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.