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C2E2: Chris Claremont says X-Men needs a 'Game of Thrones'-style TV series to really work

Marvel’s X-verse is too rich to explore just one movie at a time.

By Benjamin Bullard
Chris Claremont C2E2 GETTY

When you’re responsible for creating dozens of X-Men characters and guiding one of the most beloved comics series in franchise history, you might just have a thought or two on all the present-day potential that Charles Xavier’s gang is still sitting on, whether it's for the big screen or small.

This weekend at the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2), X-Men comics mastermind Chris Claremont shared some super-candid thoughts on how the X-Men could thrive as a Game of Thrones-style TV series, and even offered up an alternate take on how Jean Grey’s journey could’ve followed a different big-screen path in 2019’s Dark Phoenix.

When you’re juggling sweeping character arcs within one of the comics’ most populous franchises, said Claremont, big-ticket TV storytelling might just be the way to go. “I appreciate the fact that Avengers got cut in half…but if it were me, I would do the X-canon as Game of Thrones,” he told guests at a C2E2 panel on Saturday.

“If I were doing Dark Phoenix, I would do it as Game of Thrones, and start with Jean arriving at the school: Spend the first season with everybody falling in love with her; Scott [Summers, aka Cyclops] falling in love with her. And then maybe at the end of the first season, we’d go up and she would become Phoenix. And then in the second season, she’d [go on to] do great things as Phoenix.”

In keeping with his belief that it takes time to tell a good character story, Claremont said his vision of a Dark Phoenix movie would require a two-film split, noting his own understanding that Dark Phoenix director Simon Kinberg originally sought a similar two-movie deal from Fox.

In Claremont’s ideal version, the first film would reconfigure the events of X-Men: Days of Future Past so that Sophie Turner could play Rachel Summers, arriving just as the movie ends to build suspense toward her transformation into Phoenix in the sequel.

“To me, that’s how you do it,” said Claremont. “That’s how I would do it, to build a rising line of tension and suspense…You want everybody on the edge of their seat to come back and see what happens next. That [is something] the X-canon hasn’t done well in the movies.”

Over a 16-year run at the helm of the Uncanny X-Men comics series, Claremont helped explode the Marvel mutants’ popularity, throughout the 1970s and 1980s, into the broad pop culture mainstream. The Marvel universe has changed a lot since then, as has the world: Reflecting on current events, Claremont said he’d love for real-world dystopian anxieties to remain safely locked away in fiction.

“I remember the days when stories like the last two years were in comic books where they belonged,” he half-joked. “You know — when the world was relatively rational…and Sean Connery would save it if it wasn’t.”