IGN Interviews Simon Kinberg
The screenwriter talks X-Men 3, Ratner & Gambit!
by IGN FilmForce
September 30, 2005 - Along with scribe Zak Penn, British-born Simon Kinberg is the screenwriter of the now-filming X-Men 3 . He has worked on two other 20th Century Fox/Marvel Studios collaborations, Fantastic Four and Elektra. (Which means he must suck!! YUCCK!) His Columbia University senior thesis script, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, was produced with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie starring and became one of summer 2005's biggest hits. With X3 roughly midway through filming for its May 26, 2006 release date, Mr. Kinberg was kind enough to take time out to speak with IGN FilmForce about the film, director Brett Ratner and Marvel in general.
IGNFF: Now that X-Men 3 is about halfway through principal photography, what do you think have been the biggest challenges the production has faced thus far? And what's gone better than expected?
Kinberg: The challenges are the same as any movie. The only difference is this film is larger than any I've been around. I think the biggest challenge from a script standpoint has been making sure we take care of all the characters. There are ten or eleven major characters in this film that all need time and focus. To answer the second question, I think this film is much more emotional than I ever imagined. There are some really heart-breaking moments in the movie. And the performances are so damn good, beyond my wildest expectations.
IGNFF: Director Brett Ratner has not exactly been met with universal approval by fans, especially given the mostly warm reception Bryan Singer's X-Men films received. What strengths do you think Ratner brings to this particular project that fans should know about?
Kinberg: Well, first and foremost, Brett starts from a love of the comics. He's got an immense respect for the X-Men universe. He's also got a lot of respect for Bryan's films, so he's not trying to create a radically different template. He's staying loyal to the tone of the first two films, but he's making this movie more visceral and emotional. Since we're dealing with one of the most intense storylines in X-Men history, he knows how important emotion is. And the actors have really responded to him. Wait till you see Famke Janssen in this film. She's going to blow your mind.
(Jean Grey/ Dark Phoenix)
IGNFF: Some fans also have voiced concern that X3 is overstuffed with characters. But are these "guest stars" (such as Multiple Man and Moira MacTaggert) merely just "easter eggs" for fans? Sort of like how Dick Tracy included many cameos but the story still focused on three or four central protagonists.
Kinberg: I'm Jewish, so I don't know much about easter eggs. But I don't think our movie is overstuffed with characters. That would be like saying the comics are too crowded with characters. This film takes place in the X-Men universe, so when we write a geneticist, it's Kavita Rao instead of some nameless, faceless doctor. This movie has a bigger canvas than the first two films, so there's room for more characters. Think about how many characters there were in Return of the King or Revenge of the Sith. Having said that, there's still not enough room for every great character, so we have to make sacrifices sometimes. Like Gambit. I'm a huge Gambit fan, but we knew there wasn't enough space to do him justice, so he'll have to wait till X4.
IGNFF: Since I know you can't talk about the film's plot in any revealing detail, what then would you say X-Men 3 is about thematically?
Kinberg: One of the great things that Bryan did with the first two films was really making them about something. He understood the metaphor of the comic, and translated it to the screen. This movie continues some of the universal X-Men themes, like alienation, persecution, the struggle for equality. But on an emotional level, it also deals with what happens when someone you love starts to spiral out of control. How can you help them? When is it too late?
IGNFF: It has been revealed/alleged that certain characters will die in X3. Why do the filmmakers feel it is necessary to do that?
Kinberg: I know what's been alleged online. Some of it is true. Most of it is not. All I can say is, death is a part of life. One of the moments I remember most vividly from childhood was when Obi-Wan died. …
IGNFF: Many fans think Nightcrawler stole the show in X2. Which character do you think will most likely be the standout in X3?
Kinberg: I think we have a bunch of cool new characters. If I had to choose one, I would say Beast. He looks incredible. The prosthetics are better than anything I've ever seen. And Kelsey [Grammer] is uncanny in the role. As much as he seems perfect for Frasier, this guy was born to play Hank McCoy. The voice, the eyes, the intelligence, the pathos in his voice, just the way he walks.
Beast (L) will be portrayed in X3 by Kelsey Grammer (R).
IGNFF: Does X3 set up an X4 or the Wolverine spin-off? Or is this really the end of the X-Men film series?
Kinberg: We didn't write the script with the next movies in mind. But it's definitely not the end of the series. I know they [20th Century Fox and Marvel Studios] plan on making Wolverine and more X-Men movies. We wrote the script as the end of a trilogy, the end of one cycle. The next movies will start a new cycle.
IGNFF: How does your experience on X3 compare with your experience on the Fantastic Four movie?
Kinberg: Many of the people were the same. The studio, the producers. But my experience was very different. On Fantastic Four, I was the last writer, after fifteen other writers worked on it. I came onto the film about a month before production, so most of the movie was locked in place. It was really Mark Frost's draft that we shot. I was always working inside his structure. On X3, there wasn't a word written before I got hired. I was the first writer, so I was working from scratch. Then I started working with Zak [Penn, co-screenwriter], and we've been writing together throughout production. It's a whole different thing when you're there at the beginning, middle, and end. Also, this is the third movie of an established franchise with a very clear tone, whereas Fantastic Four was the first movie, so there was a lot more set-up.
IGNFF: You've worked with Marvel a few times now. Do you have any plans to work on any other Marvel projects, such as those lined up at Paramount?
Kinberg: I 'm definitely talking to those guys about other projects. I grew up on their comics, and there's nothing cooler to me than getting the chance to bring these characters to life. [Marvel Studios execs] Avi Arad and Kevin Feige have been really supportive of me from the start, even before I got my first gig in this business. So yeah, I'd love to keep working with them. They feel like family.
IGNFF: Do you have any plans to pen a Marvel comic book? Screenwriters like David Goyer, Kevin Smith and Sam Hamm have all taken a stab at comics.
Kinberg: No plans, for now. There are too many good comic book writers out there. I'd rather remain a fanboy.