Bryan Singer to Helm 'X-Men: Days of Future Past'

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The man who transformed Stan Lee's uncanny X-Men into some of the biggest superheroes of the cinema is returning to the franchise for the follow-up to X-Men: First Class.

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Bryan Singer, who directed both 2000's X-Men and 2003's X2 (also known as X-Men United), as well as shepherded the franchise's recent First Class prequel, will step in to the director's chair for the departed Matthew Vaughn to helm X-Men: Days of Future Past, according to Deadline.

Singer's absence from the franchise has been bemoaned by fans ever since Brett Ratner took over in 2006 with the commercially successful but generally panned X-Men: The Last Stand. The 47-year-old director's presence on the new film is a welcome boost to the franchise since the plot of the new film -- said to be inspired by an Uncanny X-Men comic book storyline that ran back in 1981 -- contains a complicated time-travel storyline and alternate future scenario that bridges the gap between mutants of the past and mutants of the future.

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X-Men: Days of Future Past is expected to arrive in theaters on July 18, 2014.