If on May 26th 2006 you walked out after seeing X-Men: The Last Stand and thought “well that was disappointing, I wonder what the film would have been like if Bryan Singer directed” then you’re in luck! As 3 years on, your question has finally been answered. Sort of.
Michael Dougherty, writer of X2 and director of Trick r’ Treat, recently appeared on the /Filmcast and spoke about a few ideas he and Bryan Singer had been thinking of before Singer left to direct Superman Returns.
Transcript from Geek Files:
“The idea was that 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 realise that essentially a very god-like force had entered their reality and that it was causing disruptions around the world, you know 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 labour.
“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 in X3. She had viewed herself as above the conflict, that she was here to end things on her terms, she was sick of the fighting and she was going to take things into her own hands and she did not give a s**t what the X-Men or the Brotherhood had to say about it.
“And ultimately the way it was going to end, at least the version I was pushing for, would be that Phoenix was kind of like the Starchild at the end of 2001, she didn’t just get stabbed and die again, but she kind of chose to leave.
“The one idea that I loved, that I really wanted to do, was that Cyclops would build the Danger Room. He felt guilty that because the X-Men were too weak, they weren’t strong enough or fast enough, that was the reason Jean died. If they were a little bit better at fighting, then she might still be alive. It was all about this guilt he had about her death and he built the Danger Room to train them to be better. In the end it really was about him not being able to let go of her and that causes the chaos and disruption in the movie and in the end it’s about him letting her go.
“Ultimately she kind of becomes that cosmic force that Phoenix is known to be, she leaves Earth and becomes a god or at least a higher level of intelligence and she goes into the cosmos possibly to kick-start life somewhere else. The final scene for me would have been her telling Cyclops or her telling the X-Men ‘I’ll be watching.'”
Part of me wishes I never read that. That’s what X-Men 3 should have been. It should have focused on Jean/Phoenix and Cyclops and not have her stand around like a lemon for 20 minutes during a battle. Dougherty also mentioned that it would have set things up for more sequels, and there was talk way back about possibly filming X3 and X4 back-to-back.
I’d like to take this time to blame a few people. Firstly, I blame 20th Century Fox for not signing Bryan Singer up straight after X2. Secondly, I blame Warner Bros. for offering Singer Superman Returns. You don’t steal directors who are mid-way through a franchise. It’s not cool! Thirdly, I blame Singer himself for abandoning the franchise. Singer apparently wanted to make X3 after Superman, but Fox didn’t want to wait and I can understand why. One man can’t and shouldn’t hold up a franchise.
I’d also like to blame 20th Century Fox again for getting too involved with the creative process, hiring writers who can only write your typical popcorn fluff, and for hiring Brett Ratner as director. The guy directs Mariah Carey music videos for Christ sake!