Chris Claremont Would Love To See DARK PHOENIX Adapted As A GAME OF THRONES-Style Miniseries - EXCLUSIVE

With X-Men: Dark Phoenix making its Blu-ray debut today, we were recently granted an exclusive opportunity to sit down with legendary comic book writer Chris Claremont to talk about his iconic storyline.

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20th Century Fox's X-Men: Dark Phoenix is now available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD, and to mark the occasion, we were recently granted an exclusive opportunity to sit down with legendary comic book writer Chris Claremont to chat about his career and the most recent adaptation of arguably his most iconic storyline ever. 

In addition to "The Dark Phoenix Saga," Claremont also penned "Days of Future Past," "God Loves, Man Kills," "Wolverine" and many more X-Men stories that remain among the best of the best decades later. 

In our lengthy chat, Claremont discussed the new Simon Kinberg-directed movie, sharing his thoughts on why just one film has proven to be too short to fully adapt the complex Dark Phoenix arc, and revealed why he believes a miniseries in the same vein as HBO's Game of Thrones would be a better way to bring that story to life. 

He also briefly touches on what happened between X2 and X3 that changed the trajectory of the X-franchise, and expresses his immense gratitude toward Simon Kinberg and Sophie Turner for the effort they made to bring a more accurate Dark Phoenix adaptation to the big screen, despite all the unforeseen challenges they faced with the now-finalized Disney merger. 

Then, finally, Claremont takes us behind his process of creating and developing some of the most beloved X-Men characters of all-time and reveals when we can expect his next work. 

ROHAN: Dark Phoenix is obviously inspired by your classic tale, so how involved were you with the initial production and the conception of the script and everything?

CHRIS CLAREMONT: Not very much. I mean, but that's standard operating procedure with comic book-related films.

Simon Kinberg had a very strong vision of what he wanted the story to be. He and I have known each other for a heckuva long time since X3 I believe and we were both on the same page in terms of what we wanted the film to accomplish, but since he was acting as writer and director of the film, he was following his vision. I was basically sitting on the sidelines rooting for him with all my heart.

ROHAN: We’ve seen your story adapted twice now, with Dark Phoenix and X-Men: The Last Stand, and it’s a very complex and intricate arc that has proven to be somewhat difficult to fit into one film based on the results we’ve seen from the two live-action adaptations.

I know Kinberg had originally planned for maybe two movies to tell this story before the Disney merger, so do you think multiple films would help adapt Dark Phoenix more effectively, or perhaps something like a HBO-quality (or Disney+) series?

CHRIS: Actually, I do believe that the most appropriate form - especially with today's production technology and more importantly, the size of flat screen TVs - would be a miniseries along the lines of Game of Thrones.

So, you could start with the actual Phoenix story, with her transformation into Phoenix and build up to Phoenix saving the universe in X-Men #107/108 and then, going on to Dark Phoenix because to me, the key of the story arc is that you need to fall in love with Jean, much as Scott does, and you need to get to know Scott and Jean. You need to bond with them as characters, as people and then, follow them on this incredible roller coaster ride.

The thing to bear in mind, if you want to take it by comparison, when you get to the last two years of Game of Thrones, the arrival of the Night King and the Battle of Winterfell, you’re seeing people that you know, people that you’ve cared about for ten years, dying and that moment where Arya Stark comes out of nowhere and deals with the villain and wins the day is breathtaking because, WOW, it's the one person you know is right to do this, but, how can she do this? How can she defeat the Night King? Well, you already had a few seasons of her training to get you mentally prepared to accept her defeating this all-powerful villain and now, with the Night King dealt with, you've got another half-season of stuff to get through just to deal with the Lannisters.

That's the point, that kind of arc, that is so clear that you can make in a TV series. I mean, imagine compressing Game of Thrones into two and a quarter hour movie? The sheer amount of cuts you would have to make. I mean, look at the amount of cuts they had to make to get it all into a TV series, much less a movie.

The same applies with the Phoenix story. If you don't lose your heart to Jean as Scott does, then all of the stuff doesn't have any impact, but if you love her as he does, if you care for her as the other X-Men do, if you see that she is a truly good and heroic person who has been caught up in this omniscient force to the extent where she has to make a significant primal, moral choice, it’s so much more effective if you have the time to develop that link with her and the most challenging aspect of doing a feature film is time.

One of the things that Simon achieved in this film is he made you fall for her, he made you feel her pain as she goes through the yin and yang of “Oh my gosh I’ve got this great power. Oh my God, what have I done to Mystique?” She gets swept up in the passion as she gets seduced by the D’Bari. It’s a roller coaster, but being that it’s a feature film, it’s a very intense, but very short roller coaster and what I’d like to do - the reason I talk in terms of a TV series, for example - is I want to stretch it out. I want to prolong the commitment of the audience and the agony they feel.

ROHAN: Completely agree, a Dark Phoenix miniseries - or any X-Men series - would be awesome and would give viewers much more time to digest some of these iconic storylines and bond with the characters, just like what Game of Thrones and the Marvel Cinematic Universe were able to accomplish over the past decade.

CHRIS: You have to remember in the original storyline, it started with issue 100 and culminated with issue 137 - that’s three years, actually closer to four since the first half-dozen/dozen issues were bi-monthly, so you had this formidable amount of time for the readers to bond with the characters and then we just kept pulling the rug out from under them with every issue. We need to find a way to do that in any media adaptation.

ROHAN: A lot of your classic tales have been adapted into films. X2 was loosely based on "God Loves, Man Kills" and then there’s, of course, "Days of Future Past"---

CHRIS: Well, aside from Stryker, X2 had nothing to do with that story. The problem with that is God Loves, Man Kills was a very specific morality tale. That is one of the few things that I find regrettable about that film is that they took something that should have been a standalone story on its own, which - as a printed piece, is heartbreakingly as relevant today as it was forty years ago when we first when it first became published - it should never have been an afterthought of another film, but that’s again, Bryan’s decision as director and Fox’s decision as the production company, so I have conflicted visions as it relates to that specific element.

However, with that said, X2 was by far the most powerful of that first trilogy and when it ended, it left me, as both the creator of the source material and as a member of the audience, waiting with bated breath for X3.

Heartbreakingly, the shenanigans that occurred in getting X3 to the point where they should start making it prevented it from effectively happening the way we wanted. The thing I find most heartening though was Simon, when he came back to that story ten years later, came back to it with a perspective that “I'm gonna do it right to the best of my ability” and I think, as a member of the audience, but more importantly, as a creator of the source material, I believe he pulled it off. Against more odds than any director or screenwriter should have to deal with, but he still did it anyway.

I think Sophie Turner fulfilled all the potential that I, as the creator of the source material or any member of the audience, could wish in her portrayal of Jean and the fact that a significant majority of the people I've encountered, who've actually seen the film, the fact that they love it is proof positive that both Simon and Sophie and everyone else involved with it pulled it off.

The frustration for me is so many people gave up on it a year earlier when it kept getting postponed and then, when it came out, refused to give it the chance of sitting there and seeing it in theaters and they instead preferred to go with, sadly, their prejudices and not take the time, which I hope they will now, with the DVD, to go look at it and react, hopefully as I did, which was, “Hey, this is good. This is fun. I want to see what happens next.”

ROHAN: The X-Men have always represented minorities, and as an Indian-American myself, I’ve always found myself drawn to their stories and to similar underdog characters like Spider-Man. These characters have often spoken to me more than, say, the mainstream Avengers (at least in comics) who often fit that more traditional superhero archetype. 

Is that aspect of these mutant heroes something that initially drew you to writing for the X-Men? Developing iconic characters like Jean, Storm, Wolverine and countless others?

CHRIS: I put characters in the X-pantheon that were the epitome of people I liked, people I knew. Among my best friends are photojournalists, who I’ve heard broadcasting from Sarajevo, getting shot at. I have a friend who’s a Pulitzer Prize winner, who used to go out to Central Africa every time there was a report of an Ebola outbreak.

When you know women or people for that matter who have that level of chops and that level of courage, how can you not, as a writer, try your very best to put a vision of them or of whatever makes them cool on the page, so, the audience can look at it and say, “Holy cow, Ororo is cool. Jean is cool. Logan is cool. Nightcrawler is really cool. Kitty is cool.” and bond with them.

I'm not interested in writing stories of Iron Man. Iron Man, as a guy, I mean, a suit of armor is very nice, but I've written my Arthurian legend. I want to do stories about people and for the most part, young people, because young people - hate to say it - are infinitely more cool than grown ups, which was why the X-Men was so much fun. It was a matter of coming up with people who looked liked the people I knew and living in New York, that means the whole world and I figured that by trying to do them properly, by putting them in cool and scary situations and making them real, the audience will respond and befriend them.

The proof of the pudding for me is that - God, help me - forty years ago, every third Thursday of every month, when the book came out, readers would queue up by the comic book store so they could get it the minute the store opened and read what happens next and I don't think you will find a writer in the world going back to Charles Dickens who will deny that is exactly what we want.

We want you to fall in love with our characters, for the right reasons, and we want you to be committed to their lives and, of course, the flip side of that is the more honorably and passionately the readers feel about the characters, the more responsibility crashes down on the writers shoulders and to be worthy of that enthusiasm and that respect, which means coming up with even more culturally really great stories.

That's been the hallmark of the X-Men, or at least my X-Men, from the very start and I hope it will remain that way with every story, but certainly every X-Men story, including the New Mutants special Kevin and I are doing that should out this fall. From here on.


X-Men: Dark Phoenix is now available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD - click through any of the covers below to order a copy and complete your X-collection today! 



To check out photos from X-MEN: DARK PHOENIX, simply click on the VIEW LIST (ONE PAGE) button below!

Jean Grey begins to develop incredible powers that corrupt and turn her into a Dark Phoenix. Now the X-Men will have to decide if the life of a team member is worth more than all the people living in the world.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix features:
Director: Simon Kinberg
James McAvoy as Charles Xavier/Professor X
Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto
Jennifer Lawrence as Raven Darkhölme/Mystique
Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy/Beast
Tye Sheridan as Scott Summers/Cyclops
Sophie Turner as Jean Grey/Dark Phoenix
Alexandra Shipp as Ororo Munroe/Storm
Kodi Smit-McPhee as Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler
Evan Peters as Peter Maximoff/Quicksilver
Olivia Munn as Elizabeth Braddock/Psylocke
Jessica Chastain in an undisclosed role
Daniel Cudmore in an undisclosed role
Lamar Johnson in an undisclosed role

X-Men: Dark Phoenix hits theaters June 7
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