Bryan Singer: Why I Challenged 'X-Men: First Class' Writing Credits (Exclusive)

The director gives THR his first public comments on the complicated arbitration.
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The director gives THR his first public comments on the complicated arbitration.

X-Men guru Bryan Singer is frustrated by a WGA decision over the writing credits for the summer tentpole X-Men: First Class.

“I don’t understand the decision but I will respect it,” Singer tells THR in his first public comments on the complicated arbitration that ended with Singer sharing “story by” credit with Sheldon Turner, who never officially worked on First Class. (The teams of Ashley Miller & Zack Stentz and Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn will share screenplay credit.)

Read the full backstory on the arbitration here

Singer believes writer Jamie Moss, who penned an early draft of First Class from a treatment by Singer, should have received credit instead of Turner, who wrote a scrapped Magneto spinoff (it was argued that elements of Magneto were incorporated into First Class.) But a WGA appeals panel made its final ruling today upholding its previous decision excluding Moss after he and Singer made a last stand in a hearing this morning.

"I know where my ideas came from and none of them came from that script,” Singer says. “I never read it. The story I created came from myself and the [X-Men] comic books.” Sources told THR that one element of the WGA decision was that both Magneto and First Class feature a Nazi doctor as a villian.

The credit arbitration process is one of the most controversial topics among Hollywood writers. Arbitrators try to determine who wrote what based on complex criteria meant to parse out contributions, but the results often leave writers feeling short-changed. The First Class situation was even more complex because Fox has developed several spinoffs and sequels in its X-Men franchise. Singer says he did read a Josh Schwartz-penned version of First Class but Schwartz was also denied acknowledgement by the WGA arbitrator.

Singer, who also is a producer on First Class (he directed the first two X-Men films, generally considered the best in the series) initially declined to join Moss’ appeal on First Class, but he changed his mind Friday morning after traveling from London on a break from shooting Jack the Giant Killer (he was off due to a holiday caused by the royal wedding). Singer did not attend today’s appeal but his representatives did.

Part of Singer's decision to appeal stemmed from his wanting to support Moss, with whom he worked on early drafts. He also felt it was important to defend his work.

“These things happen when you’re creative and basing things on previous material,” Singer says. “Coincidences can happen. But to share credits with someone I had never met and had never worked with on this project seems a bit unusual.”

Email: Borys.Kit@thr.com