Friday, June 6, 2014

Opinion: Should Fox Double Down On X-23 Features?

This question is one I've been thinking about lately.  With the strong vocal powerful movement of women being tired of how they've been treated throughout this country's history, it's long time for that to change within cinema itself to start setting an example.

With the Hunger Games proving women are indeed a box office draw alongside a lot of gender stereotyped market cliches that need to be fought, it might be time to do that.

X-Force itself has been pushed back considerably, and X-Men: Apocalypse is slated for a 1980s time frame that leaves the present day X-Men open for exploration in this new established future.  Fox may want to push for their own serial film series that beats out other studios to this female lead superhero trend.  Even Marvel themselves are a bit behind on this as they've yet to tap the audience favorite Black Widow for her own solo movie and haven't announced such a film for their phase 3 lineup yet.  There is an open window right now that no studio is using.  Even Warner Bros has pushed back their Wonder Woman solo movie by a few years.  Over at Sony, they're still 4 years minimum away from doing a Black Cat solo feature if one is even in the cards.

There's a window here to generate positive press if Fox were willing to take advantage of it.  They could dive headfirst into bringing X-23 to the big screen to beat out these other studios and be the first to do a serious female comic hero film while audiences are already literally begging for one.  So maybe they should outright double down into that.

There's been a couple different ways to do this that I've talked about before.  In particular, a good approach would be to possibly speed X-Force up a bit and use the "Old Ghosts" story for that instead of a Cable led Apocalypse feature.  In doing this they could cast Selena Gomez as X-23, that then spins her off into her own solo serial franchise for after that point.  There's also the possibility of letting Ms. Gomez portray Laura Kinney for a NYX feature film.  In the nature of doubling down though, they could also film an X-23 origin feature at the same time that featured Lucy Hale as the title character.  With two actresses portraying the same character, they have more leeway to expand on the story and have rapid fire releases.  This also plays up to the aspects of prepping a Not Forgotten sequel by using the previously mentioned Daughters of Darkness story conveyance method. By doing it this manner, Kimura appears in the origin, but doesn't again again until Not Forgotten.  So if they do cast Naya Rivera as Kimura, that allows her to do both films without being worn out from filming two at once.  She could do the origin feature while NYX: Wannabes or the "Old Ghosts" feature is being filmed, and then could do the Not Forgotten film with the X-Force cast when they move on to the sequel.  That's not the only approach that could be taken though.  I'm just personally leaning really heavily on trying to think of a way both Lucy Hale and Selena Gomez could portray the title role in some fashion.  Both actresses present much to the table on it.  There's even the possibility of letting Ms. Gomez portray Kimura, and Ms. Hale portraying Laura Kinney for the origin feature itself.  Though I've yet to put much thought into that direction itself.  There's also X-23's sisters that a future sequel could dive into too.

The best method right now with how far off X-Force is might be to do NYX with Selena Gomez, the origin tale with Lucy Hale, then back to Ms. Gomez or Ms. Hale for X-Force possibly depending on the director's vision.  This would also give us the establishment of X-23 in an ensemble cast that spring boards into a solo feature and gives some time leeway with the filming to allow for Ms. Hale's current pursuits and obligations(assuming she's interested in the role at least).  Between this and a direct to DVD short film collection that allows Fox to test out directors and other factors, we could have a multi-faceted approach to creating audience retention and awareness to build an intellectual property into sustaining itself for the long term.  It also leaves the door open for Ms. Hale to reprise the role in other movies or forays like a TV show if Academy X were adapted for the small screen, but also dependent upon audience reception(which should be positive anyway).

These are the pieces I'm trying to figure out right now on how they could balance to each other.

The perks to doing the Daughters of Darkness short film method also yields an interesting potential for Fox.  They can test out many new directors under the same feature to see who they may want to tap for later on films.  This would give them a drawing on point as well as help establish the character to audiences while expanding on their freshly minted X-Men universe's present day.  So going in these directions overall works in Fox's favor for their best returns on multiple levels.

All around, it's beyond time for a studio to step up to the plate and do a comic based solo heroine feature film.  With all that X-23 could do film-wise and the various marketing angles that can be taken that would make a difference in lives outright.  She's a candidate that shouldn't be ignored.  It'd be rather fitting that the daughter of Wolverine is the first one to come of age in this climate and claws her way to the top.

On the merchandising front, I find it intriguing to lean on Daughters of Darkness for an X-23 toy line.  Not only does it present an interesting chance to challenge notions of the toy market, it gives them a dual layer of merchandising.  You have the doll variety and typical action figure variety outright.  This could be a chance to combat against the notion that boys don't buy figures of girls and also challenge the claim that girls don't buy action figures at the same time.  It'd also allow for multiple actresses to be well represented by Hasbro in an action figure line.

It'd prove network execs were only making excuses in blaming the strong viewership of women for Young Justice being why their toy line failed.  The real reason being the obvious toys that lacked any play factor to them outside of the larger figures that were more costly to produce and had the price tag to show it as well as took up too much shelf space with retailers leery of them from how poorly the mainline sold.  Yes that's right, instead of looking into the real factors of why the line did poorly, network execs outright blamed women for it.  They stated that Young Justice was canceled not because of ratings, but because women were watching it instead of boys.  Goes to show how allergic to money many executives are that they'd cancel a show with strong ratings simply because the ratings are women who allegedly don't buy "boys toys."  Never mind the fact that the toy line itself wasn't appealing to either gender to begin with.

It all rests in Fox's hands right now.  If they manage to get an X-23 feature off the ground and rather quickly, depending upon the story used, they have many marketing directions that could be taken and press it could generate.  It's just a matter of how to approach it.  There's a lot to balance here, but any way you look at it, the audience and studio win big.

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