May 26, 2014 8:13am PT by Aaron Couch
'X-Men: Days of Future Past' Writer: Final Scenes Leave 'Mysteries' to Explore (Q&A)
[WARNING: Spoilers ahead for X-Men: Days of Future Past.]
X-Men: Days of Future Past screenwriter Simon Kinberg is riding high after the monster debut of the film, which opened to $302 million globally over the weekend.
The film managed to right many of the perceived wrongs of 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand -- with the ending finding several previously deceased characters alive and well. Does does this mean those original castmembers might pop up in future films?
"We approached it as a final goodbye for the original actors. But to be totally candid, that's the way I approached X-Men: The Last Stand," Kinberg tells The Hollywood Reporter. "If you talked to me in 2006 and said, 'Do you think we'll ever see Patrick Stewart as Professor Xavier again? Do you think we'll see Ian and Halle [Berry] and Ellen Page and Shawn Ashmore back on screen together?' I most likely would have said no, and certainly in the case of Patrick Stewart I would have said no way."
Kinberg doesn't rule the prospect out but says he wrote the final scenes as a goodbye to the original cast: "There's some part of our brains that hopes we will see them again, but we wanted to tell a story that felt like it was a conclusion to their stories."
The writer-producer is also busy at work on the next installment, 2016's X-Men: Apocalypse and Fox's 2015 Fantastic Four reboot. Here, Kinberg talks of a possible crossover of the franchises and reveals what it was like to film the emotional scene between Stewart and James McAvoy.
One of the best lines in the movie is older Magneto telling older Charles we wasted all those years fighting, only to get a few of them back.
I really wanted to have a feeling of resolution at the end for the old Charles and Eric. Thematically our movie is -- if we knew when we were younger what we know now, maybe we wouldn't have made the same mistakes. Ian [McKellen] and Patrick in real life are best, best friends. They don't have a lot of screen time together in Days of Future Past, but I think there is some of their real affection that you feel in their scenes together. That line wrote itself.
Do you consider the film's ending a happy one?
The notion was always that at the end of the movie we return to the mansion and the school and the X-Men we met in X1, but with some modification, because history has been changed. As much as there is a happy return at the end of Days of Future Past, not every character is accounted for. There is still opportunity for mystery about what happened to some of them. We definitely wanted to feel that we as filmmakers and the characters themselves had done enough good to justify a happier future.
Did you approach the ending with the idea that we might see more of the original cast in future films?
We approached it as a final goodbye for the original actors. But to be totally candid, that's the way I approached X-Men: The Last Stand. If you talked to me in 2006 and said, "Do you think we'll ever see Patrick Stewart as Professor Xavier again? Do you think we'll see Ian and Halle and Ellen Page and Shawn Ashmore back on screen together?" I most likely would have said no, and certainly in the case of Patrick Stewart I would have said no way. There's some part of our brains that hopes we will see them again, but we wanted to tell a story that felt like it was a conclusion to their stories.
So Apocalypse will be the younger cast?
That movie will primarily be the next chapter in the story of the First Class cast.
This film has a lot of characters but doesn't feel crowded. How did you manage that?
I rigorously note-carded out the arcs of each of the characters. I made sure the main five or six characters had beginnings, middles and ends -- challenges, crises, breakthroughs.
Wolverine didn't dominate the story in the way he has in the past. How did you decide whom to focus on?
In an ensemble film, you do have to choose a main character. I knew the character I wanted to follow primarily was young Xavier. We left Charles in such an interesting place at the end of First Class, having lost his legs and one of his best friends and essentially his sister. Even though the other characters all have their own personal stories to tell, most of them are told through the lens of how they relate to Charles. Wolverine comes back to mentor him. Eric challenges him. Raven is an opportunity for him to see his hope enacted in someone.
The first time Logan meets young Xavier is funny. How did you get the correct tone?
I didn't want to shy away from the absurdity of time travel. I didn't want to have Logan come back in time and just have everyone blissfully accept it. I wanted the characters to acknowledge how crazy it sounded. Even a person living in a world with superpowers would look at Logan and say what young Charles says to him, which is essentially "piss off."
We also see a Logan who is more grown up, it seems.
One of the things I got most excited about was inverting the Logan/Charles relationship. In the original X-Men movies, it's Logan who comes to the mansion and gets saved and mentored and evolved by Professor Xavier. I wanted to flip that. Once I knew this movie was essentially about young Charles becoming the professor we know, I loved the idea that a person who had been taught lessons by this older character went back to teach those same lessons to his younger self. There's something ironic and interesting and devotional about that. That has it's own humor to it. Logan's character has almost like an inside joke for the duration of the time he's in 1973. He's looking at this guy knowing what he becomes but not knowing how to get him there. There's fun to that.
When you were writing the movie, did you realize how much Quicksilver would become a scene stealer?
In my first draft of the script, that character was actually young Juggernaut. One of the first things [director] Bryan Singer said about the script was we needed a different character, because he felt like Juggernaut's powers had visually been fully explored in X3. Quicksilver was really Bryan's idea, and he had this very clear sense of the tone of the character, who he wanted to play the character and how we would shoot that kitchen scene.
UPDATE: Read THR's Q&A with Quicksilver actor Evan Peters here.
The kitchen scene ended up being a surprise hit for fans.
Bryan had high-speed photography that he found on the Internet that he showed us. We did a lot of tests of how it was going to work. That Quicksilver character is one of the many things Bryan brought to the movie.
Your Quicksilver is so good that it might be tough for The Avengers: Age of Ultron's version to top it.
I'm sure they'll do a good job with it. Part of the fun of this world we live in where there are multiple superhero franchises and now multiple version of the same character, it's a little like classic repertory theater, where you get to see different actors do interpretations of the same character. Macbeth is an interesting one because all four of our main actors -- McAvoy, [Michael] Fassbender, Ian, Patrick -- have done famous productions of Macbeth. If the world can handle that, it can definitely handle two Quicksilvers.
Did you always know you wanted to have the future scenes intercut throughout the movie?
I always wanted to because I love these actors. It was an opportunity to see them for maybe the last time as those characters. But it was an extra challenge. Usually in time travel movies, you start the movie in the future, and then a character goes back to the past and you spend the majority of movie in the past, until you pop back to the future to see how the past has impacted it.
How did you create the rules for the time travel?
Because we were intercutting between past and future, it demanded the creation of a time travel rule so that every time something happened in 1973 and you cut back to the future, you didn't have to track the butterfly effect of every nuance that was changed from the ripple in the past. That's why we created the rule that as long as the time traveler is in the past, whatever he does doesn't have an impact on the future. I didn't want every time you are cutting back to the future for the audience to be thinking "why doesn't he have a scar?" or "how did they find each other? Wouldn't it have changed?" Those are all valid questions. The trickiest thing about time travel is not just avoiding the paradoxes, but avoiding the audience asking about the paradoxes.
In addition to the next X-Men movie, you are writing the Fantastic Four reboot for Fox. Do you think we'll see a crossover between the franchises down the line?
In the world of Marvel Studios and everything they're doing that we've been inspired by, anything is possible. I would say purely as a fan of comics and these film franchises, I would love to see it, but it has challenges. The Fantastic Four live in a world where they are fantastic because they are the only people who have super powers. If they were to live in a world full of mutants, they would kind of just be four more mutants. In the X-Men movies, we have never acknowledged a public team of superheroes called the Fantastic Four who live in New York City, even though Charles' mansion is in Westchester, not so far form the city.
What was it like creating the scene between young and old Charles?
It's my favorite scene in the movie. That was the first day for any of the younger cast on the film, and it was the last day for Patrick Stewart and the original cast. We started the movie with a few months of the original cast, and then we passed the baton over to the First Class cast. I loved the scene. It was a very emotional process writing that scene, but the actual making of it was probably the most charged and emotional day on set because there was this handoff. It felt like in many ways what was happening in the movie – this handoff from cast to cast. That was a very special day. I'm not sure I'll ever have anything quite like that on a film.