Chris Claremont didn’t create the X-Men (that distinction, like so many others, goes to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby), but to the extent that any one person can be credited with the enduring popularity of Marvel’s Merry Mutants, it would almost certainly be him. In a landmark run that ran from 1975 to 1991 and encompassed not only lead series ‘Uncanny X-Men’ but also side books like ‘New Mutants’ and ‘Excalibur’. With a tenure spanning nearly two decades (not to mention his occasional return to the series in later years) it’s hardly surprising that several of Claremont’s stories have served as the basis for Fox’s ‘X-Men’ films.
One of those adaptations, in particular, has long been a sticking point for fans. That is, of course, ‘X-Men: The Last Stand‘. The third film in the series adapted, in perhaps the loosest sense of the word, the ‘Dark Phoenix Saga’. The comic book iteration of the story, by Claremont and artist John Byrne, is among the most iconic and well-regarded in the long history of the X-Men. The film, by contrast, was anything but.
That being the case, Fox is trying their hand at a do-over with this year’s ‘X-Men: Dark Phoenix’. While there are plenty of skeptical voices – given not only the fact that Fox previously dropped the ball with this story but also the generally lukewarm reception of ‘X-Men: Apocalypse‘ – Claremont himself is not among them. Speaking to Cinema Blend, the veteran ‘X-Men’ scribe shared his excitement for the upcoming film:
“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 ten 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.”
Despite his enthusiasm, Claremont nonetheless acknowledges that even all of the right ingredients don’t necessarily give you the results you hope for. To illustrate the point, he draws comparisons to the adaptation of another sci-fi classic:
“By the same token, I can think back ten 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.”
Directed by longtime producer Simon Kinberg, ‘X-Men: Dark Phoenix’ stars James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Tye Sheridan, Sophie Turner, Alexandra Shipp, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Evan Peters, Olivia Munn, and Jessica Chastain. The film is due for release on November 2, 2018.