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June 09 2006

X-Men Writer Talks Process. A mention of Joss' "Gifted" storyline, along with other background on the screenplay process for "The Last Stand".

Zak and I were certainly the ones on set everyday, who were fighting really hard to shoehorn everything into the movie that we loved about the books.

I'm no writer, but that doesn't strike me as the right approach to storytelling. I think the movie ended up with a "kitchen sink" feel because of this. Phoenix became an afterthought, characters like Kitty and Scott got short shrift. Even using Joss' cure story was probably a mistake, rather than making it more of a pure Phoenix story. You know: KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid).
Actually, I would rather have seen then remove the entire Phoenix storyline and focus more on the cure elements of the movie,had they decided to go one way or the other.

The first two movies, whilst focusing on the X-Men, had world changing events concerning the status of mutants going on as the central plot. Choosing to make the third and final part of this (hopefully first) trilogy only about Jean would have been a mistake, in my mind. The cure storyline provided exactly what was needed to make the trilogy complete and seem like a cohesive storyline concerning the place mutants have in the world. The Phoenix story is way too personal to the X-Men to properly provide that closure.

It might have been a better idea to have Jean return as the Phoenix in X3 and only start dropping hints about her turn to the dark side. Then maybe have the actual Phoenix story take place in X4, which would then stand alone as a continuation but seperate story to the first three X-movies.

However, things are what they are and frankly I really enjoyed X3, despite some small quibbles.
(1) I don't think the movie was all that bad. It was not the best of the X-Men movies, but I still throroughly enjoyed it.

(2) The movie was written under the gun, with studio heads breathing down everyone's necks, directors changing 3 times, and an unrealistic deadline. What ended up on screen was the best efforts of people who didn't have a whole lot of choice about the conditions they had to work with. I'm sure what ended up on screen was not fully the writers' decision, nor fully the director's decision. I've seen directors decimate good scripts, and producers decimate the work of everyone. What ended up on screen was still respectable, if not perfect.

(3) In terms of "KISS," I prefer to watch a story that isn't simple. You usually have to have a B story to keep compliment the A story. When done well, it makes the entire movie much more interesting. In the case of this movie, the two stories worked well together.

(4) Where they fell short - The Phoenix Saga was weak, because, while it gave some background on Jean to explain her other personality, it didn't do enough to show why Jean became such a psychotic killer that she would kill people she loved. There wasn't the ambiguity in the character that made her nearly as compelling as Magneto or some of the other characters. In terms of the Mutant Cure story, I don't think there was enough division among "the good guys." How much more interesting would the story have been if some of Xavier's people refused to stop Magneto, because they thought he was right?

Ultimately, though, I blame the writers for what went wrong with X-3 as much as I blame Joss for what went wrong with Alien Resurrection. I think a lot of what happened was out of their control, even as they fought to keep things in the movie that they had in their scripts.

[ edited by Nebula1400 on 2006-06-09 17:07 ]
If that kind of 'Frankenstein' approach to script-writing is really how the big studios do it now i'm not surprised there's so much dreck out there. Sounds like a recipe for uneven pacing and lack of focus (not to mention creating a lot of bad faith with the writers).

Yeah, X3 did feel a bit rushed with too many sub-plots which weren't resolved or at least not in a satisfying way (Rogue and Angel spring to mind) but I agree with Rob Macleod that the Phoenix story as they set it up in the film couldn't support the entire plot.

The cure was a great story idea which wasn't treated as well as it should have been, IMO. We have a 3 or 4 minute scene where each 'side' at the Xavier Institute voices its view and that's pretty much it but there's a huge amount of scope for conflict between well-meaning allies as well as between good and bad - despite Storm's apparent certainty that there was no need for a cure - since, as we see in the Astonishing X-Men comic, many mutations are unsightly, debilitating or painful (it's not all nigh invulnerability or wings of an angel). She's gently reminded of this by Beast but i'd have liked to see some mutants who were really suffering because of their mutations to test her conviction (or see her discuss it with Rogue fully) and likewise some acknowledgment that, flawed though his methods were, Magneto was actually right that as soon as they could the humans weaponised the cure for use against mutant kind.

That said I really enjoyed the movie as an experience and agree with Nebula1400 that it could have been much, much worse given the constraints people were working under. Even though I thought 1 and 2 were better films I think X3 was, in some ways, more fun since i'd been waiting since the end of X1 for a proper knock-down, drag-out fight between the mutants. And if Kitty got short shrift I still really liked the bits she was in, especially at the end (Scott, however, was just shafted).

Still have high hopes for 'Superman Returns' though.
I am a huge X-Men fan and have been for years. I have enjoyed the comics, books, and most of the visual media adaptations over the years. I'm also a fan and have greatly enjoyed this particular film franchise. I saw X3 and overall had a good time. I can honestly say I got my entertainment value out of the movie.

The production values were high and the special effects were very impressive in most spots. Also there was a good general representation of the different mutants and there unique mutations. The acting was strong enough; obviously some are more talented than others throughout the movie.

As for the storyline, it is very clear that part 1 of this interview sheds some light on the reason why certain mistakes were made. Simon Kinberg, Zak Penn and Fox made the wrong aspects the top priority. The entire story is too cluttered. These writers had the chance to either, have a truly emotional story involving Jean Grey and her powers (a recurring, often emotional and thought provoking arc in the X-Men universe) or look at the mutant struggle as a whole with the storyline of a mutant cure. To use both of these plot lines in the same movie was a mistake. The Phoenix story could have been a deeper look into how the X-Men now relate to Jean and struggle with decisions that could have been made on how to deal with her. And most of all there could have been a deeper look at what moral responsibility Professor Xavier had in what happened with Jean. (trying not to post a spoiler) There could have been a split in the X-Men over Xavier and his decision on how to handle Jean and her power (the movie plot concerning the Phoenix origin was a deviation from the comics, but it was an acceptable deviation) also the movie needed more of the love triangle between Scott, Jean and Logan.

The cure storyline could have could have been a brood look at the state of mutants in society and how society responds to this new group of people. This storyline could have been personalized by watching all our favorite X-men have different reactions to the cure (to be fair there is some of this in the movie but IMO not nearly enough). As previously stated in this thread this would have been an easy thing to do because the first two movies have established the range in the universe as far as the political response to the mutant condition all the way down to Joe Publics bigotry or acceptance.

I’m not going to blame Brett Ratner for the mistakes in the movie but I will blame the screenwriters and Fox to some extent.

I’m an X-Men fan. I thought the movie overall was entertaining. As far as the story…. Uhhh…. Me no like.

[ edited by Soulless Vampire ED on 2006-06-09 18:28 ]

[ edited by Soulless Vampire ED on 2006-06-09 18:57 ]
Personally, I liked that there was so much going on--yeah, not everything got the attention it deserved, but I'm glad of the crowded nature of the story.

(And really, when you think back to the Claremont heyday of the comic, there's nothing that spells X-Men as much as countless plotlines that might go unresolved for years.) :-)
Wow, Soulless Vampire ED pretty much summed up my feelings on the cure/Phoenix plots in the film.

They had a chance to make either plotline pack MUCH more of an emotional whallop than they did in the final version. The film as is was visually very good and fun to watch, but I think they bit off more plotline than they knew what to do with effectively.
Well I'll say one thing about X3, it gave us the only chance of seeing a Joss Whedon character (in the form of Doctor Rao) on screen this year.
Yeah I'm not quite sure what they were trying to do with Rao in the movie...
I'll be interested to see what deleted stuff shows up on the DVD, I would like to think there would be more with Dr. Rao, considering the talent of the actress involved.....
When Dr. Rao came onscreen during the movie, I leaned over and told a friend who is aware of my Joss worship excitedly, "That's her! That's a Joss character!" And then I was embarrassed when she did nothing. Later on he said, "Oh and I heard you mentioning the mutant that Joss Whedon created in Astonishing." I didn't bother correcting him.
I liked it more than I didn't. I wasn't impressed by much of the dialogue, but can I really complain when Joss passed on the project? Jean/Dark Phoenix definitely wasn't developed enough, and I'm certain of this fact because I'm behind on my comic reading. (I also started teaching again this year and have no life outside work at the moment -- but I made it to Slayage!) I had a general clue about who was who and the main events and so on, but for someone not completely familiar with the current comic, she was pretty hard to figure out. A couple co-workers not at all familiar with the comics felt the same way. Overall, I'd recommend the movie. :) I liked the mix of the two storylines, but I wish Jean had been developed more. And no offense to anyone, but Summer Glau would have made a better Kitty.
I think the movie ended up with a "kitchen sink" feel because of this.
What does kitchen sink mean?
As in everything but the . . . (kitchen sink).

I liked X3. Would have liked to have seen more Kitty, more Colossus, more Rogue, but there you go . . . And, frankly,
I like that site SNT, thanks.

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