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In the last 18 years, we've seen some classic X-Men stories adapted to the big screen, but certainly one of the most notorious efforts made by the franchise is Brett Ratner's X-Men: The Last Stand. A take on the legendary Dark Phoenix story from the comics, fans and critics dismissed it for not only being an overcrowded mess, but for being a poor adaptation of the source material. Now, writer/director Simon Kinberg is trying to redeem that work with his upcoming X-Men: Dark Phoenix -- but while some may be skeptical about the effort, the actual writer of the original story, Chris Claremont, has reason to be excited:
After X2, I couldn't wait for X3. I was figuring, 'Holy cow, Bryan [Singer] will do the Phoenix Saga the way it should be done.' Well... guess again! Bryan didn't do it. But the point is, cut ahead 10 years, and Simon Kinberg is doing it, and Simon is doing it not only as a work of craft, but as a labor of love. This is something he wanted to do, and wants to do supremely well. And from everything I've seen and heard about the production, he's going at it full bore. So it's a matter of putting the right people in the right place at the right time with the right tools, and keeping your fingers crossed.
From the mid-1970s to the early 1990s, Chris Claremont was the man at Marvel Comics guiding the future of the fan-favorite X-Men franchise, and I recently had the chance to speak with him about that legacy during a one-on-one interview. During a conversation promoting the new documentary Chris Claremont's X-Men, I asked the great writer how he felt about the upcoming second adaptation of his most famous storyline, and while he definitely has some regrets about the way the arc was treated on the big screen in the past, he has reason to be optimistic about the future. Specifically, it sounds like he has a lot of faith in writer/director Simon Kinberg and his vision for doing a proper live-action version.
In Chris Claremont's The Dark Phoenix Saga, the mutant Jean Grey is exposed to a special intergalactic force that not only wakes an incredible power within her, but causes a notable shift in morals and alliances. In adapting it, Brett Ratner's X-Men: The Last Stand was criticized for A) ignoring the cosmic element, and B) having Wolverine as the main protagonist, but those are issues being fixed in Simon Kinberg's upcoming film, X-Men: Dark Phoenix. Not only will Sophie Turner's Jean actually be the central hero this time, but it's been promised that the blockbuster will be the first that sees the titular mutant team head to space.
Of course, things can go badly too, and Chris Claremont recognizes it. While the famed comic book writer seems to have a lot of confidence in what's being done with the big screen franchise, he also pointed out that it's still very possible for things to not turn out so well. Providing a rough example, he told me,
By the same token, I can think back 10 years to when everybody had that same expectation for John Carter: Warlord of Mars. And they spent a quarter billion dollars on that movie, and it looks gorgeous, and what a clanker! You never know what's going to work; you never know what isn't going to work.
We'll continue having our fingers tightly crossed for X-Men: Dark Phoenix -- which is scheduled to head to theaters on November 2nd. In the meantime, you can watch Chris Claremont's X-Men now, available for digital rental and purchase.