What X-Men 3 Could Have Been

Published 4 years ago by , Updated February 15th, 2014 at 4:26 pm,

x men 4 3 phoenix What X Men 3 Could Have Been

Mike Dougherty, director of the long-delayed and mistreated Trick ‘r Treat and co-writer of X-Men 2 joined the /Filmcast over the weekend and in their special “After Dark” segment, where they talk about whatever’s on their mind, their conversation hit on the interesting subject of X-Men 3, for which Dougherty and Singer were not a part of, but would have been had Singer not swung over to DC to make Superman Returns (for which Dougherty helped write).

In the audio clip, Dave Chen, Adam Quigley and Devindra Hardawar bring up the subject the X3 and quiz Dougherty on his thoughts of the movie, for which he answered reservedly and professionally. The interesting parts however, came afterward, when Dougherty moved on to explain some of the ideas he pitched to Bryan Singer for what of been their version of the third installment of the X-Men film franchise.

To start, we’ll go through some parts of the conversation, transcribed by Alex Billington of First Showing.

When questioned about what his and Singer’s ideas were for X-Men 3, Dougherty revealed some parts (that he was allowed to – he doesn’t want any angry calls from Bryan and these ideas could still be used down the road…) that he could remember from what he pitched as story elements.

“The idea – you open up with Alkali Lake but it’s completely barren and dried up and there are these odd reports of strange phenomena going on around the world accompanied by bright lights in the sky.”

“The idea would be that both the X-Men and the Brotherhood realize that essentially a very god-like force had entered their reality and that it was causing disruptions around the world – mutant prisons being decimated. I had pitched an idea about a fleet of cargo ships getting torn apart in the Atlantic and you found out that they were shuttling mutants as slave labor.”

“So basically you found out was that Phoenix was going round the world taking things into her own hands and that she had basically returned as a god, which they did touch upon in X3. She had viewed herself as above the conflict, that she was here to end things on her terms, she was basically sick of the fighting and she was going to take things into her own hands and she didn’t give a shit what the X-Men or the Brotherhood had to say about it.”

These few simple sentences are already a step up from how the ever-important Phoenix Saga was treated on screen in Brett Ratner’s adaptation. In X3: The Last Stand, The Phoenix character was resigned to standing and staring blankly in a red dress… that’s it. Every scene, she stands, stares and sometimes destruction surrounds her when she’s angry (and staring). There was no character, no purpose, just the under-utilized idea that she was all-powerful which never showed through and really didn’t have a plot.

Was X3 about Phoenix or about a cure to the mutation? It didn’t do either well, and neither storyline served its purpose fully.

In Dougherty’s version, he goes on to explain that in the end of his version Phoneix/Jean doesn’t get stabbed and die again but instead, chooses to leave. It gets better though as he continues to share his idea of the Cyclops we all know and love, the leader that should have been.

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TAGS: the wolverine, trick r' treat, x-men, x-men 4

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  1. Nice work Rob.

  2. That sounds very Dr. Manhattan esque

  3. This information honestly just frustrates the hell out of me with what X3 should have been. Im not into the whole Ratner bashing thing but he clearly messed up that movie and this is proof.

    However, the most powerful scene of X3 was when Wolverine had to kill Jean. It’s too bad that this had to be the case because I would have loved to see the Phoenix character in future installments. But I have to say, with the background music and Wolverine slowly making his way to Jean, that scene had the most impact on me out of any scene in that movie.

  4. The weird thing is, even though Wolverine has an indestructible skeleton, Phoenix had telekenesis too, soooo…. couldn’t she have simply thrown him into the the next city or something? That whole scene didn’t really make much sense, why Magneto moved the whole bridge just to transport some mutants, why he didn’t just drop the bridge onto the facility and killed the kid right then and there. Or how if he’s so powerful to be able to move the entire bridge by himself, why didn’t he just use those powers to rip the building apart?

    Ah, anyway, maybe they can just reboot number 3 and continue from where 2 left off, lol. If they could do that, someone needs to do that to Terminator also to fix the last two crappy sequels… Alien franchise would be next to be partially rebooted, lol.

  5. Good article but it’s all a “what could have been” discussion.

    We all knew going into this whole comic-book-brought-to-the big-screen phase Hollywood is going through that there was a colossal chance they would screw up, that they would piss off fans of every superhero and villain (Venom?) in the comic universe.

    I have ZERO expectations now. If they get it even half right I’m thrilled.

    Sorry to sound so pessimistic.

  6. Damn, that would have been way better, the story wouldn’t have been solely centered on Wolverine and we’d get the Cyclops we should have had, I just hope that if they do an X4 they use Cable or Bishop to go back in time and correct everything that happened in X3. But I don’t think we’ll see a decent X-Men film until the rights revert back to Marvel, which I don’t see happening very soon since Fox loves to bleed everything it owns dry. Then no one will ever be psyched for another X-Men movie.

  7. Curse you Ratner !!!

    that would have been Ah-Maise-Ing !

    it is cool to see what could have been, and yet i wish that what could have been would have become a reality.

    Way-2-go Rob Great post .

  8. @ kenj
    i doubt that possible and even so terminator 3 wasnt all that bad anyways back on topic, this idea for the movie would have been way better, the whole of 3 was terrible they killed of heaps of characters MAIN characters not just some small time villians but scott and what appeared to be xavier (he somehow comes back in the end(after credits a nurse walks up to a hospitalized man and says”charles”))

    scott has always been the leader of the x-men and logan has been the asshole (in a good way most the time)
    this wasnt even shown in number 3 just that logan “had feelings” for jean

  9. What they did to Cyclops in the movies has never sat right with me. Especially what they did to him in the 3rd one.

    The whole movie he was whining…what happened to the “leader of Xmen”. I’d go as far as to say 1st and 2nd movies didn’t give him enough attention either. Wolverine took over because of his popularity (which I didn’t mind) and Storm took over because of Helley Berry being such a big celebrity. I really would’ve like for cyclops to be a little more badass. They picked the right actor as far as looks go too.

    But, that’s all could’ve, should’ve talk…

    Hopefully we can see another Xmen movie done right in the near future.

  10. so you turn jean grey into a villan?? what?? I mean don’t get me wrong but her character was better in The ultimate x-men comincs then in either the films or dougherty’s version..shoot even in Uncanny X-men when she came back and Professor Xavier realized that the phoenix power was coming back, was better than those ideas..I liked Ratner’s X3 only because he managed to update a franchise with fans of the comic series but ones who had only seen the films and were just getting into the series by using x3 as a jump on point. However, I agree that had they used Dougherty’s idea,maybe reign it back a bit(her character would never of taken down ships)and had been just a little more physical it would’ve been a better film-though I disliked the whole ending,because it never really brought out the real “phoenix force” as a separate entity or character, just ” a pissed off bad jean grey” was all I saw..I give Ratner props however for at least attempting to tie snippets of past X-men storylines and getting more characters involved,though the Brotherhood that I wanted to see wasn’t in there at all..

  11. oh and to kill off Cyclops was just dumb.

  12. Its a shame, in a way I would rather have never heard about this and what should have been.

    Yes X Men 3 is awful, but so is Wolverine. It might even be worse.

  13. Reboot the entire franchise. I’m sick of Wolverine stealing the limelight. What was once a dark, brooding interesting character is now over exposed and over rated.

    Let’s see the original five X-Men with Prof X and perhaps down the track the inclusion of Havok, Storm, Banshee, Colossus and Nightcrawler.

    It would be great to see Cyclops as the all new all powerful team leader. A proper and faithful adaptation of the comic books with correct character ages and Marvel continuity would be a dream come true.

  14. While I do agree with the entire debate over the demise of Cyclops, the character was basically written out early due to James Marsden re-teaming with Singer (and Dougherty) for Supeyman. That’s my understanding, anyway.

    But boy oh boy. Have I got issues with this post.

    First of all, we are talking a bit of hindsight here. There is nothing to suggest that these ideas are any better than what became the third movie. Nothing, save for the larger role of Cyclops. That’s it. The only thing I’m generally seeing here is the same old yarn that starts off with a grain of truth. That being The Last Stand is not as great as X2 or as good as the first film. But then, as usual it, eh, mutates into “what a piece of junk it is” and, like a duck to a pond, most of the readers follow in unison.

    “Oh it would have been better…”

    I could have sworn Dougherty said these were “ideas” they cooked up with Singer. IDEAS. What he talks about here is a possible good (overall) idea that did not get fleshed out or realized. Am I understanding that correctly? Did I miss anything?

    “Cyclops builds the Danger Room so the X-Men could be better prepared in a battle”
    Sounds nice, but it contradicts X2, seeing how Jean Grey mentally blocked them all from helping her in any way and there wasn’t a gosh darn thing they could do about it. Now she’s a God/demi-God. And deep down, she’s Jean. They would still have conflict fighting her or attempting to calm her down, I’m sure. Sounds great. Even though in the “bad movie” she still has near deity like powers and there is conflict on both sides fighting her or attempting to calm her down

    “Jean Grey wouldn’t just stare and stand around, wearing a red dress”
    Um, okay, she stares and flies around in a green dress, right? Yawn. Actually, I found Dark Phoenix “standing around” odd myself, until it dawned on me that she really wasn’t taking sides in the movie. She is a God, she will not act unless provoked.

    *******

    Trick R Treat.

    Caught with it on DVD a few weeks ago. While I’m generally against studios who delay films to the point where any positive talk on a film fades away like a mist and/or bury decent efforts, there was some bits of Trick R Treat I did like, mostly dealing with “Sam”.
    But y’know what? I HATE to do do this… but I’m going to side with the big bad studio on this one. The film in my view was uneven. I could see a debate with execs to release, not release and when. Kind of like a ping pong match.

    The film wasn’t that good, but the heart was in the right place and the concept was solid. The execution was pedestrian, and, for me, disappointing.

  15. I do love how First Showing took my transcript of the podcast (i can tell it’s mine from the sentence structure, the words omitted etc), changed a couple of things, and for the second time in recent weeks, didn’t give me a credit for something they took. Just love the internet.

  16. I’m sure announcing your displeasure with first showing on screenrant’s comment section will undoubtedly elicit a strong, sincere, heart-felt apology.

    How about e-mailing the guy and leaving it off here. Nobody here knows if your claim is true so don’t look for sympathy in a comments section about a topic that you can’t substantiate.

    If true, sorry to hear it, but this isn’t the place to voice your displeasure, IMO.

  17. Not having been a comic book fan nor really into the cartoon of X-Men (I watched it a tiny bit.. but honestly, I was too old for Saturday morning cartoons by the time it came out), all I can remember from X-Men was this image of seeing Jean Grey with this huge fiery yellow bird behind her.

    I think that’s one thing that sort of disappointed my about X-3. I was half expecting/hoping to have a bit more “fiery” special effects, and for the story to deal with her new “god-like” status.

    As for Cyclops, I know, I said not a huge fan of X-men comics and cartoons.. but he was ALWAYS my favourite character when I DID watch/read X-men. And they turned him into a total pussy in the movies. That was a huge disappointment.

    Well, as they say: “hindsight is 20/20 vision”. Not much anyone can do about it now. I think it would be pointless to remake X-3 as “the film it SHOULD have been”. I’d be first in line to SEE that film.. but it would probably be pointless for the studios.

  18. This idea is pretty good, sounds like if it was done right this movie could have been almost as big as The Dark Knight. I lied to my parents to go see X3 and I could honestly say that I was very dissapointing and was a waste of my time. I read a bit about the Pheonix: Endsong storyline and I felt that it was a great story and it would be perfect for the movie.
    The problem with making X4 is that X3 left a big mess by killing off many major characters and making Cyclops into a secondary character instead of the legendary leader we all know and love, and Wolverine is now a lovable socialite instead of being that real badass that we all know and love. I hated what Singer did with Superman and I always felt that X1 and X2 could have been better; but hopefully he (or if they can find a better director) could set things in the right direction. I don’t see how that is possible unless they go about making X4 like the real X3 and imagine that Ratner’s version never happened like they did with the Hulk.
    But Marvel has to make another X-Men movie just to get that bad taste out of our mouths from that horrible excuse of a movie by Ratner.

  19. they should rehire these wrighter and bryan singer and do x-4,and x-5 back to back and bring back cyclops and give colossus,iceman,angel,nightcrawler,gambit,rogue,emma,and beast more story and screen time. do the sentinel story have new characters sinister,apocalypse,chamber,beak,angel salvador,husk,tito bohusk,prosimian,orb weaver,anole,and glob herman.bryan singer need to return.

  20. as for wolverine being the lovable guy bring cyclops back and have them go at it there was so much build up and cyclops was just taken out of the picture. cyclops was the leader. but anyways have him and wolverine really get into it.there are so many things they could do with this franchise,and i really want to see the sentinels hunting mutants,i want to see beak,his grandson tito bohusk,angel salvador,glob herman,husk,and chamber i want to see sinister,apocalypse,and way more colosssus,angel/archangel,iceman,cyclops,nightcrawler,and gambit.

  21. The 3rd installment was disappointing. I thought extra mutants looked great but there were too many and way too little exposure as a result. The Phoenix character was too under-developed and in all three movies there was way too much of the Jean & Wolverine characters! My favorite characters were always Cyclops, Nightcrawler and Bishop. And I hate how they weakened the Cyclops character and even Storm. What was up with that?! It was nice to have the loose ends of Wolverine tied up like they did – but frankly that info could have been dealt with in the previous movies. I hope if there is another one they’ll get it together and stick more to the original concepts of these characters

  22. Easiest and best solution is to REBOOT the entire franchise but with so many incompetents with their fingers in the pie it isn’t going to happen any time soon.

    I’ve always been in favour of Cyclops as the definitive team leader. A strong decision maker with an awesome kick ass power.

    I agree with some of the other posts. Phoenix was absolutely under developed as was quite obviously Cyclops and even Storm.

    I’m still hanging out for the original five X-MEN. What a movie that would make. Does anyone remember the villian Mimic from the early X-MEN comic books?

    If they got rid of his cheesy costume and gave him the full bad ass upgrade he would be quite the formidable villian. Imagine a super villian who is able to mimic the X-MEN’s powers. Could be very interesting if handled correctly.

  23. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Phoenix exile her self to the moon to prevent Earth’s destruction from her getting to powerful?
    Now that would have been a good ending to X3.
    Just a thought.

  24. Ah, the ever-torturous “What if?” scenario. Sadly, Ratner crapped all over the franchises of both Silence of the Lambs and X-Men, two exceptional films. Whoever thought that the “genius” behind the (non) epic that is Rush Hour would do justice to either film was unfairly duped somewhere along the line. Hopefully Warner Bros. takes note of that fact should they push forward with another Batman film without – I daresay – Chris Nolan.

  25. what might have been..who cares…the movie has been done like it or not and no amount of speculation on what could have been will change it..let’s just hope future installments in the X-Verse will be well made with strong story lines…

  26. what about gambit,colossus,angel,and iceman they were under used as well and they are great characters,and nightcrawler made x-2 then he was just throne to the wolves.and what about beak he was going to be in wolverine but what the fu$% happened i love that character,and chamber i want to see them in the films to. and the sentinel story is the best of the x-universe why not do that story and use sinister,and apocalypse? i just do not get it.

  27. Nice read…obviously would have made for a better film, but letys not dread on what has already come to pass… let us look with optimism at the future.. I have high hopes for Wolvie2, X4 and X:FC

    I do have one issue with your article though, you say “the Cyclops we all know and love” I have many a comic book friends and I myself have loved xmen since, well as far back as I can remember.. and I do not know a single person who can tolerate cyc, let alone “love” him :p

  28. Here’s the funny thing. While that version of X-Men 3 sounds really good;X-Men 3 this version could have been a great movie if you change few things. I have thought about this very carefully and here are my ideas to make X-Men 3 a better movie.

    1. Get rid of the Phoenix. She served no purpose in the movie and didn’t do anything except kill important characters.
    2. Give Rouge all of her powers. This to me was the biggest mistake in all of the X-Men movies. This would have been the best movie for her to get all the powers she has in the comics. There is a scene in which she stands in for the cure, all you have to do is start a ruckus some unknown mutant grabs her and Rouge now has flight and super- streghth.
    3. Make the cure fake. By doing this we allow for true villian to enter the movie like Apocalsype. This would allow us to make Angel into Archangel.
    4. Let’s have the “Last Stand”. Where was the Last Stand in X-Men 3: the Last Stand? This point ties in with number 1 and 3. With no Phoenix in the movie and Apocalsype has the main villian we could has the X-Men and the Brotherhood join together.

  29. Using a script from That’s So Raven would have been superior to what we got in X-Men 3.

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