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Hi, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab...

My, oh, my... now it’s getting interesting.

When we broke the word that Matthew Vaughn was leaving X3 as director, we tried our best to pry some hints out of Avi or Lauren Shuler-Donner about who might be stepping in to take over the helm. Both of them played incredibly coy, with Avi telling me that the director was someone whose name came up the first time around, but who was busy at that point. “Now that we are further down the road, obligations have changed,” Avi said, “and suddenly someone is available, which is wonderful for us.” Lauren said, “We’re trading up.” They both sounded pleased, but weren’t about to spill the beans.

Another source close to the production dropped a few more hints. “Fans are going to be... vocal... when they hear who it is,” she said. “It’s one of those names. It’s someone who studios like, who is considered an A-list director, but sort of by default.” No matter what, though, my source wouldn’t give me a name.

I mean, I had a few guesses. I was kidding when I mentioned Joss Whedon yesterday. As our TalkBackers were happy to point out, Joss has said that unless he was writing the film, he wouldn’t be interested in stepping in, and I get that. He’s had a chance to work out his X-MEN jones on the comic page, so it’s not like he’s got to do it, or he’ll never be able to tell the stories. In fact, right now, he’s got control of the X-MEN stories he wants to tell, and budget’s not an issue. Making a movie for Fox would be like a step backwards for him, because you’re playing by someone else’s rules, you’re juggling movie star schedules and desires, and you’re having to satisfy the studio and meet their impossible schedule for a set amount of money. My guesses were Francis Lawrence and Zack Snyder. Snyder was one of the names that was supposedly short-listed the first time around, and Francis Lawrence seemed to have a great relationship with Shuler-Donner on CONSTANTINE. But both guys are developing other films right now, with Lawrence allegedly prepping I AM LEGEND and Snyder working on 300 for Warner. And neither one of them seemed like they’d cause much of a stir among fandom... at least nothing on the magnitude that my source had suggested.

Talking to another source today, I mentioned that I wanted to run two names by them. “Okay. You’ve got that right... it’s down to two names.” I tried out Snyder and Lawrence and got a laugh in response. “Nope. Not even close.” They told me the two names that they heard, and suddenly all the clues made sense. I spent the rest of the day trying to get someone from Marvel to comment, while Harry worked on getting Shuler-Donner to respond. Now, understandably, they’re sort of busy right now, so it didn’t surprise me that no one got back to us.

At least, not until late tonight, when I got the two names confirmed from inside the Pico lot, from a spy I’ll call “Putch Harker,” who tells me that we’ll have an announcement very soon. So either we’ll have X3 directed by John Moore, who did solid, sturdy jobs with both BEHIND ENEMY LINES and FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX, or...

... brace yourselves...

... Brett Ratner.

Now go back and read those clues that everyone gave me at the start of the piece. Makes sense, doesn’t it? What just fell apart? RUSH HOUR 3. Ratner’s definitely considered an A-list filmmaker. And he’s certainly one of ”those” names. Right now, I’d bet he’s the guy who’s going to end up in the chair by the start of the week.

Which raises the question... which X-MEN 3 is he going to make? The one that Matthew Vaughn left behind, that famous “six day script,” which is still evidently being revised by Kinberg and Penn as we speak? Or something else? With only nine weeks left to go until the film starts shooting, it would seem like they’re pretty much locked into what they’re going to be doing. It’d be nice to know what the general plot is... which characters are definitely in it, and what they’re doing... wouldn’t it?

Well, stay tuned, because as soon as Marvel confirms their choice of director, we’ll be back with a brand-new spy and your first look at the plot of X3. And Avi Arad wasn’t kidding when he called the film “controversial,” either. Three major characters that absolutely should not die, die. Really dead, too. Not Spock Dead. And one mutant who should not lose her powers, loses her powers permanently. Really loses them, too. Not SUPERMAN II loses them. And the sex scene... when you see who does what to who... oh, boy. The entire X-MEN universe may face some incredible overhauls, and it's going to be fascinating to see what fandom does when faced with this stuff. But all that's for next week. Until then...

"Moriarty" out.

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