5 Things We Learned From Talking to the Writer of the 'X-Men: Days of Future Past' Comic Book

Adam Pockross
Content Producer

With the global success of the latest installment in the X-Men series, fans (and giddy studio execs) have been focused on the franchise’s Future. But we here at Yahoo Movie’s thought it might be time to take a look at its Past. To that end, we checked in with Chris Claremont, the comic-book writer who wrote (along with artist John Byrne) the two-issue story on which the movie is based. The 63-year-old industry vet — who essentially created the mutant superhero team we know today — is mostly pleased with the big-screen adaptation (“My kid came out of it thinking it was a cool film”) even if he’s a bit disappointed with some changes made to his story (“As an aesthetic purist, I think: bummer”).  He also shared, during a lengthy phone conversation, these interesting nuggets…     

Many years ago, Claremont was involved in a planned big-screen adaptation of the story.  But the project was doomed when Marvel execs were unable to find a concept that  ”would differentiate it from [Tim Burton’s] Batman.” Claremont wrote a six-page memo explaining that his story was “about facing prejudice… dealing with prejudice.”

He and Marvel founder Stan Lee had a meeting with James Cameron about an X-Men film. The idea would have Cameron produce a movie directed by his-then wife Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty). But, says, Claremont , “Stan and [Cameron] began talking about Spider-Man, and you could just see the X-men getting evaporated. … Cameron loved Spider-man and he began working up a pitch and was willing to write the screenplay and possibly direct it.”

The writer has problems with his cameo in the new film, in which he plays one of the congressmen briefed by Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage).  All of the other Marvel-ers given cameos, he grumbles good-naturedly, “had full heads of glorious hair — and I’m sitting there as the token bald guy.” Plus: “I had to shave my beard for the first time in damn-near forty years.”

While writing “Days of Future Past,” Claremont envisioned a rather startling fate for Magneto.  Plotting story lines as far as 75 issues down the line, he  ”wanted to bring it to a point where Charles in the future actually dies and doesn’t come back — and Magneto takes his place as the head of the School for Gifted Youngsters.”

The pushback on this idea was not well received.  ”Corporate overlords had other ideas. They wanted Magneto as a villain, as the classic villain.,” he explains. “And that conflict, among other things, led to my leaving the book [after a 16-year-run] in 1991.”

*This post has been revised since its original publication to correct a typographical error.

Photos: © Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Marvel