Last week we heard rumors here that Kick-Ass helmer Matthew Vaughn had passed on directing Fox’s new prequel X-Men: First Class. Now word is that he’s back in and their leading candidate for the job.

The rumor comes from Deadline where they say the deal isn’t done yet, but “s being negotiated right now.” I guess that depends on what you think of Matthew Vaughn and his last effort, Kick-Ass.

In a way, it’s sort of surprising that Fox would even consider hiring him for such a high-profile project. Vaughn’s movies to date have hardly been box office blockbusters. Both Kick-Ass and Stardust seriously underperformed by almost any estimation. Maybe they make their budget back, but when it came to finding an audience, both movies were huge disappointments.

Then there’s Kick-Ass itself. The movie is kind of like a shock-version of what First Class will be. So maybe that’s a good thing, Vaughn at least has experience with the genre. But Kick-Ass, whatever you think of it, is a fairly uneven experience. The movie’s main character is abandoned for long stretches to follow side characters and if the film has one, glaring weakness, it’s that Vaughn never seemed to juggle the demands of handling an ensemble in quite the right manner.

Given these things, it’s hard to imagine Fox offering him the job, though after the box office disappointment of Kick-Ass I guess it’s easy to see Vaughn taking it. In the past he’s been adamant about his desire to work outside the studio system where he can remain independent and do movies in his own way. But after two sequential underperformers, the guy’s probably going to have trouble raising funding for his next project on his own. Becoming a big-budget studio director may be his only real option at this point.

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