If one were to chart the most essential X-Men stories, Chris Claremont would be at the roots of many of them. "The Dark Phoenix Saga" is one of those stories, and SYFY WIRE spoke with Claremont about the extraordinary tale of Jean Grey and the Phoenix Force and the not-so-easy choice to let a beloved and original member of the X-Men face the consequences of her actions, whether she knew what she did or not.
The story has been adapted in cartoon form, while some of it was adapted for the big screen in X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) and will further be explored in X-Men: Dark Phoenix, starring Sophie Turner and Jessica Chastain.
In the new documentary Chris Claremont's X-Men, the debate that was going on between Claremont, then Uncanny X-Men editor Louise Simonson, and then Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter is brought to light. It's not every day that a founding member of the X-Men would be turned into one of the universe's biggest threats and the cause of what for many would be the end the world.
The creative team of Claremont, John Byrne, and Terry Austin were treading on unfamiliar ground. Rather than the typical, neat resolution that would absolve the hero of such actions, Jean Grey did not get off so lightly. In fact, Claremont believed Jean not knowing that she wiped out 6 billion beings by accident added to the tragedy and horror of the story and helped evolve these characters from their 1960s roots.
"The irony is that the destruction of planet (orbiting) D'Bari was a throw-away," Claremont told SYFY WIRE. "We were in the moment, just having fun, figuring if we stepped over a line, that's what we count on our editor for. Whatever happened, signals never meshed quite properly, so the moment got through. Then Jim, quite sensibly, when he read the final book, the final draft before the book was to be sent to the printer, called us on it."
Watch the interview below and let us know what you think.
Additional content by Ernie Estrella.