‘X-Men’ producers Donner and Kinberg on the past, present, and future of the series

One of the most impressive things about “X-Men: Days Of Future Past” is how it feels like they've reset the entire series to a point, and they can now tell any story they want again with any of the characters they've used so far without worrying about continuity issues.

It is amazing to realize that they've been working with the same cast and many of the same people behind the camera for fourteen years now. Not many series can pull off that sort of longevity without having to shake everything up completely, and yet it looks like Hugh Jackman is signing another deal to keep playing Wolverine and now the series has a second wind with some of the hottest new stars in Hollywood including Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence.

I reached out to Lauren Shuler-Donner and Simon Kinberg and asked them if we could sit down and discuss the series, the choices they made about this film, and what they see as the future of the franchise, and so the day after Memorial Day, we all hopped on the phone and dug right in.

Last Monday morning, I took my two sons to see “Days Of Future Past,” and they flipped completely for it. One of the things I've noticed is that they're less concerned about what story each film tells and more interested in simply seeing as many mutants as possible in each movie.  I asked Lauren and Simon how they make decisions about which characters get used in each film, particularly when they're introducing new characters we haven't seen before.

Lauren answered first, saying “You mean in terms of bringing back the old cast and our new cast from 'X-Men First Class?' That”s what we wanted… a blended cast. We wanted to bring them all together. Or in terms of the newer cast from the future, do you mean? Part of it is for their look. Part of it is for their power. Part of it is to make them represent the audience so it”s more diverse and global. Anything else Simon?”

Simon continued, “Yeah, all of that. Specifically one of the mutants that I think people are clearly responding to very positively is Quicksilver, and that was actually… when we developed the script initially, that was gonna be a young Juggernaut.”

I'd read that draft of the script, and it was interesting seeing how they approached the same goal as in the finished film, but with a very different approach. In that draft, they dropped Juggernaut from a plane over the Pentagon, and he picked up enough speed that when he hit the ground, he went right through to the cell where Magneto was being held. Then they dropped Wolverine in after Juggernaut, so even though he was pulverized completely by the fall, he was able to heal quickly to help Magneto get out of the building. It seems obvious that they made the right choice going to Quicksilver instead, though, based on how much people love that scene.

Simon explained, “That was really Bryan. I think Bryan was excited about using Quicksilver, and he had a very clear sense in his mind of what that sequence was gonna be visually.”

Lauren added, “He also had a really clear vision that he wanted Evan Peters to do it.”

“Yeah, Lauren had to figure out how to make that work.”

Lauren laughed at the thought of all the negotiating that had to take place. “We moved heaven and earth to do it, but everybody cooperated. Ryan Murphy helped us and Fox Broadcasting [Chairman and CEO] Dana Walden helped us, you know. But it was very difficult to bring him from the show. But Bryan clearly wanted him and he was such a good choice.”