CHRIS CLAREMONT's X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST Movie Musings
Newsarama talked to Claremont, who had some advice for director Bryan Singer, as the time-travel film merging the original three X-movies with 2011's First Class is set to start production next month.
"The challenge, I would think, for Bryan is that the heart of the original story is not the fight with the Brotherhood back in the present day," Claremont said. "The challenge, the story, is actually what happens in the future. Getting them to the point where you can send Kitty back, and seeing the consequences of what will happen if they fail, and not knowing at the end how it's going to turn out.
Claremont was the main X-Men writer from 1975 to 1991, and returned to the franchise in 2000, where he worked on various books — including two returns to flagship series Uncanny X-Men — until early 2011, where his last Marvel stories to date, X-Men Forever and Chaos War: X-Men, were published.
In his time on the X-Men, he wrote noted stories including "God Loves, Man Kills," "The Dark Phoenix Saga" and the 1991 adjectiveless X-Men launch with Jim Lee that the Guinness Book of World Records has dubbed the best-selling single issue comic book of all time. His co-creations include Rogue, Emma Frost, Gambit, Mystique and Sabretooth; all of whom have been portrayed on screen in the X-Men films.
Given his track record, one would expect Claremont to watch these movies very closely — and he does.
and Chris Claremont."You can't not be invested," Claremont said. "That's pretty much most of my working life, dancing around or through the X-Men as a concept."
Yet overall, Claremont is noticeably positive about the X-Men movie franchise; crediting Lauren Shuler Donner, who's produced every entry thus far, including the two upcoming films.
"Cliché as it sounds, the concept of the films from my perspective as audience owes so much to Lauren as producer, bringing all this stuff together, finding the right people in terms of making the films, and then just picking the ideal cast," Claremont said, calling actors like Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen "extraordinary talents."
Despite having spent so many years writing the X-Men, Claremont says he hasn't gotten hung up on the inevitable changes made in live-action adaptations, from plot alterations to the traditionally diminutive Wolverine being played by the 6'2" Jackman.
The writer is effusive with his praise for the significant role the first X-Men film played in both the movie and comic book industries, and calls the First Class cast "just great." Claremont even has some nice things to say about one of most critically maligned X-movies — 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand.
"You could argue, maybe they shoulda woulda coulda done this," he said. "On the other hand, it was equally successful, and in its own way it capped off the trilogy. And probably demonstrated to Bryan that he shouldn't have gone off and done Superman."
Claremont is a little less positive about 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine — which also got rough reviews from fans and critics — but more due of his strong thoughts on revealing Wolverine's back story rather than the film itself.
While Claremont is optimistic about both The Wolverine and Days of Future Past films, he states that he doesn't know much currently about the former — saying it's "evolved somewhat" from its original starting point of the 1982 comic — and that he's not quite sure how exactly Days will work, given the amount of elements and characters it looks to be combining, and the timeline discrpancies between First Class and the rest of the movies. But he's eager to see it come together.
"You could look at it as time travel, or you could look at it as pan-dimension," Claremont said. "It's all a matter of how you want to define it, and I'm sure they've got some brainiacs out on the left coast earning a small research stipend figuring out a plausible way of making it fly. That's the fun and games of Hollywood.
Claremont has been focusing on prose work as of late, and recently released his novels Dragon Moon and FirstFlight in an ebook format for the first time. He's also got a busy convention schedule this year — he appeared last month at Wizard World Portland, and was at Emerald City Comicon this past weekend; with Megacon in Orlando, a Free Comic Book Day appearance at Mile High Comics and Ottawa Comicon all on the horizon. Though he doesn't have anything currently in the works at Marvel, he isn't ruling out a return to the publisher in the future.
Claremont hasn't been directly involved with the production of the X-Men films other than a cameo in The Last Stand, but he sounds grateful to have worked in the comparatively lower-stakes world of comic books.
The biggest hope Claremont seems to have for X-Men: Days of Future Past is that the underlying themes of the original story don't get lost in the requisite action-movie trappings.
"The really nice thing with Future Past is that you actually have a superhero film — much to everyone's surprise, I will hope — that is about something," Claremont said. "It's about racism, I hope. It's about resisting oppression. It's about fighting for freedom and the cost of fighting for freedom. I will be fascinated to see how they weave the two together."More from Newsarama:
- Now and Then: 10 Mind-Bending TIME TRAVEL Stories in Comics
- What We Know About 2014's X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST Movie
- Behind Magneto's UNCANNY X-MEN Motives