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X-Men: Apocalypse Screenwriter on the Planning Process—It’s Like “Doing Fan-Fiction”

Very high-budget fan-fiction.



If you’re an X-Men fan, you’ve probably got at least one character (or twelve) that ends up in every fan-fiction or fantasy you have about what could/should/might happen. None of us got to write X-Men: Apocalypse, but when it came down to deciding who’d appear and who’d fight what when and with whom, screenwriter Simon Kinberg says the decision-making did feel a lot like “fan-fiction” (via Collider):

We just kind of sat there, the way that anybody would—rather you were in a role playing game or a video game or doing fan fiction—and it was like, who are the coolest characters you wanna see? And who are interesting combinations with one another, and who are interesting foils for the heroes of the movie?

The “we” in that quote refers to Kinberg and X-Men director Bryan Singer. The pair knew they wanted to do an Apocalypse story, and they knew they wanted Michael Fassbender’s Magneto to be one of the four horsemen—that was part of what Kinberg called “the first wave of decisions,” which also included the choice to center the film around a younger generation of previously-established characters like Jean, Ororo, and Scott. The second wave of decisions involved deciding on the rest of the four horsemen:

Then it becomes more subjective, random. Who are characters we’d like to see? What are powers we haven’t seen before? What are characters it’d be fun to see the young versions of, or the new visual effects version of? … Who are the people that deepened the core ideas of the movie? Who are the people that challenge, emotionally, the main characters of the movie, or are mirror images of the main characters?

Things like that we take into account when making those decisions. Some from memory and some from Wikipedia [laughs], because it’s a long list, and we really weighed all the options. When we work, we also spend a lot of time going back and watching the different versions of the cartoons, the Apocalypse cartoons.

It’s always been obvious to me that the X-Men cartoons play a huge role in influencing these movies—and I’m not the only one who’s noticed that parallel! Speaking of decisions made based on fandom, this story of how Olivia Munn got cast as Psylocke definitely fits the bill:

Psylocke was quite a late addition to the script and the movie. Bryan Singer and I were up here in Montreal and we felt like we needed a different Horseman, and we just started going through the cycling of the different Apocalypse Horsemen over history. We felt like we wanted it to be a female character and we pretty quickly settled on Psylocke.

Super randomly, I think a week or two earlier, I was in Los Angeles, and we were casting Deadpool. I had met with Olivia Munn for a character in Deadpool that ultimately wasn’t the right character for her, but we were like “We’ve gotta keep in touch, she has to do something in the X-Men world.” And Bryan and I were sitting in Montreal a few weeks later and saying we should do Psylocke, and I was like, “Dude, I just met with Olivia Munn two weeks ago. She’d be great.” Then we looked at pictures of her online and I emailed her and I said, “I think this is a great character for you,” and she immediately emailed me back and sent me all this fan art online that fans had done of her as Psylocke. So that’s how that one came to be.

That whole process sounds like a fan-fiction writer’s dream—of course, deciding which characters will and won’t appear in the final version of a big budget movie clearly requires long months of deliberation and planning, since there’s a lot of money and marketing pressure on the line. Every character and casting choice that ends up on screen in X-Men: Apocalypse reflects a long-considered choice, as well they should. These choices are important.

Which characters are you most excited to see in X-Men: Apocalypse? Any characters that you’re sad didn’t get selected in Kinberg’s rigorous planning process?

(via CBR, image via Cinema Blend)

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Maddy Myers, journalist and arts critic, has written for the Boston Phoenix, Paste Magazine, MIT Technology Review, and tons more. She is a host on a videogame podcast called Isometric (, and she plays the keytar in a band called the Robot Knights (