Has the X-Men "Hellfire" Series Been "Reimagined" at Fox?

Monday, 08 August 2016 - 1:31PM
X-Men
Monday, 08 August 2016 - 1:31PM
Has the X-Men "Hellfire" Series Been "Reimagined" at Fox?
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Is Hellfire coming out of development hell? Last year, Fox announced that they were developing two X-Men series: Hellfire, which would be based on Marvel Comics' Hellfire Club, and Legion, which would be a character drama about Professor X's son. But of the two shows, only Legion has made it to the production phase, and Hellfire seemed to be all but dead. Now, Jeph Loeb teases that the show is being "reimagined" at Fox, although its fate is still very much up in the air.

Hellfire was announced last October, along with Legion, as the first television collaborations between Fox and Marvel. The show would tell the story of Marvel Comics' Hellfire Club, an international social club for wealthy elites that has a secret agenda to take over the world. Members have included classic X-Men villains such as Emma Frost, Magneto, and Sebastian Shaw, and the club was featured heavily in X-Men: First Class.

But then, only Legion was ordered to pilot/series at FX, while Hellfire languished in the pre-production phase, and we've hardly heard about it since. Our last update came from Simon Kinberg, who said in June, "Hellfire we're really trying to figure out," which didn't sound particularly promising. Now, Jeph Loeb said at TCA (via Slashfilm) that Hellfire was being "re-imagined" at Fox, and is now referred to as Fox Untitled Project.

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"The original concept that we had with the folks at Fox has been, let's say, re-imagined by Matt Nix," Loeb said.
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It's unclear whether Hellfire is really being "re-imagined" or whether this is a euphemism, since Matt Nix (Burn Notice, The Good Guys) is supposed to be showrunner for another X-Men show entirely. Last month, it was announced that Nix would head up an as-yet-untitled X-Men show that follows a pair of ordinary parents who discover that their children possess mutant powers and go on the run from the corrupt government, which sounds much more like Midnight Special than anything having to do with the Hellfire Club. And from Fox CEO Dana Walden's statements, it seems to be mostly a different animal:

Opening quote
"There will be some iconic characters but mostly this is about a new family," Walden said at TCA (via Slashfilm). "It's about an average family who encounters this extraordinary world and children who have mutant powers and they end up on the run, so it's a little bit underground railroad in terms of a storytelling spine."
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So there's still a chance that there's a connection between Hellfire and the untitled show, most likely that the Hellfire Club is one of the organizations that is coming after the children. But it's definitely a very different show in its tone and feel, since Walden was open about the fact that the original script for Hellfire felt too much like an X-Men movie rather than a television series:

Opening quote
"We did see an early draft of Hellfire and there was a lot of work to be done," Walden said. "Manny and Evan were getting very busy with the new 24. At a certain point we all regrouped, together with Simon Kinberg and Bryan Singer and Lauren Shuler Donner and Jeph Loeb at Marvel and really made a decision. I would say if there was anything about Hellfire that was not ideal for us, it felt like a show that wanted to live as a feature rather than really taking advantage of what television does best: exploring relationships and characters and smaller moments. It doesn't mean it can't feel like a big show but Hellfire felt more like another installment of the features."
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Legion, which stars Dan Stevens and Aubrey Plaza, is a perfect example of television-appropriate storytelling, since it's billed as a Breaking Bad-esque dark character drama. That pilot has been ordered for early 2017, while a pilot for Fox Untitled Project will likely be ready for fall 2017.

"It's a traditional pilot schedule so we anticipate it would be available for next fall or midseason," Walden said.
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