Shaky future for X-Men franchise

I’m worried. I’m really worried. As I write this, we are only four months away from “X3.”

I should be ecstatic. I loved the X-Men comics when I was a kid. There’s something about these mutants, ostracized by society because of their unique gifts that normal people fear or don’t understand, that resonates with just about everybody. Plus, Wolverine is just about the coolest comic book character ever.

I loved the first X-Men movie. Of all the superhero movies that have been released in the last few years, this one seems to make the most sense. The bad guys aren’t crazy freaks – they just feel that they are superior to humanity. “X2” wasn’t quite as philosophical, but it kicked freakin’ ass in so many ways that many people thought it was an even better film.

Now, there are many reasons for people to be excited about “X3.” Fan favorite characters like Beast, Juggernaut, Angel and Psylocke are appearing for the first time in the movies. The Phoenix storyline, which is how “X2” ended, is going to play a major part in this film. And even though Nightcrawler won’t be back, the rest of the cast will be in all of their glory.

Unfortunately, these movies are still movies, and without proper direction, they are going to fail. Bryan Singer directed the first two X-Men movies and was all set to do a third — then “Superman” came along.

Singer has always expressed a desire to do a Superman film and, for him, doing such a good job on the X-Men films allowed him to do just that. But even before X-Men, Singer directed “The Usual Suspects,” a terrific film that many consider a must-see.

Now, there are plenty of good directors out there who could have done an incredible job on “X3.” So it drives fanboys like me crazy that the X-Men movie franchise is in the hands of Brett Ratner.

If you don’t know the name, you know his films. He’s probably best known for “Rush Hour” and “Rush Hour 2.” Those are good popcorn films for people with below average IQs who don’t mind convoluted plots so long as there are lots of ninjas and explosions. He’s also directed not one, but TWO Mariah Carey videos!

Unfortunately, though his movies aren’t worthy of any critical praise, they have made a lot of money, and that’s all that Twentieth Century Fox seems to care about.

There is hope that it will take a lot to ruin an already-successful franchise, but word has it that a script has circulated around. It is supposedly the one that Ratner is using, and it is not good. Basically, it throws everything established in the first two films out the window, which is not a good thing.

Will “X3” kill the X-Men franchise? I seriously doubt it. There are so many fans of X-Men, and so many new fans since the movies came out, that as long as their favorite characters are there and someone like Freddie Prinze Jr. as the dull mutant “Tool-O” is not, the film will likely make a lot of money.

I will see it, but until I do, I will be constantly worried, and I shouldn’t be feeling this way at all after the first two films.