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SYFY WIRE Simon Kinberg

Simon Kinberg opens up on why 'X-Men: Days of Future Past' was his personal 'Temple of Doom'

Divorces lead to dark characters.

By Josh Weiss
X-Men: Days of Future Past YT

It's pretty much common knowledge that the MPAA was forced to create the PG-13 rating in response to a pair of Steven Spielberg productions released in 1984: Gremlins and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The incredibly grim tone of the latter movie is often credited to the fact that both Spielberg and producer George Lucas were feeling depressed and cynical after going through recent break-ups (in particular, Lucas had just divorced his wife of nearly 20 years.).

Exactly three decades later, producer/screenwriter/director Simon Kinberg would go through a similar experience that affected the characters in 2014's X-Men: Days of Future Past.

Based on the iconic comic book story arc by Chris Claremont and John Byrne, the film takes place in a dystopian future where mutants are hunted down and killed by nigh-invincible robots known as Sentinels. In a last ditch effort to rectify the timeline, Logan (Hugh Jackman) is sent back in time by Kitty Pryde (Elliot Page) to convince a jaded Charles Xavier (played as a young man by James McAvoy) to reunite the X-Men and prevent the wave of anti-mutant hysteria that follows Mystique's (Jennifer Lawrence) impending assassination of Sentinel creator Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage). 

When Wolverine first approaches the professor with a dire warning from the future, Charles (distraught after the dissolution of the team he worked so hard to assemble in X-Men: First Class) tells Logan to get lost. Well, he really uses a very bad word we won't write here. This intragnizent response was based on the misanthropic emotions Kinberg — who wrote the screenplay — was feeling from his own marital troubles at the time. In essence, he found himself trapped in a personalized Temple of Doom, which manifested itself onscreen.

"It was the most personal movie I've ever written. It was a time in my life I had just gotten divorced… where what Professor Xavier was going through in that movie, a man who needed to find hope again, was what I was going through as a man who needed to find hope again," Kinberg explained during an interview with Collider. "And hope is something that's really important and I think plays through a lot of my films and a lot of my work, the importance of it and the value of it and the power of it. And ultimately Days of Future Past is about the power of hope. So I would say that film thematically most expresses me."

He also described the project as "the most complex script to write I've ever written because of the time travel and all of the time paradoxes and all of that." Despite having to figure out all the intricacies of the labyrinthine plot, Kinberg still counts Days of Future Past as one of his favorites. "The reason for that is I love comic books, as you know," he added. "I love the X-Men, as you know. I grew up loving those books."

X-Men: Days of Future Past is now streaming on Disney+.