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Writer-Producer Simon Kinberg on ‘X-Men: Days Of Future Past’ and Tearing Down ‘The Last Stand’

X-Men Days of Future Past
20th Century Fox

It’s surprising to listen to a writer almost gleefully explain how he negated his past work, and such is the case with Simon Kinberg, who wrote and produced the time travel storyline of ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past.’ In ‘Days of Future Past,’ Wolverine’s (Hugh Jackman) consciousness is sent back to his younger, 1973 self, in an effort to prevent the mutant-killing Sentinels from ever being created. And, as time travel movies are wont to do, they can change what has come before. And one of those movies that came before, ‘X-Men’: The Last Stand,’ was co-written by Kinberg.

There are some minor, non-specific spoilers in the below exchange with Kinberg (some much more specific ones will publish after the film’s release), but he does dive into the psyche of a screenwriter who just may be undoing some of his own work.

From a writer’s standpoint…

It’s a nightmare.

Not even that, but the time travel elements of ‘Day of Future Past,’ the nature of that almost negates some of what you wrote in ‘The Last Stand.’

Well, yes.

I know The Dark Phoenix story in ‘The Last Stand’ meant a lot to you.

Yes, yes it did. And, I mean, we dismantled some stuff from ‘X1′ and ‘X2′ as well. It was interesting. There are a lot of things about ‘X3′ that I love and there are a lot of things that I regret.

What do you regret?

I regret that The Dark Phoenix story wasn’t the primary story of the movie.

But that wasn’t your choice.

It wasn’t my choice.

You wanted that to be the main story.

I wanted The Dark Phoenix story, but I regret where the movie ended up. And so, weirdly, this was sort of my opportunity, a little like the characters in ‘Days of Future Past’ going back and improving their younger selves with the lessons they’ve learned as wiser men. It’s sort of a chance for me to go back and do differently what I did ten years ago on ‘X3.’

Knowing it wouldn’t be the main storyline, would you have not fought as hard for The Dark Phoenix?

No, I would have fought harder for The Dark Phoenix. Listen, I think if we made that movie today, there are a lot of things that would be different. The universe today, culturally, is more open to a darker superhero film. And the darkness of her story was a little bit daunting on a huge $200 million studio movie. And, it would be less daunting today.

Case in point, ‘Days of Future Past.’

And, I don’t think we would be able to make this movie ten years ago in the old — not just a different regime, but a different cultural moment. So, yeah, we told this story without any impediment from anything other than our own abilities. So, this was the movie that Bryan [Singer] and I wanted to make from the beginning of talking about it.

A criticism of the X-Men movies has been some of the continuity doesn’t always make sense. With the time travel aspect of ‘Days of Future Past,’ was there a conscious effort to address that?

It was absolutely a conscious thing that what we were doing was trying to set the continuity into a more coherent place. And that we would erase certain inconsistencies. And no matter what, we knew we were making a time travel movie that whatever happened in the past was going to ripple and have a butterfly effect on the future and obviously touch ‘X1,’ ‘X2,’ and ‘X3.’ As we were doing it, we were very careful and had a lot of long conversations — Bryan and I — about how much we want to redefine the world of ‘X1,’ ‘X2,’ and ‘X3.’

Mike Ryan is the senior editor of ScreenCrush. You can contact him directly on Twitter.

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