No matter the skill of the director, competence in the writing and dynamic of the leads, there's always going to be certain restraint when making a prequel. The sky isn’t the limit. You can’t just go in any direction you want. There remains that sandbox forced to play in, when you’d prefer to try the swings instead.
That was the overriding issue with X-Men: First Class, a prequel that bucked the trend, thanks to its tight direction from Matthew Vaughn and the chemistry between James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender. Those two were such a great fit together; it was enough to make a whole trilogy about their budding friendship.
Unfortunately even when playing fast and loose with continuity (Noticeably the X-Mens without Bryan Singer's fingerprints), Charles Xavier had to be a paraplegic. Erik Lensherr still had to let his own demons get the better of him to become Magneto. Chuck and Erik couldn't overcome their differences and becomes lifelong pals. Then add to the equation the timeline between the Cuban Missile crisis finale of First Class and the "not-too-distant" future of 2000's X-Men.
That might be a couple of decades worth of happenings (Imagine the 70s set film with Dazzler and done to the tune of Moonraker or the Walter Hill-style 80s-set installment with the muscled-up Strong Guy) but it still loses suspense due to the rules already in place of what has to happen. Unless a deus ex machina comes along to mess everything up, like say, time travel and tampering resulting in a new streamlined series of events, perhaps?
Speaking to IGN Movies, producer Singer confirms those rumors from two months back. The forthcoming sequel to Matthew Vaughn's X-Men: First Class will be Days of Future Past. That's the well-regarded Chris Claremont/John Byrne story (Issues #141-142 of Uncanny X-Men, FYI) of a bleak future with mutants near extinction and a time-travel attempt to change that future.
This treads into murky territory for a franchise that, so far, has avoided such devices. It also comes off as playing second-fiddle to what J.J. Abrams already did with Star Trek. Rebooting thanks time-travel. Doesn't matter the intention. Makes it look as if they saw how great Trek turned out and said, "Hey we can do that too!" Loses a certain uniqueness, shall we say.
It's early on and truthfully as long as Singer and Vaughn are still onboard to shepherd the franchise, I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. But I have to admit, it's by a thread.