Not only did X-Men: First Class get a new director recently in the form of Matthew Vaughn, it also gained some new writers. Street Kings writer Jamie Moss wrote the original draft with Bryan Singer, and now Thor writers Zack Stentz and Ashley Edward Miller have been brought in to polish the script ready for filming later this year.
In a recent interview they spoke about how they got the gig, what is was like working with Bryan Singer, and they admitted they have yet to speak to Matthew Vaughn (well, he was only hired a few days ago)
How did you guys end up on Fox’s radar for First Class?
Zack Stentz: We had one of those great general meetings you have where the executive says “I have to find something for you guys”. And you expect to never hear from him again
Ashley Edward Miller: We were standing around in the commissary one day. They saw us and they were like. “You there, shiftless writers. We have a task.”
ZS: There are just a small number of writers in Hollywood who know comic books backwards and forwards and are not daunted by skipping all of the usual feature writing “screwing around.”
AEM: They knew we worked on Thor, knew we knew the universe, they liked our writing, and thought we could bring something to it that was compatible with Bryan Singer’s vision.
What is Bryan’s vision?
ZS: Pretty good, I think — did he have laser surgery at some point?
AEM: You see it in X-Men and X2: Character first.
What were your first meetings with Bryan Singer like?
AEM: Bryan is a great collaborator. He’s very smart, he knows what he wants and he’s great with the back-and-forth of designing cool scenes and moments. And when you get into the superheroics, he wants to understand how and why things work.
ZS: In TV terms, it was like meeting with a great showrunner — he absolutely knows what he wants, but is interested in your opinion and enjoys means-testing all of the ideas that come out.
Did you feel any pressure/desire/necessity to “reintroduce” us to the X-Men?
ZS: In some sense you should be reintroducing your characters in every film.
AEM: The thing is, we’ve been here before. We did it on Terminator for two seasons. We did it on Thor. You learn how to approach the material as something you can live in and not just nod at.
ZS: Well, look at Star Trek (2009) — that’s a film that did a great job of acknowledging that its characters are part of the culture, yet treating them as fresh and new to the audience.
AEM: I would also argue that if you’re telling a story where your characters can no longer surprise the audience, you’re telling the wrong story. These characters surprised us at every turn, sometimes in really wonderful and emotional ways. Those moments are what make movies great.
How accelerated was the process? It all seems like it’s moving pretty fast from here on the sidelines…
AEM: It’s a very accelerated process. I don’t think that’s a secret.
ZS: They’ve eliminated the usual screwing around and waiting two to four weeks when you turn in a draft. It’s amazing how much fat there is in the feature development process. And how quickly you can make it happen if you cut it out. TV proves that.
What’s it been like working with Matthew Vaughn?
AEM: Honestly, we haven’t spoken to him yet.
You can read the full interview here.
The ‘accelerated process’ part wasn’t too encouraging. Ideally they’d take their time to craft something special, but 20th Century Fox has a release date they want to stick too. If anyone can work with time restraints though, it’s Vaughn. He made Stardust in 3 months, and he made it well (check it out if you haven’t seen it).
Vaughn left X-Men 3 because he didn’t think he could create the movie he wanted with the time and creative restrictions 20th Century Fox had in place, so the fact that he has signed on for First Class is encouraging. He obviously knows he can make it, and Fox must have given him enough creative freedom to make him happy.