I'm going to make this as brief as I can. As most of you know, the industry was somewhat stunned this afternoon when it was announced that Matthew Vaughn was stepping down from directing X-Men: Days of Future Past (IE - X-Men: First Class 2). The film is set to roll in early 2013 which means Fox will be scrambling for a replacement director. The rumor mill suggests that none other than Bryan Singer is being lured back to the director's chair for the franchise that he started twelve years ago. Jack and the Giant Slayer feels like a dud and Superman Returns nearly killed an iconic franchise. You know my thoughts on directors returning to franchises they walked away from long ago after a string of disappointments and you can know admit that I was right about Ridley Scott and Prometheus. I have another idea for who should helm the sequel. She is the co-writer of the last X-Men First Class and this upcoming sequel and she is a frequent collaborator with Mr. Vaughn having co-written nearly all of his projects since Stardust back in 2007 while also writing The Woman In Black just this year. If you want someone who is comfortable in the world established by Bryan Singer while also arguably offering a fresh perspective to a now-12 year old series, she's an obvious bet. That Jane Goldman is a "she" is a bonus.
I've written countless times about how white male filmmakers get handed the keys to major tentpole pictures with almost no experience and they keep getting more bites at the apple even when their product turns out to be sub-par and/or said films lose large amounts of money. With almost no experience on his resume aside from some commercials, Universal gave Rupert Sanders $175 million to make a stunningly mediocre Snow White and the Huntsman. Never mind that he delivered a lousy product, never mind that he got caught snogging the leading lady thus endangering the entire would-be franchise with which he was entrusted. He's still getting projects tossed his way. And never mind that complete neophyte Joseph Krosinski spent $175-$200 million on the dull-as-dishwater Tron: Legacy, a film so underwhelming that it killed the franchise despite making $400 million worldwide. He still gets to make Oblivion with Tom Cruise, which I certainly hope is better (frankly the fact that it's getting an advance IMAX-only release gives me hope). Marcus Nispel makes a mediocre Conan the Barbarian rip-off with Pathfinder and then somehow makes a Friday the 13th remake that is inferior to most of the 1980s sequels yet he still ends up with $90 million to make a Conan the Barbarian remake that few see and even fewer like.
By this standard, Jane Goldman damn-well deserves a shot at helming a franchise for which she seems to have a genuine understanding. Yes, part of this is about Fox taking the chance to shatter a glass ceiling that Marvel chickened out on. A 20th Century Fox X-Men picture will probably be a tightly controlled affair anyway, so why not let hire the next best thing to Matthew Vaughn? He'll stick around to produce it as will Bryan Singer, while the time travel sequel can lens under the command of the third member of the unofficial X-Men brain trust. And if it works, if Goldman delivers a solid picture, it will go a long way toward refuting the notion that female directors can't direct big-budget tent pole affairs. Marvel had a chance to make history with Patty Jenkins last year but tossed her off of Thor: The Dark World during pre-production for reasons never made clear. Lionsgate had a chance to do the same when Gary Marshall decided not to stay with the Hunger Games franchise but instead went with (the admittedly qualified) Francis Lawrence. 20th Century Fox now has a chance to be somewhat groundbreaking. For these reason, her obvious qualifications, her membership in the current unofficial X-Men brain trust, and the token social progress it will represent, I nominate Jane Goldman to helm X-Men: Days of Future Past.