to star in the horror remake Piranha 3-D. Directed by Alexandre Aja (High Tension, The Hills Have Eyes remake), this is actually the second remake of the 1978 horror spoof (following a 1995 remake for Showtime), so rather than the 3 referring to a sequel, it could also be interpreted as referring to this being the third version of the original story. Shue will be starring as the small town sheriff (and mother of three) of Lake Victoria, where some nasty people-munching piranha have recently settled in. Now age 45, Elizabeth Shue has apparently firmly made that transition in her career from being "the girl" to being... "the girl's mom". Although Shue's character does have a daughter, it is her teenage son, Jake, who is more central to the story, but still you get what I mean, right? Casting is underway for the various teenagers who will make up most of the fishies' diet, and filming starts soon after.


Anyone who's seen Almost Famous, or who is familiar with Cameron Crowe's background as a young Rolling Stone music journalist (and husband of Heart's Nancy Wilson), knows that few film directors are into the whole rock thing as Crowe. So, it's not surprising that Cameron Crowe has been spending the last few years hanging out with Pearl Jam, in preparation for an upcoming retrospective movie that to be released in 2011 to tie in with the band's 20th anniversary, although really that's the anniversary of their first album Ten, since the band actually formed in 1990. Most of the big screen music movies of the last few years have been understandably gearing younger (The Jonas Brothers, Hannah Montana, etc), and Martin Scorsese's Rolling Stones concert film Shine a Light, represented a completely different generation, so it's sort of nice to see one of Generation X's contributions to music being recognized by a big league director. Even if at the time, I thought Pearl Jam were a bunch of poseurs ripping off the alternative scene (I was one of those anti-Seattle backlash snobs), I've since come to really dig them. Time truly does heal all wounds.


Director McG is the sort of guy who, well, doesn't use his real name (Joseph McGinty Nichol). He's also associated with action movies filled with cinematic bombast, mostly because of the visuals of the two Charlie's Angels movies, and what we will no doubt see in the upcoming Terminator: Salvation. Another type of movie, however, that McG's flair for all things big, Big, and BIGGER might also work is... musicals? McG is in talks to adapt the Broadway musical hit Spring Awakening, which won four Tony's, including Best Musical. Spring Awakening is a rock musical adaptation of a 1891 German play, and is set in late 19th century Germany, focusing on teenagers who are discovering their sexuality, with a plot that includes masturbation, abortion, rape and suicide. McG actually does have a background in music, having directed many videos, produced Sugar Ray's first album and cowriting songs on their second.


Although I'm perfectly okay with the idea of Piranha 3-D, the third version of an old horror movie, a similiar project that does not pass muster is the idea of a Little Shop of Horrors remake. In this case, the objection is so much based on how awesome the 1960 Roger Corman original was, but has more to do with how perfectly Frank Oz's 1986 musical version, starring Rick Moranis, Steve Martin and Ellen Greene, nailed the concept. The mastermind behind this remake idea is director Declan O'Brien, who has no big screen experience, but did direct the direct-to-video sequel Wrong Turn 3. O'Brien is coproducing with Roger Corman and Andrew Tennenbaum (the Bourne series), with an eye towards the remake being a "studio feature," and says, "I have a take on it you're not going to expect. I'm taking it in a different direction, let's put it that way." Here's hoping the only direction this Little Shop of Horrors remake takes is cancellation, and the reputation of Frank Oz's musical classic can be preserved.

For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS through his MySpace page or via a RT forum message. Greg also blogs about the TV show Lost at TwoLosties.Blogspot.com.



doctor awesome

Nothing very exciting, except for X-men (kind of) but I already knew about that.

And Little Shop of Horrors remake? Thats even worse than the Red Dawn remake. And, the guy directed Wrong Turn 3, so I don't think he's right for the job, though to be fair James Cameron did direct Piranha 2.

Apr 17 - 10:27 AM


Chad W

sounds mighty gay to me.

Apr 17 - 10:42 AM

chris m.

chris mccann

Apr 17 - 10:56 AM


Jeremiah Rancourt

YOu really can't do X-Men first class without Angel and Iceman. They were the core team, interswitching other characters won't work in my opinion. Perhaps they could do it with a 10 year old Iceman and 13 year old Angel, then make the other characters like 17-18. Imperfect solution, I know, but better than not including them. Let's say Scott and Jean were 22-23 y.o. in the first movie, not unbelievable. Iceman was like 15-16 y.o., Angel and Beast weren't in it yet. Need continuity.

Apr 17 - 11:21 AM

Jason C Wilkerson

Jason Wilkerson

I'm a huge fan of Frank Oz's Little Shop of Horrors, so the idea of remaking that film is possibly one of the worst things I have ever heard in my life. I hope the adaptation crashes and burns in hell.

Apr 17 - 11:28 AM


chris mccann

Apr 17 - 11:35 AM

King Thor

Chris Kalmin

You really don't need continuity between First Class and X1,2, and 3. Just make First Class the beginning of a new trilogy/franchise so unnecessary changes won't have to be made to be in continuity with X1, 2, and 3.

Apr 17 - 11:55 AM


will molinar

I, Frank sounds pretty wild though Underworld sucked so who knows with these people at the helm. The GN might rock.

Apr 17 - 12:29 PM


Matt Zullo

Dear Lauren Shuler Donner,
Please stop ruining the X-Men franchise. Please give it back to Marvel.

Apr 17 - 12:30 PM

Chris B.

Chris Bellew

oh god forbid. how about let's not say 'the LXG treatment' because that would be a bad thing. lets just say a 'modernization' instead.

Apr 17 - 01:01 PM

leaflinks -.

leaflinks -

For Megan Fox fans :)

Apr 17 - 01:16 PM

leaflinks -.

leaflinks -

For Megan Fox fans :)

Apr 17 - 01:17 PM

leaflinks -.

leaflinks -

sorry for posting twice

Apr 17 - 01:19 PM

Matt D.

Matt Decker

I agree that Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch would be great additions to the film. Another interesting possibility would be to include Havok, Cyclops' brother, who was also in the comic in the 70s (and later on, too).

Apr 17 - 02:08 PM

inactive user

Jared King

Megan Fox as a drug smuggler? I'm oddly turned on.

I'm glad "X-Men: First Class" won't be about Iceman and Rouge.

"Father Knows Best"...man, desperate times.

Apr 17 - 02:29 PM

inactive user

Jared King

I'm still not interested in "First Class". But it could be far worse.

Apr 17 - 05:27 PM


Anthony Kipp

Do not remake LSH. When I was a kid I loved that movie. Bill Murray's cameo may have been the best part of the movie.

Don't make an X-Men reboot. Use Scott, Jean, and Storm and make them late teens (17-19) use Beast as maybe a young teacher, and throw in a couple of others if you want, say Havock. Hell, you could have Gambit if it takes place after the wolverine movie. Prof X could bring Scott and Remy in together.

Apr 17 - 02:41 PM


Big Brother

I'm intrigued by I, Frankenstein. Love classic Horror novels and this could be good if they don't short change it.

Does anyone else's Shumacher sense go off when people talk about X-Men:FC? Reminds me of him trying to take a successful franchise and take it back to one of it's less popular incarnations. Everyone knows X-men got interesting when they added Nightcrawler, Colossus, Storm, Banshee and Wolverine. Before that it was on the verge of cancellation for good reason. No one wants to see Batoosie Batman with Bat-nipples and no one wants to see boring *** Angel and humanoid Beast. If they're going to do a new X-Men I'd like to see one of the classic stories i.e. Mutant Massacre or Onslaught. Would love to see them introduce The Morlocks. That'd at least allow them to make Angel watchable by making him Archangel. Really how spectacular is a guy with wings when half the hero's can fly without them anyway?

Apr 17 - 04:16 PM


jack giroux

X-Men FC sounds kind of silly, but its a FOX movie so thats what I expect... Also Crank 2 is awesome, I would say I liked it more then the first, 8/10.

Apr 17 - 04:29 PM


Rick V

Really? Good to hear, I'll need to check it out.

Anyways, yet another X-men movie without gambit...boo. Come on, do him some justice! We need Gambit, and for villains Apocalypse/Mr. Sinister.

Apr 18 - 02:35 PM

TheCaptain of TeamLoyalty

John Webb

Jokerboy why the irrational hate for Fox? I mean do you see me hate everthing WB does because they made like 3 movies i despise

Apr 17 - 05:11 PM

inactive user

Jared King

Only 3?

Apr 17 - 05:26 PM


jack giroux

Captain I also have a lot of problems with Warners- wanted to make all there heros dark, miss markiting films, I Am Legend prequel, and how they tried to toy with Where the Wild Things Are. I do like them though because they at least make a few quality movies a year. FOX bothers me because of all there films I think are so generic and generally not good. The only film of there's I liked last year was Australia, which I call a guilty pleasure. Plus I mean what they did with LXG, Elektra, DD, From Hell, and X3 botthers me. Well From Hell is actually good but it was dissapointing, and so was the Director's Cut of DD. I'm sure you've seen the Director's Cut, you agree its a vast improvemant right? And yet FOX went with the crappy 90 minute version just so they could get more screens, they just seem only interested in money and not quality. Of course there more interested in money, there a studio, but they just dont seem to care for quality. They make a lot of movies I hate, also they made Hitman and Max Payne. They used to be awesome, then they just went so down hill...

Apr 17 - 05:28 PM

inactive user

Jared King

Hey! Don't compare X3 with LXG, Elaktra, or Daredevil. While far from perfect, I still liked X3 more than the first.

Apr 17 - 10:08 PM

inactive user

Jared King

Only 3?

Apr 17 - 05:26 PM

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