X-Men: First Class may have only just begun production in London, but writer-director Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, Layer Cake) has already made himself the most visible filmmaker associated with "Superhero Summer" (i.e., next summer). Last week, Vaughn went on the record about a last-minute change he and co-screenwriter Jane Goldman (Stardust) made to X-Men: First Class after seeing Christopher Nolan's Inception. Vaughn decided to replace a centerpiece action scene due to its similarity to Inception's gravity-defying hotel hallway scene.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Vaughn discusses why he decided to return to big-budget, studio-financed superheroes (as opposed to the indie route he took with Kick-Ass) after leaving X-Men: The Last Stand four years ago:

"It's been mined to death and in some cases the quality control is not what it's supposed to be," Vaughn said. "People are just going to get bored of it." Vaughn says he pounced on the chance to make a film about the uncanny mutants from Marvel Comics because he expects the current boom in superhero cinema to fizzle out in the near future. "I've always wanted to do a big-budget superhero film and I think we've kind of crossed the Rubicon with superhero films," Vaughn said. "I think [the opportunity to do one], it's only going to be there two or three more times."

While that sounds like hyperbole, especially from a filmmaker who's shown little reluctance in the past for speaking his mind to the press, he may have a point. In addition to X-Men: First Class, next summer moviegoers will get a chance to see Thor: The Mighty Avenger, Captain America: The First Avenger, and Green Lantern. With the exception of Green Lantern, a DC Comics property, the other entries in the superhero genre are based on Marvel Comics' properties. Of those three, however, Marvel controls only Thor: The Mighty Avenger and Captain America: The First Avenger. 20th Century Fox controls the X-Men characters and Sony controls Spider-Man and associated characters. A rebooted Spider-Man film is due in 2012 along with Marvel's ambitious shared universe project, The Avengers.

And that's not even counting other marginal properties like The Green Hornet (due in January 2011, a.k.a. "dump" month), but setting aside lesser known characters, will moviegoers suffer superhero fatigue by the time The Avengers hits theaters in 2012? Everything, of course, depends on the quality (or lack thereof) of next summer's entries in the superhero genre, including Vaughn's. Vaughn may want to direct a big-budget blockbuster in the superhero genre before moviegoers lose interest, but he signed on to direct and revise the screenplay for X-Men: First Class with an inflexible release date, something he claims drove him away from X-Men: The Last Stand.

Fans of the superhero genre, especially fans of the X-Men characters and universe (this writer included), certainly want Vaughn to succeed, but with two X-Men-related disappointments in a row (X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men: The Last Stand) in the last four years, skepticism isn't just healthy, it's also necessary.

So what do you think of Vaughn's comments? Is he right or is it too soon to make general statements about the state of the superhero genre? And just, if not more, importantly, are you looking forward to seeing four superhero films next summer?