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Josh Schwartz To Pen X-Men: First Class

Twentieth Century Fox has hired TV show multihyphenite Josh Schwartz to write their X-MEN origins story X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, per VARIETY.

Schwartz is the creator and exec producer of CW's GOSSIP GIRL, NBC's CHUCK and Fox's former sensation THE O.C. The writing assignment could also include directorial duties, but so far Schwartz has opted out of that responsibility.

Lauren Shuler Donner will produce FIRST CLASS with MR. AND MRS. SMITH writer Simon Kinberg. Donner has produced all three prior X-MEN films.

Fox's last X-MEN outing, the Brett Ratner-directed X-MEN: THE LAST STAND, earned $459 million in 2006, and the studio has been looking for ways to keep the series alive, including using younger characters -- teenagers with powers taught at the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning.

FIRST CLASS will likely follow the 2006 Marvel comic of the same name, bringing in characters Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, Jean Grey, Professor X, who have all appeared in the previous films as major roles or in cameos.

FIRST CLASS could also result in its own sequels, joining Fox's spinoff MAGNETO film. The studio is also mulling a DEADPOOL spinoff, based on a character played by Ryan Reynolds in the upcoming WOLVERINE. Donner is producing MAGNETO.