Going back to the beginning of this generation of comic book movies, they’ve always done a good job of sticking to the source material, at least vaguely. The era’s grand-daddy, the Raimi/Maguire Spider-Man series, covered Spiderman No More, Venom’s first appearance, Harry Osborn’s descent into madness and the deaths of Gwen Stacy and Jean DeWolff — all in three short movies over five short years without even casting the characters who have to die.
The original X-Men trilogy wasn’t far behind, covering The Dark Phoenix Saga and the 1982 graphic novel God Loves, Man Kills. The Nolan/Bale Batman series arguably pushed this to perfection, taking the character’s most famous graphic novels, condensing them and putting them in order with added dashes of damsels in distress, Heath Ledger and Ra’s al Ghul.
But when The Dark Knight Rises rolled around, it developed an interesting problem. Producers readily released the movie would be based on Knightfall, No Man’s Land and The Dark Knight Returns, and Bane was cast as the lead villain along with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard. And with just that information, pretty much everyone knew exactly what was going to happen. Nolan spent the next year telling bold-faced lies about Gordon-Levitt’s and Cotillard’s characters and managed to be a little surprising, if only because of how poor the film was. But the film betrayed a weakness that Fox hasn’t learned from.
As a matter of fact, they’re magnifying it with their next film, X-Men: Days of Future Past. Out of all these series, this is the first movie to actually put its source material in the title. Director/producer/Lord of the X-Men Bryan Singer has already announced X-Men: [Age of] Apocalypse and X-Force movies for 2016, with Stephen Lang rumored to be cast as Cable. Even with no details, astute observers have a very specific idea of how Days of Future Past will end and a solid idea of how the next two movies will interact with each other.
None of this rules any of these movies out from being any good, but when your audience has a good idea of how movies that don’t even have a script yet are going to turn out, you’ve got problems.