Mike Dougherty Explains How He Would've Written X-Men 3
You're probably wondering why I'm writing about X-Men 3 some three years or so after it first came out. Well, despite making some $234 million a the box office, most comic book fans hated the movie, claiming it was a huge let down and that they butchered the Dark Phoenix storyline. Well, you may have also heard the name Mike Dougherty recently, and that's because he directed the cult horror hit Trick 'r Treat (buy the DVD). But before he directed that, he worked closely with Bryan Singer and is credited as one of the writers on X2. He even helped brainstorm an entire story for X-Men 3 with Singer that never got used. But what if?
This was never supposed to be heard by anyone besides Bryan Singer, but Dougherty recently appeared on the /Filmcast After Dark and started talking about it after he was asked what he thought of X3. I suggest you just download the entire thing, but I've pulled the key parts for the sake of discussion. Here's his version:
"The idea - 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 realize that essentially a very god-like force had entered their reality and that it was causing disruptions around the world - 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 labor."
"So basically 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 touch upon in X3. She had viewed herself as above the conflict, that she was here to end things on her terms, she was basically sick of the fighting and she was going to take things into her own hands and she didn't give a shit 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. Cyclops felt guilty, he felt that because the X-Men were too weak, they weren't strong enough, they weren't 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 so he built the Danger Room to train them to be better. But in the end it really was about him not being able to let go of her, so that causes all the chaos and disruption in the movie. But 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 choose to leave Earth and become 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.' Essentially she becomes a god."
If only this could've been the version of X-Men 3 we saw, if only. I think it might've made even more money than it did, and it certainly would've been embraced by fans. But unfortunately Bryan Singer had to choose between doing X-Men 3 or Superman Returns, and he made his choice, and we got Brett Ratner instead. It certainly sounds like they borrowed ideas from Dougherty's version anyway, but ultimately trimmed it down into something completely different. And from what little details I know about the actual Dark Phoenix story in the comics, this is a much more accurate presentation of that character, which is what fans wanted to see.
I'm sure there are hundreds of stories like this out there for every big movie and the way it "could've gone." You can listen to different screenwriters on Watchmen tell you about every little change everyone wanted to make to the story before they decided to stick with what was in the graphic novel. However, it's incredibly sad that X-Men 3 in particular got turned into something much worse. Do you like his version better?